The River with a Thousand Penis Statues

Do you ever wonder where authority comes from? How did kings start? It’s a weird thing to think about, but there was a time before States, before presidents, before kingdoms. Somebody had to start all that stuff, and naturally it wouldn’t just start it in one place at one time. They would have spread across the world- there wasn’t some great obelisk that came down and just changed everybody’s ideas. It was neighboring tribes invading, coming in, and spreading the new thought Today’s video is on the rise of the god-king and how India gave Cambodia its authority to rule. Let’s start our story at a river covered in hundreds if not thousands of symbolic penises. And I know there’s gonna be somebody who’s mad at me about saying that but what do you want from me? Symbolic phalluses , that sounds too clinical. If I’m gonna get in trouble for it anyway, I want to use the 1950’s detective name Dick River. Jokes aside, the Khmer name is Kabal Spean and it’s about an hour outside of Siem Reap. It feeds a larger river that was once the source of water for Angkor Thom, then the largest city on earth. it was spiritually vital. It was the source of life and death for their entire society. A good king was expected to keep the river under control, after all he was God. Let’s talk about the carvings. While there are a number of different carvings here, I want you to focus on the two most important, the Lingam and the Yoni. if you ask a modern Cambodian, they’d probably say they’re Buddhist because they’ve been adopted by Buddhism. Some might go deeper and even say they were Hindu, having been carved by Hindu hermits, but really they’re both and neither. They’re older than all that. These symbols in this Cambodian River, which once served to spiritually protect a Khmer city, are Indian. They’re ancient Indian fertility symbols. They probably predate kings at least as a concept. They certainly predate writing and even though it’s pure speculation, I wouldn’t really be surprised to find out that they predated formal religion. Together they form a complete union of man and woman and are symbolic of rebirth in every religion that uses them. In Hinduism they’re meant to be Shiva and his consort Parvati what Shiva destroys she recreates. Together they represent the destruction and regrowth of all things. Temples in Angkor were built around them with the King’s Lingam serving as the spiritual center of the Empire. When placed in its corresponding Yoni , the universe should Theoretically have been in balance. And there are people who fundamentally deny that these are in any way representative of genitalia Which I find kind of funny because the feminine word for phallus is Yanis, which comes from yoni. But I suppose that there are people who just don’t want sex in their religion at all, they feel that it taints it. But early religions were all about sex and kept strict rules and customs to sustain fertility, keeping the cycle of life moving forward makes sense in early religion. Death in ancient societies would have meant constantly having children and hoping against hope that they’d somehow survive to adulthood. There are carvings of pregnant women from thirty seven thousand years ago. For comparison that’s thirty two thousand more years ago than Stonehenge, Cro-magnon man was still walking the earth when these were carved. And those are just the ones we’ve found so far. Fertility symbols are ancient. It says a great deal that these specific symbols would exist here because they’re not the only Indian symbols that exist in Cambodia. This was once the far limits of Greater India and an ancient cultural push eastward from the Subcontinent has left a huge mark on this country. If you walk the streets here You’re constantly witnessing ancient Indian symbols. For example almost every traffic roundabout Has a Naga in the centre, a pre Hindu symbol representing a king cobra. But in Hindu texts the first Cambodian Queen is referred to as the leader of the Nagas. Probably because she was such a fighter. But this isn’t an episode about symbols specifically, it’s an episode about authority. India came with more than just the Naga, they came with their culture in total like Catholics with their Divine Right of Kings, Early hindu rulers derived their power from being one with god, or as they called it Hari Hara. They were God Kings, Either in touch with or equal to the Supreme Being and they passed that power to their ruling class known as Brahmin. Ambitious Brahmin headed east out of India looking for their own lands to control, to become god-kings all their own. And they started to conquer these animus lands to the east now Cambodia and impose upon them the will of the Hari Hara. Bringing with them the authority that had made them the ruling class in India in the first place. These Brahmins spread all the way to the coast of Vietnam and even down into Indonesia, But they had perhaps their most profound effect here in Cambodia. In the first century AD a Brahma by the name of Kaundinya Conquered the Khmer and married their ruler, a woman named Soma The Naga Queen from before. He would no doubt bring in Indian experts in writing, administration, religion, and farming. And they would fundamentally alter the way the local people were living. In doing so he’d set up a new Kingdom, which we now called a funan, but the authority behind his power came from India, just like the symbols. He was the ruling class of a country a thousand miles away, transferring this authority onto a new people. And it stuck. the Funan Kingdom lasted for 500 years, without a great deal of written history we don’t know all too much about it, but we do know what replaced it. From the ashes of Hunan grew the Khmer Empire It’s God Kings rose to heights that out shown any of the Indianized Kings that had preceded them, But they didn’t forget their roots. The Angkor Empire derived its authority from the same source as its predecessors. Despite having Khmer rulers, it never forgot its Indian heritage. The Divine Right of kings that provided this Authority was now forever rooted in those original brahman. But if your authority is derived from being a God incarnate And you rule over one of the largest farming empires in human history, chances are you’ll do anything to control nature Particularly water, because it’s the key to the harvest especially in a rice growing society If you don’t control water, your farms are going to be destroyed – your kingdom may collapse. After all you’re clearly not being a very good god. To control the water one of these khmer kings gets a great idea; if the Lingam represents the power of the nation and spiritually provides growth and rebirth, Placing it in the river would almost be like turning the entire river into holy water. And in spite of my jokes, the Lingam is more than just a dick statue. It Represents Shiva and in the Cambodian Hari Hara system Shiva was one of the aspects of God that the king was supposed to be representing. So by putting his symbol in this river. He was not so subtly saying that he had taken this water under his authority. While modern Cambodia has an elected monarchy with no direct lineage to those original Hindu leaders, the authority for this state is still rooted in that Brahman who first ruled over the Khmer. Despite the introduction of states, the collapse of Hinduism, and the retreat of Indian culture out of Southeast Asia The symbols are still here. Hotels have Lingam and yoni in their pools to purify the water, Naga are on every street corner. This is a nation that has found its own future no question. But the authority that it relies on to exert control, is forever carved into a river of dicks. By the power vested in me, This is Rare Earth. Hello Cambodia…

