Angkor Wat & Cultural Ties With India

by K.M. Srivastava

Language : English

1985 - 143 pages - Paperback Gyan Books / Angkor Database

This report of an exploratory mission for the preservation of Angkor commissioned by the Indian governement was authored by Shri K.M. Srivastava, a leading Indian archeologist. While several chapters give precious information about the way architectural conservation was considered in the 1980s, it is also an important document reflecting the Indian approach to the Khmer civilization.

In effect, the author analyzes the architectural significance of Angkor Wat and surrounding structures with his profound knowledge of Indian culture and history, giving us a 'reading' of the monuments that departs from the usual rationalizations suggested by Western scholars and researchers.

The explanation for the four-faced towers so charachteristic of the Bayon and Banteay Chhmar temples is particularly stimulating. These structures, claims the author, reflect a distinctively Indian outlook on sexuality and symbolic representations of the sexual pulsion.

First, the author quotes the Brihatsamhita:“The entire universe, right from the creator (Hiranyagarbha) to the smallest worm, is born of the union of male and female. So why should anybody feel ashamed of it, when even the Lord Siva was forced to have four faces on account of His longing to have a look at a maiden?”. And he adds: "The above story refers to an incident in which the celestial courtesan (apsara) Tilottama was perambulating the Lord Siva and Parvati was sitting in his lap. The lord was so much captivated by the charming personality of the apsara that he developed a desire to have a full glimpse of her. The Lord at the same time did not dare to annoy his spouse Parvati on being detected. He, therefore, assumed four faces to have a look at the damsel’s beauty".

Here is a pdf version of the book.

About the Author

K.M. Srivastava

Dr. (Shri) K.M. Srivastava is a renowned Indian archeologist who led the Special Archeological Preservation Mission to Angkor in 1982. Until 2010, he was Director General of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).

He authored several books, including a Study in Protohistoric India, and various archeological reports such as Excavations at Piprahwa and Ganwaria. He took part in the famous excavations in the Indian city of Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh State), near the Babri Masjid (Mosque).