Ta Prohm’s Irony

by | May 17, 2012 | Complacency, Focus, Persistence

“The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!'” (Ps 29:9 NIV)

European archaeologists in the 1920s were a bit baffled by their find in Cambodia. About one kilometre east of Angkor Thom they discovered an abandoned monastery overtaken by what looked like octopi-rooted trees.

Research indicated that indeed a Buddhist temple and monastery had been erected at that place in 1186 A.D, by the Khmer monarch Jayavarman VII. He named it, “Rajavihara”. For those of us limited in our Cambodian vocabulary, this mean, “Royal Monastery”. Interestingly enough, he dedicated his endeavours to his mother, whom he symbolically identified to Prajnaparamita, the goddess of wisdom. Today that temple is called Ta Prohm or “Old Brahma”.

The Khmer empire was not destined to last forever, and it fell in the 15th century. Soon afterwards the “Royal Monastery” was abandoned and left to the elements. Nature then proceeded to take over with a vengeance, and it wasn’t long before vegetation conquered the entire spot.

The most impressive of nature’s work is the humongous trees that sunk their gnarled, octopus-like roots through the stonework and into the soil below, pushing aside stones and crumbling entire sections of the masonry.

This entire place is vivid evidence of the irony in trying to please “gods”. God’s creation has taken it upon itself to overtake these faulty attempts. While lifting their branches reverently towards the sky to praise the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the roots of these massive trees have succeeded in completely destroying the very essence of human attempts to reach up to the heavens! One can only stand in awe in such a place and join the trees by lifting one’s hands to worship the real Creator!

“By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.” (Rom 1:20-23 The Message)

I wonder if this kind of trees would revive the slumber of some believers in the Western world? Only by being rooted in the One who is not only our Creator, but also our Saviour, will we stand firm. Only then will we be filled with adrenaline from higher up! (See Col 2:7)

Rob Chaffart P. S. A big thank you to Victor Tan for sharing these amazing pictures with us.

P. S. S. Feel free to share pictures you’ve taken of extraordinary places. Any devotional based on your pictures will be credited to you!


Ta Prohm’s Irony