Banteay Srei: Burning of Khandava Forest – An episode from Mahabharata depicted on the east-facing north library pediment

Burning of Khandava Forest - An episode from Mahabharata depicted on the east-facing north library pediment of Banteay Srei in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Burning of Khandava Forest
The pediment shown in the image belongs to the north library situated inside the innermost enclosure of the Banteay Srei Temple, which is located 16 miles northeast of Siem Reap in Cambodia. As you can see from the image (click to expand), the finely carved bas-relief on the pediment portrays a scene from the Burning of 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 layer of water, 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 on his left hand and arrows on his right hand.

On the lower-right side is Krishna, who is also seen standing on a chariot, preventing animals, asuras, and Takshaka’s (naga king) family escaping the Khandava Forest. Krishna carries on his right hand Sudarshana Chakra, a disk-like weapon carried by Vishnu, which is to indicate that he is an avatar of Vishnu.

Visit: Bantaey Srei, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Cambodia

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