Monday, April 20, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 5

The Mystery Story of Devi Kili Suci ~ the 11th Century Vanishing Crown Princess Bhikkhunī Hermit & Her Selomangleng Goa Cave

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

Image 1: Putrī Sanggramawijaya/
Devi Kili Suci
In this fifth post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series, we skip over the Borobudur period ahead in time to the 11th century, to a time when royals’ renunciation of the throne for monastic life appears almost commonplace, and the Indonesian mountain hermitages and grottos are frequented by both male and female hermit ascetics of various faiths. Mantranāya/Vajrayāna Buddhism has been spreading in Java since at least the end of the seventh century and has grown strong. We explore the still-popular legendary story of one crown princess turned kili/wiksuni/bhikkhunī/mahāsiddhā, and visit the cave where she lived, practiced, and mysteriously vanished from corporeal existence.

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhunī Ancestors,” this is the fifth part in our mini-series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia.

The Mystery Story of Devi Kili Suci ~ the 11th Century Vanishing Crown Princess Bhikkhunī Hermit & Her Selomangleng Goa Cave

Although records of Buddhist women renunciates become scarce in India after the 8th century, and rare in Sri Lanka after the 10th century, they continue to be found in 11th century Indonesia.

Image 2:The Pucangan aka
“Calcutta stone”inscription 
in Old Javanese and Sanskrit.
Born of a dynastic marriage between Bali and the Eastern Javanese Isyana Dynasty kingdom of Medang, Airlangga—“He Who Crosses the Waters,” was raised by the Queen Mother of Bali, and returned as a teenager to Java, where his wedding had been arranged. The “Calcutta Stone” inscription records that at age sixteen, on his wedding day, during the wedding itself, his mother’s brother the Medang king Dharmawamśa and his entire family were attacked by surprise and killed, the palace sacked and burned. Somehow he escaped unharmed. He spent several years in retreat at Vanagiri Forest Hermitage, and then emerged to make peace with Śrīvijāya and found a new Javanese kingdom named Kahuripan.

Airlangga married a Śrīvijāyan princess who had escaped to East Java after her father was taken prisoner and their kingdom raided by the Indian Cholas . According to the Baru inscription, he named her to the role of Parameśwari—Premier Queen Consort.

Image 3: Contemporary statuary image of 
Javanese Kahuripan Crown Princess Putrī 
Sanggramawijaya before renouncing the throne 
for ascetic hermit’s life.
The royal daughter of the Parameśwari was appointed Rakryan Mahāmantri—Prime Minister, and then later named the future queen regent, although the king had two sons.  The eldest daughter was Putrī Sanggramawijaya, and her full entitled name was Rakrayan Mahāmantri i Hino Sanggramawijaya Dharmaprasada Uttunggadewi (alternate spelling: Dharmaprasadottunggadewi) as reflected in the Cane and Turun Hyang I inscriptions.

The royal leadership was known for their tolerance; they were supporters of the Viśṇuvite, Śaivite and Buddhist faiths. In 1035 CE, Airlangga founded and dedicated a major new Buddhist royal monastery, the Śrīvijāyāśrama, in Śrī Dharmaprasada Uttunggadewi’s name.

They developed new technology in irrigation and shipping, and were major patrons of the arts and literature, the new kingdom spreading to Central Java and Bali into the vacuum that had been created with the fall of the old Śrīvijāya.

Image 4: Mount Klotok, the site of
Selomangleng Goa Cave
Airlangga wished to abdicate and for the Crown Princess/Prime Minister to assume the throne, but Sanggramawijaya decided to become a Buddhist hermit wiksuni/bhikkhunī[1] herself, rather than to rule.

According to oral histories and the Babad Tanah Jawi, the royal princess became a kili and left for Selomangleng Goa Cave on the lower slopes of Mount Klothok, five kilometres to the west of the city of Kediri. She came to be known as Dewi Kilisuci (see Part 2 in this series to learn more about what “kili” and “suci” mean in Indonesian language and culture). The Cerita Panji speaks of her as a highly-respected, sacred and noble figure.

Image 5: Stone steps leading up the mountain to the crown
princess hermit’s Selomangleng cave hermitage site.

The Selomangleng Cave complex, although not as large and elaborate as the famed rock-cut cave monastery complexes of western India, may have been developed with royal support over some period of time as a place of withdrawal into asceticism. Selo is a form of the Pāli sela or Sanskrit śaila—mountain, mangleng means “slope” in Indonesian language, and goa means gua or “cave.”

Image 6: Dewi Kili Suci’s Selomangleng Goa Cave

Despite graffiti and various kinds of active popular worship, the central samādhi buddha image in meditation posture can still be clearly seen in the central cave, its walls originally covered with inspiring engravings.

Image 7: The central Buddha image inside Devi Kili Suci’s Selomangleng cave. The cave is carved out of an andesite stone rock formation.

