The Jayatataka was the baray, a kind of large artificial lake, of King Jayavarman VII, the greatest of the monarchs of the Khmer Empire. The Neak Pean in the center of the Jayatataka was a place of healing for pilgrims in the times of the Angkor Civilization.
The purpose of the barays is a matter of debate. Some argue that the barays were mainly used for agriculture and that they played a vital role in the growth of the empire and their subsequent drying up causing the Khmer empire to weaken. Others argue that the barays role in agriculture was not that significant with Cambodia's abundant rains and the waters of the giant Tonle Sap lake nearby. They argue that the barays were more spiritual as representations of the seas around the mythological Mount Meru, abode of the Gods of Hindu myth.