Battle of Kurukshetra – Advancing Kaurava army and the death of Bhishma
The image shows a section of the bas-relief depicting a scene from the Battle of Kurukshetra, which is based on the Hindu epic Mahabharata. This bas-relief is carved on the southern section of the west gallery, which is located on the perimeter of the lower level of the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Check the Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs page for the other bas-rliefs in the lower level gallery.
As you can see from the bas-relief, the soldiers on foot and commanders on chariots are advancing from left to right. They belong to the Kaurava army and are fighting against the Pandava army in the famous Battle of Kurukshetra described in Mahabharata. On the top portion of this bas-relief is Bhishma, the commander of the Kaurava army and the grand-uncle of both the Kauravas and Pandavas, lying on the bed of arrows fired at him by Arjuna. Bhishma led the Kaurava army for the first ten days of the battle.
The death of Bhishma is a well-known episode, and here is the story in brief:
As the Kurukshetra Battle rages, Krishna realizes Bhishma is an obstacle to Pandava’s victory because Arjuna is unable to beat Bhishma in the battle. To ensure Pandava’s victory, Krishna devises a clever plan involving Shikhandi, a eunuch, to kill Bhishma. Krishna knew Bhishma took an oath not to fight the other gender.
As per the plan, Shikhandi accompanies Arjuna in his chariot on the tenth day of the battle. When the battle between Arjuna and Bhishma starts, Arjuna hides behind Shikhandi and fires arrows at Bhishma. Unable to fight back because of his oath, Bhishma lays down his arms. Seizing this opportunity, Arjuna fires arrows at Bhisma, and as Arjuna’s arrows pierce through Bhishma’s body, he falls down with the arrows on his body. The top of the bas-relief depicts this scene. It appears as though he is lying on the bed of arrows. See this image.
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