Why did Hinduism not survive in Indonesia and rest of SE Asia

greatstreetwarrior

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
3,852
Why did Hinduism not survive in these regions and it survived in India, where non Hindus ruled the place for 10 centuries? Why did Hinduism not survive better considering that these regions only traded with foreign empires and were not ruled by non Hindu kingdom to spout conversions?
 
Mar 2011
751
Midwest
I think some kings might have converted to Islam. This would have made Islam the state religion. Since Indonesia has the highest number of Muslims of any country in the world, I doubt Hinduism can be revived to its past popularity.
 

Dreamhunter

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
7,482
Malaysia
Why did Hinduism not survive in these regions and it survived in India, where non Hindus ruled the place for 10 centuries?
I didn't realise it was that long. Not so easy to pinpoint, actually. Because India was the native home of Hinduism? But that didn't occur with Christianity though.

Buddhism had arrived in SEA and mixed with Hinduism, plus the native animism, long before Islam. The Sri Vijaya empire, centred in Palembang, Indonesia, became a bastion of Mahayana (Higher Vehicle) Buddhism throughout its 500 year lifespan, from 683 to 1183. While Hinayana (Lower Vehicle) - also called Theravada - Buddhism started becoming entrenched in mainlandic SEA, more or less gradually supplanting Hinduism, from about 7th century onwards.

What Islam replaced in the Malayo-Indonesian Archipelago was not all Hinduism, but much more Buddhism, with Hinduism only in Java island.

Why did Hinduism not survive better considering that these regions only traded with foreign empires and were not ruled by non Hindu kingdom to spout conversions?
Indeed it was the trade and commerce with Arabs and Persians that facilitated the progressive migration from Buddhism and Hinduism to Islam. Maybe they saw that Islam had energised and united the previously fractious nomadic Arabs and drastically transformed them into a major global political power, and they wanted the same sort of thing to happen to them, even if not necessarily to the same degree.

There is even some speculation that a certain early king of the Sri Vijaya empire named Sri Indra Varman had in fact embraced the faith in 718 after a period of close correspondence with Caliph Omar ibn Abdul Aziz, who might have despatched some scholars to Palembang to teach the faith. That first experiment with Islam - if indeed it happened - was however short-lived. It ended with the assassination of Rudra Vikraman, son and young successor of Sri Indra Varman. Believed by some to have been engineered by rivals in the then majority Buddhist Sri Vijaya hierarchy, acting in concert with their Chinese and Indian allies among the foreign business community, who might have viewed the wave upon wave of arrivals of new Muslim traders in Palembang with alarm.

The rise of Ottoman Turkey and its sway over SE Europe perhaps contributed indirectly to a certain realisation too, that Islam could provide the next impetus for their next phase of growth and transformation. It was about that time that the Melaka sultanate emerged as a short-lived regional power dominating the Straits of Melaka (gave its name to it), as an heir of sorts to the old Palembang-based Buddhist Sri Vijaya empire, until its fall to the Portuguese in 1511.

As a matter of fact, in 1565 the Sultanate of Acheh in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, declared allegiance to Ottoman Turkey, probably as a strategy to ward off potential Dutch imperialist encroachment. Three years later, in 1569, the Ottoman fleet under Kurtoglu Hizir Reis sailed to Debal, Surat and Janjira, finally arriving in Acheh with 22 ships. That brilliant piece of diplomacy might indeed have saved Acheh a similar fate to Melaka. It was never conquered by the Dutch.
 
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greatstreetwarrior

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
3,852
oh k

But it is generally claimed as to how peacefully Islam spread to South East Asia especially Indonesia without any military coming in. But now that you mention Ottomans, I understand it is not true.
 
Apr 2012
450
Houston
He's not saying the Ottomans spread Islam with military might, he's saying they sent military aid to help protect an already Muslim state from Dutch colonization.

This may be related to why Islam was ascendant in SE Asia despite the lack of invasions. The region was a trade crossroads between India and China, taking cultural influences from both for centuries. In the Indian Ocean Muslim powers from Egypt to Mozambique to India were politically and economically influential compared to Hindu states (which were influential before Islam, leading to the spread of Hinduism originally). Until the arrival of the Dutch and Portuguese the Indian Ocean was dominated economically by Muslim merchants and states, and so it would have been advantageous for a state to convert to Islam and enjoy economic benefits that came with it through trade networking.
 
Sep 2012
1,033
Why did Hinduism not survive in these regions and it survived in India, where non Hindus ruled the place for 10 centuries? Why did Hinduism not survive better considering that these regions only traded with foreign empires and were not ruled by non Hindu kingdom to spout conversions?
Hinduism does survive in Indonesia, go look at Bali.
 
Sep 2012
1,033
I didn't realise it was that long. Not so easy to pinpoint, actually. Because India was the native home of Hinduism? But that didn't occur with Christianity though.

Buddhism had arrived in SEA and mixed with Hinduism, plus the native animism, long before Islam. The Sri Vijaya empire, centred in Palembang, Indonesia, became a bastion of Mahayana (Higher Vehicle) Buddhism throughout its 500 year lifespan, from 683 to 1183. While Hinayana (Lower Vehicle) - also called Theravada - Buddhism started becoming entrenched in mainlandic SEA, more or less gradually supplanting Hinduism, from about 7th century onwards.

