Chola memorial temples

Mary Storm umadevi at SFO.COM
Thu May 7 15:20:26 UTC 1998

> N. Ganesan Wrote:

> In an excellent guidebook, G. Coedes has devoted two chapters
> to the institution in Cambodia similar to that of paLLippaDai
> prevalent S. India. He holds that the great majaority of
> the statues of "siva, Vishnu, Buddha and other deities found in Cambodia
> were really representations of kings, princes and other
> dignitaries in the form of the gods into whom they expected
> to be absorbed at the end of their earthly existence.
> The "royal essence" was supposed to reside in a linga, or a statue
> of siva, vishnu or buddha. What the body was to a person
> while alive, that the temple became after the lifetime, namely,
> the architectural abode of the God-King. The communion
> between the king and the god tookplace thru' the mediation of
> the priest on the sacred mountain in the center of the capital.
> The devaraja became the palladium of the kingdom. And this
> custom prevailed in Cambodia from about the 9th century AD
> (if not earlier) to at least the end of the 12th century AD.
> But on account of the despoliation of the monuments by
> treasure-hunters, Coedes was unable to establish beyond
> doubt if the corpse was interred, or if, as in modern
> Cambodia or Thailand, the ashes or bones were enclosed
> in an urn after cremation and the urn deposited in a pagoda.
> However, he concludes that the monuments from the time
> of Jayavarman VII were temples as well as tombs, and ends by
> saying that "Angkor Wat was the final habitation of a
> being who enjoyed certain devine prerogatives during
> his life, and whom death had transformed into a god.
> It was a funerary temple".

Dear Dr. Ganesan,
Thank you so much for this fascinating material on the Chola temples.
The Deva-raja and funerary issues surrounding SEA temples has been very
controversial. Human bones and ashes have been found under a number of
Javanese temples as well, but agreement on the meaning  has not been
without a great deal of debate. I shall have a very good time pursuing
this new (to me) Chola material. Thanks again.

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