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Old April 21st, 2009, 12:09 PM
Cooldude Cooldude is offline
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Post The Angkor Wat Temple

Cambodia takes immense pride in its most revered piece of architecture, the Angkor Wat temple. Hallmarked proudly on their national flag, the massive temple epitomises the significance & sanctity Cambodians have given to the ancient structure.



A section of this temple has the entire Samudra Manthan (Churning the Ocean of Milk) spectacularly depicted on one 49-meter bas-relief wall inside the temple complex.



From what I’ve read, the Samudra Manthan was a joint effort between the devas (gods) and the demons (asuras) in churning the cosmic Ocean of Milk to produce amrita, the elixir of immortality by alternately pulling on the giant five headed naga Vasuki who was coiled around Mount Mandara.

On the left of the churning scene is seen Ravana holding the five heads of Vasuki. Then go on the 92 identical asuras pulling in unison on the naga.



On the right are a row of 88 devas pulling Vasuki with Lord Hanuman at the end holding Vasuki's tail.



At the centre of the panel is Lord Vishnu directing the operations. Below him is his avatar, the turtle Kurma, who is supporting the mountain from sinking into the ocean., Above Lord Vishnu is Lord Indra flying to keep the mountain steady. The churning created celestial nymphs, the apsaras, flying in two directions above. On the lower tier are marine creatures representing the Ocean of Milk who are caught by the turbulence of the churning.



The story goes that soon the amrita was successfully produced & the devas took possession of it. They broke their promise to the asuras to give them half of it, who then tried to steal it from the devas.


Pardon my ignorance on further details. My questions on the above are:

1) What’s the major significance of the above story in Hinduism? (Doesn't feature in Ramayana or Mahabharata I know of)
2) How’s this story related to the Kumbh mela held in Allahabad ?
3) Lastly is the same story depicted within any temple in India?

Last edited by Cooldude; April 21st, 2009 at 12:14 PM.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 12:44 PM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

Ask HHMD. He has the entire history of the samudra manthan - and also an alternate explanation.

This is a perversion, of course. Ravan and hanuman had nothing to do with the Samudra Manthan (IIRC). This was during the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu. I could be mistaken - but its all a big fairy tale anyway.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 01:40 PM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

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Originally Posted by smellyfinger View Post
Ask HHMD. He has the entire history of the samudra manthan - and also an alternate explanation.

This is a perversion, of course. Ravan and hanuman had nothing to do with the Samudra Manthan (IIRC). This was during the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu. I could be mistaken - but its all a big fairy tale anyway.
Completely agree. I am sure Sagar Manthan was way before Hanuman and Ravanas time. And it would not make sense to have them doing the work
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Old April 21st, 2009, 01:51 PM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

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Originally Posted by smellyfinger View Post
Ask HHMD. He has the entire history of the samudra manthan - and also an alternate explanation.

This is a perversion, of course. Ravan and hanuman had nothing to do with the Samudra Manthan (IIRC). This was during the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu. I could be mistaken - but its all a big fairy tale anyway.
I don't think 'koorm' here is Vishnu's avatar....remember after manthan Vishnu took Mohini roop and made Asurs drink Vish, instead of Amrit... Rahu and Ketu survived because they sat among Devs....

One of the theories in Hindu mythology suggest that earth is placed on the back of a huge turtle...and samudra manthan took place long before Mahabharat and Ramayan{correction: Wiki says it is mentioned in these epics].... Indra got Airavat and Urvashi after manthan.... and Urvashi (or was it Rambha) proposed to Arjun later.

I don't know if the whole story is depicted on any other temple's walls but there is a village in Bihar where almost every house has a mythological story carved on its outer walls... I remember seeing Samudra manthan and Bali-Sugriva yuddha in one of the houses.

from wiki:
The nectar of immortality
Finally, Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician, emerged with a pot containing amrita, the heavenly nectar of immortality. Fierce fighting ensued between devas and asuras for the nectar.

To protect the nectar from asuras, devas hid the pot of nectar at four places on the earth - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. At each of these places, a drop of the nectar spilled from the pot and it is believed that these places acquired mystical power. A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places every twelve years for this reason.

However, the Asuras eventually got hold of the nectar and started celebrating. Frightened, devas (demigods) appealed to Vishnu, who then took the form of Mohini. As a beautiful and enchanting damsel, Mohini distracted the asuras, took the amrita, and distributed it among the Adityas, who drank it. One asura, Rahu, disguised himself as a deva and drank some nectar. Due to their luminous nature, the sun god Surya and the moon god Chandra noticed the switching of sides. They informed Mohini. But before the nectar could pass his throat, Mohini cut off his head with her divine discus, the Sudarshana Chakra. The head, due to its contact with the amrita, remained immortal. To gain revenge on the sun and moon for exposing this, the immortal head occasionally swallows the sun or the moon, causing eclipses. Then, the sun or moon passes through the opening at the neck, ending the eclipse.
The story ends with the rejuvenated Adityas defeating the asuras.
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Last edited by chitrala; April 21st, 2009 at 01:57 PM.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 07:35 PM
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Exclamation Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

Even Thailand's new Suvarnabhumi International Airport in
Bagkok has a large structure ( almost 100-150 ft. long) in the middle of the terminal depicting the Samudra Manthan scene with large statues of Devas and Asuras involved in the Samudra Manthan effort.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 09:37 AM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

Agree with Soorma Bhopali...