What Islam replaced in the Malayo-Indonesian Archipelago was not all Hinduism, but much more Buddhism, with Hinduism only in Java island.


Indeed it was the trade and commerce with Arabs and Persians that facilitated the progressive migration from Buddhism and Hinduism to Islam. Maybe they saw that Islam had energised and united the previously fractious nomadic Arabs and drastically transformed them into a major global political power, and they wanted the same sort of thing to happen to them, even if not necessarily to the same degree.

There is even some speculation that a certain early king of the Sri Vijaya empire named Sri Indra Varman had in fact embraced the faith in 718 after a period of close correspondence with Caliph Omar ibn Abdul Aziz, who might have despatched some scholars to Palembang to teach the faith. That first experiment with Islam - if indeed it happened - was however short-lived. It ended with the assassination of Rudra Vikraman, son and young successor of Sri Indra Varman. Believed by some to have been engineered by rivals in the then majority Buddhist Sri Vijaya hierarchy, acting in concert with their Chinese and Indian allies among the foreign business community, who might have viewed the wave upon wave of arrivals of new Muslim traders in Palembang with alarm.

The rise of Ottoman Turkey and its sway over SE Europe perhaps contributed indirectly to a certain realisation too, that Islam could provide the next impetus for their next phase of growth and transformation. It was about that time that the Melaka sultanate emerged as a short-lived regional power dominating the Straits of Melaka (gave its name to it), as an heir of sorts to the old Palembang-based Buddhist Sri Vijaya empire, until its fall to the Portuguese in 1511.

As a matter of fact, in 1565 the Sultanate of Acheh in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, declared allegiance to Ottoman Turkey, probably as a strategy to ward off potential Dutch imperialist encroachment. Three years later, in 1569, the Ottoman fleet under Kurtoglu Hizir Reis sailed to Debal, Surat and Janjira, finally arriving in Acheh with 22 ships. That brilliant piece of diplomacy might indeed have saved Acheh a similar fate to Melaka. It was never conquered by the Dutch.
Many Arabs from the hadhramaut just migrated to indonesia and set up sultanates. The ottomans only protected Aceh which was a small part of Indonesia. There was no help from the Ottomans to Sultanates on Borneo or the Moros. Alot of trade with the Moros was done by Chinese.

Ming dynasty China encouraged the growth of Islamic sultanates in southeast asia, and developed strong relations with Melaka, Sulu, Maguindanao and other states. Melaka was under China's protection, after the Sultan sent a letter to China about the Portuguese conquest, the Portuguese embassy to China was arrested and all Portuguese ships approaching China were attacked.
 
Last edited:
Feb 2013
8
The main reason Hinduism did not survived in Indonesia even after ten centuries dominating the archipelago is the presence of caste system in this religion.

Hindu categorizes community into 4 castes, brahman (monks), ksatria (noble), vaishya (whealthy), and sudra (commoners).

This practices went for centuries from the 4th century Kutai kingdom in Kalimantan island, tarumanegara kingdom in west java island, Kaling kingdom and ancient Mataram kingdom in central Java, Pakuan Siliwangi Kingdom in west java, medang Kahuripan kingdom in east java and the last and the biggest Hindu kingdom: Majapahit also in east java island (1250-1500 ad)

The gap betwen castes became wider and wider over centuries, which means the power of each caste became stronger and want to limit their privilege among them through heredity. The chance for sudra people to enter higher caste became harder and harder. This created a growing envy among people from different castes.

Like what had happened in other civilization, power tend to corrupt. In those kingdoms, the Ksatria tend to have better edges over other castes. And this is disturbing the other castes, especially the lowest level: Sudra.

The presence of Budha religion in the first realm of the largest kingdom in the region: Srivijaya, didn't help to solve the problem. The budhist practices were tend to be mixed with the Hindu practices. It had becomed common for local people to mixed one religion teaching with other teaching that they think suite their spiritual needs. Bdhist mixed with Hindu, and sometime mixed with the animism and/or dynamism.

When Islam start to spread accross the archipelago, this religion offers 'equality among people' in the community, since Islam has no castes. This new concept like an 'oasis in the dessert' for the majority sudra people who had been put aside for a very long time.

The fast spreading of Islam was helped by their ulama (monks). Those ulama combine Islam teaching into the popular culture that attract people to join. Through this, more and more people attracted and converted to Islam voluntarily.

Even the largest Hindu Kingdom in Indonesia couldn't resist this fast changing situation. As the kingdom condition was very weak due to internal fighting for the king throne, their grip fo the vasal country was also weakened. One by one vasal region that led by muslim soultan decided to be parted from Majapahit kingdom without almost no objection from the king. It was due to the new muslim soultans has close blood relationships with the king.

Finally, Majapahit came to it's end in 1500AD. And it lasted the domination of Hindu religion in the archipelago and replaced by tents of new muslim soultanates. Hindu followers still can be found in various places in Indonesia such as Bali island, and Badui tribes in west java.
 
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