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Hindhu Buddhist cultural heritage in different areas of Indonesia

Oktober 16, 2015 | History

Hindhu Buddhist cultural heritage in different areas of Indonesia


History – The historical, religious heritages which has exited since the 2nd century are Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhism probably arrived in Indonesia approximately between the 2nd and 5th century AD as indicated by the discovery of some Buddhist statues in Sempaga, Jember and Bukti Siguntang.

Buddhism flourished since propagation. Meanwhile, Hinduism first arrived in Kutai Kingdom in approximately the 5th century, then it developed in other kingdoms in Indonesia.

The desciples of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nusantara had developed an attitude of mutual respect between each other. They even helped each other in building places of whorship and respected each uties other in performing their religious duties and celebrating their holy days.


Some historical inheritances of Hindu-Buddhist architecture are in the form of : temples, stupas, statues, viharas, palaces, ‘petirtaan’ (bathing site), gates, and hermitages.

1. Atemple is a building that functions as a place to store or bury the ash of a king’s corpse after being crimated.

Examples : Sumberjati Temple in Blitar and Loro Jonggrang Temple in Prambanan.

2. A stupa is a building that is associated with Buddhism and functions as a ‘dhatugarbha’ (a place to store sacred inheritances of Buddha Gautama), and a ‘caitya’ (place to commemorate important events in the life of Buddha Gautama).

Examples : the stupas at Borobudur Temple and Kalasan Temple in Yogyakarta.

3. A statue is sculpture made of stone that’s carved and shaped like a human or an animal.

Examples : the statue of Joko Dolok in Surabaya and the statue of Amoghapasa in Padang Roco.

4. A vihara is a buliding in which Buddhist monks live.

Examples : the vihara which was estimated to have stood near the stupa in Kalasan.

5. A palace is a building in which a king or queen lives.

Examples : the remains of old palace of Majapahit at Trowulan, Mojokerto.

6.’Petirtaan’ is a holy bathing site which was used by the royal circle.

Examples : bathing sites at Jolotondo and Tirta Empu bathing site in Bali.

7. A gate is a building functioning as an entrance which is equipped with a roff and a door, some look like a split temple.

8. A hermitage is a kind of structure that is built in a cave and functions as the place where a hermit stays.

Examples : Selomangleng cave in Kediri and Gajah cave at Bedulu, Bali.

Literary works

Some of literary works produced by Nusantara men of letters until the 15th century were as follows.

1. Arjuna Wiwaha, written by Empu Kanwa.

2. Sutasoma, written by Empu Tantular.

3. Negarakertagama, written by Prapanca.

4. Hariwangsa and Gatotkacasraya, written by Empu Panuluh.

5. Smaradhana, written by Empu Dharmaja.

6. Lubdaka and Wertasancaya, written by Empu Tanakung.

7. Kresnayana, written by Empu Triguna.

8. Sumanasantaka, written by Empu Monaguna.

Scripts and languages

The historical inheritances in scripts and languages were Pallava scripts and Sanskrit language. Pallava scripts are not used by Indonesian people anymore today because they have beeen replaced by Roman and Arabic scripts. However, Sanskrit is still used somtimes and the words have enriched the vocabulary of Indonesian language.

Calendar system

In India people used to be familiar with a lunar calendar  in which 1 year consisted of 12 months, and 1 month was equal to 29,5 days (titah). They were also familiar with a solar calendar which was known as ‘tarikh saka’ (saka calendar), which started to be used during the reign of KIng Kaniskha.

The difference between ‘saka’ calendar and Christian calendar is 78 years. For example, Canggal inscription which was dated 654 ‘saka’ should be read in Christian calendar as 654 + 78 = 732 AD.

System of goverment

The kingdom or monarchy system was already known by Indian people. In this system, small groups of people united to form an ownership of a large area. The best or strongest chief of ethnic group or tribe was entiled to hold the authority of the kingdom.

The Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms in Nusantara, such as Kutai, Tarumanegara, Sriwijaya, Singasari, and Majapahit were kingdoms which applied a system of government originating from Indian traditions. The system was adopted because it was considered suitable.

Next article : Characteristics of Hindu Buddhist historical remains in Various region in Indonesia

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