Angkor Wat


Warmly Welcome To Siem Reap, Kingdom Of Wonders!

Firstly, I would like to recommend you that an auspicious beginning of your Angkor visit is to make merit at the shrine of the so-called Big God and Small God, located in the Royal Crusade for Independence Garden in the center of Siem Reap. According to the 12th century legend, two monks had a dream that two goddesses told them the Thais would soon invade Cambodia and the goddesses asked that the images of Big God and Small God be stored in the great temple of Angkor Wat. The monks ignored the request until they had the same dream again and then they moved the images to the mezzanine floor in the gallery of a Thousand Buddhas. As predicted by the goddesses, the Thais invaded and pillaged the area but they didn’t find the images. The goddesses, in accordance with belief, are the daughters of an Angkorian king and are known by the local residents as Preah Ang Thom and Preah Ang Toch or Neang Chék, Neang Chorm. The local people have worshipped these two since the 12th century and they believed that making an offering to them will insure peace throughout the kingdom.


Angkor Wat literally means the Holy City which became a Buddhist Monastery in the 16th century, after the Khmers moved the capital from here to Phnom Penh; the buddhist monks came to maintain this temple. Its real name in the 12th AD was called Vrah Parama Vishnuloka meaning the Sacred/Heavenly Abode of Vishnu. When the temple became a well-known buddhist site, according to 16th AD inscription, its name was called Preah Mohanokor Indrabrat Preah Visnuloka and in 17th century inscription, called Indrabrat Nokor Sreisodhara Visnuloka. The 2 pagodas in the Angkor Wat complex have been called North and South Indrabat Borei. The word “Indrabat” in the Pali language, derived from the Sanskrit “Indrabrat” which refers to the city of Indra (it is rooted in the brahmanical belief that Indra has a palace on secular plane) and nowadays Siem Reap people or a big amount of people call it Angkor Touch meaning “Small City”. Angkor Wat, the largest and tallest temple of the Angkor groups and one of the most intact is an architectural masterpiece. Its perfection of composition, balance, proportions, reliefs and sculptures makes it one of the finest monuments in the world. It is an expression of Khmer art during the Khmer Empire reached its greatest territorial expansions and its apogee in cultural, artistic, economic, political and architectural achievements and also one of the most inspired and spectacular monuments ever conceived by the human mind, soaring skyward and surrounded by a moat that would make its European castle counterparts blush. It is a sumptuous blend of form and function, a spellbinding shrine to Vishnu and, with its captivating image replicated in the reflective pools below, a feast for unbelieving eyes as well as the most popular spot for sunrise around Angkor and not without good reason. The sun shifts position depending on the time of year, and during the equinoxes of March 20/21 and Sept 22/23 it rises directly over the central tower. Sometimes it’s a glowing ball of orange emerging above the cloud line; at other times flaming streaks of cirrus clouds paint the sky blood-red, providing a dramatic backdrop to the temple. But even if it doesn’t deliver, don’t be disappointed – this is always a magical and mesmerizing place to be at dawn.


This temple was founded by the King Suryavarman II (his posthumous name Vrah Vishnu Loka), his reign in 1113-1150 and designed by his minister or advisor who was a Brahmin with divine honors, named Devakarapandita who worked for the two predecessors. This west-faced temple is contrary to all the east-faced temples. The reasons why it faced to the west are still the matters of being diplomatically debated by scholars: _ it served as a royal mausoleum after the king passed away; _ this temple was dedicated to the supreme god, Vishnu who is always associated with the west of Mt. Meru; _ if it faced east it faces against the old city “Yasodharapura”, its center is Phnom Bakheng “Phnom Kandal” and the area to the east of this temple is very close to the Siem Reap river so it has no space for the people when they conducted the ceremonies.


Angkor Wat is a text in itself. The 100s of reliefs sculpted on its stone narrated the events from the Hindu Epics, the Puranas and also symbolically embodied the fundamental religious, ethical, philosophical and political principles of the Khmers at the time of the king Suryavarman II. It was built as a holy place for linking the intimacy between the God and King relationship and served as a temple-mountain and state-temple of the king Suryavarman II. Jean Filiozat, the French scholar is the first to perceive that the reliefs’ function may be part of astronomical, numerological and cosmological concepts embedded in the Khmer architecture. For Legendre de Koninck perceived that the 8 large panels of the 3th enclosure’s reliefs help divide into the northern and southern groups:  the southern half contains 4 reliefs representing a temporal circle from the destruction to rebirth (the battle of Kurukshetra and the churning of the ocean of milk). In between the 2 panels (the historical parade and the depiction of the heavens and halls) indicated the 2 stages established by the competent king.The northern half’s 4 panels represent a series of combats, especially of Vishnu against the Asuras, of Krishna vs the asura Bana, of the Devas vs the Asuras and of Sri Lanka. These sacrificial combats symbolize the 2 objectives of the royal function: • the drive towards the establishment of a new order and the end of an age of misery, the Kali Yuga. Now numbers of scholars believe that the main access may have been possible only during the special activities or occasions under the guidance of Brahmins and the pilgrims were not permitted to go beyond the 1st level of the temple. In the past as in India the devotee were not allowed to enter the main shine when the priest invoked a deity in the image that stood in the grabhargrha (the sanctum sanctorum). The layman stands at the threshold to witness the god’s presence and experience the divine.


