What Really Happened in the Celestial Palace? Daughters of Pleasure, Courtesans of the Gods | Ancient Origins Members Site


What Really Happened in the Celestial Palace? Daughters of Pleasure, Courtesans of the Gods

What Really Happened in the Celestial Palace? Daughters of Pleasure, Courtesans of the Gods

It takes much willpower to resist the temptation of the asparas; beautiful dancing women in the court of Indra, king of the gods, in the celestial palace in Hindu mythology. They are the heavenly charmers who fascinated heroes and allured sages from their devotions. They tempt with “rewards” in heaven given to heroes who fall in battle. The apsaras have the power to change their forms and give good luck to whom they favor.

When visiting the religious complex of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, one will inevitably notice these dancing women depicted on the temple walls and reliefs. These same dancers were also an important motif in the art of Champa (c. 192–1832 CE), medieval Angkor's neighbor to the east along the coast of what is now central Vietnam. Also noteworthy are the depictions of these same women in the Tra Kieu Style of Cham art, a style which flourished in the 10th and 11th centuries CE.

Images of the apsaras are also found as decorative motifs and integral parts of the stories in several temples of ancient Java dating from the era of the Sailendra dynasty (c. eighth century) to that of the Majapahit empire (c. 1293 - c. 1500 CE). The most famous of these images of the apsaras can be found on the Borobudur temple, where they are depicted as divinely beautiful celestial maidens, pictured either in standing or in flying positions, usually holding lotus blossoms, spreading flower petals, or waving celestial robes as if they were wings.

The Vayu Purana enumerates fourteen apsaras, while the Harivamsa says there are only seven.


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