Famous Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom in Indonesia

The Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom in Indonesia – Hindu-Buddhist became one of the fastest growing religions in the archipelago in the past. The influence of Hinduism has reached the archipelago since the 1st century AD. The rapid development of Hinduism was followed by the establishment of many Hindu-style kingdoms at that time. Several kingdoms existed around the 4th century, namely the Kingdom of Kutai Martapura in East Kalimantan, Tarumanagara in West Java, the Kingdom of Kalingga on the North Coast of Central Java, and the Kingdom of Bedahulu in Gianyar.

The ancient Hindu kingdom in the archipelago that stands out is the Medang Kingdom because it is known for building the Prambanan Temple. Since then, Hinduism then spread along with Buddhism throughout the archipelago and reached its peak of influence in the 14th century.

Buddhism, on the other hand, first entered the archipelago (now Indonesia) around the 5th century AD, judging 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 Indonesian Archipelago, and recorded the development of Buddhism there.

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

List of Famous Hindu-Buddhist Kingdoms in Indonesia

1. Kingdom of Kutai Martapura

Yupa Inscription.

According to a study conducted by Muhammad Sarip (2021) in his book entitled The Kingdom of Martapura in Kutai Historical Literacy 400–1635 , the oldest Hindu kingdom in the archipelago is Martapura (not Martadipura) in Muara Kaman District, not Kutai Kertanegara (established in the 14th century). This is based on the Yupa Inscription or inscribed stone monument which was found in two stages, namely in 1879 and 1940.

Yupa numbered seven, the majority told about the prosperity of the Mulawarman period. Now, the seven Yupa stones are in the National Museum. The classic book entitled Surat Salasilah Raja Dalam Negeri Kutai Kertanegara with a thickness of 132 pages from 1849 is an authentic source for writing the history of the Kingdom of Kutai Kertanegara.

The book was written by Khatib Muhammad Thahir, a Banjar who became the clerk of the Kingdom of Kutai Kertanegara. This book is written in Jawi script (the text uses Arabic letters, while the language is Malay). This book can be a historical source by setting aside the fairy tale part, even though it is classified as literature mixed with exaltation mythology. The original manuscript of the book is currently kept in the State Library of Berlin, Germany.

The finding of the seven Yupa fruits became the beginning of the discovery of the oldest kingdom of the archipelago. Based on Sarip’s explanation, there are three famous names in the Kutai Martapura Kingdom which are mentioned in Yupa. First, Kundungga (not Kudungga) who was written by the Hindu brahmins at that time as the founding father of the kingdom, not the first king.

Second, Aswawarman son of Kundungga, the first king of Martapura. Third, Mulawarman son of Aswawarman, the famous king who brought the glory of Martapura to the point where he was able to donate 20,000 cows to the Brahmins. There is no further record of who will be Mulawarman’s successor.

However, Muhammad Fahmi (2016) through his research entitled The Kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura and the Role of the King in the Development of Islamic Religion in the 17th and 18th Century Kutai Kingdom mentioned the rulers of the Kutai Martapura Kingdom, among others:

  • Maharaja Kundungga Posthumous Dewawarman;
  • Maharaja Aswawarman;
  • Maharaja Mulawarman;
  • Maharaja Sri Aswawarman;
  • Maharaja Marawijayawarman;
  • Maharaja Gajayanawarman;
  • Maharaja Tunggawarman;
  • Maharaja Jayanagawarman;
  • Maharaja Nalasingawarman;
  • Maharaja Nala Parana Tungga;
  • Maharaja Gadinggawarman Dewa;
  • Maharaja Indrawarman Dewa;
  • Maharaja Sanggawarman Dewa;
  • Maharaja Candrawarman;
  • Maharaja Prabu Mula Tungga Dewa;
  • Maharaja Nala Indra Dewa;
  • Maharaja Indra Mulyawarman Dewa;
  • Maharaja Sri Lanka Dewa;
  • Maharaja Guna Parana Dewa;
  • Maharaja Wijayawarman;
  • Maharaja Indra Mulya;
  • Maharaja Sri Aji Dewa;
  • Maharaja Mulia Putera;
  • Maharaja Nala Pandita;
  • Maharaja Indra Paruta Dewa;
  • Maharaja Dermasatia.

