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The Gāyatrī mantra (also called Sāvitrī mantra), is a mantra from the Rig Veda (Mandala 3.62.10) which was revealed to Rishi Vishwamitra. It is also known as the Mahāvyāhrti (“great mystical utterance”).

The mantra and the deity that forms it are said to be identical. Thus name of the deity of the mantra is also called Gāyatrī.

Gāyatrī mantra is not just a means of worship but is an object of worship by itself. ‘Savitri’ can be interpreted as both the Sun worship and the Mother Goddess.

The…


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Image source: Didi Trowulanesia

The Majapahit empire was the last of the major Hindu empires of Dvipantara and the greatest state in Indonesian history. At its peak, the empire’s dominated all of today’s Indonesia and Malaysia.

A legendary kingdom

The history of Majapahit is shrouded in legends and mystery. It is known to us through the Pararaton (‘Book of Kings’) and Nagarakertagama, written in the Kawi language.

Majapahit is sen as a culmination of the high culture of the Indonesian Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms that had existed for more than a thousand years…


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In India, the temples called devalaya or vimana. In Bali they are called pura. Why are temples in Java called candi?

Candi means ‘old throne’ and is one of the names of Durga (known as Sang Hyang Bathari Durga in Java), the Mother Goddess, who is born from the Cosmic energy to save the world threatened of destruction by the demons. She is called Chandika, Ambika or Durga.

She was especially venerated by the Javanese common people, who brought offerings to her, whereas the kings and aristocracy venerated…


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When the powerful King Kertanegara of Singosari ascended to the throne, his title was Bhattara Shivabuddha, which glorified his embrace of the syncretic Indonesian Shiva-Buddha religion.

Lesser known is that he was also an adept of the esoteric Kala Bhairava Tantra Hindu-Buddhist lineage. His deified statue is that of Bhairava, who is portrayed standing on a pedestal of skulls, wearing a chain of human heads around his naked body, a crown of skulls on his head and holding a skull drinking cup.

This esoteric lineage was based on…


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It was chaos in Java by the end of the 15th century. Feuds were happening everywhere and the Moslem expansion had reached the most populated areas of Java. Javanese Hindus then sought refuge in the eastern parts of Java, mostly in Pasuruan, Banyuwangi, Tengger and Kelud.

The Javanese elites in turn, including princes, nobles, artists and priests traveled all the way to Bali, to re-establish the Javanese civilization there. They included Dang Hyang Nirartha, a Shiva-Buddha high priest who had a broad knowledge of religion and spirituality.

He…


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Indonesia’s largest holy site is the Prambanan temple complex in Central Java. ‘Prambanan’ means Para Brahman (“Temple of God Almighty”) and is a Shiva temple dedicated to the Trimūrti.

Its original name was Shiva-grha (the House of Shiva). It borders the Opak river, that was cut along a North to South axis along the outer wall of the Shivagrha Temple compound. This exquisite architecture was constructed many centuries before both Angkor Wat and the great cathedrals of Europe.

Since 2012 there are plans to protect the area around…


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In Java, a succession of Hindu kingdoms flourished for 1500 years. In Java, the strongest form of Hinduism was Javanese Shaivism, rooted in the very ancient Shaiva Siddantha tradition.

Javanese Shaivism is a religious system that postulates Shiva as God Almighty, the Ultimate reality, the origin and final destination of all. It made a significant contribution to fields of metaphysics, religion and culture. It is a system of thought that covers ethics and rituals as well as Yoga.

Among all schools of Shaivism, it is a distinctive system…


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The Tengger people are one of the biggest Hindu communities in Java. Their population is centered in around 50 towns in the isolated Tengger mountains, around Pasuruan, Lumajang, Probolinggo and Malang Regency.

The Tengger people are descendants of loyalists of the Majapahit empire who resisted islamization for centuries and were driven further into the mountains after the mass arrival in the area of Moslem Madurese in the 19th century. …


Devotees climbing to the crater for Yadnya Kasada

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Each year, the Tengger people of East Java hold the world-famous Yadnya Kasada ritual at Mount Bromo in Java. The volcano is considered to be the abode of Lord Brahma (‘Bromo’ in Javanese). The Tenggerese and other Javanese Hindus make pilgrimages to the crater rim, where they sacrifice a part of the income of their work.

The ritual sacrifice is held in the middle of the night on the full moon of the 10th Javanese Hindu lunar calendar (Kasada). Ritual…


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Only Since World War II has the term ‘Southeast Asia’ been used to describe the area to the East of India and to the South of China — for lack of a better term. Yet the original name of the region was known in ancient times as Dvipantara, a Sanskrit word for the “islands in between”.

Dvipantara

In 1275, the term Cakravala Mandala Dvipantara is used to describe the archipelago by the great Javanese king Kertanegara of Singhasari. …

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