Samudra Manthan is very conspicuous in Suwarnabhoomi Airport, and they place fresh flowers in front of a prayer lamp near it, everyday. They also have scenes from Ramayan painted all along the airport.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 11:14 AM
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Smile Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

Quote:
Originally Posted by chitrala View Post
To protect the nectar from asuras, devas hid the pot of nectar at four places on the earth - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. At each of these places, a drop of the nectar spilled from the pot and it is believed that these places acquired mystical power. A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places every twelve years for this reason.
Thanks for the info Chits. Repped you.

What's the funda with the 12 year period between two Kumbh Melas?
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 01:19 PM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

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Originally Posted by Cooldude View Post
Thanks for the info Chits. Repped you.

What's the funda with the 12 year period between two Kumbh Melas?
some from wiki

For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the pot of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, the celestial bird, Garuda the vehicle of Vishnu flew away with the Kumbha of elixir, and that is when drops of amrita fell at four places on earth: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik, and that is where the Kumbh Mela is observed every twelve years.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

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Originally Posted by smellyfinger View Post
Ask HHMD. He has the entire history of the samudra manthan - and also an alternate explanation.

This is a perversion, of course. Ravan and hanuman had nothing to do with the Samudra Manthan (IIRC). This was during the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu. I could be mistaken - but its all a big fairy tale anyway.
Smelly...I'm flattered that you remember my alternate explanation of Samudhra Manthan. I tried to blend it into my story of Tantra, but I'll try to put my theory here.

---

As per the legend, Maharshi Durvasa cursed Indra that he would lose his powers. So Brahma told Indra to perform the Samudhra Manthan in order to retrieve amrit. The asuras and devas churned the ocean using a snake called Vasuki and a mountain called Mandara. At first, a poison called Halahala emerged. Shiva drank that poison which stuck in his throat and that is why he is called Neelkantha. Then, Vishnu intervened, in the form of a Kurma or turtle, and sat below the mountain in order to facilitate the churning. The churning was successful and things started to emerge - Kamadhenu (cow), Ucchaisrava (the white horse), Airavata (elephant), Kalpavriksha (wish-granting tree), Ratnas (gems), Kaustabha Mani (the most precious diamond). Finally, Dhanvantari emerged, holding a golden kumbh filled with amrit. The devas and the asuras fought to get possession of the amrit. During their battle, drops of amrit fell at four places: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Kumbh Mela is observed at these four locations, every four years.

One may think that these are mythological stories and are not relevant to the present times, but that would be belittling the intelligence of our ancestors.

In my opinion, the "Samudhra Manthan" is an artistic depiction of extremely significant events in the history of civilization.

Just imagine, prior to the Vedic era, humans lived a nomadic and tribal life as hunters and gatherers. They lived in small communities like a herd. Their religious practices were probably animistic.

Then came the true seers - Rishis and Munis - like Maharshi Atre and the saptarishi who tried to organize society by creating divisions of labor. They create four castes, based on four important activities. Segregation of duties is an exceptionally important function from an anthrological/sociological point. Now farmers could be farmers and warriors could be warriors. We take this for granted now, but in those times, it would have been a historic event. The caste system would have transformed a nomadic/tribal civilization into a thriving, prosperous kingdom and unleashed a wave of growth and prosperity across the world.


The common perception is that the Samudhra Manthan was some kind of celestial event…something spiritual! Bullshit. It was an economic model. To understand the Samudhra manthan, you have to travel back in time, a time when trade was done only in the form of barter. Barter means give and take - you give me tomatoes and I will give you potatoes.

This system may have worked in a local economy, but one cannot conduct inter-kingdom trade using a barter system. This was the time when the ship had just been invented. The traders wanted to sell their goods and wares to partners across the oceans – the Asuras.

By the way, the Asuras were NOT demons. They were the Persians or Zoroastrians. You see, the Zoroastrians had a tendency to pronounce the s as h. They called themselves as Ahuras, and named their religious text as Ahura Mazda. Their nemesis were the ‘daevas’.

The fact is, the word Hindu is also a Persian term to define the collection of religions practiced on the eastern side of the river Sindhu. None of our ancient texts ever use the word ‘Hindu’ anywhere!

It's possible that the the Indian king (Indra was probably a designation rather than a person) gathered Indian traders and the Persian traders together to negotiate terms of trade – not a celestial event but definitely a major milestone in the history of humanity. The world needed a common monetary unit that could be a store of value. These discussions were probably extremely confrontational and ended in wars.

So, they engaged a neutral arbitrator, Kurma, to facilitate the negotiations. He started the first workable monetary system – the system of using ‘cows’. The ‘Satapatha Brahmana’ is replete with shlokas on how to price goods in terms of number of cows. This system was a huge success. It provided a common platform to trade. Cows are very unique animals. They are easy to domesticate, prduce valuable milk from grass and chaff, provide manure and fuel, and provide leather. Bulls help with farming. Basically, a household that has a herd of cows and a farmland can be completely self-sufficient. Cows, because they were money, became sacred. Even today, it is considered blasphemous to kill a cow. It is like destroying money!