Angkor Wat is surrounded by 5 enclosures: 1/the outer enclosure, 1025m by 802m, is pierced by 4 gates on the cardinal points, the west is the largest of the 4s and only the east and west are linked by the causeways. 2/the 4th, 332 by 258m marked by Naga balustrades, so the area between the outer and the 4th was taken up with the city. 3/the 3rd, 258m by 215m is the 1st level of the temple. 2/the 2nd, 120m by 100m is the 2nd level. 1/the 1st standing on the pyramid of 60m in diameter is the 3rd level which is surmounted by 5 towers arranged in the quincunx shape, one in the center and four at each corners. The 5 towers are linked together by galleries and the central originally opened to 4 sides and housed the statue of four-armed Vishnu and in 16th century the Buddhist monks closed the 4 doors and carved the standing statues of the Buddha on them and in 1908 the French archeologists opened the south and in 1923 made an excavation inside it for 23m deep. ●In the mid-1970, however, Mrs. Eleanor Moron began studying the dimensions of the temple in detail, convinced that these might contain the key to the way the temple had been encoded by the learned men who designed it. After determining that the Khmer measurement used at Angkor, the hat, was equivalent to approximately 0.4 m = 1.3 ft so the distance of the western entrance and the central tower came to 1,728 hats, and the three other components of this axis measured, respectively, 1,296 hats, 867 hats, and 439 hats. She then argued that these figures correlated to the four ages or Yuga = one Kalpa = 4.32 million human years of Indian thought in Hindu cosmology. The first of these, the Krita Yuga, was a supposedly Golden Age, lasting 1,728 million years. The next three ages (Tetra Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga) lasted for 1,296 million, 864,000, and 432,000 years. Today we are living in the last age so at the end of this era, it is believed, the universe will be destroyed, undergone the evolution or it is the universal apocalypse, to be rebuilt by Brahma (reborn from Visnu’s navel and sitting on the lotus) along similar lines, beginning with another Golden Age “History Of Cambodia, Page 58, 60”.


The Bas-reliefs Of the 3rd Galleried Enclosure:


•The West Gallery:

- (W G, N P 51.25m): This panel unveils the battle of Sri Lanka btw Prince Rama and Ravana. Rama is the hero of Ramayana Epic and also the son of king Dasharatha who ruled the Kingdom of Aryodhara. His monkeys and generals facing south are on foot while Ravana, the Rakshasa king who ruled the island of Sri Lanka and his Rakshasas stands on ornate war chariot harnessed to horses or lions with dragon heads (Chimera). The fighting went into action after Ravana abducted Sita, the consort of Rama. In the fighting the hero standing on the shoulder of Hanuman is shooting his arrows and the two men standing near him; one holding the bow is Laksmana, his brother and another is Vbhisana, the younger brother of the demon king. Ravana, 10 heads and 20 arms, is standing on the chariot pulled by chimera. ** Nila vs Prahasta, Angada vs Vajradamstra, Mahodara and Narantaka, Hanuman vs Nikumba and Sugriva against Kumba.


- (W G, S P 48.35m): This section depicts the battle of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata epic btw the two clans, the Kauravas and the Pandavas who are the cousins. The Kauravas, the sons of the darkness have 100 brothers and one sister; king Dhritarashtra and queen Gandhari are their parents and the eldest son named Duryodhana who bring the disaster of this family; their armies face south. The Pandavas, the sons of the light have five brothers, Yudhishtra, Arjuna, Bhima, Sahaddeva and Nikula; king Pandu and his two wives, Kunti and Madri are their parents; their armies face north. The fighting accelerated in the center and lasted for 18 days. Finally the Pandavas won the battle. The reasons that aroused the fierce fight: Firstly, when the old king, the father of Kauravas, unhappy at occupying his place unsuitable to his infirmity, calls for his children and nephews to meet him and allows them free rein. Then his sons, grouping around the eldest, proceed to bully the 5 brothers. Given their virtue the old king would like to leave the kingdom to the Pandavas but his sons oppose this. Secondly, when they played chess, the eldest of Kauravas won everything from the Pandavas by treachery. First they obtained the exile of their rivals and then denied them even the smallest rights. Inevitably the war breaks out.


•The South Gallery:

- (S G, W P: 93.60m): The relief carved in stone on this wall illustrates the historical parade of the king Suryavarman II, the founder of this temple. At the west edge the narrative scene divided into 2 registers. The upper shows the sitting people attending the king’s audience while the lower the princesses, ladies of the court are carried in hammocks or litters attending the military procession.


- (S G, E P: 66.05m): The panoramic relief of this is the representation of 37 heavens and 32 hells. Divided laterally in 3 registers, the inscriptions leave no doubt the 2 uppers represent the heavens and the lower is the hells. Starting from the west end towards the right, the 2 uppers depict a long parade towards the heavens of the great Khmer nobility who are carried by their servants followed by ladies and noblemen of lesser rank, while the commoners walk along quietly, some with their children. The bottom represents the damned and their punishment. You see the group of 19 men in the top, carried by servants and accompanied by attendants, aides de camps and followers, may represent the 19 commanders of the historic parade of the south gallery of west panel. Some 20m to the east, the 2 uppers are interrupted by a large figure with 18 brandishing arms sitting on the water buffalo. This image is Yama, god of heaven and hell gateway, who judges the departed souls and 2m more 2 sitting men are his scribes or assistants pronouncing the sentences.


•The East Gallery:

- (E G, S P: 48.45m): This panel unfolds the churning of the ocean of milk, the Hindu myth of creation in the Bhagavata Purana. This myth describes at the genesis of the world the Devas and the Asuras (Gods and Demons) are fighting to govern the universe for many years. In the fighting the devas lost many soldiers and are very tired to combat with the asuras as well as in the disadvantage of the asuras so they rush to ask the supreme god, Vishnu for help. When they reached he advised to stir up the ocean of milk to extract the nectar of immortality or incorruptibility. This ambrosia lay in the depths of the ocean. In order to generate it the gods need the aid from the demons. Before the gods left he reassured them not to be jealous or argue with them when the result emerged everything will be yours. After listening to his instruction the gods pay homage and leave to persuade the demons to co-work. As the agreement has been made the gods and the demons lifted Mt. Mandara to place in the ocean as pivot and take the naga Vasuki as a pulling rope. When they churned the ocean for many years the mountain starts sinking so Vishnu incarnated as a tortoise to support it and Indra sits on the top to help balance the mountain. They continue to churn for a thousand years and the things come out: _ the 3-headed elephant Indra took as his “vihana” mount. _ Parijita tree Indra brought growing in the heaven. _ the white horse Ucchaihshravas does not belong to someone. _ Laksmi Vishnu took as his spouse. _ Apsaras flying in the sky and _ the last thing is the elixir of immortality appeared at the hand of demons so Vishnu assumed the guise of the beautiful girl named Mohini she distracted the asuras with her fascinating beauty so that Vishnu was able to deliver the nectar among the gods. As Vishnu was delivering, one asura named Rahu sneaked standing in the god’s queue and got the nectar from the supreme and the gods of the sun “Surya” and the moon “Chandra” saw told to him. Vishnu took his discus and threw to behead the demon. As the discus cut his head he already swallowed the ambrosia so the head is eternal and the body is dead when the head flew into the sky and shouted that if he met the sun and the moon he will swallow.


