5 Famous Buddhist Kingdoms in Indonesia

Famous Buddhist Kingdoms in Indonesia – Buddhism which spread in the Archipelago was originally an intellectual belief and had little to do with the supernatural. In the process, however, the political necessity and personal emotional desire to be protected from the dangers of the world by a powerful goddess, has led to modifications in Buddhism.

In many ways, Buddhism is highly individualistic, that is all individuals, both men and women are responsible for their own spirituality. Anyone can meditate alone; temples were not required, and no priests were required to act as intermediaries. Society provides pagodas and temples only to inspire the right frame of mind to assist devotees in their devotion and self-awareness.

Buddhism first entered the archipelago (now Indonesia) around the 5th century AD when viewed from the remains of the existing inscriptions. Allegedly it was first brought by a traveler from China named Fa Hsien. The first Buddhist kingdom that developed in the archipelago was the Sriwijaya Kingdom, which existed from 600 to 1377.

The Sriwijaya Kingdom was once one of the centers for the development of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. This can be seen in the notes of a scholar from China named I-Tsing, who traveled to India and the archipelago and recorded the development of Buddhism there.

Other Buddhist monks who visited Indonesia were Atisa, Dharmapala, a professor from Nalanda, Vajrabodhi, and a Buddhist from South India.

The following is an explanation of the five Buddhist kingdoms that once existed in the archipelago and had a major influence during their heyday.

1. The Kingdom of Srivijaya

Muara Takus Temple is considered to have existed during the golden age of Sriwijaya, so some historians consider it to be one of the relics of the Srivijaya Kingdom.

Sriwijaya is a maritime empire located in Sumatra, but its power reaches Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Cambodia and others. Sriwijaya comes from Sanskrit, sri which means “shining” and vijaya which means “victory”.

The Sriwijaya kingdom was originally established around 600 and lasted until 1377. The Srivijaya kingdom was one of the kingdoms that had been forgotten, which was then reintroduced by a French scholar named George Cœdès in the 1920s.

George Cœdès reintroduced Srivijaya based on his discoveries from inscriptions and news from China. George Coedes’ findings were later published in Dutch and Indonesian newspapers. Since then, the Sriwijaya Kingdom began to be recognized by the public.

The loss of news about the whereabouts of Sriwijaya was caused by the small number of relics left by the Sriwijaya Kingdom before it collapsed. Some of the causes of the collapse of the Sriwijaya Kingdom include:

  • Attacks of the Chola Dynasty from Coromandel, South India (1017 and 1025). This attack succeeded in capturing the king of Sriwijaya and then the Chola dynasty became in power over the Srivijaya Kingdom. As a result of this attack, Srivijaya’s position in the archipelago began to weaken;
  • The emergence of the Malay Kingdom, Dharmasraya. After the weakening of the power of the Chola Dynasty, the Dharmasraya Kingdom emerged which took over the Malay Peninsula and also suppressed the existence of Srivijaya;
  • Another reason that led to the collapse of Sriwijaya was the war with other kingdoms such as Singasari, Majapahit and Dharmasraya. Aside from being the cause of the collapse of Sriwijaya, this war also caused many Sriwijaya relics to be damaged or lost, so that their existence was forgotten for several centuries.

The development of Buddhism during the Sriwijaya period can be known based on I-Tsing’s report. Before conducting studies at Nalanda University in India, I-Tsing made a visit to Sriwijaya. Based on I-tsing’s records, Sriwijaya was home to Buddhist scholars and became a center for learning Buddhism.

This proves that during the Sriwijaya Kingdom, Buddhism developed very rapidly. In addition, I-tsing also reported that in Sriwijaya there were Theravada (sometimes called Hinayana) and Mahayana Buddhist schools. Buddhism in Sriwijaya was further influenced by the Vajrayana school from India.

The rapid development of Buddhism in Sriwijaya was also supported by a Buddhist professor in Sriwijaya, namely Sakyakirti. The name Sakyakirti comes from I-tsing who met him during a stopover in Sriwijaya. Apart from the Buddhist Grandmaster, I-tsing also reported that there is a Buddhist school that has good relations with Nalanda University, India, so that there are quite a number of people studying Buddhism in this kingdom. In his notes, I-tsing also wrote that there were more than 1,000 priests studying Buddhism in Sriwijaya.

2. The Kingdom of Kadiri

Not much is known about the early days of the Kadiri or Panjalu Kingdoms. The inscription of Turun Hyang II (1044) issued by the Kingdom of Janggala only reported that there was a civil war between the two sons of Airlangga.

At the end of November 1042, Airlangga was forced to divide his kingdom because his two sons competed for the throne. The son named Sri Samarawijaya got a western kingdom called Panjalu and its center was in a new city, namely Daha. As for his son, Mapanji Garasakan, he got an eastern kingdom called Janggala and its center was in the old city, namely Kahuripan.

According to Nagarakretagama, before it was split into two, the kingdom led by Airlangga was already called Panjalu and its center was in Daha. Thus, the Janggala Kingdom was born as a splinter from Panjalu. Meanwhile, Kahuripan is the name of the old city that was abandoned by Airlangga and later became the capital of Janggala.

