The evil Mara, concerned about loosing power if Siddharta should obtain Supreme Knowledge and subsequently lead other people to salvation, tried to persuade Siddharta to give up the quest. When neither the offer of power nor feminine charms succeeded in distracting him, Mara sent his forces, an army of warriors and demons. Siddharta called on the earth goddess by touching the ground, forcing Mara and his host to retreat.
Mara is here likely depicted at the center bearing armor, flanked by two demons, one with a double-face, the other holding a skull. Compare two other reliefs in H. Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, 1957, cat. nos. 64 and 65.