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Mittwoch, 20. April 2011

Part 1 - Preah Vihear No Man's Land


Introduction




Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of mercy and annihilator of the universe at the end of a cosmic day used to be present in the minds of people day and night. More than that, the ancient Khmer Kings claimed to be Shiva’s deputy on earth or even his son. As evidence they challenged their subjects to design and built palaces, temples, artificial lakes and roads under the guidance of Lord Vishnu, the preserver. Employing materials alleged to last for ever. Carved rocks and Stones. The common people, used to their Bamboo and straw huts, watched with awe, how hard rocks combined themselves into artificial, beautifully ornamented caves above the ground, visible from great distance.
“These dwellings are reserved for the Gods. These steps are for giants. That’s for sure. And our King must be a very courageous and powerful man, having the bravery to live in close vicinity of Lord Shiva the mighty and merciful.” So might have been their thoughts.
Only on certain occasions the subjects of the Khmer Kings were called into the premises of the holy place. Armed with their knowledge about the rituals to pay respect and worship and eventually appease Lord Shiva, they dared to follow suit.
If asked: “Who owns this place?”, there was one answer only: “Lord Shiva and his privileged servant our King.”
If asked: “Who built and maintains this place?”, there was no doubt: “Lord Vishnu, the preserver.”
The question: “Which person can claim the grounds?”, would have been met with total incomprehension. What a stupid and profane question! Lord Brahma created the universe, this land and all creatures,  Lord Vishnu preserves and protects them and Lord Shiva will annihilated everything at the end of the great cosmic cycle. How can any human being claim ownership?
In modern times, Preah Vihear, or as the Thais call it,  Prasat Khao Pra Wihan, makes headlines in the news since years. None of them delightful or cheerful. People lose their lives, get hurt or suffer, because they live in unsafe areas around this ancient place. Politicians play the nationalistic game and pretend that they only want the best for their country and people.
Even Preah Vihear itself suffers. Modern weaponry destroyed historic structures, which survived almost a thousand years in a reasonable condition.

What the heck happened? How could a holy and spiritually sane place turn into an insane damn stupid reason to kill each other in the 21st  century?

The answer is not that simple as news papers and official statements of the governments of Thailand and Cambodia  might suggest or as religious sects try to sell to the public. We need to return to the past more than a thousand years ago, trace our way back to the presence through the misty jungle of time and hopefully pick up some ideas along on why this place means trouble nowadays.

Cautionary Remark: Whoever intends to visit Preah Vihear / Prasat Khao Pra Wihan should ask for advice beforehand. As of now, April 2011, the place is closed for visitors. Thai and Cambodian troops face each other in close proximity. Renewed battles could emerge at any time.   



Stay tuned…  
                  

Kommentare:

  1. Excellent articles, thanks for posting them. I love the photographs.

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  2. Thank you for your comment, Wim. It's encouraging.

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