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At first, the name Panjalu or Pangjalu was indeed more often used than the name Kadiri. This can be found in the inscriptions published by the kings of Kadiri. The name Panjalu is also known as Pu-chia-lung in the Chinese chronicle Ling wai tai ta (1178). The name “Kediri” or “Kadiri” itself comes from the Sanskrit word, khadri, which means pacé or Morinda citrifolia (noni).

Sri Jayabhaya photo illustration.

When ruled by Sri Jayabhaya, Panjalu experienced its heyday. The territory of this kingdom covered all of Java and several islands in the archipelago, even to the point of defeating the influence of the Sriwijaya Kingdom.

Jayabhaya is also entrusted with writing predictions in the Javanese tradition known as the Jayabaya Term or Jayabaya Prophecy. This prediction is known among the Javanese people and has been preserved for generations by the poets.

The main origin of Jayabaya’s Fiber Prediction can be seen in the Musasar Book composed by Sunan Giri Prapen. Even though there are many doubts about its authenticity, the first stanza of the book says that Jayabaya made these predictions.

3. The Kingdom of Singhasari

Singhasari Temple was built as a place of worship for Kertanegara, the last king of the Singhasari Kingdom.

Based on the Kudadu Inscription, the official name of the Singhasari Kingdom is the Tumapel Kingdom. According to Nagarakretagama, the capital of the Tumapel Kingdom was named Kutaraja when it was first founded in 1222.

In 1253, King Wisnuwardhana initially appointed his son Kertanagara as yuwaraja (crown prince) and changed the name of the royal capital to Singhasari. The name Singhasari, which is the name of the capital city, is even more famous than the name Tumapel.

This is what made the Tumapel Kingdom also known as the Singhasari Kingdom. The name Tumapel also appears in Chinese chronicles from the Yuan Dynasty with the spelling Tu-ma-pan.

Based on information at Pararaton, Tumapel was originally just a subordinate area of ​​the Panjalu Kingdom. The person who served as Akuwu (equivalent to sub-district head) of Tumapel at that time was Tunggul Ametung. He was killed by means of trickery by his own bodyguard named Ken Arok, who later became the new Akuwu. Ken Arok also married the wife of Tunggul Ametung named Ken Dedes. Ken Arok then intended to release Tumapel from the rule of the Kadiri Kingdom.

In 1254, there was a feud between Kertajaya, king of the Kadiri Kingdom, and the Brahmins. The brahmins then joined forces with Ken Arok who made himself the first king of Tumapel with the title Sri Rajasa Sang Amurwabhumi. The war against the Kadiri Kingdom erupted in Ganter Village which was won by Tumapel’s side.

Nagarakretagama also mentions the same year for the founding of the Tumapel Kingdom, but does not mention Ken Arok’s name. In the manuscript, the founder of the Tumapel kingdom was named Ranggah Rajasa Sang Girinathaputra who succeeded in defeating Kertajaya, the king of the Kadiri Kingdom.

The Mula Malurung inscription on behalf of Kertanagara in 1255 then stated that the founder of the Tumapel Kingdom was Lord Shiva. This name is probably the posthumous title of Ranggah Rajasa, because in Nagarakretagama the spirit of the founder of the Tumapel Kingdom is worshiped as Shiva.

Apart from that, Pararaton also mentioned that Ken Arok first used the nickname Bhatara Shiva before advancing in the war against the Kadiri Kingdom.

4. Dharmasraya Kingdom

The decline of the Sriwijaya Kingdom due to the attack of Rajendra Chola I, had ended the power of the Sailendra dynasty over the island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Some time later, a new dynasty appeared which took over the role of the Sailendra dynasty, namely the Mauli dynasty.

The oldest inscription ever found in the name of king Mauli is the Grahi Inscription of 1183 in southern Thailand. The inscription contains orders from Maharaja Srimat Trailokyaraja Maulibhusana Warmadewa to the Regent of Grahi named Mahasenapati Galanai to make a Buddha statue weighing 1 bhara 2 tula with a gold value of 10 tamlin. The figure who did the task of making the statue was named Mraten Sri Nano.

The second inscription is more than a century later, namely the Padang Roco Inscription in 1286. This inscription mentions the King of Swarnabhumi named Maharaja Srimat Tribhuwanaraja Mauli Warmadewa who received a gift from the Amoghapasa Statue from King Kertanagara, king of Singasari on the island of Java. The statue was then placed in Dharmasraya.

Dharmasraya in Pararaton is the capital of the Bhumi Malay state . Thus, Tribhuwanaraja can also be called the king of Malayu. Tribhuwanaraja himself is most likely descended from Trailokyaraja. Therefore, Trailokyaraja can also be considered as the king of Malayu, although the Grahi Inscription does not mention it clearly.

Based on the Song of Panji Wijayakrama and Pararaton, it is stated that Kertanagara sent an envoy from Java to Sumatra in 1275 which was known as the Pamalayu Expedition. This expedition was led by Mahisa Anabrang or Kebo Anabrang.