100 thoughts on “The River with a Thousand Penis Statues

  1. Thanks to everyone who asked about our Patreon. I'll put out a full video when I get the time, but for those who want to jump the gun and get on board from the start, here's the link:

    It means a huge deal that so many have asked us to start an account. I never thought anyone would watch these videos, let alone support them.

  2. I'm a nagvanshi descendent of (naga) and (with respect let me tell you have incomplete knowledge about indian culture and history and religion )and those are shiva Linga it does represent shiva and please don't call is dick which it is (Linga is respectfull word)

  3. As per Indian culture Brahmins can't become rulers they only become preists (so next time don't rush please do aproper homework)

  4. Uhm, you and I are cromagnon man. (And we're still walking the earth.)
    Also, there is nothing before Hinduism. It is Sanatana Dharma, after all. smirks

  5. As an Amateur Historian of my Beloved Cambodia, or Land of Khmer's, Your whole series of Cambodia makes me so proud I'm shedding a tear. You have clearly done your research and have pushed off any bias. As a country and people that gets recognized as having a cool temple and a recent dark past, the rich historical significance of Cambodia in the whole region and even South Asia is often overlooked. Thank you for your hard work. You have turned me into a Rare Earth subscriber, and will be referring this series when people ask me to tell them a quick history of Cambodia.

  6. Totally 56% facts 44% conjecture and misunderstanding I suggest Oxford Hindu studies program your American education in the topic is atrocious and full of biases.

  7. brahmin is never the ruling class. It was Kshatriya. And I dont think there is anything called pre hindu as hinduism itself is ever changing and where do you divide the line?

  8. Truly splendid site and wonder in the world the temples of Cambodia in Laos and Thailand or Siam…… heaven creation here on earth the temples of Angkor….

  9. "a river of dicks…" pretty much covers the entire history of rulers who claim 'divine authority.'

  10. stupid they are not penies if you don't it was represented galaxy you should read vedic science and nagas represent seven dimension because at that time their where no word so people used symbol likeh Egypt my friend this show you don't know anything of religion

  11. Thanks for the awesome video. It was good. But there is one small correction, The rulers in ancient India were of the Kshatriyas caste. As per the hierarchy they were below brahmins. They were the warriors and rulers. Brahmins were teachers and priests, they were not supposed to own any riches, and they traditionally had to beg for food and cook at home. Rest of the caste people like the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas (artisans, merchants, tradesmen and farmers) were supposed to take care of the Brahmin class, when the Brahmin were supposed to educate and take care of the rest. Sudras (lowest caste) unfortunately got the short end of the stick.

