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3 The Churning of the Milky Ocean

The final approach to the main sanctuary on the upper most terrace at Vat Phu is reached by a very steep set of stairs comprised of 7 sets of eleven stairs each. Symbolically these stairs refer to passing through the 7 lokas (worlds) to reach final enlightenment. To reach the abode of the gods in heaven, filled with stars (nakshatras), the spiritual seeker must pass through these 7 worlds.

Bhur Loka – Earth
Bhuvar Loka – Space between the earth and the sun
Svar Loka – Heaven of the God Indra
Mahar Loka – The region above the pole star
Janar Loka – Inhabited by Brahma's son Sanat Kumara
Tapar Loka – The world free from worldly desires
Satya Lokar – Abode of Brahma

Final stair case to main sanctuary at Vat Phu

It is the ascent through the Lokas that man leaves the earthly realm and climbs to the highest realm of the gods. Upon reaching the edge of the terrace I saw before me the side of the mountain coming down to meet the most exquisite temple which seemed to be untouched by time. The sunlight was being cast down into the center of the temple only to come forth from the main entrance with a shimmering golden orange glow.

Main Sanctuary at Vat Phu

I could not have been more transfixed as I was at that moment upon first seeing the sanctuary. There before me was the orange cube I had seen the night before in my dream. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the very image I had in my dream. I knew then that my dream was a premonition of what I was about to experience on my pilgrimage to Vat Phu.

Golden silks in the sun in the main sanctuary at Vat Phu

As I approached the golden glow shining out of the sanctuary the one thought occupying my mind was if the whirlpool of energy was inside the sanctuary and if the cut on my forehead had any significance. At this point I felt as if I was half awake and half in a dream. The coincidence to witness this golden image made me realize I had already been here. Somehow everything I was seeing was in some way connected and if I could only put all the pieces together I would know what was told to me the night before by those visitors inside the cube. If I had doubts earlier, when I was in the quadrangle of the northern palace concerning whether I had been here before, those thoughts had all vanished and I was now entertaining the idea that maybe I was here before.

Standing directly in front of me, as if frozen in time, were the two most remarkable figures I had ever seen. Nothing what so ever indicated they could not come to life as the details of their personages were so very perfect in their artistic execution.

These two beautiful apsaras (celestial nymphs) were adorned profusely with jewelry and the finest of silks. I spent a long time admiring their countenance as if in some way they had something to say.

Apsara facing north Goddess facing south

A closer look reveals the details of both the way their hair is styled and the jewelry which accents their presence. Their smiles are still alluring and they still exude a grace and sensitivity which I find most exceptional after all these centuries.

Apsara dress design

As I continued to study these Apsaras I became intrigued with the apsara on the north side of the central shrine. Specifically I was curious over how a knot had been designed into her long flowing hair. At first glance I paid little attention to this aspect of a knot in the hair but then I noticed how gracefully she was holding the hair in her hand.

Apsara with knot in her hair

Her hair was very long ending in the shape of a chord or rope. At this point I realized that carved into the stones of this central shrine there were probably many design elements which concerned themselves with messages about ritual practices the priests would perform for the kings. These messages could also be easily overlooked as they were incorporated very subtly into the overall design of the sanctuary.

I moved closer to the Apsara so I could photograph her hair knot. I was intrigued and drawn to this knot even though I had no idea why. Months would pass before I would finally be able to interpret a divine message not only with this design element of a knot, but with many other motifs incorporated into the Vat Phu complex.

The knot I come to learn was used in verses of hymns symbolizing the breath of life and the bridge to immortality. In the posthumous essays of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1887-1947) which were written in 1947 and finally published in 2004 in a book titled, "Guardians of the Sun Door", was I able to find a reference to the knot used in the sacred texts of the Aitareya Upanishads. After reading the Aitareya Upanishad I could see how the Khmer artisans could incorporate a knot as a sacred message into their art work. In the Aitareya Aranyaka, first Adhyaya, sixth Khanda the first two verses reads:

1. "Speech is his (the breath's) rope, the names the knots.
Thus by his speech as by a rope, and by his name as by
Knots, all this is bound. For all this are names indeed
and with speech he calls everything."

