is the second oldest religion in Indonesia, just after Hinduism.
Before the arrival of these two religions, people believed
that nature had supernormal power. Trees and stones were worshipped
as sacred object, where beings with supernormal power reside.
came to Indonesia at around the second century. The first
two major kingdoms (Tarumanegara in Western Java and Kutai
in Western Borneo) were based on Hinduism. Buddhism came to
Indonesia a few hundred years after Hinduism.
It reached its peak at the time of the Sriwijaya's dynasty
rule, which was once the largest Buddhist kingdom in South
East Asia, from around the 7th century until the 14th century.
During that time, many Buddhist colleges and monasteries were
built, and famous Buddhist scholars, such as Dharmapala and
Sakyakirti, were teaching there. Another
major Buddhist kingdom was the Mataram kingdom, which was
ruled by the Sailendra clan during the eight and ninth century
in Central Java. Many Buddhist temples were built and Buddhist
texts were inscribed on the stones tablets (called prasasti)
during this time.
The best known
of these temples is Borobudur one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Borobudur represents three views of the universe according to the
Indian Vajrayana tradition. The apex of the structure is a stupa,
which represents the concept of Emptiness or Sunnata. Every year
on the full moon in May, the Vesak celebration (called Tri Suci
Waisak in Bahasa Indonesian), commemorating the birth, enlightenment,
and passing away of the Buddha is held at Borobudur.
During the rule
of the Majapahit kingdom between 13th to 15th century, Buddhism
and Hinduism coexisted peacefully. After the fall of Majapahit,
Islam was brought to Indonesia by traders from Gujarat, India. The
influence of Buddhism started to decrease substantially after that,
and was mainly confined to the areas of Eastern Java and Bali.
Revival of Buddhism
1934, Venerable Narada Thera, a famous missionary monk from
Sri Lanka, visited Indonesia for the first time as part of his
journey to spread the Dhamma in Southeast Asia. This opportunity
was used by a few local Buddhists to revive Buddhism in Indonesia.
A Bodhi tree planting ceremony was held in front of Borobudur
on 10th March 1934 under the blessing of Narada Thera, and some
Upasakas were ordained as monks.
about 1955, Buddhism started to make a comeback in Indonesia
when a monk called Ashin Jinarakkhita started a tour across
various regions in Indonesia to spread the Dharma. Since that
time there has been a revival of Theravada Buddhism in Indonesia
led by indigenous monks trained in Thailand, although the
Mahayana tradition is still well represented.
morning meditation and chanting by Theravadin monks
at the Dhammacakka Vihara Jakarta, Indonesia.
one of five religions recognized by the Indonesian government, besides
Islam, Catholic, Protestant, and Hinduism. According to a census
conducted in 1990, the majority of the population is Moslem (around
87%). About 1.8 million people (which was slightly more than 1%
of the population) are Buddhism. The breakdown of followers of different
religions in Indonesia is shown in the table below:
with relatively high percentage of Buddhists are Jakarta, Riau,
North Sumatra, and West Borneo. The majority of Buddhists now
practice in the Theravadin tradition. Two of the large Buddhist
monasteries are located in North Jakarta (Sunter) and West Java
(Pacet). Unfortunately, because Confucianism and Taoism are not
recognized in the Constitution, followers from these two religions
also call themselves Buddhist (therefore, the actual
numbers of Buddhists are believed to be less than the official