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Changed economic conditions in the archipelago had a significant impact on Java in the 13th century. Long before the 12th century, Chinese shipping enabled long-distance voyages, and Chinese merchants sailed directly to the archipelago’s many productive centers. East Javanese ports became richer than ever. A small trade developed in offshore islands off the coasts of Sumatra and Borneo and at the southern entrance of the Straits of Malacca. Porcelain piles dating from the 12th to the 14th centuries attest to the existence of an important trading center at Kota Sina, near present-day Medan, on the northeastern coast of Sumatra. As a result of these changes in trade patterns, the Minangkabau princes in the hinterland of central Sumatra, heir to the pretense of the great overlords of Srivijaya-Palembang, were unable to develop their port of Jambi into a prosperous and powerful trading centre. A power vacuum thus opened in the seas of western Indonesia, and the Javanese kings wished to fill it.


Kingdom of Kirtanagar - Indonesia

   Java was probably long considered the center of a prolific civilization, and Old Javanese (Kavi) became the language of the inscriptions of the island of Bali in the 11th century. Tantric ritual grafting on a megalithic temple at Bongkisam in Sarawak (part of Malaysian Borneo), sometime after the 9th century, is an indication of Javanese cultural diffusion along the Indonesian coast. Javanese cultural influence in the other islands was almost certainly preceded by political domination.

The split in the Malay world and the cultural fame of Java is not enough to explain why the Javanese king Kirtanagara (reigned 1268–92) decided to impose his authority on the Malayu in southern Sumatra in 1275. It has been suggested that the king’s concern was to protect the archipelago from the threat of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan by organizing a religious alliance. But Kirtanagar may also have imposed political authority, although their demands would have been limited to the expression of tribute and tribute.

The king’s activities abroad were almost certainly aimed at enhancing his prestige in Java itself, where he was never free from enemies. His political preferences are reflected in a 1289 Sanskrit inscription attached to an image of the king in the guise of the angry Akshobha Buddha (a self-born meditator-Buddha), claiming that he had restored unity in Java. ; His foreign exploits are not mentioned.

The exact theoretical content of the tantric cult of Kirtanagar is unknown. During his lifetime and after his death, his supporters revered him as Shiva-Buddha. He believed that he had harnessed the demonic forces within him that enabled him to destroy the demons who were trying to divide Java. The 14th-century poet Prapancha, author of Nagarakaratagama and a worshiper of Kirtanagara, on one occasion referred to the king as “Vairocana Buddha” and associated him with a ritual wife, the wife of Akshobhya Buddha. The Prapancha also praised the scholarly zeal of the king and his diligent performance of religious practice especially for the betterment of mankind.

The role of royal ascetic has long been a familiar feature of Javanese kingship. The king, buried in the 9th-century tomb of Prambanan, was identified as Shiva, a teacher of asceticism. In the early 13th century, according to later chronicles, King Angrok regarded himself as Bhatara Guru, the divine teacher, who was considered equal to Shiva. Shaiva and Mahayana priests were under royal supervision since at least the 10th century. Consequently, the tantric concept of Shiva-Buddha taught by Kirtanagara was not considered extraordinary. Javanese religious speculation came to interpret Shaivism and Mahayana as similar programs of personal liberation with complementary deities. The union with divinity, attaining the here and now, was the goal of all ascetics, including the king, who was regarded as the epitome of ascetic skill.

Kirtanagar’s religious position, as well as their political problems and policies, were by no means singular or contradictory to those of 13th-century Java. In fact, such religious and political authority enabled Kirtanagar to extend its divine power beyond Java to take advantage of the circumstances arising from the Chinese trade in the archipelago. By the 14th century, the tribute of foreign rulers to the Javanese king was accepted.

Majapahit era

In 1289 the Javanese king Kirtanagar misbehaved with the messenger of Kublai Khan, who was sent to demand the king’s submission. The Mongol emperor organized a punitive campaign in 1292, but Kirtangara was executed by a Qadiri rebel, Jaykatwang, before the invaders landed. In his turn, Jaykatavanga was quickly overthrown by Kiratanagara’s son-in-law, later known as Kirataraj, who used the Mongols to his advantage and then forced them to withdraw in confusion. The state capital was shifted to Majapahit. For some years the new ruler and his sons, who considered themselves heirs of Kirtanagar, had to suppress rebellions in Java; Majapahit’s authority was not firmly established in Java until 1319, with the help of the famous soldier Gajah Mada. Gajah was the chief official of the Mada kingdom during the reign of Kirtanagara’s daughter Tribhuvan (c. 1328–50), and over the years Javanese influence was restored in Bali, Sumatra and Borneo. Kirtanagar’s great-grandson, Hayam Wuruk, became king in 1350 under the name Rajasnagar.