2. "People carry him who knows this, as if they were bound
by a rope."

There are eight Khandas (verses) in the Aitrareya Aranyaka describing how Brahma brought life into this earthly realm through his breath, and the austerities that must be performed and the lessons to be learned by us humans to re-enter the immortal realms of the gods. If my recognition of this knot truly is a sacred message, as I suspect it is, I can well imagine what purpose this shrine provided for establishing the spiritual ground work for this astounding empire that lasted nearly 1,000 years. After seeing how the knot was used as a sacred message I then looked upon the Apsara on the southern side of the central shrine with an entirely new perspective to again see another story carved in stone.

The celestial nymph facing south had the most unusual coffered hair style, as well as having unusually full breasts. In her right hand she is holding a lotus blossom while her left hand is facing downward to the earth. I then realized the hair ornamentations were symbolically representative of the lotus flower. I come to learn from the well known Indologist, Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943), that this figure is the goddess Lotus-Shri-Lakshmi. The use of lotus flowers in her hair, as well as her large breasts signifying having abundant milk to give life to the universe, were the two elements that enabled me to see this celestial nymph in a much different light. The long lotus stalk passing up through her right hand is known as "lotus in hand" (padmahasta, padmapani) while the right hand faces downward bestowing gifts. This is none other than the Great Mother Goddess of the ancient civilizations and is referred to in the Rig Veda as prajanam bhavasi mata, "Thou art the mother of created beings". Now, I realized that represented here, at the main sanctuary, was Lakshmi the consort to Vishnu. The use of this symbolism at Vat Phu is to show that this temple was the gate to the universe for the lotus is the first product of the creative principle and the Lotus-Shri-Lakshmi is personified as the Goddess Mother of the created world.

Great Mother Goddess at Vat Phu

I did not enter the eastern entrance to the sanctuary which was between the two Drarapalas, Apsara and Great Mother Goddess, but instead went around to the southern entrance. It was here at the southern entrance into the sanctuary that the orange cube began to spin in my mind. Immediately I found myself entranced with what I knew to be the whirl pool to the center of the universe. There on top of the door way was the lintel with Vasuki the serpent king, the asuras and devas, Kurma (avatar of Lord Vishnu) the tortoise, and the head of a horse. The churning was taking place at the sanctuary, the milky ocean was being churned and the elixir of immortality was being sought after. This was the time when a new world age was about to take place and the gods were summoned to stabilize the universe.

The Churning of the Milky Ocean at Vat Phu

As time and the heavens move endlessly in Indra's home of the universe there are apparently few people on earth today who realize that a large celestial occurrence is taking place between our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy. The ancient cultures were well aware of these celestial movements and discussed them for thousands of years until those stories of the secrets of the heavens became abandoned and neglected. Few today would consider that the center of our Milky Way galaxy could transform the way humans thought about themselves in the universe. Celestial mechanics is not something taught in any grade school and only in those universities that would be offering and an astronomy course. But even if celestial mechanics were being taught any eschatological or cosmological significance which could be attributed to these heavenly movements would be non-existent. So where could one find the teachings of the spiritual dimensions to the workings of celestial mechanics in our galaxy? I doubt anywhere, but even if it did exist it would probably be buried in some remote academic department and could never be found. The question needing to be answered is what does the spiritual significance mean to anyone when they associated that spirit with astronomical measurements of moving bodies in space?

The symbolism the astronomers from India were using long ago originated from ancient stories which became myths, but those myths carried within them the nature of humankind's exalted place in the universe. The churning of the milky ocean is one of those exalted myths that if understood would allowed humans to travel freely in the universe, and if those humans knew how to read the stars that moved in the heavens they could also achieve immortality. Vat Phu was a temple to the stars and Kings and priest traveled to Vat Phu for over 1,500 years to learn of those secrets to assure their immortality. It was from Vat Phu that the Devaraja cult was born where man and god were fused together and the divine relationship between the Kings and Gods would be preserved.

