One of the common misconceptions about Hinduism is that it is an India-specific religion. Indeed it is true that Hinduism and the Vedanta philosophy originated in
Even historically, Hinduism was never an India-specific religion. Ancient Hindu idols have been discovered in places as far as central
How Hinduism was introduced in
Records of foreign trade with
However, recent discoveries of Sanskrit transcriptions in places like eastern
References in Balinese literature about Pura Pucak Raung (in the Eastern Javanese district of Glenmore), where Maharishi Markandeya is said to have visited and gathered followers, further bolster this claim.
But as is common with most of the religions, Hinduism in
It shares all the main beliefs of Hinduism like a belief that all of the Gods are manifestations of the Supreme Being, belief in the Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu (Wisnu), Mahesh (Ciwa) representing the creator, preserver and destroyer roles of the Supreme Being, belief in sacred texts of Vedas, Puranas and Itihassas etc.
However it lacks the traditional Hindu emphasis on cycles of rebirth and reincarnation, but instead is greatly influenced by the Chinese and Eastern Asian concept of ancestral spirits. Brahmins are regarded as the prestigious class but instead of being affiliated with any temple, they act as spiritual leaders and advisers to individual families.
Being accepted as an Indonesian religion, Hinduism is reflected in early Indonesian polity as well. Various Hindu kingdoms began to emerge in the main islands of Java and
Srivijaya kingdom was based in
Srivijaya established suzerainty over large areas of Sumatra, western Java and much of the Malay Peninsula. Dominating the Malacca and Sunda straits, it controlled both the spice route traffic and local trade, charging a toll on passing ships. Serving as an entrepôt for Chinese, Malay, and Indian markets, the
In 903 AD, a Muslim writer Ibn Rustah was so impressed with the wealth of Srivijaya’s ruler that he declared one would not hear of a king who was richer, stronger or with more revenue. Srivijaya also maintained close relations with the Pala Empire in Bengal and an 860 AD inscription records that the maharaja of Srivijaya dedicated a monastery at the
Fall of the
In 13th century, the
By 1402 AD, Parameswara, the last prince of Srivijaya who had fled
Other Hindu Kingdoms: During the same time period some other Hindu kingdoms like Sailendra and Singhasari existed on the
Based in eastern Java in since 1293 AD, Majapahit was the last Hindu empire in
The New Year ceremony during the Majapahit era was a major religious ceremony which used to be attended by Indian scholars as well. Thus in one of the inscriptions, the poet asserts that the only famous countries in the world were Java and
Finally in 1478, Brawijaya the last Majapahit ruler converted to Islam. The last remaining courtsmen of Majapahit were forced to withdraw eastward. A large number of courtiers, artisans, priests, and Hindu members of the royalty moved east to the
Conversion to Islam:
In both Java and
This is undoubtedly a major event in the history of Hinduism and should be studied and understood in great detail by all those who love this ancient continuous tradition. It would reveal the conditions and reasons behind the downfall of Hinduism from one of its strongholds and might prove as a guidance to avoid such circumstances elsewhere in the future.
Hindus Renaissance and Challenges:
Preserved by Balinese Hindus through their turbulent history, Hinduism is experiencing a revival in all parts of
Even officially identifying their religion as Hinduism was not a legal possibility for Indonesians until 1962 AD, when it became the fifth state-recognized religion. This recognition was initially sought by Balinese religious organizations and granted for the sake of
The largest of these organizations, Parisada Hindu Dharma Bali, changed its name to P.H.D. Indonesia (PHDI) in 1964, reflecting subsequent efforts to define Hinduism as a national rather than just a Balinese affair. Religious identity became a life and death issue for many Indonesians around the same time as Hinduism gained recognition, namely in the wake of the violent anti-Communist purge of 1965-66.
Persons lacking affiliation with a state recognized-religion tended to be classed as atheists and hence as communist suspects. Despite the inherent disadvantages of joining a national religious minority, a deep concern for the preservation of their traditional ancestral religious practices made Hinduism a more palatable option than Islam for several ethnic groups in the outer islands.
In the early seventies, the Toraja people of Sulawesi island were the first to realize this opportunity by seeking shelter for their indigenous religious practices under the broad umbrella of ‘Hinduism’, followed by the Karo Batak of Sumatra in 1977 and the Ngaju Dayak of
For some Indonesians this return to the ‘religion of Majapahit‘ was a matter of nationalist pride. PHDI, in an annual report claims the ‘Hindu congregation’ (umat hindu) of
Apart from political environment, socio-economic factors also contributed to this trend. In the last few decades, especially after being formally recognized as an official Indonesian religion, some of the ancient Hindu temples are being revived in
Surge in the number of households proclaiming themselves as the followers of Hinduism has been seen around these revived temples. Prominent among them include Pura (temple) Blambangan in the regency of Banyuwangi completed around 1978, Pura Mandaragiri Sumeru Agung, located on the slope of Mt Sumeru, Java’s highest mountain completed in 1992 and recently completed Pura Loka Moksa Jayabaya in the village of Menang near Kediri and Pura Pucak Raung in the Eastern Javanese district of Glenmore. Similar resurgence was observed around major archaeological remains of ancient Hindu temple sites in Trowulan near Mojokerto. Economically, the newly built temples have brought new prosperity to local populations.
Apart from employment in the building, expansion, and repair of the temple itself, a steady stream of Balinese pilgrims to this now nationally recognized temple has led to the growth of a sizeable service industry. In the recent international environment, pondering on the secret to the economic success of their Balinese neighbors, several local inhabitants have also concluded that Hindu culture may be more conducive to the development of an international tourism industry.
What the future holds:Contributed by all these factors, a slow yet certain revival of Hinduism in