Although currently much frequented by sightseers of all faiths, the caves look to have once been a wonderful spot for a Buddhist bhikkhuṇī kili's secluded mountain forest cave meditation dwelling, and they are a good illustration of what such life was like.[2]

The Putrī Kederi Dewi Kili Suci has become something of a local cult heroine; she is very much remembered.  The National Hindu Association has recognized her as a goddess and hosted a parade for her as a local cultural event.[3]  There are Dewi Kili Suci t-shirts,[4] and several life-size local statues.[5]

Image 8: Department of Culture and Tourism and Association of Indonesian Hindus historical parade in old Kederi featuring Crown Princess Sanggramawijaya/Dewi Kili Suci depicted in her Hindu aspect as a goddess.

Image 9: Dewi Kilisuci T-shirt design by Revelation Firmanto

Returning to his former home, Airlangga, her father, also decided to abdicate the throne upon the death of her mother in 1042 CE, and retire into ascetic life as a rishi. He came to be known by the religious name of Ṛśi Gantau.  Trying to prevent a succession war between his two sons (and perhaps others), he had the famous Buddhist sage Bharada divide the kingdom in two, giving one side to each of them to rule.  When he passed away in 1049 CE, a Viṣṇu image was made dedicated to him, sitting tranquil in meditation atop Garuda, his national symbol.[6]

Image 10: Airlingga seated in meditation atop garuda, his national symbol.

His ashes are thought to have been scattered in the sacred bathing pool tirtha at Candi Belahan, were his Viṣṇu image on Garuda is said to have stood between that of Viṣṇu’s consorts, the goddesses Śrī and Laksmī.[7]

Image 11: The Candi Belahan memorial pool or tirtha of Dewi Kili Suci’s father Airlangga with goddesses Śrī and Laksmī on either hand. There is a question about the identity of Airlangga’s partner images here, whether his wife and daughter, or two wives.

Dewi Kili Suci, on the other hand, rather than dying in normal fashion, is said to have directly bodily auto-assimilated into the Buddha-loka via her Buddhist and/or yogic meditation practice.[8] She is remembered by Indonesian Buddhists as a mahāsiddhā vajradhārā.[9]

Image 12: Dewi Kilisuci portrayed in gold as a yogini standing on double lotus pedestal. Discovered in 1978 at the edge of the Brantas River.

Image 13: Contemporary Penataran Kilisuci temple located nearby Selomangleng Cave.

Image 14: Antique bronze statuary image of Dewi Kilisuci

As no teaching or verses by Devi Kilisuci have been passed down to us, we end with this dedication attributed to her greatly renowned near-contemporary, another royal turned renunciate ascetic known as Bhikṣuṇī Candrikāntā in Nepal and as Gelongma Palmo in Tibet:

“[Homage to] that infinite form-body, the One Thus Gone,
the Noble One, the Holder of Wisdom…
Supreme among beings, you are victorious in battle over the armies of Mara...
Whether male or female, in this life or future lives,
In this world or in the world beyond, all your spiritual aims are accomplished..." [10]


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)

Image credits for Part 5:
Image 1: Courtesy of kediribertutur.com, web: https://kediribertutur.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/401465_2641231264326_796790303_n.jpg?w=662&h=916 
Image 2: Courtesy of Museum Volkenkunde, web: http://volkenkunde.nl/sites/default/files/71-MNI-D70-photo-MNI_0.jpg. 
Image 3: Courtesy of akucintanusantaraku.blogspot.com, web: http://akucintanusantaraku.blogspot.com/2014/02/misteri-dyah-sanggramawijaya-tunggadewi.html. 
Image 4: Courtesy of: sceneryindonesia.blogspot.com, web: https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEiFX-ErU9NBRW32ecIYcMykgbC2V_RhhOod0X1RHsZfHHluMO5iyFPoW-1d2IlqafPSF7aaZ-djNLCGmBc5HmXd_2ZGRZGGNRFUllutAXWTMxatpn_vleJIysOlXf9mOkOQ6VSTUR2lTTyg/s320/164580_1592586938039_1336869339_31203355_3117062_n.jpg. 
Image 5: Courtesy of: the Directorate General of Culture, web: http://kebudayaan.kemdikbud.go.id/bpcbtrowulan/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2014/06/selomangleng1.jpg. 
Image 6: Courtesy of Fuad’s blog, web: https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEhzBhgqGkPncuqCgyT-hePYojPGbqFQyp757i3cklLjb78RqGiW4VZ9ud_t2QGK_yxJ_ToHDPwYIxy3jcvjbVCJkwD6vv4nept_sFSIPXZLx4QcWFmLHKQorekQbWykVPMcVj38Vosvzg-k/s1600/S1032361.JPG. 
Image 7: Courtesy of D’Travellers, web: https://travellers2009.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/unplaned-story-selomangleng-the-first-adventure/. 
Image 8: Courtesy of: kiranamega.blogspot.com, web: http://kiranamega.blogspot.com/2013_12_01_archive.html. 
Image 9: Courtesy of: http://kaospermadi.blogspot.com/2011/07/vote-kaos-permadi-pilihanmu.html. 
Image 10: Courtesy: Indonesian Heraldry, web: http://www.hubert-herald.nl/IndonesiaHeraldry_bestanden/image051.jpg.
Image 11: Courtesy of: Nusantaraku Milik Indonesia, web: http://www.indonesiadiscovery.net/images/photos/real/SITUS_SUMBER_TETEK_MAMUKweb.jpg
Image 12: Courtesy of: ioffer.com, web: http://cdn.iofferphoto.com/img3/wantad/192/989/6/o_Picture_024.jpg. 
Image 13: Courtesy of: http://www.thearoengbinangproject.com/pura-penataran-agung-kilisuci-kediri/. 
Image 14: Antique bronze statuary image of Dewi Kilisuci Courtesy of: http://www.olx.co.id/iklan/patung-dewi-kilisuci-perunggu-92564584.html.