During the latter part of the 20th century there were two humans who were able to unlock the secret of how the ancient cultures understood their relationship to the stars, planets, galaxy and the larger universe. I suppose we could call these people "mythical-code breakers". If it were not for Giorgio de Santillana from the history of science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Hertha von Dechend from the Frobenius-Institut in Frankfurt Germany the world may still be in the dark concerning the history of the ancient cultures going back over some 10,000 years or more. Their contribution was in deciphering all the world myths and how they related to astronomical events in our local galaxy. The myth that was persistently integrated into all the world myths was about an axis or pole or even a pillar that became unhinged or broke thus leading to a frantic quest to save the earth from falling into the abyss. The story most used in all these myths to describe the fall of man and the world was about a mill. The frantic quest to save the mill from not working or not being able to turn or churn became the myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean. Their book, "Hamlet's Mill", published in 1969, was the beginning of modern man understanding the beliefs of ancient man.

This myth is prominently placed on the southern entrance to Vat Phu. King Suyavarman I and his purohita, Sivacarya, made certain that this myth was integrated into the temple design to preserve the ancient history of the human race and how men were once Gods. In the Vedic literature of the Rig Veda there are spiritual and philosophical hymns dedicated to this mill pole. Hymn (10.7) of 44 verses in the Atharva Veda is titled Skambha (pillar) "The Support of the Universe". It is dedicated to the eternal entity or Brahman which existed before the manifested universe. Everything is established from this pillar (Skambha).

Verse 35:

skambha has upheld these two- Heaven and Earth-skambha has upheld the wide mid-air,skambha has upheld the six spacious regions,skambha pervades the whole world. (35)

Skambha shown on the Churning of the Milky Ocean scene at Vat Phu

Again, on top of Vat Phu the Skambha is shown on a scene from the churning of the milky ocean on a lintel above the southern entrance to the main sanctuary. As humanity enters the beginning years of the 21st century hardly any attention is being devoted to the most significant celestial occurrence taking place currently in our solar system. The ancient cultures, however, were well aware of the significance of the precession of the equinoxes and integrated it into their cultures as a creation myth. The myth had existed for thousands of years but then became forgotten and abandon as having no relevance to human evolution or personal growth.

But then, Joseph Campbell, a world renowned mythologian, resurrected myth from fantasy and falsehood in the last part of the 20th century and showed to the world how celestial events do hold great spiritual and psychological meaning for personal human growth. These celestial events have been, for the most part, relegated to the concept of myth or just stories completely invented by human imagination without any influences from celestial bodies. Campbell demonstrated that myths were metaphors for humankind's spiritual and psychological transformation and that the heavens were filled with a multitude of spiritual influences.

Near the close of the 20th century the code to understanding these ancient myths had finally been understood. As a consequence of these deeper insights into the ancient past a flurry of scholars worldwide recognized the wisdom revealed by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend and began publishing works related to the ancient myths. The following is a short list of publications which have provided the world with new understandings of the relationship between myth and astronomy.

1969: Hamlet's Mill – Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend


1971 – Secrets of the Great Pyramid – Peter Tomkins
1973 – Mahabharata – William Buck
1973 – Speaking of Siva – A.K. Ramanujan
1975 – Cosmic Humanism and World Unity – Oliver L. Reiser
1976 – Ramayana – William Buck
1976 – Genesis Revisited – Zecharia Sitchin
1979 – The Round Art – A.T. Mann
1979 – Serpent in the Sky – John Anthony West


1987 – The Mayan Factor – Jose Arguelles
1988 – The Greatest Story Never Told – Lana Cantrell
1989 – The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries – David Ulansy


