~ Dr MPG Kurup former Executive Director National Dairy Development Board
India : Art , History , Culture , Architecture , Vedic India
History , Culture
Ramanathaswamy Temple : Rameswaram
Sanathana Dharma is commonly referred to as ” Hinduism ” in India , even though the term only refers to the practical and functional aspects of Sanathana Dharma : And Hinduism is the overwhelmingly Hindu !
I am neither a Historian nor an Enthusiast of Sanathana Dharma ! My prime objective in starting these feature posts was to place before the ” am janatha ” , basic information on the enormity of the Levels of achievements of this 5000 years of the unbroken Indian Civilization : Culture , Arts , Architecture , Literature and Spirituality !
Adding to the numbers and size of the Hindus is not part of the ajenda : Sanathana Dharma does not believe in conversions of followers of other faiths to Hindus ! And yet one in seven of all persons on Earth is Hindu !
Ramanathaswamy Temple , located on the Rameswaram Island . The Temple was under the Pandyan Dynasty during the 15th Century , but came under the rule of the Sethupathis , a breakaway group , of the Madurai Nayaks by 1520. AD !Jaffna Kings also contributed to the Temple construction !
The Temple is dedicated to Ramanatha : Shiva : the Jyothirlinga , here , is believed to have been installed and consecrated by Lord Rama himself on his way back from Lanka , for worshipping Shiva and to atone the sins of Brahmahathya for killing Ravana and many others in battle . See Rama Theertha : picture on bottom right , is the Pond Sree Ram used for his daily ablutions !
The Ramanatha Temple had been , over the centuries under the control several dynasties and powers , including the Islamic invader Malik,Kaufer , finally was taken over by the Vijaya Nagara Empire.
Sita Devi is believed to have died in Rameswara . Rama Sethu is identified as the mass of soft sand and floating stones ( Pumice Stones / Lime Stones) from Pampan Island towards the Sea. The Temple architecture is stunning and intricate and has several long corridors with thousands of pillars in them. The third corridor is the longest temple corridors in the world : 197 metres and with 1210 pillars.
Ramanathaswamy Temple is one of the Char Dham Temples and also one of the 12 Jyothirlingas in the Country : the Southern Most.
- Dr MPG Kurup, Former Executive Director National Dairy Development Board of India
Adding to the numbers and size of the Hindus is not part of the agenda : Sanathana Dharma does not believe in conversions of followers of other faiths to Hindus ! And yet one in seven of all persons on Earth is Hindu !
I am neither a Historian nor an Enthusiast of Sanathana Dharma ! My prime objective in starting this feature posts was to place before the “Aam janata” basic information on the enormity of the Levels of achievements of this 5000 years of the unbroken Indian Civilization : Culture , Arts , Architecture , Literature and Spirituality !
Spread of Sanathana Dharma : Hinduism , beyond the borders of India is the discussion in this post : mainly in South and South East Asia.
Entry of Hinduism in Combodia was very early in the country’s known history : 100 BC : during the ancient Funan kingdom which lasted from 100 BC to 500 AD ! Spreading steadily across the country , mostly by social interaction , Hinduism grew to become the official Religeon of Combodia !
Then in the first half of the 12 century AD , the Khmer King Surya Varman built the Angkor Wat : Angkor ” means Capital and “Wat ” Temple , in Khmer language !Surya Varman , also had his Capital , Angkor Thom in the same area and called it ” Vishnuloka ” !
The Temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu , though shrines for all the deities in the Hindu Pantheon , was built into the Temple : Brahma , Shiva , Saraswati , Ganesha and many many others !
Angkor Wat became the largest religious monument in the world : built in a Complex spread over 165 Ha , with tall walls all round and moat around , for safety and protection ! Much later in the 20th century , it was recognized as a UNICEF World Heritage Centre.
King Jaya Varman , who followed Surya Varman , was a great believer of Budhism and turned Angkor Wat into a Buddhist Temple , towards the end of the 12th century.
Angkor Wat Complex is located in Northern Combodia ,some 5 Km from the present day modern town of Siemreap.Hinduism started waning post the Khmer Era and became a memory and a few believers by the 18th Century
Hinduism entered Indonesia from last century BC and around First Century AD ; and Spread across the country until the 12th Century ! It started waning from 1400 AD : but still exist in a few areas like Bali and Java .
The impact of Hinduism in the country : The Government’s Emblem ” a decorative version of Garuda” ! Indonesian Air Line is named ” Garauda” . All across the country you see Hindu artifacts : an important junction in Jakarta has the statue of Krishna and Arjuna in a chariot in the Geethopadesham Pose !Three famous Hindu kingdoms that popularised Hinduism were Matharam , Kediri and Singhesiri . Hinduism is now mostly concentrated in Bali and Java .
During these kingdoms thousands of Hindu Temples built across the country . Around some 300 large and famous still exist in the country , mostly in Java and Bali areas. ! the elaborate and large prambanan Temples were built in Java regions Current population of Hindus in Indonesia is only about 2 % of the population (recent country Census) ; but about 80 % in Bali .Most famous among the Hindu Temples in Indonesia are : Prambanan Temples around Java are the largest Temple Complex in the country .
The largest and still prospering Temple is the Pura Besakih Temple in Bali : Known as the Mother Temple !Mother Temple. Bali is known as Pura Besakih and is the largest Temple in Bali. made up is 28 shrines in side .Takes a full day to tour Temple.located in Besakih country side south west of Agung mount. Worships ySiva , Brahma and Vishnu .
