Tuesday, 29 July 2008

History Of Borobudur

Candi Borobudur

No written documents whatsoever on the construction of Candi Borobudur survive. Nor are there any references to the authority who had it built or the purpose for which it was intended. However, inscriptions carved above the reliefs on the ‘hidden foot’ of the monument (see page 18) have graphical features similar to those in the script commonly used in royal charters between the last quarter of the eighth century and the first decades of the ninth. The obvious conclusion is that Candi Borobudur was very likely

founded around the year 800 A.D.

This assumption accords quite well with Indonesian history in general and the history of Central Java in particular. The 750-850 period was the Golden Age of the Sailendra dynasty. It produced a great number o monuments, which are found all over the plains and the mountain slopes of Central Java. Siva sanctuaries predominate in the mountain regions; in the plains of Kedu and Prambanan, both Sivaite and Buddhist monuments were erected close together. The name ‘Sailendra’ appears for the first time in a stone inscription found at Sojomerto in the north-western coastal area of Central Java. As it is a personal name, the obvious assumption is that the later rulers of the Sailendra dynasty were his descendants.

The Sojomerto inscription is not dated, but on palaeographical grounds it can be ascribed to the middle of the seventh century. The oldest dated inscription not only of Central Java, but of the whole of Indonesia – was found in the stone charter of Canggal, issued by king Sanjaya in 732 A.D.

It commemorates the foundation of a Siva lingga sanctuary on the Gunung Ukir hill, some 10 kms only east of Candi Borobudur.

The name Sanjaya appears once again in the Mantyasih charter of 907 A.D., found some 15 kms north of Candi Borobudur, which is unusual in that it contains a list of kings preceding the reigning King Balitung (who issued the charter). Though no account is given of the genealogical relations, the kings listed were apparently successive rulers of one and the same kingdom.

The list of kings starts with Sanjaya, obviously the founder of the dynasty. His immediate successor was Rakai Panangkaran, who was associated with the foundation of the Buddhist temple of Kalasan, as is shown by the Kalasan charter of 778 A.D. Since the foundation is explicitly ascribed to the Sailendra dynasty it is not unreasonable to believe that Rakai Panangkaran was in fact the Sailendra king who had the Tara temple built in the village of Kalasan.

The Sailendras are known to have been ardent followers of the Lord Buddha, but the Sailendra of the inscription of Sojomerto was a Hindu. The charter of Mantyasih is also Hindu. It could therefore be assumed that the other kings listed were all followers of the Hindu religion. Rakai Panangkaran, however, would have been a Buddhist, since he was directly involved in the establishment of the Kalasan temple.

The evidence is confusing. Many scholars believe that two dynasties ruled over Central Java in the second half of the eighth century, viz. the Sivaite

Sanjaya dynasty and the Buddhist Sailendras. According to this theory, Rakai Panangkaran was a Sanjaya king whose contribution to the foundation of the Buddhist sanctuary of Kalasan was simply to grant the required plot of land; he was not necessarily a Buddhist himself. Religion has never been a source of any serious conflicts in Indonesia. It would therefore have been quite possible for a Hindu king to patronize the establishment of a Buddhist foundation, or for a Buddhist king to act likewise. Even a change in the official religion could take place without affecting the continuity of the dynasty and of cultural life.

As far as Rakai Panangkaran is concerned, it is more likely that his involvement in the foundation of Candi Kalasan was an indication that a change in the official religion had taken place. As if to justify this change, he traced back his ancestry to Sailendra and introduced the denomination

Sailendrawangsa (wangsa = dynasty). This assumption fits in nicely with what king Balitung did in his Mantyasih charter. Even though he did not use the appellation ‘Sanjaya-wangsa’, he demonstrated the re-establishment of Hinduism as the official religion by enumerating his predecessors and proclaiming that the ardent Siva worshipper Sanyaya was his forefather.

The assumption that one single royal dynasty ruled over Central Java from the eighth to the early tenth century simultaneously eliminates closelyrelated academic problems concerning the origin of the Sailendras and the extent of their kingdom in Central Java.

The prevailing opinion is that the Sailendras were of foreign origin. They are supposed to have come either from South India or from Indo-China.