1991 – The Mill of Time – Terry Alden
1992 – Breaking the Maya Code – Michael Coe
1994 – The Orion Mystery – Robert Bauval and Adrien Gilbert
1995 – Finger Prints of the Gods – Graham Hancock
1996 – Angkor Wat – Time, Space, and Kingship – Eleanor Mannikka
1998 – Heaven's Mirror – Graham Hancock
1998 – Maya Cosmogenesis2012 – John Major Jenkins
1998 – The Code of the Kings – Linda Schele and Peter Mathews
1999 – Celestial Keys to the Vedas – B.G. Sidharth
1999 – A Monument to the End of Time – Jay Wiedner – Vincent Bridges
1999 – Homer's Secret Iliad – Florence and Kenneth Wood

21st Century:

2002 – In Pursuit of Sacred Science – Mark Long and Ceasar Voute
2002 – Space and Cosmology in the Hindu Temple – Subash Kak
2002 – Galactic Alignment – John Major Jenkins
2002 – Lost Star of Myth and Time – Walter Cruttenden
2005 – Orion's Cosmic Wonders in Shiva's Chidambaram – Raja Deckshitar

Not only had contemporary authors seen the significance to the "myth-code" being deciphered but ancient texts and ancient monuments were now seen in a totally new perspective by recognizing how these astronomical events were incorporated into architecture and a few surviving epic tales. Everywhere new insights and revelations were being discovered as well as new ancient temples being unearthed.

In the dense jungles of Johor, Malaysia the 7th century lost city of Kota Gelanggi has been located by Raimy Che-Ross claiming it may be the capital of the Sri Vijaya Malay Empire. And it the northwest Peten region of Guatamala the lost ancient royal center called La Corona was finally found by Ian Graham of Harvard's Peabody Museum. All these discoveries are pointing to the quest of a common myth which shows the spiritual significance these ancient cultures attributed to the precession of the equinoxes and their alignment to heavenly bodies.

Oliver L. Reiser, (1975) told the world how our galaxy has a profound influence on our lives. These were not just simple astrological musings but carefully researched insights which gave Reiser the wisdom that it's the heavens that make us become what we are as a result of celestial cycles and cosmic influences. Few today, however, would consider the influences the center of our Milky Way galaxy has on transforming the human psyche.

But as we return to the ancient Vedic scriptures we find in the Mahabharata the story of the churning of the milky ocean. Now that the precession of the equinoxes was determined to be one of the connecting threads for all the myths we can stand back and look at the churning of the milky ocean at Vat Phu and enter the most holy of sanctuaries where the Shiva lingam was anointed daily by the sacred waters from

Lingaparvata thus honoring and preserving the World Age in which the Khmer Kings would rule for over 1,500 years. The glory of the universe was understood by those Brahman priests, and they left behind a legacy in stone so that the amnesia that besets our current civilization can end and a new world age of attunement to the heavens for our much heralded global humanity can be achieved.

So now Vat Phu takes on an even deeper meaning. Not only is Vat Phu the cradle of the Khmer empire, but it is also the center of deep spiritual awareness of humanity's place in the universe. Let us begin our journey into that whirl pool of orange light and see the wonders of heaven open up before us. The whirl pool was spinning and I could hear voices as I did in my dream. Somehow I knew what was told to me by those visitors that came through the door of that cube in my dream. They were the celestial teachers telling me the story of the creation of the universe. It was clear now they were Bhrama, Shiva, Vishnu and Sakti the four principle Hindu deities which Chhom Kuthea claims reside in Kuruksetra. I wondered how much of my dream I could recall.

Indra riding Airavata main sanctuary Vat Phu

Inside the sacred orange cube, from my dream, the lord of the Gods (Indra) watches over the eternal celestial cycles as he rides his great three headed white elephant
Airavata. Indra is placed on two lintels in the center of the main sanctuary facing east. Once you pass through this star gate you enter the most holy of holy sanctuaries; the home of Lord Shiva. All the legends of the creation of the universe are here remembered and it's from this one central place in the temple where the kings would be closest to the gods.