This is a UNICEF World Heritage Centre , like many other Temples in Indonesia Global tourist , annually half million : Origin was as old as 1st century , BC , worship started 12 Century AD . Built by a Javanese holy man Markandeya in 10 century AD . Built around a central rock , has pyramid shapePictures : Clock wise : from top left : 1. Statue of Devi , 2 . & 3 .Prambanan Temple Complex , Java , 4. Mother Temple Complex, Bali , 5. Pooja in Mother temple , 6 . Devotees in Mother Temple , 7. Benediction in Mother Temple.
Formerly under the British Empire , known as Burma : a Buddhist Nation :
The name Burma is derived from the Hindu God , Brahma ! Myanmar came from the the old local language name “Myanmar “. Independence from the British Empire for Myanmar came in 1948 !
Newly independent Myanmar, right from the beginning was hostile to India and everything Indian ! Gen. Ne Win , the Junta strong man, who ruled Burma from 1962-1988) drove out, virtually on foot , 300000 Indian origin people , most of them Hindus , engaged in small and tiny enterprises , petty trade and indentured labour brought in by the British.*
Kowtowing with the Myanmar Dictator Ne Win, Sukarno of Indonesia along with Nasser of Egypt and Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia , the Indian Government headed by Jawahar Lal Nehru , was , meanwhile , busy forming the so called nonalignment movement !
In spite of all Song and dance the central govt in Delhi for promoting and endearing the newly independent Burma , the military junta in Myanmar seized power , declared a revolutionary socialist govt , nationalised all industry and private property with out compensation !
There still remain in Myanmar , remnants of the tattered Hindu Civilization : many , many , Temples strewn across the country. Some of them are UNICEF World Heritage Centres : drawing millions of global tourists !
(Source : Text and pictures : Google / Wikipedia)
* Martin Smith (1991). Burma – Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London, New Jersey: Zed Books. pp. 43–44, 98, 56–57, 176. ISBN978-984-05-1499-1.
Entry of Hinduism in South East Asia started with Combodia very early in the country’s known history : 100 BC : during the ancient Funan kingdom which lasted from 100 BC to 500 AD !
Present day Thailand was a part of the Khmer Empire of Combodia and so the first formal religion in Thailand was Hinduism and covered entire area forming present day Thailand !
Along with Hinduism , Buddhism too spread in the area and most Hindu Temples had progressively introduced Buddhist shrines as well , in Temples !By the 100 th Century AD the spread of Hinduism across the area was almost complete : the city near present day Bangkok was named by the local communities “Ayuthaya” after Ayodhya in India !
Thailand , today ,is a Buddhist Nation : 95% Budhists : rest other faiths , Christians 4 % , Islam 1 % and Hindus barely 25000 ! ( Census 2020)
Remnants of Hindu Temples are seen , strewn across Thailand , while some 10 of them are , still stunning and beautiful.
Malayasia was formed in 1963 , comprising Malaya (now peninsular Malayasia ) , the island of Singapore , colonies of Sarawak, and Sabah ! Singapore seceded in 1965 and became an independent Republic.
Malaysia , multi cultural country : official religion : Islam. Muslim 61.3 % , Budhists 19.8 % , 9.3 % Christian , 6.2% Hindu and remaining less than 5 % Chineese religions.In numbers , Hindus some 1.78 million !
Malaysia was a predominantly Hindu country : in the 9th century ! Islam started in Malaysia in Malacca as a tiny princedom and from 19 th century started to spread under the shadow of the British Colonial umbrella !
Malaysian economy and growth is one of the success stories of South East Asia .Natural resources : Rubber , tobacco , palm oil , Deposits of Tin and petroleum oil and gas : industrial manufacturing is a growing and key economic activity !
Hinduism in Malaysia concentrated in western parts of peninsular malaysia : with areas vaguely described as Hindu enclaves : Kaualalampur is one of them.
Malaysian Constitution professes religious freedom , but the sharia law and sharia courts imposes many restrictions. Government is accused of Hindu persecution , demolition of Hindu Temples , even in private land
There are many Hindu Temples in Malaysia , strewn across the country , in varying stages of decay and demolition. However some nine of them are still stunningly ornate and splendid ! The Sounderaraj Temple ,Maha Mariaman Temple
the Murugan Temple in Kualalumpur and the Batu Caves in Selengor , are some of them.
Pictures :from top left , top to bottom 1. Sounderaraj Temple , Penang , 2. Maha Mariamman temple front , 3. Glass Kali in Glass temple Kaulalumpur , 4. Maha Mariamnan Gopuram
Chinese are the majority ethnic group : 76.4 % ; Malays 15 % and Indians 7.4 % , rest are mixed groups !
33.2 % are Buddhists, 18.8 % Christians , 14 % Muslims , Hindus 5% , other faiths 0.6 % and non believers 18.5 %
Total population : 5.7 mln , resident 4.03 men , non resident 1.04 mln : Multural Society , total religious harmony and Freedom of faith !
Of the total some 3.90 Lakh Indian ethnic population in Singapore , only some 2.8 Lakh are Hindus ! There are some 30 Hindu Temples in Singapore , of which 7 are important and architecturally impressive. Architecture of these temples is Dravidian !
Pictures : All Hindu Temples , Dedicated to Different Deities in the Hindu Pantheon .