Burning of the Khandava Forest
The pediment shown in the image belongs to the eastern facade of the north library situated inside the innermost enclosure of the Banteay Srei Temple, about 16 miles northeast of Siem Reap in Cambodia. As you can see from the image, the exquisitely carved bas-relief depicts a a scene from the Burning of the Khandava Forest episode described in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
At the top of the bas-relief is Indra, who is seen riding a three-headed elephant named Airavata, trying to put out the fire set by Agni by bringing down the rain. There is a layer of water underneath Indra to give the impression that the rain is coming down.
Below the water layer, there are two layers of arrows preventing the rain from coming down. These are created by Arjuna, who is seen standing at the lower-left side on a chariot holding a bow with his left hand and arrows on his right hand. Notice the two multi-headed nagas (serpents) at the middle of the arrows layers. In the story, Takshaka’s (naga king) wife swallows her son Ashvasena to save him from Arjuna’s arrows. As she tries to fly out of the forest, Arjuna cuts her head with his arrow. This move my Arjuna allows Ashvasena to escape from the forest.
On the lower-right side is Krishna, who is also seen standing on a chariot, preventing animals, asuras escaping the Khandava Forest. Krishna carries on his right hand Sudarshana Chakra, a disc-like weapon carried by Vishnu, which is to indicate that he is an avatar of Vishnu.
– Banteay Srei, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Phnom Kulen, Tonlé Sap, Cambodia
– Bali, Prambanan, Borobudur, Indonesia
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