- (E G, N P: 51.45m): Caturbhuja “four-armed form of Vishnu” It unveils Krishna (the 8th incarnation of Vishnu) killing the four Danavas (Muru, Nisunda, Hayagriva and Pancanada) before he enters the city of Pragjyotisha where the Daitya king Naaraka lives. This king entered Dvaraka “the heaven governed by Indra” and stole Aditi’s earrings given to her by Indra and Mt. Maniparvata and also 16001 ladies.(who is Aditi?_ In Hinduism it is believed that she is the mother of all gods). Krishna cut his head off and brought the earrings and mountain back to heaven and released those women. Thereafter they agree to marry him.


•The North Gallery:

- (N G, E P: 66.03m): the panel reveals the victory of Krishna over the demon king Bana. The battle occurs when Usha, the daughter of Bana, falls in love with Aniruddha (son of Pradyumna and grandson of Krishna) she has him brought to her by magic arts. While the couple tried to escape out of the city of Shonitapura, Aniruddha is captured by Bana’s magic arrows which transform themselves into snakes binding him prisoner. On having heard Bana holds Aniruddha captive, he organizes a great army and marches towards Bana’s capital.


- (N G, W P: 93.60m): This narrates the combat btw the Devas and the Asuras. The battle began when the asura Prahlada, a devotee of Vishnu, refuses to rule the kingdom of the demons; the task is given to Andhaka who is considered blind despite his 2000 eyes in his 1000 heads. The gods disapprove of this and the fierce war follow btw them. (Another story): Bali, originally a virtuous daitya king had acquired such tremendous power through devotion and penance that he defied to challenge the gods. He is the son of Virochana and grandson of Hiranyakasipu. He is told that the gods have annihilated his family, he decides to war against the gods. The demon general Maya heads the troops, while Bali marches in the midst with Bana, Kalameni bring up the rear, Vama is on the left and Taraka the right flank. After the demons won Indra and other gods flee to Brahmaloka. With his sons, brother and relatives, Bali becomes the ruler of heaven. He takes on the role of Indra (Sakra), Bana that of Yama, Maya that of Varuna, Rahu that of Soma, Prahlada that of Agni, Svarbhanu that Surya and the other asuras those of the various devas. To restore order in the threefold world, Vishnu incarnates as Vamana, the dwarf and restrains Bali with the trick of the 3 steps [Vishnu Trivikrama].


Why have the sandstones of Angkor Wat eroded badly? The stones have badly eroded from acid rain, bat-shit but mainly because of the poor quality of the stone and the presence of clays in the stratification of the stone bed. Sandstone is formed by a process of sedimentation causing horizontal layers to be consolidated into a variety of different qualities of sandstone. During this process layers of clay are mixed with the sand. As clay tends to expand when it becomes wet, stones which have been laid incorrectly‒with the strata set vertically‒soak up the water and the expansion of the clay causes the thin stratification layers to flake. Stones should be laid on their natural bed but as monolithic columns require lengths of 3 or 4 metres, stones intended for columns are cut along the horizontal bed and upended. Thus the stone is laid on a vertical bed and moisture can creep, by capillary attraction, between the sedimentation layers. The quality and strength of the stones differed depending from which part of the quarry they were taken.


Phnom Bakeng

Soon after Yasovarman I (his post-death name Parama Shiva Loka) became king in 889 AD, he decided to move the capital northwest from Rolous, where his predecessor reigned, to the area known today as Angkor. He named his new capital Yasodharapura, and built Bakheng as his state temple, dedicated in about 907 to Shaivism. Thus, Bakheng is sometimes called the first Angkor. The original city, which is barely distinguishable to visitors today, was vast, even larger than Angkor Thom. Its enclosure wall is a square of four by four km, covering an area of 14 square km. A natural hill in the centre distinguished the site. The temple of Bakheng was cut from the rock that formed the natural hill and faced with sandstone. Traces of this method are visible in the northeast and southeast corners, reflecting improved construction techniques and the use of more durable materials. This temple is the earliest example of the quincunx plan with five sandstone sanctuaries built on the top level of a tiered base, which became popular later. It is also the first appearance of secondary shrines on different platform levels. The word Bakheng is the combination of Ba meaning father, man character and Kheng, according to Khmer professorial Pauv Saveros’s Dictionary meaning strong and powerful and also referring to a man’s sexual organ. Therefore the name of this hill came from the statue of Shivalinga in the temple.


●Bakheng is a replica of Mount Meru and the number of towers suggests a cosmic symbolism. The seven levels of the monument represent the seven heavens of Indra in Hindu mythology. The temple must have been a spectacular site in its entirety because originally 108 towers were evenly spaced around the tiers with yet another one, the central sanctuary, at the apex of them all. Today, however, most of these towers have collapsed. Beside the central sanctuary, there were four-cornered towers on the upper terrace, 12 on each of five-tiered pyramid, and another 44 towers around the pyramidal base. The brick towers on the different levels represent the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac. It is also possible that the numerology of the 108 towers symbolizes the four lunar phases with 27 days in each phase. The arrangement allows for only 33 of the towers to be seen from each side, a figure that corresponds with the number of Hindu deities. Note: the square pyramidal base is 76m, and rises up 13m.


Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom is a great city, indeed one of the largest and last cities of the Khmer Empire which was founded by king Jayavarman VII (his perinirvana name Maha Parama Sangatha), his reign in 1181-1220 and its real name was Jaya Khiri meaning the victorious mountain and the moat enclosing it called Jaya Santhor, the ocean of the victory. It served as the political, religious and administrative center of gravity for the Khmer Empire until the 15th century before the capital was jettisoned by its royal patrons who moved south to settle in an area near Phnom Penh. This city, according to the inscription, was grander than any city in Europe at the time; it must have supported a considerable population which may have been as high as one million. Within the walled city were the residences of the king, his royal family, military officers, officials and high priests whereas the plebs ‘commoners’ lived outside the walled city. This 8m high walled city, built out of laterite (lava rock) runs an area of 3km squares (3km each side or 900ht) and enclosed by a 100m wide and about 5m or 6m deep moat which was pierced through by 5 gates, fours on the cardinal points and one more called “Victory Gate” is located 500m north of the east gate. Each was built in the same architectural decoration and design; it has faces carved on their 4 sides and each corner ornate with 3-headed elephant; on the elephant’s back Indra with his 2 wives sits while the trunks of elephant plucking the lotus flowers. At each corner of the walled city, there are four small shrines called Prasat Chhrongs which are of archaeological importance because they originally comprised a stele that mentions the foundation of Jayavarman Vii and provides historical information about the period. Now the steles have been removed and placed in the Angkor Conservation (the French-built storehouse) for safety. The causeways spanning the moat to each gate were flanked by rows of 54 gods and 54 demons; the gods on the left-hand side wearing conical headdresses, pointed earrings and having almond-shape eyes; the demons on the right-hand side wearing crested headdresses, rounded earrings and having bulbous eyes. They are both holding the Naga’s body “the snake”; this symbolism represents the churning of the ocean of milk in the Bhagavatta Purana (Vishnuite Scripture), the Hindu myth of creation. All the causeways running to the city or the temple symbolically embodied the rainbow bridge that links the world of men to that of gods.


 • The border of the Khmer Empire during the reign of Jayavarman VII extended S to N from the coast of Vietnam to the border of Bagan in Myanmar and E to W from the vicinity of Vientiane in Laos to Malay Peninsula.


• Following the demise of the king there were the conflict of the royal family, the decline of political influence on the peripheries of the Khmer Empire and the reaction of Buddhist and Hindu Religion; the Siamese or Thais, a persistent invader of Khmer territory who had migrated south from Yunnan (China) to escape Kublai Khan, the commander of Mongolian Empire and his hordes, established a political centre called Sukhothai (in north-central Thailand) “the first organized Thai settlement” in the 13th AD and at the same time, the Thai principality of Lan Na founded with its capital at Chhiang Mai and then the Thais also controlled the area around the mouth of Chao Phraya River which became the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the mid-14th AD, grew in strength. Within 100 years, the Thais had gained control of a large part of the area corresponding to modern-day Thailand. Ayutthaya became the dominant power in the region until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767. In the 14th century the Thais made repeated raids on Angkor several times and battles between the two rivals continued almost a century until 1431 a final siege of Angkor by Thais for 7 months. However the Thai invasions did not lead to permanent occupation of Angkor. Some times after the brutal attack on the city of Angkor Thom, the Khmers retreated and shifted the capital southward to Phnom Penh, Lovek and Udong serving as capitals in the 16th and 18th centuries. Even the Khmers moved the capital from Angkor but it was never completely abandoned. For example, Angkor Wat was maintained by Buddhist monks even in the 15th and 16th centuries till now while the court returned to Angkor briefly in the late 16th and intermittently in the 17th, but it never recovered its former glory (the inscriptions in the wall or column and cornice level as the evidence).


• What reason pushed the decline of the Khmer Empire? The evidence is inconclusive. It seems likely that several forces acted as catalysts leading to the decline of the empire. The most important reason was: ‒the increasing pressure brought about by the encroachment of the Thais. ‒the loss of manpower through the ensuing wars further meant that maintenance of the irrigation network was neglected. – Some Khmers revolted against harsh conditions in the empire, against Jayavarman’s extravagant building and against his opulent lifestyle which exhausted the Kingdom’s resources. –as centralized control faded, the vassal states gradually asserted independence. –and another school of Buddhism, Theravada, spread from Sri Lanka across Southeast Asia in the 13th eclipsing former beliefs. The additional reason was: (ecologists indicated that) ‒by the 13th century forests may have become depleted. –sustaining the huge population probably put pressure on the agricultural system. ‒drought or climatic factors may well have contributed to the deterioration of the state’s authority. –and increased mission from Cambodia to China in the 14th and 15th centuries suggest an interest in developing maritime trade in southeast Asia so Phnom Penh would have been a more suitable place from which it could be developed.


Bayon

Bayon was one of the Buddhist monastic complexes and served as the State-Temple or Temple-Mountain of the Buddhist king Jayavarman VII, his reign in 1181-1220 which is situated at the center of the walled city of Angkor Thom. Its structure and architecture are relatively complex. It is very famous for its face towers which were originally supposed to be 54 or 49 but now only 34 are still remaining at the site. Most of the temple towers have faces carved on their four sides; some have faces on their two or three sides. The faces of each tower have been diplomatically debated by historians or scholars; some thinks that it symbolizes the faces of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara but it generally accepted that it is the images of the king which signifies the omnipresence of the king himself. The main structure of the temple has galleries, corner pavilions and gopuras. The temple was built with 3 dimensions and surrounded by concentric galleries with corbelled arch or vaulted roofs on the first and second levels and Naga balustrades but the roof of the 1st gallery has been completely collapsed. The first dimension is 156m x 141m, the second is 80m x70m and the third marked by Naga balustrade is unmeasured. The Bayon by its structure seems to have been used for the Hindu and Buddhist worship; the iconography belongs to both the religions hinted as witness. This temple has two sets of high reliefs carved in its galleries: the 1st set of the first gallery has the subjects mainly from historical events like the battle btw Khmers and Chams and many scenes from the daily life of the people at the time. The 2nd set of the inner seems to have been carved at a later stage and depicts palace scenes, processions and divinities. Bayon, as stated by Chinese envoy who arrived here in 1296 and lived a year, is the temple of a golden tower.  As we reach the temple its foundation is run around by Naga balustrade with the garuda sitting on its multi-headed snake; these two animals, in conformity to the Hindu legend, could not cohabit but during the reign of the king Jayavarman he put them together because he wants to syncretize (synthetize or synthesize) the both religions; even he is the Buddhist fervent he tolerates the people who believed in Hinduism. After his Peri-nirvana death king Jayavarman VIII converted the formal religion from Buddhism to Hinduism so this Hindu king decreed his subjects to renovate all the Buddhist temples to Hindu temples. The images of the Buddha along the wall, on the column, in the pediment and in the sandstone ridges capped on the corbelled arch roof have been chiseled off and the statues of the Buddha inside each tower displaced by lingam “phallic symbol” (sacrifice to stone lingam by pouring water or milk on it, it was thought, ensured the fertility of the soil). To reach the top level, the central sanctuary is in the octagonal form which stands on a terrace of 25m in diameter and encircled by 16 shrines plus one in the middle and also topped by 8 small towers with one, two or three faces. The octagonal shape of its central tower symbolically embodied the noble eightfold path of the Buddha: _Right Understanding _ Right Thought _Right Speech _Right Action _Right Livelihood _Right Effort _Right Mindfulness and _Right Concentration.


