Monday, February 9, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Introduction

Twelve Javanese Sites Worthy of Interest: Monuments & Sites Related to Women in Buddhism & Bhikkhunīs

Historical Site Article Extracts: Tathālokā Bhikkhunī, 
Maps: Ānandajoti Bhikkhu, 
Introduction: Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī and all, 
Layout: Ānagarikā Michelle 

Buddhist monastics and lay community members from around the world are preparing to travel to Indonesia for the 14th Sakyadhita Conference at Yogyakarta. For those interested in Buddhist women's history and the history of the ancient Bhikkhuṇī/Bhikṣuṇī Sangha in Indonesia, we thought to make information available about some of the historical (and her-storical) sites worth visiting.

This will enrich the experience of Conference participants in Indonesia providing invaluable opportunities for both intellectual learning and onsite experiential learning, as well as give means for those who cannot travel to learn and grow in knowledge and benefit together from afar.

In the months leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur in June, from March thru May, we plan to publish a series of blog posts extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā's "Light of the Kilis: Our Ancient Bhikkhuṇī Ancestors" paper, researched and prepared for the Sakyadhita-Borobudur Conference. These extract posts will provide more in-depth discussion of various aspects of the History of Women in Buddhism in Indonesia, many with relationship to the historical sites highlighted here. One final site, Borobudur and its vicinity, will be covered and presented upon during the Conference itself, as the Conference will visit the Borobudur monument. At the time of the Conference, we hope to offer a complete downloadable pdf guide to the history and art of the Indonesian Buddhist women's historical sites presented in this series.

The map and information here offer a brief introduction to a few of the places on Java that we thought would be of greatest interest to know about beforehand, and potentially have the chance to plan to visit.

I. Yogyakarta Area (Area of Sakyadhita Conference: Prambanan Plain & Greater Yogyakarta)
II. Malang Area (Malang City & Greater Malang)
III. Jakarta National Museum

Image 1: Important Historic Sites to Women in Buddhism - Java. Map by Bhikkhu Ānandajoti. For more maps related to Buddhist history, see “Maps of the Ancient Buddhist World

I. Yogyakarta Area Sites 

Prambanan Plain

Image 2: Prambanan Area

1. Candi Kalasan Tārā Bhavanam
Monument to Ārya Tārā
Earliest Inscriptions of Tārā in the world
First and oldest Prambanan Plain Buddhist temple

Tārā Bhavanam, more commonly known as Candi Kalasan, (also known as Candi Kalibening), is the site of the oldest inscriptions of the female buddha Tārā in the world. It is also the first and oldest known Buddhist temple on the Prambanan Plain (in the area of Yogyakarta). It is the site of a very rare Sanskrit Siddham inscription, circa 778 CE, which establishes direct connections between Javanese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean esoteric Buddhist traditions, and was likely associated with ruling Queen Tārā who herself had relations with the Indian Pala Dynasty.

Image 3: Ārya Tārā image over the lintel at Tārā
Bhavanam/ Candi Kalasan.
1. Kalasan Wikipedia Page
2. Map
3. Kalasan inscription

2. Candi Plaosan
Dual Cloister (Men’s and Women’s) Monastery/Shrine
Ubhato Sangha Bhikkhus’ and Bhikkhuṇīs’ Monastery

According to inscriptions, the Candi Plaosan dual sangha vihara was built for the flood of Gujarati Indian immigrants. It has a northern cloister (Plaosan Lor) thought to be for male monastics due to the male imagery and a southern cloister (Plaosan Kidul) thought to have been for female monastics due to the female imagery. The greater complex includes both sides plus  a commons area between the two. The site bears remarkable similarity to the world-famous and renowned Ajanta and Ellora rock-cut monastery cave complexes in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra in India. Plaosan was built by Buddhist “Queen Mother”- Śrī Kahulunnan, who was either Queen Tārā or her daughter Queen Śrī Sanjiwana Pramodhawardhani.