Furthermore, Salasilah Kutai then revealed the process of the collapse of the Martapura Kingdom with its last king, Dermasatia. Sarip discusses in a separate sub-chapter the expansion carried out by Kutai Kertanegara in 1635 when it was ruled by the 8th king, Aji Pangeran Sinum Panji Mendapa.

In short, there was a war for seven days and seven nights until the two kings stabbed each other, which resulted in the death of Dermasatia. Martapura’s defeat marked its downfall, as well as the annexation of territory by Kutai Kertanegara. Since then, the winning kingdom has completed its name as Kutai Kertanegara ing Martapura.

The Kutai Kingdom era actually ended in 1960, but since 2001 it has been revived as a form of historical and cultural preservation, without any governing authority. Somewhat different from before, the kingdom was named Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura. Kartanegara with “a” instead of “e”, Martadipura instead of Martapura.

Regarding this matter, Sarip did not escape reviewing it. Regarding Kartanegara, for him it is not so fatal because “Kartanegara” and “Kertanegara” have the same meaning. However, it is different with Martadipura, who cannot be justified because he changed his name by inserting unnecessary syllables.

The name Martadipura as a change from the word Martapura only appeared in the 1980s. The Regent of Kutai for the 1965–1979 period, Ahmad Dahlan, revealed that the idea came from Drs. Anwar Soetoen, an official of the Level II District Government of Kutai.

Soetoen thought that between the words “marta” and “pura” it was necessary to insert the preposition “di” instead of “ing”. According to him, the preposition “di” has the same meaning as the word “ing” in Javanese Kawi. Dahlan revealed this case in his book about Salasilah Kutai , which was published in 1981.

Sarip in his book also discusses the misunderstanding of the name Kundungga to become Kudungga, which has taken root over the last few years. Equally important, Sarip’s work raises questions about the naming of the museum in Tenggarong which is called Mulawarman, not Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti as the founder of Kutai Kertanegara, even though this museum is a former palace of Kutai Kertanegara, not a witness to the history of Kutai Martapura.

Not to mention the addition of the Suwana Lembu statue that welcomes museum visitors which also has the potential to create assumptions that the animal is the mount of King Mulawaman. The Suwana ox is actually a mythological animal mounted by Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti.

2. The Kingdom of Tarumanagara

Tarumanagara or the Taruma Kingdom is a kingdom that once ruled in the western region of the island of Java in the 5th to 7th centuries AD. Tarumanagara is one of the oldest kingdoms in the archipelago which left historical records and artifacts around the kingdom’s location. These remains show that Tarumanagara was a Vaishnawa Hindu kingdom.

The word tarumagara comes from the words taruma and nagara . Nagara means kingdom or country, while taruma comes from the word “tarum” which is the name of the river that divides West Java, namely Ci Tarum. Archaeological findings located at the Ci Tarum estuary are extensive baths, namely the Batujaya Baths and the Cibuaya Baths, which are thought to be civilizations left over from the Kingdom of Tarumanagara.

One of the inscriptions used as a historical source for the existence of the Tarumanagara Kingdom is the Ciaruteun Inscription. The location of the inscription is in Ciaruteun Village, Cibungbulang District, Bogor Regency.

This inscription was discovered in the flow of the Ciaruteun River, Bogor in 1863 and is divided into two parts, namely the Ciaruteun A inscription written in Pallawa script and Sanskrit consisting of four lines of Indian poetry or anustubh rhythm (rhythm found in classical Vedic and Sanskrit poetry ) , and the Ciaruteun B Inscription which contains footprints and spider motifs whose meaning is unknown.

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According to the caretaker of the Ciaruteun Inscription, the symbol contained in the inscription signifies the valiant and powerful King Purnawarman. This inscription is 2 meters long, 1.5 meters high, and weighs 8 tons.

The literal translation of this inscription is as follows.

First line: vikkrantasya vanipateh

Second line: srimatah purnnavarmmanah

Third row: tarumangarendrasya

Fourth line: visnor=iva padadvayam ||

Its meaning is as follows.

Here are a pair of (soles) feet, which are like (soles of the feet) of Lord Vishnu, are the soles of His Majesty Purnnawarman, the king of the country of Taruma (Tarumanagara), the bravest king in the world.

