The Backflow Theory – The Backflow Theory as one of the theories that explains the process of
the entry of Hindu-Buddhism into Indonesia due to the back and forth flow of Indian and Indonesian people to
Understanding Backflow Theory
Backflow Theory as one of the theories put forward to explain the process of the entry of Hindu-Buddhist
religions into Indonesia. This Backflow Theory was put forward by FDK Bosch as a form of
opposition to the Colonialization Theory which was then deemed inappropriate.
According to Bosch, the Indonesian people play an active role in spreading this religion.
According to the Backflow Theory itself, the spread of Hindu-Buddhist religion to Indonesia was
caused by an interest of the Indonesian people in a teaching brought by intellectuals from India who were
passionate about teaching Hindu-Buddhism by previously boarding merchant ships.
The Backflow Theory is also supported by historical evidence from the Nalanda Inscription. In
this inscription it is mentioned that Balaputradewa is the King of Sriwijaya and then made a request to the
king in India to build a monastery in Nalanda which was used by Sriwijaya figures in gaining
This request was then granted so that students and figures in Sriwijaya could study religion in India and then
return to Indonesia and spread Hindu-Buddhist religions.
This Backflow Theory then has its advantages and disadvantages. These advantages include the
Nalanda Inscription which supports this theory and explains the desire of Sriwijaya figures to study in
However, this Backflow Theory also has weaknesses, one of which is the possibility that Indonesian people will
find it difficult to study religion in India because at that time Indonesian people were considered to be very
Backflow Theory and
Other Theories about the Entry of Hindu-Buddhism to Indonesia
The theory of Hindu-Buddhist entry into Indonesia with five theories that developed in the archipelago.
The development of this religion itself can be seen from its historical heritage, namely Borobudur
and Prambanan, as well as the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms in Indonesia.
There are two opinions that explain how Hindu-Buddhist religion entered Indonesia. First,
Hindu-Buddhism entered Indonesia starting from the Brahmin theory, the Kshatriya theory, and the Vaishya
theory. In this theory, the Indians then spread Hindu-Buddhist religion and culture to the
people of the archipelago.
In the next theory, namely the theory of reverse flow, the people of the Archipelago then went to India and
studied Hindu-Buddhist teachings which were spread to Indonesia. To find out more about the
theory of the arrival of Hindu-Buddhism in Indonesia, see the full explanation below.
The “Brahmin” theory states that the entry of Hindu-Buddhism into Indonesia was pioneered by Brahmins who
came from India. Brahmins themselves are religious leaders in the caste system with the highest
position compared to other groups.
In the teachings of Hinduism, the group that is then allowed to spread Hinduism is the Brahmins.
Because this opinion about the background of Hindu-Buddhist entry into Indonesia was then supported
by these customs.
Concrete evidence or concrete evidence used as the basis for the Brahman theory includes inscriptions from the
relics of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms that have been found in Indonesia.
Most of these inscriptions have writing consisting of Pallawa letters and Sanskrit, in India itself these
languages and letters are only controlled by Brahmins. Then the Brahmins also spread this
religion by coming to the archipelago at the invitation of tribal chiefs and kings.
The reason for inviting the Brahmins by tribal chiefs and kings in the archipelago was due to their
interest in the religion adhered to by Indian traders who then arrived in the archipelago.
Previously, the religion adopted by the community and the kingdom was dynamism and animism.
Then who are the supporters of the Brahmin theory? The originator of this theory himself was
named JC Van Leur as a writer from Europe during the Dutch East Indies era or during the Colonial
While living in Indonesia, he wrote Indonesian history using a sociological approach. His
thoughts were heavily influenced by Max Weber and German sociologists.
The strengths and weaknesses of the Brahmana Theory include the Brahmins as the group who know and understand the
teachings of Hinduism so that they are the ones who have the right and are able to spread them.
The weakness of the Brahmin Theory, namely according to the rules or teachings of Ancient Hinduism in India, is
that it emphasizes that a Brahmin is prohibited from crossing the ocean, if violated then he will lose his caste
Another theory of Hindu-Buddhist entry into Indonesia is the Vaisya theory. According to the
contents of the Kshatriya theory, the spread of Hindu-Buddhism in Indonesia was then carried out by a knight
or group of soldiers who at that time were holding power and government of India.
