Carvings on Banteay Srei, a Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is located in Angkor, Cambodia, and dates to 967 A.D.
Portrayed on this carving is the burning of Khandava forest, an ancient forest mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.
…god Agni approached them in the form of a Brahmin and requested them to help him in burning down the Khandava forest. The god had of course got indigestion as a result of consuming too many sacrificial offerings at a great sacrifice and Brahman had told him, he must burn down the Khandava forest, to regain his health. However often he might try to burn the forest, the animals of the forest put out the fire again and again…
Segment from A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1, page 321.
Photos courtesy & taken by fmpgoh.
Yeah so the deal is that Agni, the god of fire, had gotten fat and bloated from eating too much ghee (clarified butter) poured into the sacrificial fires of humans, so he decided to slim down via a proper paleo diet of forest fires. But a naga (snake-human demigod) friend of the king of the gods Indra lived in the forest he wanted to burn, so every time he set it afire, Indra would put out the fire with a rainstorm, as he is the god of storms.
So Agni approached the prince Arjuna and Krishna, as above, and asked them to protect his fire so he could burn him a forest. Arjuna was about to say yes immediately like an idiot, and Krishna suggested negotiating for a reward. So Agni gave Arjuna his famous Gandiva bow and inexhaustible quivers (a phrase from so many of the stories I read as a kid), and Krishna got the Sudharshana Chakra, which was a discus that could cut through anything and always returned to the hand of its wielder.
So then Agni burned the forest, and Arjuna made an umbrella out of arrows over the entire forest, and Indra started pouring down rain.
So what you can see above is, vaguely, Indra riding on his divine elephant on a sea of clouds and rain above an umbrella of arrows over a flaming forest. You can see the birds shooting up out of the trees, and the monkeys climbing to the treetops, and elephants stampeding. Arjuna and Krishna are on either end of the forest, fighting what I am going to guess are the Maruts, the gods of the storm winds, to keep them out of the forest. The overall defining shapes of the carvings are to reflect the blazing fire and pouring rain.
So like, yeah, I am EXACTLY this tedious at museums ._.