1. Plaosan Wikipedia page
2. Map, Plaosan images
3. “Unveiling Bhikkhunis in Oblivion” by Rupali Mokashi
4. Article on Candi Plaosan dual monastery
5. Image of Tārā at Candi Plaosan, Plaosan Sita Mañjughoṣa Mañjuśrī image
6. Queen Śrī Sanjiwana Pramodhawardhani’s personal memorial temple: Candi Sajiwan (Sojiwan)

3. Candi Sewu 
Mañjuśrī Religious Harmony Temple

Buddhist Queen Mother Śrī Kahulunnan also established the pervara temples of the Mañjuśrī temple. This temple/monastery was dedicated to ultimate religious harmony between the Buddhist Triratana and Hindu Trimurti, both of these qualities present in the central Mañjuśri image. The temple’s full dedicatory name is Prāsāda Vajrāsana Mañjuśrī-gṛha and is generally known as Candi Sewu. Candi Sewu is known through inscriptions to have been dedicated as a monastery (vihara) and offered to the Buddhist monastic Sangha.

Image 4: Prāsāda Vajrāsana Mañjuśrī-gṛha at Candi Sewu
1. Candi Sewu Mañjuśri image (now at the Tropen Museum)
2. Original layout of Candi Sewu with surrounding pervara temples
3. Candi Sewu aerial view

Greater Yogyakarta Area

Image 5: Bhikkhuṇī Candraprabhā and Advisors warn the king. Borobudur Jātaka level. Images of bhikkhuṇīs and the Bhikkhuṇī Sangha appear in three levels at Borobudur.

4. Candi Borobudur

Image 6: Dewī Tārā at Borobudur. Queen
Tārā “was the daughter of the great ruler 
Dharmasētu (or Varmasētu) of the lunar 
race and  resembled Tārā herself.” 
(Hiranda Sastri 1924:326) 

Commonly known as Borobudur, this world-famous monument was original named Kamūlān Bhūmisambhāra “Monument of the Stages [of the Path].” According to inscriptions, Buddhist Queen Mother Śrī Kahulunnan established and inaugurated the sīma and religious endowment at Borobudur. Bhikkhuṇī/bhikṣuṇī images appear at three levels/stages in the monument—the Jātaka, Divyāvadāna, and Gandavyūha levels—and are perhaps the oldest known real to life images of the local/Indic bhikkhu/bhikṣu and bhikkhuṇī/bhikṣuṇī sanghas of this period.

5. Gedung Songo & Dieng Plateau
Oldest Temples in Indonesia founded by Queen Sima

Queen Sima (Ratu Shima, Skt: Siṃha) of Kalinga (Holing, 訶陵) was known internationally for her strict fairness, honesty and justice. Some of her policies continue to inspire the law and governance of contemporary Singapore (Siṃhapura). The Indonesian Kalinga is thought to be named after Kalinga, now in Odissa and Andhra Pradesh, India. The name is still retained in the contemporary Keling City. Queen Sima is credited with having established the four oldest known temple complexes in Indonesia on Dieng Plateau and Gedung Songo (hilltop above the Dutch-era hill station of Ambarawa). Her daughter Parvati co-founded the neighboring kingdom of Tarumanegara/Dharmanagara, where the earliest inscriptions on Java are found.
Distance From To
80 km Borobudur Dieng Plateau
59 km Borobudur Gedung Songo
1. Map for both Kalinga and Tarumanegara
2. Images of earliest Javanese inscriptions
3. Queen Sima of the Kalingga
4. Gedung Songo templestemples of Dieng Plateau

6. Ratu Boko Abhayagiri-vihāra
Ancient International Monastery for Sri Lankan Abhayagiri-vihāra Monastics

The hilltop Ratu Boko monument sits above the Prambanan Plain and is the site of the ancient Indonesian Abhayagirivihāra. A 792-3 CE inscription connects the site with the International Abhayagirivihāra monastics of Sri Lanka, to whom the site was originally offered. The site was also dedicated to Padmapāṇi Avalokiteśvara, and contains a men’s ascetic cave (gua lanang) and women’s ascetic cave (gua wadon).  It may have been a site of asceticism and meditation prior to its establishment as a developed vihara in the 8th century.

Image 7: Ratu Boko Heritage Site
1. Ratu Boko UNESCO World Heritage Site
2. Ratu Boko inscriptions: II, III

II. Malang Area Sites

Image 8: Malang Area

Malang City and Surrounding Area

7. Ken Dedes Monument
Modern Prajñāpāramitā Statue of Ken Dedes and Memorial Park

Ken Dedes was gauged by a sage to be an Ardhanārīśwari (Skt: Ardhanārīśvara); and a Strī Nareśwarī (“Lady Lord of Humanity”), with the power to found a royal dynasty. Ken Dedes came to be known as a seminal figure in Javanese history, as she is considered not only the first queen of the Singhasari (Singosari) dynasty, but the matriarchal ancestor from whom several centuries of Singhasari and Majapahit rulers descended.