Central chamber main sanctuary Vat Phu
But what else does the main sanctuary provide these Khmer kings? After all, Suyavarman I was considered to be the greatest temple builder in the entire empire. I have made reference earlier to the quest for immortality as it was told in the ancient literature from India. The southern entrance has several carvings which indicate that to obtain immortality an understanding of the abode of the gods was essential. In fact a manifestation of Shiva as an ascetic in deep meditation can be found on the lower most corner of a colonette holding up the lintel showing the churning of the milky ocean scene. To enter this sanctuary only the most enlightened pilgrim would be allowed to enter.

Shiva's manifestation as an ascetic

The first lintel above the colonette is the most instructive to this celestial knowledge. However, unlike the churning of the milky ocean scene at Angkor Wat, Vat Phu's is much smaller. What is so unique about this churning scene is the depiction of the head of a horse and the head of Vishnu on top of the back of Kurma; lord of the tortoises. Kurma is also another manifestation of Vishnu.

Kurma, King of the Tortoises, at Vat Phu

As the epic tale is told in the Mahabharata Kurma used his tortoise shell to support Mt. Mandhara which in turn was used as the churning pole to stabilize the world. Vasuki, King of the serpents, used his long body to wrap around the mountain while the Devatas pulled on the tail and the Asuras pulled on the head.
Vishnu stabilized the churning pole high atop the lintel with only his lower legs now showing. These two celestial beings pulled back and forth churning the ocean of milk for a thousand years to bring forth the elixir of immortality. Directly beneath this scene is the most amazing face of Kirttimukha (divine guardian) supporting the entire churning effort. The Kirttimukha is a special representation of Shiva himself. If anyone neglected to worship this face they would not receive Shiva's grace. However,, if the devotee greets Kirttimukha as Shiva himself as both a sign of his destructive powers and divine grace then Shiva will allow the seeker to receive the secret knowledge.

Face of Kirttimukha under the churning lintel at Vat Phu

Between the churning of the milky ocean and Kirttimukha is a hint to the astronomical awareness inserted at this lintel before entering the holy sanctuary.

The sacred number 108 incorporated into a lintel at Vat Phu

Interpreting the meaning of these small orbs around the lintel opens the seeker into the depths and secrets of the universe. Counting these small orbs one can discover that there are exactly 108 in each circuit. It is well known that the number 108 is the most sacred of all numbers in Hindu cosmology. There are many ways 108 can be interpreted for a deeper understanding of the cosmos. In the Sanskrit alphabet there are 54 letters. Each letter has a masculine and feminine aspect representing Shiva and Sakti. There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas equaling 108. The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth and when 108 is incorporated into Hindu sacred literature we find that there are 108 Upanishads. These are all abstract symbols mirroring the myth of the ancient stories of the origins of the universe. So by having this lintel between the churning of the milky ocean and Kirttimukha indicates that there was a secret that was well guarded at Vat Phu which only the initiated could know about and learn how to use for the ultimate quest for immortality.

In the Rig Veda Samhita there is a passage which refers to the Ashvin Twins being replaced with the head of a horse. This verse refers to a girdle around the waist similarly to the one shown on the lintel behind the churning scene. To paraphrase the verse it reads…"the horse's head becomes the revealer of the secret knowledge of the elixir which acts like a girdle, *(around the waist), to strengthen the understanding of the spiritual obligations necessary for Shiva. In the Nakshastras Shiva is represented as Ardra the god of destruction. When Shiva comes close to the galactic center in 2012 the destruction of the world will take place. It is at this time when that which has been made manifest will be destroyed in order to save grace for the future. This is the time of the dark night of the soul in preparation for a new dawn or a new beginning. If we look at the next Nakshastra it is Punarvasa or the "return of the light". The presiding deity is Aditi, the mother of the gods, and the reigning stars are Castor and Pollux the Gemini twins, the two who give back the good. Another set of twins which can be woven into spiritual form and a reminder of the operation of the heavens at Vat Phu.