●The Four Noble Truths Of The Buddha: ‒the noble truth of suffering –the noble truth of the origin of suffering –the noble truth of extinction of suffering and the noble truth of the path that leads to the extinction of suffering.


 I/The Noble truth Of Suffering: ‒the group of corporeality or corporealness –the group of feeling –the group of perception –the group of mental formationsធ –the group of consciousness –dependent origination of consciousness​ –the three characteristics of existence –the Anatta (impermanent) doctrine​–the three warnings and the wheel of existence.


 II/The Noble Truth Of The Origin Of Suffering: ‒the sensual craving –the craving of eternal existence –the craving of self-annihilation –the origin of craving –dependent origination of all phenomena –present karma-results–future karma-results –inheritance of deeds –karma and karma as volition.


 III/The Noble Truth Of The Extinction Of Suffering:​​ ‒the dependent extinction of all phenomena​ –Nirvana (nibbana) –Arahat or Holy One and immutable or un-changeability.


IV/The Noble Truth Of The Path That Leads To The Extinction Of Suffering:

 1/RIGHT UNDERSTNDING: ‒understanding the four truths –understanding merit and demerit –understanding the three characteristics of existence–unprofitable questions –the five fetters –unwise consideration –six views about the self –wise consideration – the ten fetters១០ –the noble ones –mundane and super-mundane right understanding –free from all theories –the three characteristics – views and discussions about ego –past present future life –the two extremes (annihilation and eternal belief and the middle doctrine)
– the rebirth-producing karma and cessation of karma.


 2/RIGHT THOUGHT: ‒mundane and super-mundane right thought.


 3/RIGHT SPEECH: ‒mundane and super-mundane right speech.


 4/RIGHT ACTION: ‒mundane and super-mundane right action.


 5/RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: ‒mundane and super-mundane right livelihood.


 6/RIGHT EFFORT: ‒the effort to avoid –the effort to overcome –​five methods of expelling evil thought –the effort to develop and the effort to maintain.

7/RIGHT MINDFULNES: a/The Four Foundations Of Mindfulness ‒the contemplation of body –watching over in and out-breathing –the four postures –mindful and clear comprehension –contemplation of loathsomeness –four elements –cemetery meditation –assured of ten blessing –six psychical powers and four bases of obtaining magical powers . b/Contemplation Of The Feelings c/Contemplation Of The Mind d/Contemplation Of The Mind-Objects ‒the five hindrances –the five groups of existence –the twelve sense-bases –the seven elements of enlightenment –the four noble truths and Nibbana through Anapanassati .

 8/RIGHT CONCENTRATION: ‒absence of the five hindrances –the four absorptions – four methods of attaining absorption and Nibbana .

  ●The 6 Mudras Of The Buddha


- Abhaya Mudra = a gesture of assurance or protection intended to impart fearlessness. The right-hand is held with the palm facing outwards and the fingers extended upwards.


- Dhyana Mudra = a gesture of meditation. The hands lie on the lap, the right hand over the left hand with all fingers extended and the palms turned upwards.


- Bhumisparsa Mudra = a gesture of calling the earth to witness. This Mudra was used by the Buddha to invoke the earth as witness of his having resisted the temptation of Mara(killer).


-Dharma-chakra Mudra = a gesture of teaching wherein the right hand is held at the breast with the tips of the index fingers touching and the thumb touching one of the fingers of the left hand, the palm being turned inwards.


- Varada Mudra =​ Boon-Granting Gesture Or Gesture of Charity/Generosity. This Mudra is made with the palm held outwards and downwards, with all of the fingers loosely outstretched or curved slightly inwards. It represents open-handed generosity amongst peaceful deities, particularly those performing the auspicious activities of pacifying and enriching and also assists to achieve the virtue of forgiveness and enhance mental stability.


 - Vitarka Mudra = Gesture Of reasoning And Exposition. This Mudra signifies an appeal to reason, the giving of instruction. Since the Buddha is appealing to reason, the gesture is often interpreted as an appeal to peace. This Mudra is shown with the arm and hand which are positioned in the same manner as in the Abhaya Mudra, except that the thumb and forefinger are brought together. The gesture can be made with either the right or left hand (usu. the right) but not both.


• JAYAVARMAN VII’S BACKGROUNG

He belonged to the Mahiharapura Dynasty (History of Cambodia Page 65). He appears to have been a first cousin of Suryavarman II and the son of a royal prince, Dharanindravarman II, who may have reigned briefly as king and who was certainly a fervent Buddhist. As a young man, he served in some capacity at Yasovarman II’s court. From 1166-1177, Jayavarman VII appears to have lived away from Angkor, perhaps in the vicinity of the temple now known as the Preah Khan (the original name called Bakan) in the present-day village of Kompong Svay, where Claude Jacques has located the city of Jayadityapura, and also in Champa. A portrait statue of him, manifestly earlier than others produced later in his reign, has been found at this site is the evidence. Was the city subservient to Angkor or a rival to it? How did he relate to the usurper-king who followed Yasovarman to the throne? Even more important, what were his relationships with Champa to the east? And how could he come to the throne? All these questions are still unsolved or unanswerable. Throughout his life, Jayavarman immersed himself in the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism (the variant still followed in much of northern Asia). More than any other king, he labored to integrate Buddhist with Cambodian ideas of kingship. Buddhist kingship, as he practiced it, differed in several ways from the more eclectic Hindu model that had been followed for centuries at Angkor. In traditional version, a king was thought to enjoy, whether he was alive or not, a special relationship with a particular deity – usually Siva, more rarely Vishnu, occasionally the composite of them both known as HariHara, - to whom his temple-mountain was eventually dedicated. The kings used this special relationship to explain their grandeur while their subjects assumed that the relationship had something to do with the provision of adequate rainfall.