    But the point is, the king should have been a Kshatriya not a brahmin.

    Cheers!! You make very good videos.

  12. A slight correction: I am not very well versed in Cambodian history, but brahmins are not the ruling class in Hinduism – that was generally the "Kshatriyas" or the warrior classes. The brahmins belong (at least traditionally) to the scholarly and priestly class. They weilded immense power over many kings, though, by being the head priest, the chief adviser, the chief astrologer etc…

  13. Hindu might be more appropriate to say than Indian, when talking about religious things like temples and statues. Hinduism is the religion. India is a multilingual, secular nation (at least on paper) which has a lot of different religions, and Indian is a nationality.

  14. Those carvings in the river bedrock were to trap gold and gems .

  15. Respect the dick. All nations who denounced the power of the phallus, thus paved the way to it's own demise. Making a symbol of fertility, into a symbol of patriarchy is one of the greatest lies ever told.

  16. It's pretty hard to say "carved into a river of dicks" with a straight face and also maintain your credibility. I salute you sir.

  17. Dick river means lingam river or lund river so basically shiva is a dick for hindus is that so.

  18. You haven't spent enough time in understanding what you wanted to speak about. You had only one thing in your mind, "Just to make fun of, downplay and make it look worst possible to the world."

  19. As a Cambodian myself, I didn't even know what is the purpose of those penises doing in the water. And now I have a slow but smoothly answer to it. Thank you so much for every single informations on my country!

  20. I’ve been watching you since your first video and still I’m watching and Im wondering how you get the money to get go to those places. Your video was randomly suggested to me.

  21. Sir i would also like to tell u brahmins were not trying to become the king eyer plzz first gain some knowledge we have a lot of Hindu vedas and informative books about everything even about universe….. Brahmin did all those things we were the priests and and most knowledgeable people of that time we use to study for half our life and spend our time in prayers and meditation… Everyone used to respect us and still there is a bit of respect for us

  22. The Brahma were not humans. They were mighty gods using powerful tools / weapons and this is where their authority was derived from: fear.

  23. Lingams are not penis its arepresention oyr god you have no rights to call it penis

  24. They were tamil kings who layed foundation there were 2 types of early tamils naaga and araka they were were called as dravidians but now everything is forgotten and hidden

  25. another interesting point is how the yoni and lingham are treated in khmer religious practises – i'm not sure if this is ubiquitous in theravadda buddhism of specific to the region, but many pagodas have yoni water fountains. the water that comes from these are said to be blessed, and is meant to be applied liberally to ones face and hair in hopes of the blessing carrying onto oneself.

  26. Hey there! This video's a year old, I know, but I wanted to point out that – besides Kshatriyas being the kings and not the Brahmin – the lingam being a phallus was a thing that came about due to British biases during their invasion of India. The lingam, or Shiva Lingam, is meant to evoke the pineal gland and NOT the dick – at least according to my dad's Hindu texts.

    That aside, I really enjoy the way you present your stories, Evan. This one was a bit off the mark as far as accuracy is concerned, but I still really enjoyed it overall and am looking forward to the next one. Thanks for all your hard work!

  27. We have a statue in my home city which is known as "slattenpatten og hendes døtre" or translated directly to English: "The sagging titties and her daughters". It's literally a troll with saggy tits and her daughters with equally saggy tits and it's both a statue and a fountain. And yes, the water comes out of the tits. To make more of it, the statue originates from a carving found outside the city in a protestant christian Church. Christianity might want to be clean, but it is far from. It was the previous city mayor who directed its installment in the center square of the city. Everyone hates it, but that's only because it is so ugly and because the city wasn't asked if they wanted it first. It just got erected.

  28. 2:43 People don't want sex in their religion because it "taints" it…
    [immature giggle]

  29. As a worldbuilder I'm glad I found your channel.
    Some of your videos on culture and history make for awesome brainstorming ideas.

  30. While I've gotten accustomed to it over the years, it's still weird to associate my name with the ancient feminine.

  31. Not even one artifact presented,
    that resembled a penis even slightly.
    I'm pretty sure they knew what one
    looked like. Very weak theory.
    Traditional hearsay or not.