After the "myth-code" was finally deciphered by Giorgio de Santilana and Hertha von Dechend in 1969, much like the Rosetta Stone which was deciphered by the French scholar Jean François Champollion in 1822 unlocking the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphs, the churning of the milky ocean could then be read as a specific astronomical event. That event was the precession of the equinoxes. In 400 BC the sun would rise during the spring solstice in the asterism (constellation) of the Horse's Head indicated by the Nakshastra (Hindu star positions) of the Ashwin Twins.

This celestial event is where the sun is near the intersection of the Milky Way and the ecliptic. These Ashwin Twins announced the day, and from the center of the Horse's Head brow a bright flame came forth cleansing the world. After I became aware of the horse's head story in the Mahabharata the cut of my forehead took on a new significance. Again, it's necessary to go into the Mahabharata and read the story of how Vishnu put on the horse's head with a flame coming out of his forehead to reclaim the elixir of immortality to fully appreciate the symbolism.

It became an overwhelming personal revelation to now be able to integrate all the elements of my dream which happened the night before with the events unfolding as my journey to the main sanctuary was becoming more understood. It would take five months, however, of questioning and research to finally understand the significance of what the lintels could mean to the Khmer kings and priests.

After the milky ocean scene the last lintel before entering the main part of the sanctuary was a most curious depiction of a scene from the Vedic literature. Two identical beings were emerging from the womb of another deity. I could not help but see this scene as the Ashwin twins themselves. The epic tale of the Head of the Horse in the Mahabharata is much to extensive to include in this writing. However, Ucchaishravaa, the gem among horses did emerge from the milky ocean. For out of the churning of the milky ocean many things emerged before the elixir of immortality finally came forth as is written in the Puranas. The Ashwin Twins cleared the path of any debris that would hinder the journey through the stars and beyond through the gates of heaven or the sun door as A. K. Coomaraswamy refers to them. Passing under the Ashwins the seeker of the secret knowledge would then be in the center of the sanctuary and joined with the gods.

Ashwin Twins clearing the cosmic path at Vat Phu

The devas and the asuras churn the sea of milk (the Milky Way Galaxy) back and forth. They are trying to stabilize the Skambha (the world pillar) as the slow movement of the equinoxes begins to shift and the Skambha no longer points in the same direction. The whirl pool inside the orange cube is filled with many elements which all refer to stars in the heavens. And the apsaras it is said, over six hundred million, came from the churning dazzling everyone who saw them. The firmament became a chandelier of lights and the great sea of stars stretched across the sky. And behold the brightest star of all the jewels in the universe, called the Kaustubha, came forth from the churning and became the center gem on Shiva's breast plate and the center of the galaxy itself. When the elixir finally appeared from the churning of the milky ocean the one who held the secret to the stars could then pass through the gates of heaven and drink of immortality. These gates were guarded by Drarapalas and lions facing the east where the Ashwin Twins, being the leaders of all the nakshastras, would rise in the morning clearing the way to the gates of heaven, the sun door, where millions of dazzling lights (Apsaras) filled the heavens and the quest for immortality was attained.

Guardians to the main sanctuary at Vat Phu

It is no surprise then that the large court yards were built the way they were. The axial path way to the stars was the ultimate design of Vat Phu, and once the center of the main sanctuary was reached all the knowledge acquired from each station on the way to Shiva's abode prepared the soul to enter the eternal life of the gods.

I do not see this design at Vat Phu in any other way. Vat Phu has one of the longest axial path ways of any of the Khmer temples. It took me a long time to understand the significance of Lord Shiva. He saved the world by drinking the poison emitted from the mouth of the King of the serpents while the churning of the milky ocean was taking place.

Vasuki, King of the Serpents, at Vat Phu

Once inside the main sanctuary a whole different ambience can be felt.
It was here in this central chamber the devotees prepared for their journey through the gates of heaven and immortality would be the most sought after gift from the gods. Deep within the main sanctuary and behind the statue of the Buddha there is an entrance to the oldest part of the temple where the sacred lingam was anointed daily from the waters of the sacred spring. But before entering the most holy of holies there sits Shiva high above the doorway manifested as the ascetic praying with his Rudraksha beads. Rudraksha translated from the Sanskrit stands for the "eyes of Lord Shiva". The actual beads come from the Rudraksha tree (Elaeocarpus Ganitrus). As the legend goes the tree came forth from the tears of Lord Shiva's eyes. Twelve varieties of the tree symbolizing the sun came from his right eye, and sixteen varieties symbolizing the moon came from his left eye. The beads have been worn by devotees for thousands of years to maintain a spiritual path to enlightenment and liberation. On either side of Shiva are shown devotees offering prayers. The beads are also shown in Shiva's right hand on the Trimuti behind the main sanctuary.