•THE DIFFERENCE BTW A HINDU KING AND A BUDDHIST ONE: is akin to the difference between a monologue that no one overhears and a soliloquy addressed to an audience of paid or invited guests.­­ • and the like – that displayed his grandeur, acumen, and godliness. • A Buddhist king made similar statements, but he addressed many of them, specifically, to an audience of his people. This made the people less an ingredient of the king’s magnificence than objects of his compassion, an audience for his merit-making and participants in his redemption.


Note: BRAHMANAS, a number of sacred treatises added to each of the Vedas or a group of texts used by priests or Brahmins to conduct rituals, were formulated between 900 to 500BC and also evolved from an earlier text, the Vedas, subscribed to by the Indo Aryans, who settled in northern India during the second millennium BC. In Vedaism, it was believed, Agni (fire), Indra (thunder) and Surya (sun) as the Supreme deities and Rig-Veda, “song of praise+Veda” a compilation 1028 Hindu poems dating from 2000BC, Yajur-Veda,”sacred or holy+Veda” the second Veda, consisting prayers and sacrificial formulas primarily for use by the priests, Sama-Veda, “a chant+Veda” the third Veda containing the rituals for sacrifices and Atharva-Veda, the fourth and latest Veda, largely consisting of priestly spells and incantations are all of the most ancient sacred writings of Hinduism.


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm, relatively modern, means the “Ancestor or Old Brahma” and the original name of this temple called RAJA VIHARA meaning The “Royal Monastery”. It was consecrated in 1186 and honored the mother of king Jayavarman VII, named Jayarajachodamoni, carved in the guise of Prajñaparamitā, the Goddess of Wisdom, conceived metaphorically as the mother of all Buddhas. The temple housed a portrait statue of king’s Buddhist teacher/guru, and also surrounded in the temple by statues of more than 600 dependent gods and bodhisattvas. During king Jyavarman’s reign the syncretism of Cambodian religion is shown by the fact that Shaivite and Vaisnavite ascetics were given cells on the temple grounds alongside Buddhist monks learned men. It ushered as monastery, accommodation, and also a center of learning. Ta Prohm housed several thousand people, as its inscription attests: there are 400 men, 18 high priests, 2740 other priests, 2232 assistants, 615 dancers, including 6635 people who entitled to stay, which are totaled 12640 people. In addition, there are 66625 men and women who perform services for the gods, making a grand total of 79265 people, including the Burmese, Chams, etc. the properties belonging to this are a set of golden dishes, weighing 500km, 35 diamonds, 40620 pearls, 4540 precious stones, 876 veils from China, 512 silk beds, and 523 parasols. Today, the appearance of Ta Prohm gives a poor idea of its original state, for unlike the other major temples at Angkor, it has never been restored during the French rediscovery of the Angkor area and has been left to the mercy of the nature because the French wanted showing the people of next generation to see how it was swallowed by the nature. But it now is undertaken by Cambodia and India Restoration Cooperation.  Ta Prohm, a rectangular plan, composes of a series of long, low buildings standing on one level connected with passages and concentric galleries framing the main sanctuary, hall of dancers, library, gopuras (entry gateways) and corner pavilions and also surrounded by five enclosures. _ the outer is 1000m x 650m (65ht) which was pierced through by four gates on the cardinals; each has faces carved on their four sides. _ the fourth is 250m x 220m (5.5ht); _ the third is 112m x 108m (1.8ht); the second is 50msq; and the inner is 30msq.


THE THREE BASIC CHARACTERISTICS OF EXISTENCE:


1/Anicca “impermanence” (in Pali Theravada Buddhism) the belief that all things, including the self, are impermanent and constantly changing

2/Dukkha “suffering, illness” (in Pali Theravada Buddhism) the belief that all things are suffering, due to the desire to seek permanence or recognize the self when neither exist

3/Anata “no self” from Sanskrit Anatman (in Pali Theravada Buddhism) the belief that since all things are constantly changing, there can be no such thing as a permanent, unchanging self