Over time, other parallel systems started to emerge based on domestic conditions. The Persians started trading in Horses. Other kingdoms started trading in elephants and tree trunks. Some kingdoms started trading women as money, calling them Apsaras! Apsaras, although considered to be beautiful women, are not revered.

It is easy to see why trading in livestock could become a disaster after a while. It is difficult to trade in large quantities and the wealthier you get, the more problems you have in maintaining the livestock.

Then, Kurma, with the help of the Brahmins, came up with a system to trade in precious stones. This proved to be a much better monetary system than livestock. Diamonds and rubies were easier to carry and a lot easier to store. Wealth could be passed on from generation to generation. However, there were other problems with this system. The grades of stones could vary dramatically and it was easy to get duped.

Finally, Kurma came up with a monetary system that was based on a gold standard. Gold, an inert and noble metal, was easy to carry and store. Gold could be easily validated with the king’s royal seal. Gold coins could be of varied denominations. Above all, women love gold.

This was it – an immortal monetary standard was created. Trade flourished and everyone got immensely wealthy. That was the symbol. Emerging from the ocean, carrying the golden pot full of Amrit, was the divine DHANVANTARI (the possessor of wealth). Even today, Dhanteras is celebrated by traders all over India. This was the day the gold standard was established.

The Brahmins organized a trade fair once every four years, the Kumbh mela, at strategic locations to allow for traders to come in from all directions. The purpose was for the traders from across the world to display their goods and wares and learn about new products and techniques from the Brahmins, just like any modern day fair!

As a token of appreciation, the traders donated gold to the Brahmins, symbolized by the drop of amrit at the Kumbh mela.

Last edited by HarHarMahaDev; April 27th, 2009 at 08:03 PM.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 07:18 PM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

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Originally Posted by HarHarMahaDev View Post




By the way, the Asuras were NOT demons. They were the Persians or Zoroastrians. You see, the Zoroastrians had a tendency to pronounce the s as h. They called themselves as Ahuras, and named their religious text as Ahura Mazda. Their nemesis were the ‘daevas’.

[/size][/font]
Great post hurry....

A little doubt.... jharkhand is considered to be home of asurs.... these people had the know-how of iron-smelting before aryans. I have seen hills scattered with ores left after extracting iron. Some sociologists believe that aryans traded with asurs in iron and later learnt the art of iron-smelting and used that to defeat asurs. There are tribes in jharkhand who still don't engage much with outside world. They pretty much make everything on their own except cloths and some food items.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 12:48 AM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

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Originally Posted by Soorma Bhopali View Post
Even Thailand's new Suvarnabhumi International Airport in
Bagkok has a large structure ( almost 100-150 ft. long) in the middle of the terminal depicting the Samudra Manthan scene with large statues of Devas and Asuras involved in the Samudra Manthan effort.
Quote:
Originally Posted by deshpremi View Post
Agree with Soorma Bhopali...

Samudra Manthan is very conspicuous in Suwarnabhoomi Airport, and they place fresh flowers in front of a prayer lamp near it, everyday. They also have scenes from Ramayan painted all along the airport.
Reviving this old thread. It's amazing how the Thais have given so much significance to this ancient mythology by depicting it so perfectly in their capital's airport. Kudos to them.

A pertinent article here.



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Old March 9th, 2012, 12:50 AM
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Question Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

Below is the Battle of Kurukshetra from another bas relief within the Angkor Wat. I can only identify Arjuna on the chariot at the top left & Bheeshma on the bed of arrows at the top right.

Anyone care to describe the rest?

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Old March 9th, 2012, 03:24 AM
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cooldude View Post
Reviving this old thread. It's amazing how the Thais have given so much significance to this ancient mythology by depicting it so perfectly in their capital's airport. Kudos to them.
Good to have you back Coolbhau. David retired from Indian cricket team just today ... so I had a feeling you will be here. And beside today is Friday ... Jai Santoshi Maa Ji Ki.

Wouldn't it be nice to find such depictions at our airports here in secular India? Several years ago, I had won Diwali raffle ticket for a trip to Singapore with a stopover in Bangkok. At the entrance in the foyer of this international chain hotel in Bangkok was 6/7 feet tall marble Murati of Lord Shiva with fresh garlands and aarti deepak burning 24/7. I was impressed.

It was not long ago that natives of Thailand, Bali, and many far-east countries looked up to us Indian Hindus with respect and for religious guidance. Not any more. Ever since these software engineers started traveling searching for work ... we don't get no respect no more.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 04:22 AM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

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And beside today is Friday ... Jai Santoshi Maa Ji Ki.
friday is more holy for muslims than it is for hindus
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Old July 27th, 2016, 08:29 PM
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Re: The Angkor Wat Temple

Yes, not only for muslims the firday is a holy day. But also for many other religions too. Many think that the elixir of immortality so called amirtha from the heaven was got on that day. So it is considered holy day for hindus too.
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