Shiva holding Rudraksha beads

Indra happily rules over all the worlds and can be seen through out the temple complexes at Vat Phu. And in a special devotion to Vishnu the temple Thao Tao (lord of the tortoise) was constructed at the base of the Lingaparvata on the ancient road leading to Nandi Hall. Before arriving at Vat Phu the traveler would pay the deepest respects to Vishnu, who along with Shiva, helped save the world. Continuing on the ancient road after Thao Tao came the temple Nang Sida which only has elements of the shrine still standing but is still a testimony to the beauty and majesty of this temple. It's only a short distance from Nang Sida before you finally arrive at Nandi Hall.

Perhaps the carving of the holy trinity (trimurti – having three forms) is the best example of a scene from the Vedic scriptures exemplifying the reign of the Hindu gods at Vat Phu. The scene sits quietly behind the main sanctuary and shows Brahma (creative force) sitting to the right of Shiva (destructive force) and Vishnu (preservation) sitting on Shiva's left.

Shiva is also shown as half man and half woman (ardhanarisvara). Shiva's wife, Durga, is shown with her ten arms. Shiva and Durga portray the ultimate wedding of the destructive and creative powers of the universe which are the two greatest antagonistic forces to be balanced. The Trimurti sits quietly and unassuming behind the main sanctuary.

The Holy Trinity, "Trimurti", at Vat Phu

Lord Shiva

Lord Brahma Lord Vishnu
Looking closely at the five faces of Shiva it is readily recognizable that there is a feminine quality to his expression. The five faces of Shiva are symbolic of his five manifestations: The Beneficent, The Destructive, The Vagrant Mendicant, The Lord of Dances, and the Great Lord (mahesamurti). Thus the trinity represents the embodiment of Shiva as Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer, and Shiva as the destroyer. These three forces of the universe reside permanently in the Shiva linga representing Shiva the supreme lord of the universe.

The long ear ornamentation is another affectation showing the combination of Shiva and his wife that has been integrated into Vat Phu. In fact every year during the full moon of February there is a ceremony (Shivaratri Festival) celebrating the wedding of these two forces where thousands of pilgrims come to worship and pay tribute to Lord Shiva. During the day the devotees chant "Om Namaha Shivaya" and at midnight the inner light of divine consciousness is obtained and a state of spiritual knowledge is acquired.
Considering that this festival is still celebrated annually testifies to the high esteem and respect still paid to Lord Shiva at Vat Phu and a further testimony of the latent spiritual powers that still reside in this holy land.

Shiva as half man and half woman.

Vat Phu is the one temple that encapsulated the divine message which all the Khmer kings paid respect to through out the entire 1,500 year reign of the empire. Vat Phu was a temple to the stars and the knowledge of the stars was expanded even further with the construction of Angkor Wat which became the ultimate temple mirroring the secrets of the universe as well as the new capital of the Khmer empire. But the Kings still supported Vat Phu all through the duration of the empire. King Yasovarman I even took a stone from this holy city and used it as a corner stone for the construction of Preah Vihear. The holy land of Kuruksetra is still an active pilgrimage site and a site that can direct the mind into the ethereal realm of the gods.

awesome and very informative post thanks for sharing

Rudraksha beads have been used since ages for various benefits.The powers radiated by Karya Siddha mala is due to multiple effects from the different face / mukhi rudraksha bead combinations aligned in the mala.
Benefit of Rudraksha

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  • is Willard Van De Bogart.
  • He lives in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand.
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