Preah Khan

 Preah Khan literally means “Sacred Sword” and its 12th AD name called ‘Nagara Jaya Sri’ meaning (the City of Victory and Throne or the Sacred Sword) may echo this event “from the guidebook HISTORY OF CAMBODIA page74”. It, in accordance with the inscription, was built on the site of an important Cambodian victory over the Chams or probably the site of previous palace of Yasovarman II (1150-1165) or Tribhuvanaditya (1165-1177) “Ancient Angkor, Page 170”. It was inaugurated in 1191 and housed a portrait statue of Jayavarman VII’s father, Dharanindravarman II, with the traits of bodhisattva Lokesvara Jayavarmesvara, the deity expressive of the compassionate aspects of the Buddha. The temple, which is located a few km from the north gate of the walled city’s Angkor Thom, served as the nucleus of a group that includes the temples of Ta Som and Neak Pean, located along the 3.7kmx0.9km Jayatataka Baray, the last water reservoir to be built at Angkor. This group constitutes one of Angkor’s principal axial plans and hydrological systems. The inscription has been found here mentioned that the people dependent on Preah Khan are: those obliged to provide rice and other services or working and residing inside its premises‒totaled nearly 100,000 drawn from more than 5,300 villages and there were 100s of deities installed in it as well as 1,500 tonnes of copper was used for ornamenting the walls. The inscription goes on to enumerate the men and women who had been dependent on previous temple endorsements. Drawn from 13,500 villages, they numbered more than  300,000 so the infrastructure needed to provide food and clothing for the temples which is to name only two types of provision must have been efficient and sophisticated. Three interesting points emerge from the inscriptions. First point is that outsiders (Burmese, Chams, etc) accounted for in different ways than local people were perhaps because they were prisoners of war without enduring ties to individual noblemen, priests, or religious foundations. Second point is that the average size of the villages referred to in the inscriptions appears to have been about 200 people, including dependents so still the medium size of rice-growing villages in Cambodia in 1960s. Third point, although the temples dedicated to the Buddha and served as residences for thousands of Buddhist monks, it also housed statues of holy men associated with different Hindu sects. If we see the temple map, the location of the 3 temples, Preah Khan, Ta Prohm and Bayon is probably connected to the symbolism in Mahayana. Preah Khan dedicated to Lokesvara “Compassion”, Ta Prohm to Prajnaparamita “Wisdom” and Bayon to the Buddha or himself “the enlightened so in Mahayana it is believed the marriage of wisdom (Prajna) and compassion (Karuna) gave birth to enlightenment, the Buddha. The triad of Prajnaparamita, the Buddha and Lokesvara was central to the king’s religious thinking and now some in the Phnom Penh National Museum. The temple was surrounded by 4 enclosure walls but all inner enclosures are sketchy or partly ruinous: the outer 800x700m [which decorated with 72 images of Garuda, the mythical bird with human body, the mount of Vishnu and the guardian of the sky; his feet steps on the 2 necks of naga and the hands raising above the head hold the tails of the snake; the snake is the guardian of the earth and water or the Buddha’s protector so the Garuda and Naga stayed together symbolized the syncretism of Hinduism and Buddhism and also the garuda raises the hands up supports the temple into the sky.],the 3rd  200x175m, the 2nd  85x76m and the inner 62x55m. The structure of this temple is relatively complex. It composed of concentric corridors, anti-chambers, chapels, long halls, two-storey building, animal sacrifice platform, dancing hall, two bibliothecas and cruciform terraces connecting to each Gopura. Note that besides building Buddhist Monuments, in the city there were other shrines of 430 secondary deities built by him.


Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei literally means the “Citadel of Women” and the site of this temple as it is known by locals, was originally called Isvarapura meaning the City of Isvara, one of the name of Shiva while the real name of its deity or the temple per se in the Sanskrit Inscription found in the temple is called Tribhuvarnamahesvara meaning “A Great Lord Of The Threefold World”. It was rediscovered by the French in 1914 but the site was not cleared until 1924. The looting of many important pieces of sculpture and lintels by a European Expedition, meticulously planned by the young Frenchman Andre Malraux, his wife and friend caused a great scandal in 1923. The looters were held under house-arrest in PP and only released after the return of the stolen pieces. One surprised story is that in 1940s he was appointed as the minister of culture in France. Banteay Srei is the first temple to have been restored in 1931 to 1936 through the process of Anaslylosis after Mr. Henri Marchal studied this method from the Dutch who rebuilt Borobudur in Indonesia. The special charm of this monument lies in its remarkable state of preservation, small size and its excellence of intricate décor and also its stunning features are the pediments of the Entry Gateway in the triangular form, at the top of pediment is a lotus’ petal within the praying figure of divinity and at the both sides of pediment in the convoluted motif. The two libraries are adorned with so beautifully false doors and the triple superimposed pediments. The unanimous opinion among the French archaeologists who worked at Angkor marveled that it is a precious gem and jewel in Khmer art. It was consecrated in 967AD so it was one year before the king Rajendravarman II demised (He ruled from 944 to 968) but however, it was not a royal temple, it was built by his advisor Yajnavarha who was later the guru of the future king, Jayavarman V. when the king still alive he granted this site to his adviser to rule over. The temple was surrounded by three enclosure walls with the Gopuras at the east and west axis, the two outers built of laterite (larva rock) and the inner of brick and built with 3 towers, the central one connected by antechamber and at the both side of the antechamber are the libraries, The concentric halls or called gallery in between the two outers used as the rest house for pilgrims, these 3 towers, according to the inscription, are the south and central for Shiva and north for Vishnu. And the temple proper connected by laterite causeway at the east. The causeway is decorated with 2 rows of poles which represented lanterns or lamp-poles and the long halls at both sides are also rest-houses.

95mx110m, 38mx42m, 24mx24m and causeway 67m


The Story Of Hindu Mythology In Banteay Srei:

- On the pediment of the eastern inner Gopura: the haut-relief depicts Shiva is dancing to smash the beauty of the widow named Karikalameya (you see her at the left corner) even if she is widowed but is so stunning beautiful; many princes and kings fight or killed each others to win her so she, the follower of Lord Shiva, doesn’t want seeing someone die and she prays and invoke to age her (to make her ugly).


- The relief on the pediment of the northern library facing east unravels the fire god Agni, having exhausted his strength by devouring too many sacrificial offerings, determines to set on fire the entire Khandava forest and devour it as a means of regaining his power. He is prevented from doing so by Indra’s torrential rain, but obtaining the help of Krishna and Arjuna he battles Indra and accomplishes his objective. The two figures standing on the chariot and shooting an arrow are Krishna and Arjuna while Indra on three elephants. This myth invented when the Hindu Brahmin tried to convinced people believing in Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Vishnu.


- The relief on the pediment of the NL facing east depicts Krishna slays his uncle Kamsa because his uncle killed his 6 brothers at birth and the son of his parents’ preceptor (Sandipani). After having killed his uncle he and his brother Balarama entered the realm of the dead to bring back to life the 6 slain brothers and the son of Sandipani. Sacred Angkor GuideBook, Pages 207


- The relief on the pediment of the southern library facing east unfolds one day, the ten-faced and 20-armed Rakshasa Dashanana (Ravana), Lord of Lanka, takes his Pushpaka chariot over the Savanna forest of reeds surrounding Mount Kailasa. Suddenly his cart comes to a stop at the foot of the mountain where Shiva is frolicking with Parvati. Nandi (Lord Shiva’s guardian, here he is in the form of monkeylike human) appears to inform Dashanana and friends that the mountain is a forbidden area. Ravana becomes furious and ridicules the situation and the simian look of Nandi. On hearing this, Nandi feels provoked and curses him by prophesying that one day monkeys will destroy him and race. Enraged by this prophecy, by being denied access to the mountain and also by Shiva’s great power to continuously sport with Parvati, Ravana decides to uproot Mt. Kailasa. Then he seizes the mountain in his arms and shakes it causing the mountain to tremble. The attendants of the god (gana) shiver and Parvati, terrified, clings to the neck of Lord Shiva. Then, as if part of a game, Shiva with his toe press down on the mountain crushing the arms of the Rakshasa, who emits a terrible cry causing the threefold world to tremble. Having heard this in the skies, Indra and the gods supplicate Shiva to release him. Shiva obeys and lets him go, but declares his name to be Ravana “the one who causes the worlds to cry out”. Ravana then begs the Lord to grant him the boon that no gods, anti-gods or monster will ever kill him ‒ he doesn’t consider men as they are too insignificant. Shiva condescends, and Ravana, leaving on his cart after paying obeisance to him, returns to the worlds where he will spread misery and death.