Kshatriya is the second caste in the teachings of Hinduism, its position is below the Brahmins.
According to historical records, in the second century AD there was an upheaval in the kingdoms in
India which eventually led to their collapse, which was also caused by a power struggle.
The defeated rulers, especially from the knight class, then fled to other areas, one of which was the
Archipelago. When they arrived in the archipelago, they then established kingdoms with a
Starting from here, they spread the teachings of this religion to the people of the country, who at that
time still adhered to animism and dynamism. Besides religion, culture also developed and mixed
with the culture that existed at that time.
The figure supporting the Knight Theory is named Cornelis Christian Berg or abbreviated as CC Berg.
A writer of Dutch descent born in Bandung on February 7, 1934), Mookerji and Prof. Dr.
Ir. JL Moens.
They later became figures who argued that it was the warrior class that brought the Hindu-Buddhist religion
to the archipelago. The strengths and weaknesses of this theory include the spirit of adventure
to conquer other areas.
While the drawback of this theory is that there is no written evidence regarding the arrival of the knights from
The fifth theory is the Sudra theory, the opinion of Van Faber. He stated that the spread of Hindu and Buddhist
religion and culture in the archipelago was carried out by the Sudras or slaves (the lowest strata in Hinduism).
Initially, these Sudras migrated to the archipelago, they then settled and spread religion to people who still
adhere to animism and dynamism.
The advantage of the Sudra Theory is that everyone who belongs to the Sudra caste definitely wants to improve
their life so that it is better, one way is by leaving or moving to other regions and areas.
Well, they then went to the archipelago. After arriving, they settled and began to spread
Hindu-Buddhist religion and culture. The weakness of this theory is that the Sudras do not
master Pallawa letters and Sanskrit and they generally do not have knowledge because they have not received
an education. The possibility of them spreading religion and culture is very small.
The Vaisya theory is a theory which states that the process of entry and development of Hindu-Buddhist religion
and culture is under the Vaisya group or traders.
As we previously knew, during the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms there were many traders from India who then came to the
archipelago, so that later there was an interaction of trading activities that developed into a closer
relationship, namely introducing what religion they professed.
This ancient trade itself was not as easy as it is now. The traders who came from India could not just come
and go, but had to wait for the right direction of the wind. Because the ships they use still
rely on the direction of the wind in their journey.
So we can analyze that their arrival will not last for a short time, but will take months.
Supporting figures for the Vaisya Theory named Prof. Dr. NJ Krom (Nicholas
Johannes Krom), born in the Netherlands on March 8, 1945. He is a prominent writer and researcher of early
history and Indonesian traditional culture.
The advantages of the Vaisya Theory are based on historical facts, many trade groups (Waisya) interact with
indigenous people to then carry out buying and selling transactions, they also take advantage of this situation
to spread Hinduism and Buddhism in Indonesia.
The weakness or weakness of the Vaisya theory is that the traders who came later mastered the Pallawa letters and
Sanskrit, because this ability alone was only owned by the Brahmins.
This reverse flow theory was put forward by FDK Bosch who later said that the spread of Hindu-Buddhist influence
in Indonesia occurred due to an active role of the Indonesian people themselves.
The introduction of this Hindu-Buddhist influence was also an initiative by Indians or priests, but it was the
Indonesians who were sent by the king to the archipelago who spread it to study the religion and culture of
Indian priests in their home country.
After this envoy has mastered religious teachings, they will then return to Indonesia and convey it to the
King. Furthermore, the king will ask the envoys to then disseminate and teach the knowledge
obtained to the residents or people of the kingdom.
This of course had an effect on the growing development of religious teachings in both Hindu and Buddhist
religions and the formation of kingdoms with both Hindu and Buddhist styles in the archipelago.
This reverse flow theory was also put forward by FDK Bosch who later stated that Indonesian people who
adhere to Hinduism are based on the initiative of their own people. There are also many
Indonesian people who deliberately come to India to study this religion.
In addition, they also make pilgrimages and travel by establishing an organization called the Sangha.
