Samudra Manthana – The Middle Section
The image shows the middle section of the Samudra Manthana (Churning of the Ocean of Milk) bas-relief carved on the southern wing of the east gallery located on the perimeter of the lower level of the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The Samudra Manthana is a collaborative effort by devas (demigods) and asuras (demons) to produce amrita, the nectar of immortality. With the seven-headed serpent called Vasuki as the rope and Mount Mandara as the churning rod, the devas and asuras on either side of Mount Mandara tug Vasuki to churn the ocean of milk.
The section of the bas-relief shown in the image depicts Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trinity, directing the churning at Mount Mandara. He is portrayed with four hands, two of which are holding the body of Vasuki and the other two are pointing upwards with the right hand holding a gada (mace) and the left hand is holding a disk-like weapon known as the Sudarshana Chakra.
Flying on the top of Mount Mandara is Indra, who is trying to stabilize the mountain by holding it down. To the left and right of Mount Mandara are the flying apsaras acting as cheerleaders to the asuras as well as the devas.
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