Eastern Outer Gopura, Muang Tam
Baphuon style, 11th century

Lintel: Krishna Subduing Kaliya

Kaliya was a local naga who contaminated the pond where baby Krishna was living. The child-god subdued Kaliya by dancing on his head, which persuaded the snake (now, no doubt, suffering from a Krishna-sized headache) to give up his wicked ways and adore the infant god1. The incident is often represented in the Chola art of India, as in an example from the Delhi National Museum.

This is a Baphuon style lintel. See the Krishna lintel from Ban Phluang for a comparison with a similar lintel of the same style and period.

1Krishna often prefers to convert his enemies rather than kill them. He is an all-powerful, but kindly and salvific god, which no doubt accounts for his popularity today.