When he returned to Indonesia, these teachings were then disseminated to Indonesia.
According to Prof. Dr. Sutjipto Wirjosuparto, the kings in this inscription are
not Indians, but Indonesians.
Books Related to Hindu-Buddhist History in
1. From Javanese Shivaism to Balinese Hinduism
This book contains a collection of articles by Andrea Acri (lecturer and researcher at EPHE, PSL University,
Paris) that focus on Shivaism (Shiva religion), tantrism, and Yoga in ancient Java and Bali, and its
continuation (as the “Hindu religion” ) in Bali in modern times.
Acri underscores the interrelationships of religious practices in Java and Bali with the traditions of Shivaism,
Brahmanism and Hinduism in India, while also highlighting the transformation and indigenization of these
traditions in Java and Bali over time with high intellectual and spiritual originality and value.
It also emphasizes the continuity between ancient traditions and the new discourses that have developed in the
modern and contemporary periods, both in Java (after the arrival of Islam in the 15th century) and in Bali
(after the reform of Hinduism in the early 20th century).
It is hoped that this book will be useful for introducing the specialties of ancient Javanese religion and
culture to a wide audience in Indonesia, and helping to understand the problems of the nation and state of
Indonesia today through an understanding of the past.
2. The Rise and Fall of the
Hindu-Buddhist Empire and Its Rise
The first Islamic-style kingdom that emerged in the archipelago was not the Samudera Pasai Sultanate, but
the Perlak Kingdom. Through this book, you will reveal the historical side of the kingdoms in
the archipelago, especially regarding the causes of the collapse of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms and the
birth of Islamic kingdoms.
This history book does not only present the factors that caused the collapse of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms
and the emergence of various Islamic empires. However, this book is also equipped with a
detailed and comprehensive historical presentation; starting from the history of Hindu-Buddhist
and Islamic entry into the archipelago, the history of the birth to the glory of each kingdom including the
list of kings who once ruled, and the remnants of these kingdoms.
You can also learn about the path of the collapse of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms and the birth of Islamic
empires in the archipelago. Moreover, every historical material presented in this book is
packaged coherently and based on reliable literature review.
3. Traces of Javanese Hindu Kingdom
Civilization 1042-1527 AD
The establishment of the Hindu Dynasty in East Java cannot be separated from the story of the collapse of
the Ancient Mataram Kingdom which was originally located in Central Java. Ancient Mataram had
developed rapidly and became the center of a large Hindu civilization, but suffered a setback because it was
triggered by feuds among family members.
Then, the Isyana dynasty marked the beginning of the rule of Hindu kingdoms in East Java. This
book discusses the traces of the civilization of the Hindu kingdoms in Java, from 1042 to 1527 AD, starting
from Medang, Kahuripan, Tumapel, Singasari to Majapahit. Presented the history of its founding,
the conflicts that colored it, important events that occurred, relics to the collapse of the Hindu dynasty
Reading this book you will find historical facts about the civilization of the Hindu kingdom in Java.
4. Introducing Hinduism as a
Culture of Life Attitudes & Behaviors
Hindu conceptions were once perceived as wrong, manipulated both for internal and external interests which
were highly discredited. Because of that Hindu culture in the past was abandoned and even
abandoned by the majority of this nation’s children.
However, Hindu culture, which spanned more than 2000 years before AD to 2000 years after 1 AD (which was
designated as the beginning of a new human civilization), turned out to be that Hinduism still existed, even
in the most powerful external attacks. Even now there is a tendency for Hindus to
Hinduism is admired, accepted in almost all parts of the world. Hindu culture can even be offered as an
alternative culture, the advanced culture of the future world, even without having to go through a
missionary institution though. Why? This book introduces Hinduism as one culture,
one unit and the whole attitude of daily life behavior (a way of life).
As a culture that is based on the Vedas, on truth (natural/social reality as it really is), on science and on the
noble values of life as well as on the five beliefs (panca sradha), namely belief in God Almighty, belief in
atman ( Spirit) that never dies, belief in the law of karma-reward, belief in reincarnation, and belief in
Thus a review of the Backflow Theory. Sinaumed’s can get all books related to Hindu-Buddhist
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