Indonesian History

Buddhist Temple Ruins in Central Java, Borobudur



Borobudur Temple is a mausoleum of polytheistic Buddhism

On the island of Java in Indonesia, a dynasty centered on Hinduism and Buddhism flourished until the 15th century due to exchanges with India, and after that, Islamization progressed due to exchanges with Arabs.

  • In the 8th century, the Wangsa Syailendra dynasty (Mahayana Buddhism) founded Borobudur in Central Java.
  • Kerajaan Mataram, a Hindu dynasty, was founded in Central Java and built the Prambanan Temple.
  • The Mataram dynasty became Islamized after the 15th century.
  • In the 18th century the Islamic Mataram dynasty split into Sultan in Yogyakarta and Susuhunan in Surakarta (Solo).

Unlike monotheism such as Christianity and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are polytheistic and idolatrous religions, so mausoleums are generally built to enshrine the spirits of ancestors and great men. In Hinduism, the mausoleums are pointed Candi, which can be seen all over Bali, and in Buddhism, they are rounded round stupas, which are built on high places such as a mountaintop like a cemetery (where the remains of Buddha are enshrined).

Just as Shinto in Japan believes in the existence of many gods, the Yaoyorozu, who are quietly enshrined as Ujigami in stone statues and shrines deep in the mountains, polytheism is a religion born out of an agrarian culture that thanks its ancestors in this life, prays for rain in the face of drought, and prays for a good harvest of rice.

Looking at the relief paintings of the corridor cleanses the mind and reconsiders the meaning of life.


East side entrance. From the bottom, it consists of a platform, a corridor with reliefs and a round platform with a stupa.

The Borobudur site, an andesite stone structure, has a stupa on a three-tiered platform surrounding the stupa on the highest bell, and famous reliefs are pasted on the central wall (inside) and the outer shield of the five-tiered platform below the stupa.


The third corridor on the west side is being restored (red part)

The relief paintings depict scenes from Buddhist scripture stories, with the aim of teaching the Buddha's teachings to those who visit the mausoleum, helping them to discover the true meaning of life and to purify and save their minds.


Embossed view of the main wall of the corridor


Floating moat on the corridor's shield

The story in the Buddhist scriptures tells of Gautama Siddhartha, a prince of the Sakyamuni tribe, who was born to solve the question of how to overcome the suffering of sickness, old age, and death in this life, and after many penances he realized that penance does not bring enlightenment, and finally attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.


A scene from "Preaching to the Buddha", not "Preaching to the Buddha".

Visitors to the mausoleum of Borobudur will encounter many statues of Buddha as they walk up the four-storey corridor with embossed figures from the eastern entrance, but it is quite surreal to see a headless Buddha facing the magnificent view of the foot of Mount Merapi, whether damaged or stolen over the years.


You will encounter many Buddha statues in the corridor, but nowadays there are many headless Buddha statues.


A group of stupas (stupas) arranged around the center on a circular platform. After seeing the life of Buddha in the relief paintings in the corridor, you can sit by the stupa and think about the meaning of living quietly.


A magnificent view from the circular platform. This sense of unity with nature adds to its value as a comprehensive art form.

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