The Srivijaya Empire

Srivijaya is an ancient kingdom on the island of Sumatra. Known to be existed around 1400, it was found by Dapunta Hyang Çri Yacanaca. Buddhism was then spread, and records describe the Srivijayan capital Palembang as a center of Buddhist learning. The time the Buddhist monk, I-Ching, came to Srivijaya, he recommended it as a centre of Buddhist learning. He spent the whole of six months learning Sanskrit there. At the time the growing trade and shipping between India and China, controlled by Srivijaya, had attracted the rivalry of both East Java and the Cholas of south India. So later in 1025, the Cholas attacked Srivijaya, captured its king, and devastated the country.

Srivijaya Empire Map

The Indian influence over South-East Asia expanded a lot during the time of Pallavas between the fifth and seventh centuries and the influence was mainly seen in Cambodia. In Srivijaya, a maritime power and dynasty which controlled the empire (stretching from Sumatra to Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) arose from obscurity in the 8th century. Srivijaya was an Indianised polity, more Buddhist than Brahminical with its capital near Palembang in South Eastern Sumatra.

Rival to the Srivijaya dynasty was the joint kingdoms of Sailendra and Sanjaya based in central Java. It was during their time (after 780 CE) that the temple building activity flourished in the island. These temples were based on the layout and elevation of the Pallavan and Chalukyan temples. An exception to this style of construction is the colossal temple at Borobudur, which apparently started as a Hindu temple and was converted to a Buddhist place of worship.
One of the largest Hindu temples in the region is Prambanan, located in central Java. This temple, which was built around 850 CE during the time of the Sanjaya dynasty is dedicated to the Trimurtis. There are about 200 temples in this complex and the bas-relief of the temple depicts the story of Ramayana. Parts of this temple was damaged in the recent earthquake that hit Indonesia.

The longest axis of the island runs approximately northwest - southeast, crossing the equator near the center. The interior of the island is dominated by two geographical regions: the Barisan Mountains in the west and swampy plains in the east.To the southeast is Java, separated by the Sunda Strait. To the north is the Malay Peninsula, separated by the Straits of Malacca. To the east is Borneo, across the Karimata Strait. West of the island is the Indian Ocean.

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