  32. I guess most of the christian sects missed the memo about celebrating the physical side of love making.

  33. @ 2:44 Some people don't want sex in their religion at all.
    They feel that it taints it.
    I see what you did there.

  34. Love rare earth! What I’m seeing here is the rich tapestries of cultures previously unknown (or forgotten, I’m an ancient) I truly enjoy your work.

  35. Bro this is hinduism, you can see this type of hinduism somewhat in south indian. We do worship the lingum ( not me, I am somewhat non-religious, agnostic if you may. ). Hinduism is like ancient greek religion, depending on your locality the belief are different. The dieties are the same but have different attibutes depending on where you are. Nowadays it is more unified but differences are there.

  36. Patrolling the Mojave Almost Makes you wish for a Nuclear Winter

  37. 1 year later and I only now realized he's wearing A Clockwork Orange shirt.

  38. Dog: pee on a pole to show dominance
    Cambodia King: hold my dick statue *put my dick on a river & the water becomes my pee.*

  39. Huh?

    Kings are Ksatria caste. Priests are Brahmin. There are lots of stories that delineate the difference.

    At least that's how it is in India and in Bali. Maybe Cambodia had a different rule, but not India or Bali.

  40. Where did they get the idea of God kings, was it a indigenous invention from their animist roots ? India did not have god Kings.

  41. Stupid! The Lingam is not penis!! It is a symbolism of endless time. Do not make stupid videos about things you do not know! It is actually an oval shaped egg like structure, later changed by people into lingam for accomdating the legend of river Ganga's descent from the heavens.

    If you talk to some stone carvers from India, they can tell you about Male Stone (has hardness) and Female Stone (is soft to work with). Yes that is a standard terminology for carvers, not some made up shit like your video. Certain rocks have certain properties. The Lingam is usually carved from naturally hardened Male Rocks.

    What the hell do you know about all these?!!
    They are not fertility symbols.

  42. Soon as u mentioned Naga, I was like "wait what?" And then that's when the captions came on screen

  43. "Symbolic phallus" is actually redundant. In the "West" – [west of what, I wonder..], by which I mean Europe, religion (for whatever strange reason) decided to have a go at all but destroying the idea of sex as pleasurable. Psychologically, this was because they saw it (see it?) as a threat; something they couldn't control. The sex drive and religious ecstasy are in fact closely related. Personally, I think it's much healthier if people talk about it more openly; after all, it's the facts of life as they say. But I don't live in such a society. Here in the land of the free, we're extremely backwards and prudish. In some of the earliest religions, sex practically was the religion, or at least, it was the main way to celebrate and venerate the gods and the life they gave. Even my "no fun allowed" religious background says, "Be fruitful and multiply." Those naughty Neanderthals! 😉 tavi.

  44. Also, since you posted these in 2017, and since I'm here in 2019, I thought now would be the perfectly pointless time to say: I hope you did one on Sejong the Great and his creation of the Korean writing system. That's a fascinating story as well. You're channel IS what the History Channel and the Discovery Channel should have been. American TV is the absolute pits, man. Almost all I watch anymore is YouTube. Or I hunt on Google or Wiki- for interesting stories! Other than that, I lead a totally drab life. Playing guitar & keyboards, writing poetry, reading, watching my dog behave strangely, playing chess, listening to (and often singing badly to) music. Teaching myself math and science. How do I stand it? Have you ever noticed that the large slow fish (like Koi) that swim in the shallow waters in Southeast Asia (and elsewhere, I presume) rather resemble the stylized lingam depicted in some Asian cultures? Just with the tails cut off. Art imitates life. tavi.

  45. Dude, even your "off" episodes are more valuable than the vast majority of dreck that's posted to YouTube every second!

  46. Aside from the educational value of the video, as an aquarist, I was happy to see the brief appearances of wild cyprinids, a species of rasbora, I guess.

  47. no sex in their religion it TAINT'S it lmao i about died when you slipped that in there

  48. This channel is one of the most interesting things I've ever seen. Oh, and there is a french singer actually called Dick Rivers :

  49. It goes way deeper then that The obelisk are everywhere in every city and every town and it represents more than just a dick because one of the largest dicks is right at the Vatican it’s very demonic they do blood sacrifices to everyone of those dicks at certain days and certain times of the year that’s why they have a whole bunch of statues of children dancing around it because it belongs to the god pan

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