Endnotes to Part 5:
[1] I follow Wikipedia’s article on Airlangga in calling her a bhikkhunī: “His heiress, the crown princess Sanggramawijaya, decided to become a Bhikkuni Buddhist hermit rather than succeed Airlangga as queen regnant. Sangramawijaya is the daughter of the queen consort Dharmaprasadottunggadewi.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airlangga (accessed 24 Aug 2014). She is also named as a wiksuni, “Saat itu pusat kerajaan sudah pindah ke Daha dan Dewi Sanggramawijaya telah berkenan mengundurkan diri menjadi seorang wiksuni di Gunung Pucangan,” here: https://edwindramora.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/dewi-sanggramawijaya-sosok-mahasiddha-nusantara/ (accessed 18 Apr 2015).
[2]There are many photos of the caves and their environs on blogs as it seems to be a popular local recreation destination; i.e.: http://swetadwipa.blogspot.com/2014/04/goa-selomangleng-kadiri-pertapaan-dewi.htm
[3] Photo of princess/ascetic/goddess parade: http://kiranamega.blogspot.com/2013_12_01_archive.html
[4]Dewi Kili Suci t-shirt design: http://kaospermadi.blogspot.com/2011/07/vote-kaos-permadi-pilihanmu.html.
[5] Local statuary image of the princess who turned ascetic: http://andrygobeh.blogspot.com/2012/07/selomangleng-gua-pertapaan-kilisuci.html and http://www.tipswisatamurah.com/2014/02/penampakan-paras-cantik-dewi-kilisuci.html.
[6] An unidentified image of a female ruler sitting atop the garuda has also been found at Candi Kidal near Malang here: http://www.hubert-herald.nl/IndonesiaHeraldry_bestanden/image054.jpg. In this image, the woman is Garuda’s mother who he is carrying back home after success in finding amrita, the deathless-elixir of immortality, and freeing her from slavery. 
[7] The Candi Belahan Airlangga memorial pool: http://www.eastjava.com/tourism/pasuruan/images/gallery/belahan-temple/belahan_temple_02.jpg. To understand size and popular culture:     http://t3.thpservices.com/fotos/thum4/021/520/hms-hem600175.jpg, Hindu rites of worship being held at the pool: http://sphotos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/428721_4559416075546_1280225509_n.jpg.
[8] With regard to this yogic vanishing or auto-assimilation, Ven. Thubten Chodron comments: “It sounds like she was a yogini who attained the rainbow body. At the time of "death," the gross body of these tantric practitioners vanishes, leaving behind only their nails and hair. They continue practicing the final stages of the path in a pure land where they attain full awakening. The method to attain the rainbow body is explained in some of the tantras, but not in sutras. Only bodhisattvas at high level of the completion stage of Vajrayana can attain a rainbow body. .” (Personal correspondence: 1 Dec 2014).
[9] “Mahasiddhas or holy ascetics in Java are known as penghayat Budhitantra Java, a term for someone who has managed to fully realize and cultivate perfect siddhi,” original text: “Mahasiddha atau para pertapa suci di Jawa adalah dikenal sebagai penghayat Budhitantra Jawa, adalah sebuah istilah yang untuk seseorang yang telah berhasil sepenuhnya mewujudkan dan memupuk siddhi yang sempurna.” From Bhumi Dharma Nusantara: https://edwindramora.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/dewi-sanggramawijaya-sosok-mahasiddha-nusantara/ (accessed 18 Apr 2015).
[10] From the Avalokiteśvara-stotra (Lokiteśvara-stotra) attributed to Bhikṣuṇī Candrikāntā, which, according to Skilling in his “Note on the History of the Bhikkhunī Saṇgha (II)” p 38, “is recited during the midday pujā by Newar Buddhists at the Jana Baha at Kathmandu up to the present day. According to Hemrāj Śākya, Candrikāntā lived in the Kaccapālagiri Vihara in the 10th century and [also] attained siddhi… Five texts on Avalokiteśvara dPal-mo Bhikṣuṇī [aka Gelongma Palmo] are preserved in the Tanjur, the Tibetan collection of non-Canonical texts translated (mostly) from Sanskrit. The first of these, entitled simply Lokiteśvara-stotra, is the same text as that attributed in Nepal to Candrikāntā (I cannot explain the difference in names).” Verse text here in consultation with and adapted from Wangchen Rinpoche (2009) pp 136-146.

post edited 22 Apr 2015

Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhuī (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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