- The relief on the pediment of S L facing west reveals Kama, the god of love shoots his arrow to Shiva. In the Shiva Purana it is said that the demon Taraka, having propitiated Brahma by means of asceticism, obtains the boon that he could not be killed by any of gods, but only by someone who was born from the seed of Shiva. He brings havoc amongst the gods, including Vishnu. In order to restore peace, Indra summons Kama, the god of love (he who is born in the mind) and charges him to distract Shiva from his meditation and turn his mind towards lovemaking with Parvati. When he reaches the place where Lord Shiva is sitting in meditation, he releases his passion arrow to wake Shiva from his absorption in meditation but his arrow can’t hurt, wake or turn him towards lovemaking with Parvati. Suddenly, Shiva opens his third eye and burns him to ashes. On seeing this, Parvati faints, and when she regains consciousness, she asks shiva to resuscitate Kama, because without him there would be no feeling between man and woman, no happiness. Also Rati, Kama’s spouse, implores Shiva to bring her husband back. Shiva then makes Kama arise from the ashes in the disembodied form, indefinable, and “going here and there like the wind”.


Boeng Mealea

 Beng Mealea literally means “The Pond Of Lotus Flower” and it is another enormously complex with an area of 108 hectares. Although the real name or the precise date of this temple is unknown as no inscription found so far has mentioned it, the art and architecture are stylistically similar to that of Angkor Wat or the workmanship and composition are of the same fine quality. So the historians and archaeologists believed that it was built under the reign of the king Suryavarman II (1113 – 1150). Today, it is in poor condition because of natural elements, the lack of maintenance and vandalism, so visiting this site is an Indiana Jones experience but nearly every tourist who makes an effort to ply (explore) his or her way through the maze of the building emerges with a sense of wonder at the accomplishments of the Khmers in creating this earthly microcosm of the heavenly macrocosm. The temple proper occupies an area of 181m x 152m and its layout combines the temple mountain theme of the early and middle periods of Khmer art with the ground level plan adopted in the 13th century AD by connecting the two architectural concepts with covered galleries, corbelled vaulting, cruciform passages, raised walkways and shrines. It was encircled by a 1025m x 875m and 45 m wide moat which pierced through by four laterite and sandstone causeways with naga balustrades on east-west and north-south axis and the central sanctuary by the three concentric galleries or long halls and four libraries situated in between the courtyards of the temple proper. Whichever way as you wander amongst the ruins, keep in mind that you are progressing from the world of man to that of gods and moving to an increasing more spiritual plane


Banteay Chhmar

Banteay Chhmar relatively modern means “The Citadel Of The Cat” and the real name of this temple is not known. It is a royal Buddhist monastic complex which was built by the king Jayavarman VII but the precise date of its opening construction or consecration is missing. Banteay Chhmar was dedicated to his dead son named Virakoma and his four military officers who gave their life to help rescue the crown prince Indravarman II in the battle repelling the Chams. Banteay Chhmar is a little known and rarely visited site situated at the base of Dangrek mountains and one of the Buddhist temples has never been renovated by the later Hindu king Jayavarman VII. Even Banteay Chhmar is located too far from the capital city of Angkor, it is vast and comparable in size to other large monastic complexes such as Preah Khan and the walled city of Angkor Thom but today, it is a confused mass of fallen walls, collapsed galleries and broken stone blocks – all entwined with jungle. The temple was encircled by 3 enclosures and moats btw 2 of the walls. The outer 2000m N to S x 2500m E to W, the second 200m x 250m, the first 120m x 130m. During king Jayavarman VII’s rule, even he is a Mahayana Buddhist fervent but tolerated the people who believed in Hinduism so inside some Buddhist temple complexes, such as Preah Khan, Banteay Chhmar, he built the shrine for the Hindu gods, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.


This temple, according to Mr. Georges Croslier, took about 20,000 workers btw 27 and 30 years to complete it. The temple made an international news in 1998 through an organized looting in which 118 pieces of sandstone carvings were taken away from the galleried wall of the temple. They were transported across the Thai border but Thai police intercepted the truck and eventually the stolen pieces were returned to Cambodia and now in PP national museum. Noted Mr. Christopher Pym is the first visitor who came to see this temple in1956.


RELIEFS ON THE GALLERIED WALLS:

- East Wall, South Side: an action-packed battle scene on the Tonle Sap btw the Khmers and the Chams.

- South Wall, East and West Sides: the historical scene of the battle in 1177 AD when the Chams made a surprise attack on Angkor. Noted at west side near the gopura, the heads of 2 decapitated men show the fierceness of the battle.

- West Wall, South Side: a series of 8 standing multi-armed cosmic Lokesvaras With a single head, a rare form of the Bodhisatva in Khmer art. His typical attributes are: a book, prayer beads, a flask of nectar, a small Buddha seated in meditation appears in the cylindrical headdress of the figure, praying figures, celestial being, tropical foliage and lotus surrounds the central figure. ● north side: the churning of the ocean of milk; a gigantic mythical beast Rahu appears twice, he fights with a warrior and on the lower tier he devours a oxen-cart.

- North Wall, East Side: a grand and long parade of royal ladies in palanquins on the shoulders of bearers, a row of devotees carrying offerings. To see the central area, we need to climb over the stones, in and out the doorways and galleries. The shape is a rectangular complex of 120m x 40m. It consisted of 9 towers.

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