Since the smooth Java Sea provides the easiest access to Central Java, theymight have been expected to settle in the northern regions. This, however, is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the Sailendras emerged in history in the southern part of Central Java, whereas the earlier native Sanyayas had their territory farther north.

The native origin of Hindu rulers in Indonesia is many times attested by historical documents. Even the oldest Hindu kingdom of Kutei in East Kalimantan (fifth century A.D.) was from the very beginning ruled by a native. King Mulawarman, who issued seven pillar edicts in Sanskrit stated that he was a son of Asvavarman who in his turn was a son of Kundungga.

A Sanskrit name does not necessarily indicate the Indian origin of thebearer. On the other hand, a native name very strongly suggest a prevailing indigenous tradition. So Kundungga was most likely a native who seeminglywas not yet converted to the Hindu religion, but permitted Hinduism in hi country. Starting with his son, the new religion apparently obtained afoothold in the court.

Furthermore, it is explicitly stated in the Kutei edicts that, to ensure th proper performance of religious ceremonies, Brahmans from afar were invited. It is also interesting to note that the main deity to whom homage was paid was Vaprakesvara who, despite the Sanskrit sound, was alien to the Hindu pantheon as taught in India.

There are various theories regarding the spread of Hinduism. The Vaisha theory stresses the extremely important role of the merchants who travelled from one country to another, bringing with them, not only mercandise, but,also their way of life. The Ksatria theory ascribes the spread of Indian culture to military expeditions and conquests that resulted in permanent , colonizations. The Brahmana theory lays stress on the part played by the priests, who were frequently in foreign countries on religious missions. A fourth theory recognizes the parts played by both traders and priests, but rejects the explanation of cultural penetration by force.

This last theory accords best with the evidence so far available, but neglects the active part played by the native people themselves. A cultural contact always involves two parties, whereas the adoption of alien cultural elements depends rather on the receiving party - on whom, moreover, the adaptationandintegration of these foreign elements into the native culture wholly depends.

The part the Indonesians played in this process was apparently not confined merely to adopting and digesting imported Indian elements, but involved missions to the ‘mother country’ as well. An Indonesian settlement at Nalanda in India is known, indeed, from an Indian charter of the ninth century, and it could easily belong to a tradition going back several centuries.

Nor would it be at all surprising to find that it was Indonesians themselve who introduced Indian cultural elements which they brought back home.

Being seafarers from prehistoric times, they were known to cross the seas in their distinctive boats that were equipped with outriggers and they may,well have ensured continuous contacts between India and Indonesia. , The assumption of continuous, or at least regular, contacts would help to ,explain the rise of the oldest kingdoms in various parts of the country.

The royal edicts seem to suggest the sudden emergence of individual kingdoms, ,and the lack of any relationship between them lends support to the

Ksatria theory of conquest and colonization. However, the involvement of a native forefather in the genealogy of the reigning king, who issued the edicts, can only be taken to reflect a smooth transition of power; for it is inconceivable that these kingdoms could have come into existence withou a considerable prior period of acculturation. As a matter of fact, the edicts, composed in perfect metrical Sanskrit, would not make sense to the people for whom they were intended unless they could already appreciate this quite foreign language, now used in official documents. The earliest history of Indonesia is marked by the sudden rise, and by the abrupt end, of the oldest kingdoms. The kingdom of Kutei in Kalimantan(fifth century) and the kingdom of Tarumanagara in West Java (fifth century), each had its royal edicts, issued by a single king. The same kind of evidence is available on the first period of the kingdom of Sriwijaya in

South Sumatra (last quarter of the seventh century).

The existence of th kingdom of Kanjuruhan in East Java is known from one single document (Dinoyo charter of 760 A.D.). A more or less continuous flow of writte documents is available on Central Java, starting with the Changgal charter of 732 A.D. and terminating with the edicts of King Balitung in the early tenth century. For this reason the first nine centuries of the Christian era constitute the ‘Central Javanese period’ of ancient Indonesian history. From the middle of the tenth century to the end of the fifteenth is known as the ‘East Javanese period’. Though Sumatra and Bali also contributed to the making of Indonesian history, most of the events are documented in East Javanese inscriptions and manuscripts. Building was also concentrated in East Java, so that ‘Central Javanese’ and ‘East Javanese’ have become accepted terms in dealing with monuments and sculpture in the literature.

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