Kertanagara in 1286 then returned to send envoys to deliver the Amoghapasa Statue, which was later engraved on the Padang Roco Inscription. The expedition team returned to Java Island in 1293 with two daughters from the Malay Kingdom named Dara Petak and Dara Jingga.

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Dara Petak was then married to Raden Wijaya, who had become king of Majapahit and replaced Singasari. Through this marriage, Jayanagara, the second king of Majapahit was born. Dara Jingga was married by sira alaki dewa (a person with the title of god) and then gave birth to Tuan Janaka or Mantrolot Warmadewa who is identical to Adityawarman. Later, Adityawarman became Tuan Surawasa (Suruaso) based on the Batusangkar Inscription which is in the interior of Minangkabau.

5. The Majapahit Kingdom

Majapahit is an ancient kingdom in Indonesia that existed from around 1293 to 1500 AD. This kingdom reached its peak of glory during the reign of Hayam Wuruk who ruled from 1350 to 1389. The Majapahit kingdom was the last Hindu-Buddhist kingdom that ruled the Malay Peninsula and was considered as one of the largest countries in the history of Indonesia.

Majapahit left many holy places, remnants of religious ritual facilities at that time. These sacred buildings are known as temples, holy baths (pertirtan) and hermitage caves. Most of the abandoned buildings are of the Shiva religion and a few are Buddhist, namely Candi Jago, Bhayalangu, Sanggrahan, and Jabung. Other relics from this kingdom are Kakawin Nagarakretagama, Arjunawijaya, and Sutasoma.

During the reign of Raden Wijaya (Kertarajasa), there were two Shiva and Buddhist high religious officials, namely Dharmadyaksa ring Kasiwan and Dharmadyaksa ring Kasogatan , then five Shiva officials under him were called Dharmapapati or Dharmadihikarana .

During the Majapahit era, there were two books that described the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, namely the Sanghyang Kamahayanan Mantrayana which contained teachings aimed at ordained monks, and the Sanghyang Kamahayanikan which contained a collection of teachings for a person to achieve release.

The main teaching in Sanghyang Kamahayanikan is to show that the various forms of renunciation are basically the same. It seems that the syncretism of the writer Sanghyang Kamahayanikan is reflected in Shiva’s identification with Buddha and calls him “Shiva-Buddha”, no longer Shiva or Buddha, but Shiva-Buddha as the highest consciousness.

Syncretism in the Majapahit era reached its peak in 1292 1478. It seems that at that time the Hindu-Shiva, Hindu-Vishnu and Buddhist schools could coexist. All three are seen as various forms of the same truth.

Shiva and Vishnu are seen as having the same value and are described as “Harihara”, i.e. an image (statue) of half Shiva and half Vishnu. Shiva and Buddha are seen as the same. Based on Mpu Tantular’s Kakawin Arjunawijaya Book, it is said that when Arjunawijaya entered the Buddhist temple, the pandhitas explained that the Jinas from all over the world depicted on the statues were the same as Shiva’s incarnations.

Vairocana is the same as Sadasiwa who occupies the middle position. Aksobya is the same as Rudra who occupies the eastern position. Ratnasambhava is the same as Brahma who occupies the southern position, Amitabha is the same as Mahadeva who occupies the western position and Amogasiddhi is the same as Vishnu who occupies the northern position. Therefore, the monks say there is no difference between Buddhism and Shiva.

Furthermore, in the Kunjarakarna Book it is stated that no one, both followers of Shiva and Buddha can get liberation if he separates the real one, namely Shiva-Buddha.

The renewal of the Shiva-Buddhist religion during the Majapahit era was seen, among other things, in the way of honoring the king and his family who died in two temples with different religious characteristics. This can be seen in the first king of Majapahit, namely Kertarajasa, who was worshiped in Sumberjati (Simping) Temple as a form of Shiva (Siwawimbha) and in Atahpura as Buddha.

Apart from that, the second king of Majapahit, Jayabaya, was also honored in Shila Ptak ( red. Sila Petak) as Vishnu and in Sukhalila as Buddha. This shows that belief in the highest reality in Shiva and Buddhism is no different.

Although Buddhism and Hinduism have spread in East Java, it seems that ancestral beliefs still play a role in people’s lives. This is indicated by the structure of the temple in which there is a place of worship of the ancestors, in the form of a megalith stone, which is placed on the highest terrace of the holy place.

After the Majapahit Empire suffered a setback at the end of the reign of King Brawijaya V (1468 1478) and collapsed in 1478, Buddhism and Hinduism were gradually replaced by Islam.

So, that’s information about the 5 Famous Buddhist Kingdoms in Indonesia . The history of the Archipelago in the era of the Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom developed due to trade relations between the Archipelago and foreign countries, such as India, China and the Middle East. Since the arrival of Hinduism and Buddhism, the prehistoric people of the Archipelago who previously had animistic and dynamism beliefs turned to embrace Hinduism and Buddhism.

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  • History of the Founders of the Sriwijaya Kingdom and Their Lineages
  • History of the Kingdom of Sunda and its Legacy