A Record of Journeys in Indonesia
A RECORD OF JOURNEYS
The writer of this month-long diary of Buddhist activities and joumeys in indonesia would like to bring the reader’s attention to two facts before they read the main narrative.
The first is an apology for the style of the English which though it has
been polished a little its still rather rough.
This reflects the manner of writhing this diary while on tour in
Indonesia, at first being able to write only rough notes and even when the
chance came after May the 16th to
write it in full, still it has to be done mostly at spare times and in all sorts
of places. The writer had
frequently to insert matters learnt afterwards into earlier narrative and in
this connection the two note books kept by my revered Upajjhaya, Chao Khun
Sasana Sobhana were of great value as a supplement.
The second point is also an apology, for inaccuracies, it is not possible
within the short space of one month’s visit to give an accurate and complete
picture of the Buddha-sasana in Indonesia.
Sometimes the writer found that later information on some subject was in
conflict with other facts learnt previously.
It was not always possible to confirm the truth in the short time
available. Then again, incomplete knowledge of facts may sometimes give a false
impression without any intention to do so.
For these two shortcomings, therefore, the writer begs for the indulgence
of readers. The compilation of a
complete survey of Buddhism in Indonesia at present would take much time and
require long residence in that attractive land and neither of these conditions
can be fulfilled now.
This diary was compiled at the request of Venerable Chao Khun Sobhana and
it was his intention from the beginning to have it translated into Thai, with
both English and Thai in same book but due to the length of this narrative, a
Thai translation has yet to be made. He also requested the writer to compile
some extracts from books on Buddhist history in Indonesia. There is very little on the subject because very little is
known and probably no one has yet devoted much time into research on the ancient
Buddhism of Indonesia. The
following extracts will give the reader a bare outline:-
E. Conze in a “Short History of Buddhism”
(reprinted in Unwin Paperbacks, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1982) writes (p. 83):
Indonesia was likewise ruled by Indian emigrants, and a Buddhism imported from South-East India is attested there from the fifth century (C.E.) onwards. The imperial power off Srivijaya after CE. 675 replaces by Buddhism the Brahminism prevalent till then. In Sumatra the Savastivadins were strong in the seventh century (C.E.). Later on the Vajrayana was brought in from the Pala Universities. The same happened in Java under the Sailendra dynasty from the eighth century (C.E.). onwards, though Saivism always remained fairly strong. The Sailendras filled the Kedu Plain with beautiful temples adorned with exceptionally fine sculptures. The most famous of these is the gigantic Borobudur, a stupa built in the sixth century, which is a mandala in stone, and symbolizes the cosmos as well as the way to salvation. Those who walk in pradaksina through its galleries will thereby ritually undergo the process of moving out of samsara and into Nirvana, ascending through the three levels of the triple world to the supramundane transcendental realm. Some of the great Mahayana texts are here illustrated on bas-reliefs, i.e., the Jatakamala, Lalitavistara, Gandavyuha, and Karmavibhanga.
In the same work (p. 107) he writes:
In indonesia Tantric Buddhism persisted until it was suppressed by lslam,
in Sumatra at the end of 14th century (C.E.), in Java from the 15th
century (C.E.) onwards Its final collapse was preceded by a slow decline in the
Hindu impact on the culture, and a re-assertion of the more indigenous elements.
The Tantricism present in this period was an extremist form, which
enjoined the practice of the five makaras,*
“free from all sensualities”, and regarded Vairocana as the
Primordial Buddha (Adibuddha). It syncretized the Kalacakra with the devotion to
SivaBhairava into a cult of Siva-buddha and, in keeping with native Indonesian
tradition, it was chiefly devoted to the redemption of the souls of the dead. Some of the loveliest pieces of Buddhist sculpture were made
in Java under the dynasty of Singhasari (C.E. 1222-1292), which represented its
Kings on statues as Amoghapasa, Aksobhya, etc. and its queens as Prajnaparamita,
I-Tsing, a Chinese Buddhist monk who left China for India in C.E. 671
reports, in “A Record of the Buddhist Religion”, as follows (p. xxxiv):-
tantric practice using five things forbidden or condcunned in India:
matsya-fish, mamsa-flesh, madya-drugs, methuna-sex, maralya-liquor.
Many kings and chieftains in the islands of the Southem Ocean admire and believe (Buddhism), and their hearts are set on accumulating good actions. In the fortified city of Bhoja, Buddhist priests number more than 1,000 whose minds are bent on leaming and good practices. They investigate and study all the subjects that exist just as in the Middle Kingdom (Madhyapadesa, India): the rules and ceremonies are not at all different. If a Chinese priest wishes to go to the West in order to hear (lectures) and read (the original), he had better stay here one or two years and practise the proper rules and then proceed to India.
On p. IO., I-Tsing writes further:-
In the islands of the Southem Sea-consisting of more than ten countries-the Mulasarvastivadanikaya has been almost universally adopted (lit. ‘there is almost only one’) though occasionally some have devoted themselves to the Sammitinikaya; and recently a few followers of the other two schools (Aryasthaviranikaya (= Theravada), and Aryamahasanghikanikaya) have also been found……
......There are some more small islands which cannot be mentioned here. Buddhism is embraced in all these countries, and mostly the system of the Hinayana is adopted, except in Malayu (=Sribhoja) wher there are a few who belong to the Mahayana.
Wat Bovoranives Vihara.7th of June 2513.
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