5 Mar : Cambodia has sought the help of the Hindus worldwide to help safeguard the landmark Preah Vihear Shiva temple, which was reportedly damaged recently due to Thai-Cambodia border clashes.
Ros Borath, President of Cambodia’s National Committee for the World Heritage, in a emailed letter to Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, wrote with the hope that “Hindu world will soon take notice of this place, most sacred to Shiva, and help people of Cambodia to safeguard this world heritage monument with universal spiritual value as propounded by Lord Shiva”.
“Preah Vihear is Mount Kailash of South East Asia in the Dangrek range. Bhadreshvara-Shiva arrived here from Vat Phu via India to radiate his Shiva Teja over people of South East Asia flourishing under the Angkor kingdom. Preah Vihear is the open air theatre for the cosmic dance of Shiva. The colossal dancing image of Shiva is sculpted on the door frame (Pediment) of the mandapa of the main temple”, Borath argued.
Describing the Temple, Committee President Borath further wrote: “Besides the central temple where this dancing image of Shiva is sculpted, there are four other temples at the four levels of the plateau (gopura II-IV). These gopuras are in reality mandapas where the gods of the family of Shiva (parivara devata) are depicted. Images of Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna and Shvia are all carved in bas-reliefs on the lintels and pediments over the doors of these five temples. Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions found from Preah Vihear inform us that this temple complex was a great hermitage center for meditation, following the path of Shiva. There were a number of hermitages at the foothills of Dangrek, and the networking of these ashramas was done from Mount Preah Vihear, Kailash of mainland Southeast Asia.”
“Since the sculpture of Shiva is above the door of the mandapa of the main temple, its safety is in great danger. All the images of parivara devata of Shiva, as they are sculpted out side the structure on the doorframes, are in great danger”, he added.
Pictures of the Preah Vihear Shiva temple were also attached, indicating damages to Gopura (towered gateway found at the entrances to temples) I, II, III, IV, and V resulting from Thai-Cambodia border clashes.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged various Hindu organizations world over to raise public opinion about this Shiva (Bhadreshvara) Temple, claimed to be one of the world’s biggest temple complex dedicated to Shiva.
Expressing serious concern at the reported damage, Rajan Zed said that international community, UNESCO, and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) should immediately provide funding to bring back this Lord Shiva temple to its original shape as it was before Thai-Cambodia clashes began February four. These organizations should not shy away to shoulder their responsibility of saving the important heritage of the world and respecting the feelings of Hindus worldwide, Rajan Zed said and added that besides temple repairs, some infrastructure in the area should also be provided for devotees and other visitors.
Zed stressed that this landmark age-old and revered Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple complex was important to Hindu heritage and must be preserved to pass it on to the future generations. Damage to 11th century Shiva temple was shocking and hurtful to the Hindu community world over. Lord Shiva, one of the major deities in Hinduism forming great triad with Brahma and Vishnu, was focus of worship of the Hindus, and it was important for them that Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple be protected. It was a world heritage and it was moral duty of the world to keep it intact for the coming generations.
Known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, this remote temple at the border between Thailand and Cambodia, which had reportedly not been clearly demarcated, had been a source of tension for generations. Preah Vihear was said to even predate Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex by about 100 years and its stunning setting made it finest of all the ruins left from the mighty Khmer civilization, Rajan Zed stated.
Zed pointed out that world should not let this sacred site dedicated to Lord Shiva (situated where Preah Vihear province of northern Cambodia touched Sisaket province of eastern Thailand) be further damaged to advance political agendas of some as there appeared to be a no clear solution to settle the long-standing territorial dispute surrounding the temple, which was already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and whose history could be traced to 9th century when the hermitage was founded.
Moreover, Temple of Preah Vihear, an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture mostly created by Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II, was a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries and was said to be exceptional for the quality of its architecture and carved stone ornamentation. It was reportedly dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva in his manifestations as Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. It was also said to be marking representation of sacred Mount Meru, the abode of the gods, and showing a depiction of Churning of the Ocean, a Hindu scriptural episode, Rajan Zed said.
Cambodian Government’s Committee describes Preah Vihear as: The site serves as a sacred place worshipping to the Hindu god Shiva manifesting as Sikharesvara (the Lord of Peak) and his figures are depicted on pediments and lintels.