Hindus have asked ASEAN to urgently play an effective role in protection and preservation of Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple complex which has reportedly suffered considerable damage due of Thai-Cambodian crossfire.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that this landmark age-old and revered temple was important to Hindu heritage and must be preserved to pass it on to the future generations.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that it was a golden opportunity for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to prove that it was not just a “paper and ceremonial tiger” but an effective organization which yielded strong influence on the region. It should not shy away to shoulder its responsibility of saving the important heritage of the world and respecting the feelings of Hindus worldwide.
Rajan Zed further said that ASEAN should urgently intervene to stop the fighting so that this landmark Hindu temple could be saved from further damage, and then attempt to restore it to its original shape and provide some infrastructure in the area for devotees and other visitors.
ASEAN, whose Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint was to "Promote the conservation and preservation of ASEAN cultural heritage", had not even posted any statement on its website regarding the Thai-Cambodia clash which began February four and subsequent damage of the historic sacred Shiva temple, Zed pointed out.
Rajan Zed indicated that damage to 11th century Shiva temple was shocking and hurtful to the Hindu community world over. Lord Shiva, one of the major deities in Hinduism forming great triad with Brahma and Vishnu, was focus of worship of the Hindus, and it was important for them that Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple be protected.
Zed stressed that historic Preah Vihear was a world heritage and it was moral duty of the world to keep it intact for the coming generations. The reported collapse of a wing besides other damage to the already fragile complex was hurtful to the devotees because Lord Shiva temple was a sacred site to Hindus of the world.
Known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, this remote temple at the border between Thailand and Cambodia, which had reportedly not been clearly demarcated, had been a source of tension for generations. Preah Vihear was said to even predate Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex by about 100 years and its stunning setting made it finest of all the ruins left from the mighty Khmer civilization, Rajan Zed added.
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Zed stated that world should not let this sacred site dedicated to Lord Shiva (situated where Preah Vihear province of northern Cambodia touched Sisaket province of eastern Thailand) be further damaged to advance political agendas of some as there appeared to be a no clear solution to settle the long-standing territorial dispute surrounding the temple, which was already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and whose history could be traced to 9th century when the hermitage was founded.
Moreover, Temple of Preah Vihear, an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture mostly created by Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II, was a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries and was said to be exceptional for the quality of its architecture and carved stone ornamentation. It was reportedly dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva in his manifestations as Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. It was also said to be marking representation of sacred Mount Meru, the abode of the gods, and showing a depiction of Churning of the Ocean, a Hindu scriptural episode, Rajan Zed said.
ASEAN, established in 1967; consisting of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam; and headquartered in Jakarta (Indonesia) is claimed to be a “community of caring societies”. Current chair is Indonesia whose President is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister is Dr. R.M.Marty M. Natalegawa. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan (Thailand) is current Secretary-General.