Image 9: Ken Dedes Prajñāpāramitā Memorial Park, Malang
1. Ardhanarishvara Wikipedia page
2. Kendedes Monument (with contemporary image), Malang, East Java
3. Map

8. Candi Singosari
Site of mortuary Gāyatrī Rājapatni Prajñāpāramitā images
Founding monument of Singosari Majapahit related to both Ken Dedes and Gāyatrī Rājapatni

Gāyatrī Rājapatni (Gayatri Rajapatni) was the matriarch of the Majapahit empire, and retired in her later years into bhikkhuṇī life establishing her daughter Tribhuvana Wijayatunggadevi
 as rajāputrī or reigning monarch. Kamal Pandak was consecrated by Buddhist master Jñanawidhi as Prajñāpāramitā-puri in 1362 CE in memorial to Gāyatrī Rājapatni. Candi Singosari is also known as the site of the founding of Majapahit Empire, and is thus closely related to Ken Dedes as well. It was the location of the discovery of the now-headless Gāyatrī Dharmacakrapravartana-mūdra (“Turning the Wheel of the Dharma”) Prajñāpāramitā image no. 2, currently located at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands.

1. Image found at Singosara (now at Rijksmuseum)
2. Map

9. Candi Jago aka Candi Jajagyu
Five-peaked Rock temple modelled on Mt. Meru
Original site of Amoghapāśa Sādhana Bhrikutī

The Bhrikutī (Bhṛkutī)  image once at Candi Jago (Candi Jajagyu) of Melang is now at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands. At this temple, Bhrikutī’s companions in Sakyaśrībhadra’s
Amoghapaśa Sadhana meditation text were found: tenderly compassionate Green Tārā and Sudhana-kumāra on Amoghapāśa Avalokiteśvara’s one hand, with Bhrikutī and Hayagrīva on the other—a pentad surrounded by five male and female dhyāni buddhas to go with the five peaks. In the Amoghapāśa Sādhana represented here, Bhrikutī and Hayagrīva represent the ferocious side of compassion as balance to its softness.

1. Jago Temple Wikipedia page
2. Candi Jago Bhrikutī at the Rijksmuseum
3. Candi Jago Amoghapāśa Avalokiteśvara at the Metropolotin Museum of Art (very similar in appearance and implements to Bhrikutī)
4. Who is Amoghapāśa Avalokiteśvara (Ch. 不空羂索, Tib. Don yod zhags pa)?
5. Map

10. Gua Saelomangleng Ascetic Caves of Kili Devi Suci
Image 10: Saelomangleng Cave of Devi Kili Suci in Kediri at Mt. Klothok
The Saelomangleng Caves are widely remembered in association with Crown Princess/Putri Sanggramawijaya, later and more popularly known as the female hermit/bhikkhuṇī remembered as Devi Kili Suci. According to the Babad Tanah Jawi, these caves were the site of her early retirement into monastic life, asceticism, and auto-assimilation into the Buddhaloka. The Selomangleng Caves are located on the lower slopes of Mt Klothok, 5 km west of City of Kederi, and are open to visitors.  This is a great site to get a sense of the ancient popular Indonesian cave-dwelling ascetic life. There are several contemporary local statues of Devi Kili Suci nearby, as well as the Airlangga Museum.
Distance From To
244 km Yogyakarta Gua Selomangleng
1. Map

11. Candi Gāyatrī  at Boyolangu
Ruins of Mortuary Monument of Gāyatrī Rājapatni as Prajñāpāramitā

Image 11 & 12: Ground consecrated as Viśeṣa-pura, Candi Gāyatrī at Boyolangu.
Candi Gāyatrī at Boyolangu was consecrated as Viśeṣa-pura by Master Jñanawidhi twelve years after Queen Mother Gāyatrī Rājapatni’s death as a bhikkhuṇī. Gāyatrī Rājapatni’s mortuary Prajñāpāramitā image was established and enshrined there. The temple ruins are located in Boyolangu hamlet, Tulungagung, East Java.* Other images from this temple have been taken to the Tulungagung Regional Museum nearby and can be seen there.
Distance From To
229 km Yogyakarta Candi Gayatri
1. Imagesmore images
2. * Candi Gayatri, dusun Boyolangu, kalurahan Boyolangu, kecamatan Boyolangu, kabupaten Tulungagung, Jawa Timur

