Author: Gunadharma

The Dvārapāla: Guardians of Sacred Places

The Dvārapāla (dvāra = gate, pāla = protector) are the gate-keepers in Hindu and Buddhist temples and sanctuaries. They are always placed in pairs, at the entrance of temples and at the doorway to the garbha-griha (sanctum). Each god or goddess has his or her own set of Dvārapālas. They frighten away the evil spirits and are connected with the Nagas. Sculptures in Java and Bali are usually carved from andesite stone and portray the Dvārapāla as fearsome danava with a bulky physique in semi-kneeling position and holding a club. The largest stone statue is in Java, a Dvarapala...

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The Goa Trance Movement: Dharma in Motion

Goa Trance is a form of electronic music that originated during the late 1980s in Goa, India. Goa in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a hippie mecca. Although musical developments were incorporating elements of industrial music and EBM with the spiritual culture in India throughout the 1980s, the actual Goa Trance style did not officially appear until the early 1990s. Goa Trance did not evolve from one single genre, but was inspired mainly by EBM and psychedelic rock. In addition to those, oriental tribal/ethnic music also became a source of inspiration. The introduction of Trance and its...

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The Great Tantric Stupa of Borobudur

During the 8th century, the spiritual tradition called Vajrāyana came rather suddenly into prominence in the Buddhist world; it spread into many countries, including Java, and there is strong evidence that Borobudur was built under its influence. This splendid edifice immediately became a place of pilgrimage and of instruction to the Buddhist nations of the world. The architect of Borobudur was Gunadharma, a Hindu-Buddhist from the borders of Nepal. But in the year 915 A.D. there occurred a terrible volcanic outburst. The great volcano of Krakatau (then called the Rahata or Cancer-volcano) broke out into an eruption so tremendous that...

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The Lokapāla: Guardians of the Directions

Lokapāla at the Shiva temple in Prambanan The Lokapāla (Guardians of the Worlds) are the devas who rule the specific directions of space. • As a group of 8 deities, they are also called Asta-Dikpāla (Guardians of the Eight Directions). • They are often augmented with 2 extra devas for the 10 directions (the extra directions being zenith and nadir) – they are then known as the Daśa-dikpāla. • Javanese and Balinese Hinduism also recognize the Nava-Dikpāla (Guardians of the Nine Directions) that consist of 8 directions with one addition in the center. This group of 9 guardian deities is...

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The Kings of Taruma Nagara

Sri Maharshi Rajadirajaguru Jayasingawarman founded the Taruma Nagara kingdom in 358 AD. He originated from Salankayana, India, which collapsed after the invasion of Samudragupta from the Gupta Empire. After re-settling in Western Java, he married a Sundanese princess, the daughter of King Dewawarman VIII of Salakanagara. He died in 382 AD and was buried on the bank of Kali Gomati river (today Bekasi city). His son, Dharmayawarman ruled from 382 to 395 AD. His burial site is at Kali Chandrabaga. His grandson Purnawarman was the third king of Tarumnagara and reigned from 395 to 434 AD. Sri Maharaja Purnawarman...

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Gāyatrī Rajapatni: Uncovering the Woman Behind Majapahit

“The central figure was this statue and it just mesmerized me.” That is how Earl Drake, former Canadian ambassador to Indonesia, describes his discovery of Gāyatrī Rajapatni, a powerful and woman of the Majapahit kingdom. Seven years after his encounter with that 14th-century feat of artistry at Washington, D.C.’s Freer Gallery, Drake describes a visit to a Tokyo museum. There she was again. “There was clearly a message here,” he says. The result of those fateful meetings is a new book, Gayatri Rajapatni: The Woman Behind the Glory of Majapahit, about a woman so important that she figures centrally...

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Candi Cetho: the Mysteries of Gunung Lawu

The temple seems to float high above Java. The distant sweep of the plain lies beneath a veil of lavender haze, and to the west the smooth peak of Merapi rises into a fiery evening sky. This is Candi Cetho, a 15th century relic from the dying days of the Majapahit Kingdom perched on a pine-studded point on the northwest flanks of Gunung Lawu. But I am not here to explore the mute stones of a lost era. I have heard stories that the village that clings to the slopes below Candi Cetho is itself a relic, an ancient...

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Tracing Civilization at Batujaya Temples

[…] PT Ford Motor Indonesia is providing funds to resume research and excavation of the Batujaya complex as part of its Conservation and Environmental Grants. First examined by experts in 1984, the complex lies in an area of 5 square kilometers, comprising more than 20 structural remains buried in what locals call unur (high mounds of earth). Ongoing excavations by archaeologists since 1984 have uncovered 17 unur, of which three are in the form of pools. Two of these structures are currently being recovered and one has already been restored. The find was extraordinary in significance, for despite being...

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Gāyatrī Mantra: The Door to Cosmic Consciousness

The Gāyatrī mantra (also called Sāvitrī mantra), is a mantra from the Rig Veda (Mandala 3.62.10). Like all Vedic mantras, the Gāyatrī mantra is considered not to have an author and is believed to have been revealed to Rishi Vishwamitra. The mantra is considered to be not different from the divine entity that forms the content of the mantra. Thus name of the divine entity contained in the mantra is also called Gāyatrī. Therefore, Gayatri mantra is not just a means of worship but is an object of worship by itself.  Depending on how Savitri is interpreted, this mantra can be...

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