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Preah Khan Temple
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.