A combat scene in the Battle of Lanka
The image shows a section of the Battle of Lanka bas-relief depicting hand-to-hand combat between the Rama and Ravana’s warriors described in the Hindu epic Ramayana.
After the abduction of Rama’s wife Sita by Ravana, Rama gathered an army with the help of his ally Sugriva, the king of the vanara (monkey) kingdom of Kishkindha, and attacked Lanka to rescue her.
According to Ramayana, Lanka, where this epic battle took place, is an island located south of India. The present-day island nation of Sri Lanka closely fits the description of Lanka in Ramayana.
In this battle, Rama’s army consisted of mostly the vanaras from his ally Sugriva. Ravana being a rakshasa (demon), his army consisted of mostly the rakshasas.
The bas-relief depicts a raging battle that is underway with the rakshasa and monkey warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Straddled on the heads of two beautifully carved lions harnessed to a chariot is a ferocious monkey warrior carrying on his shoulder a rakshasa, who presumably is the charioteer. Notice that the rakshasa is wielding a sword and trying to attack the monkey warrior.
It is not clear who the monkey warrior is and to whom the chariot belongs. The Yudda Kanda chapter of Valmiki’s Ramayana describes the duels between the prominent figures of the rakshasa and vanara armies. According to this version of Ramayana, the monkey warrior in the bas-relief could be any one of Hanuman, Sugriva, Nila (Rama’s commander-in-chief ), and Angada (Vali’s son). The rakshasa warrior could be any one of Prahastha (Ravana’s commander-in-chief), Indrajit (Ravana’s son), and Kumbha and Nukumha (Ravana’s brother Kumbhakarna’s sons).
The entire Battle of Lanka bas-relief covers the western half of the north side gallery built on the perimeter of the lower level of the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Check the Angkor Wat Temple Layout for the exact location of the Battle of Lanka bas-relief.
Read the Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs page for a detailed description of this and other bas-reliefs.
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