Temptation of Mara

East gopura, fourth enclosure
Ta Prohm, Angkor

A defaced relief, from the entrance gopura, depicts the Temptation of Mara. The Buddha appeared twice on the relief, but was erased by the Hindu ruler Jayavarman VIII. At the very top of the photo, Buddha was originally seated in bhumisparsha mudra, where he calls the earth to witness that his meritorious deeds in past lives entitle him to receive Enlightement. Directly below, a standing figure of Bhu Devi confirms this by wringing a torrent of water out of her hair - one splash for every meritorious deed.

Climbing up the larger erasure (middle of the photo) is Mara's Army, trying to frighten Buddha from the Path. Using the technique of continuous narrative, this part of this relief depicts the Temptation, and the upper part depicts the Victory. Probably the row of female figures below the larger erasure represents Mara's Daughters. However, the dancing figure holding up the throne is unusual and might reflect Tantric practice, along with the line of dancers at the bottom of the relief.