Hayam Vuruk’s reign (1350–89) is remembered as the most spectacular period in Javanese history in the archipelago. Prapancha’s poem Nagarkertagama provides a rare glimpse of the state from the point of view of the 14th century. The poem, originally titled Desa Varana (“Description of the Country”), describes itself as a “literary temple” and attempts to show how the royal divinity pervades the world, cleansing it of impurities. and enables everyone to fulfill their obligations. For the gods and therefore for the Holy Land – the now undivided state of Java. The poet does not hide his intention to venerate the king, and, in the tradition of Javanese poetry, he may have initiated it under the auspices of sacred meditation with the aim of bringing him into contact with the divinity involved in the king.

Hayam Vuruk’s main fields of politics were probably much broader than those of his predecessors. Important regional rulers bound by marriage to the royal family were brought under surveillance through their involvement in court administration. Although a network of royal religious foundations was concentrated in the capital, it is not clear whether a more centralized and permanent structure of government was introduced or whether the unity of the ruler’s territory and authority still depended on the ruler’s personal prestige. At least, Prapancha did not give an unrealistic degree of authority to Hayam Wuruk, even though his poetry is an undeniable representation of the characteristics of royal divinity and the effects of divine rule in Java. In their travels around the kingdom, subordinate officials asserted their royal authority in matters such as taxes and control of religious foundations. An indication of the king’s prestige was his decision to conduct land surveys to ensure that the privileges of his subjects were upheld. In the absence of an elaborate system of administration, the authority of government was strengthened by the omnipresence of its representatives, and no one had set a more stern example than the king himself. According to Prapancha, “the prince was not in the royal residence for long,” and most of the poem is an account of royal progress. In this way Hayam Wuruk was able to assert his influence in restless areas, enforcing tributes from regional lords, convincing village elders with his visits, confirming land rights, collecting tribute, his spiritual enlightenment in the countryside. was able to obtain. I was able to meet and worship holy men. Mahayana, Shaivite and ancient Javanese sacred sites. His relentless travels, at least in the early years of his reign, meant that many of his subjects had the opportunity to appear in the presence of a man they believed to be a person of divinity.

     The ceremony was attended by learned Indian visitors, leading the poet to say that the only famous countries were Java and India as both had many religious experts. At no time in the year was the king’s religious role more emphatically recognized than in the New Year, when emissaries of the vassals, vassals and village leaders of the kingdom went to Majapahit to pay tribute and be reminded of their duties. The celebrations culminated with speeches to the visitors on the need to keep the peace and maintain the rice fields. 

Since the poem worships the king, it is not surprising that over 80 places in the archipelago are described as vassal territories and that the mainland states, with the exception of Vietnam, are said to be protected by the king. is done. Has been completed. The prapancha, believing that the king’s glory extends in all directions, elaborates what he considers to be the boundary of the relevant space. No less than 25 places in Sumatra are mentioned, and the Moluccas, whose spices and other products were sources of royal wealth, are well represented. On the other hand, the northern celebs (Sulawesi) and the Philippines are not mentioned.

Javanese foreign prestige was undoubtedly considerable during Hayam Vuruk’s lifetime, although the king sought nothing more than tribute and tribute from his more important vassals, such as the ruler of Malaya in Sumatra. In 1377, when a new Malayu ruler dared to obtain investment from the founder of the Ming dynasty in China, Hayam Wuruk’s emissaries in Nanking reassured the emperor that the Malayu was not an independent country. However, Javanese influence in the archipelago depended on the authority of the ruler in Java itself. When Hayam Wuruk died in 1389, the Palembang ruler in southeast Sumatra had the opportunity to reduce his vassal status. He noted the restoration of the Ming dynasty’s long-abandoned tributary trading system and its prohibition on Chinese visits to Southeast Asia, and believed that foreign merchants would again need the kind of entry at facilities in western Indonesia that Srivijaya- Palembang had provided centuries ago. He may also have declared himself the successor of the Bodhisattvas and the Maharajas of Srivijaya.

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