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We complete our examination of the Churning the Ocean of Milk relief at Angkor Wat Temple by continuing to our right along the 48.45 metre panel from the centre, as described in Part III: Vishnu Presides, to examine the northern end of the panel where we see the devas pulling the great naga Vasuki, who acts as the rope around the churning post that we just discussed.
The devas are depicted almost identically to the asuras that we saw on the left (southern) side of the panel, the main distinguishing feature being the the devas' conical crowns versus asuras' crested helmets.
The 88 devas are outnumbered by the 92 asuras, and the general pulling movement seems to be in favour of the asuras. This imbalance between the two factions seems to indicate that the asuras are on the verge of gaining possession of the amrita, threatening to worsen the universal crisis already in place.
In Figure 1 we see the first of the deva leaders in the front, closest to Vishnu. Unusually, he has the the fangs and typical hairstyle of the rakshasas, as depicted in the relief of the Battle of Lanka on the opposite side of the 3rd enclosure galleries here at Angkor Wat, indicating that this relief was strongly influenced by the Ramayana. This suggests that he could be Vibhishana, renegade brother of Ravana and ally to Rama.
Notice again, at the bottom of the panel, a register depicting marine life, including nagas and reachisey (a sort of dragon with four short legs), being tossed around by the Churning, with those creatures closest to the churning vortex being chopped to pieces. And again, along the top of the panel, a register teeming with the newly created apsaras in graceful flight.
Mannikka, on the basis of the type and amount of sunrays the personages receive during the winter and summer solstices, proposed that this deva leader is one of the many forms taken by Vishnu to assist in the Churning, in this case his 'deva form'.
In Figure 3 we see the last of leaders on the deva's side, holding the tail of Vasuki as anchor for his team. He is a mighty crowned monkey, and not a god, probably representing either Sugriva or Hanuman, but seems more likely to be Sugriva since this depiction has the same physical features of the powerful monkey fighting Valin in the relief of the latter’s murder in the southwestern corner pavilion here at Angkor Wat.
And finally, behind Sugriva, on the far right of the panel, are the reserve armies of the deva army (Figure 4). As with the asuras, we see infantry/cavalry in front of their horses on the lower register, and more infantry in front of horse-drawn chariots and elephants bearing howdahs on the upper pseudo-registers. Mannikka suggested that these represent a crowd of Khmer onlookers who would have gathered at the coronation (Indrabhisheka) of the king, to watch the enactment of the scene of the Churning.