Based on the message contained in the Ciaruteun Inscription, it can be seen that this inscription was made in the 5th century and informs that at that time there was the Tarumanagara Kingdom, led by King Purnawarman who worshiped Lord Vishnu.

The Tarumanagara kingdom was influenced by Indian culture, as evidenced by the king’s name ending in -warman and footprints indicating the power of his era. In 1863, this inscription was washed away by a flood, so that the existing writing was reversed, then in 1903 this inscription was returned to its original place. It was only in 1981, this inscription was protected.

Another news source that proves the founding of the Tarumanagara Kingdom comes from Chinese news, in the form of travel notes of Fa-Hien (explorers from China) in book form with the title Fa-Kuo-Chi, which states that in the early 5th century AD there were many Brahmins and animists. in Ye-Po-Ti (the name for Javadwipa, but there are other opinions which state that Ye-Po-Ti is the White Way in Lampung).

In 414, Fa-Hien came to Java to make historical records of the To-lo-mo Kingdom (Tarumanagara Kingdom) and stopped at Ye-Po-Ti for 5 months. In addition, news from the Sui Dynasty wrote that To-lo-mo envoys had come from the south in 528 and 535.

News of the Tang Dynasty further wrote that To-lo-mo envoys had arrived in 666 and 669. Based on these news, it can be seen that the Tarumanagara Kingdom flourished between 400 – 600, which at that time was led by Purnawarman with jurisdiction over almost all of West Java .

As for the kings who once ruled the Kingdom of Tarumanagara, among others:

  • Jayasingawarman (358 382);
  • Dharmayawarman (382 395);
  • Purnawarman (395 434);
  • Wisnuwarman (434 455);
  • Indrawarman (455 515);
  • Chandravarman (515 535);
  • Suryawarman (535 561);
  • Kertawarman (561 628);
  • Sudhavarman (628 639);
  • Hariwangswarman (639 640);
  • Nagajayawarman (640 666);
  • Linggawarman (666 669).

3. Medan Kingdom

Early records of the Medang Kingdom are in the Canggal inscription (732), which was found in the Gunung Wukir Temple complex in Canggal Hamlet, southwest of Magelang Regency. This inscription is written in Sanskrit and uses the Pallawa script. The contents tell about the founding of Siwalingga (symbol of Shiva) in the area of ​​Kuñjarakuñjadeça (Kunjarakunja), which is located on an island called Yawadwipa (Javanese) which is blessed with lots of rice and gold.

The formation of the phallus was under the command of Sanjaya. This inscription tells that in the past Yawadwipa was ruled by King Sanna, who was wise, just in his actions, an officer in war, generous to his people. After Sanna’s death the country was in mourning, falling into divisions. Sanna’s successor was Sannaha’s son (his sister) whose name was Sanjaya. Sanjaya conquered the areas around his empire and his wise rule blessed his land with peace and prosperity for all his subjects.

The stories of Sanna, Sannaha and Sanjaya are also described in Carita Parahyangan, a text compiled around the end of the 16th century. Broadly speaking, the story from the Carita Parahyangan manuscript has characters in common with the Canggal Inscription.

Although the manuscript appears to be dramatized and does not provide specific details about the period, the name and story theme which are almost identical to the Canggal Inscription seem to confirm that the manuscript is based on historical events.

Prambanan temple.

The period of the reign of Rakai Panangkaran to Dyah Balitung (range between 760–910) which lasted 150 years, marked the peak of the glory of ancient Javanese civilization. During this period, ancient Javanese art and architecture emerged, as a number of magnificent temples and monuments were erected spanning the horizons of the Kedu plains and the Kewu plains. The most famous temples are Sewu and Prambanan temples.

4. The Kingdom of Srivijaya

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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. The Majapahit Empire

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 outlining 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 Famous Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom 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. 

  • The Founder of the Kutai Kingdom: History, Heyday, and Legacy
  • The Founder of the Majapahit Empire: History and the First King
  • The Founder of the Singasari Kingdom: Origins and a Brief History
  • History of the Founders of the Sriwijaya Kingdom and Their Lineages
  • History of the Kingdom of Sunda and its Legacy