October 23rd, 2012 by Hafiz Noor Shams
A friend of mine will be spending a number of days in Cambodia later this month. Upon learning her travel plans, I began to reminisced my long hot lazy Cambodian days. I began to imagine going through the temple ruins all over again, and the walks I walked, the rides I rode, the conversations I engaged in, the drinks I drank, even the diarrhea I suffered.
So at the end of my work day, I drove home and the first thing I did was to switch on my laptop and went through my Cambodia album all over again. Sigh…
You know this entry will be about Cambodia.
Angkor Wat has a number of impressive bass reliefs along its outer corridors. The famous one is the Churning of the Milky Ocean. The myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean is an important narrative in Hinduism. I also learned a lot of Hindu mythology from Angkor Wat and its reliefs.
Below is a bas relief telling the story of reward and punishment in the afterlife from Hindu perspective.
There are some graphic representations of hell but this particular section of the relief is about the righteous being brought to judgment, if I remember correctly. This is also another significance to the relief: Angkor Wat was built in the honor of death unlike other temples. The king—Suryavarman—ordered the construction of the temple to prepare for his death.
Some parts of the relief appear polished. It is only so because visitors have the habit of touching the relief with their hands.