III. Jakarta National Museum

12. Jakarta National Museum
Site of World Famous Prajñāpāramitā image

Image 13: World famous Prajñāpāramitā image at Jakarta National
 Museum (l) from the book cover of Earl Drake’s Gayatri Rajapatni: 
Perempuan Di Balik Kejayaan Majapahit  at Good Reads (The 
English-language edition from Areca Books is due out in 2015.)

The original world-famous and oft-copied Prajñāpāramitā image associated with both Gāyatrī Rājapatni and Ken Dedes has returned from Europe and is currently housed at the Jakarta National Museum. This image is thought to have been originally enshrined and discovered at Candi Singosari or Candi Jago. Many more images from this period are safeguarded and preserved in the Jakarta National Museum.

Image 14: Gazing at the image in the 
National Museum (r).

1.  Map for Jakarta National Museum
2. “Uncovering the Woman Behind Majapahit” in the Jakarta Post
3. Related Prajnaparamita image by Ajahn Vimalo with contemporary bhikkhuṇīs at Aloka Vihara


All posts in the "History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia" series: 
Part 4: International Buddhist Networking, Bhikkhunīs and Women’s Leadership in the 5th-7th Century Indonesian South Seas
Part 5: The Mystery Story of Devi Kili Suci ~ the 11th Century Vanishing Crown Princess Bhikkhunī Hermit & Her Selomangleng Goa Cave
Part 6: Bhrikutī & the Appearance of New Non-Bhikkhunī Forms of Women’s Asceticism in Buddhism
Part 7: Ardhanāriśvārī Ken Dedes & Gender in Ancient Indian Buddhism

Part 8: Gāyatrī Rājapatni: Queen, Bhikkhunī & the Prajñāpāramitā
Part 9: Tomé Pires Witness & the Beguines, change comes to the roles of women in religion in Indonesia
Part 10: Shedding Light on the Bhikkhunīs & the Great Founding Women of Borobudur (Sakyadhita Conference Presentation)


Photo credits for Introduction / Part 1:
Image 1 & 2 & 8: “Maps of the Ancient Buddhist World” at: http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Maps/MP-index.htm.
Image 3: https///naliam.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/candikalasan2528172529.jpg
Image 4: https://kartuwayang.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/candi-sewu/ 
Image 5: Ven Bhikkhu Ānandajoti, Photodharma: http://www.photodharma.net/Indonesia/04-Jataka-Level-1-Top/images/Jataka-Level-1-Original-00052.jpg. 
Image 6: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki /Tara_(Buddhism)#mediaviewer/File:Tara_Borobudur_2.jpg
Image 9: https://auvijanfamily.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/weekend-di-museum-nasional-ri/ 
Image 10: http://www.thearoengbinangproject.com/gua-selomangleng-kediri/
Image 11 & 12: https://travellers2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/membentangkan-sayap-hingga-candi-candi-tulungagung/
Image 13: Goodreads Gayatri Rajapatni: Perempuan Di Balik Kejayaan Majapahit http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15974805-gayatri-rajapatni
Image 14: https://auvijanfamily.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/weekend-di-museum-nasional-ri/.


Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī (sans diacritics Ayya Tathaaloka)

Ven. Tathālokā Bhikkhunī is an American-born Theravada bikkhunī, Buddhist monastic scholar and teacher. She is the co-founder of the non-profit NGO Dhammadharini (Women Upholding the Dhamma), the North American Bhikkhuni Association and Aranya Bodhi Hermitage, as well as a senior monastic advisor to Sakyadhita USA and the Alliance for Bhikkhunis. She was a recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award and a presenting scholar at the 2007 International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha on her special areas of scholarship: Bhikkhuni Sangha History and Bhikkhuni Vinaya.  Ayyā Tathālokā served as preceptor for the historically significant bhikkhuni ordinations held in Western Australia and in Northern California between 2009 and 2014. She is currently working with the Dhammadharini support foundation to establish a permanent monastery/vihara for the Dhammadharini Bhikkhuni Sangha in Northern California north of the San Francisco Bay Area (see dhammadharini.net).

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