Saturday, December 22, 2007

Malaysian traditions from Hindu, Sanatana dharma

Bujang archaeological site and artefacts discovered in Kedah (kidaram of Chola times)

Malaysian traditions from Hindu, Sanatana dharma

We Rule in the name of Rama’s Paduka

Mahathir Mohammed, who ruled Malaysia as Prime Minister for twenty two years had some Indianness in him. The name Mahathir stands for 'Maha Dheer', which is the Sanskrit word for the most gallant.

In Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, all the ministers including Prime Minister take oath in the name of the 'Sri Paduka', the Sanskrit version for the footwear of Rama. Remember that Bharata ruled Ayodhya for 14 years worshipping the Rama Paduka during the Lord's 'vanvas'.

The ministers in Malaysia take oath of office in the name of Lord Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’ and the agong or royal president takes oath of office in the name of the dust of Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka Dhuli’. Even if a masjid has to be built in Malaysia, the government orders are issued in the name of ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’. This is because Paduka Dhuli is considered holier than Paduka itself in the Indian tradition.

In Malaysia where Islamisation began earlier during the 13th century, the divine status of Rama was greatly reduced. He is more human, capable of committing errors and susceptible to his emotions, thus retaining and gaining acceptance among Malay Muslims by the 15th century. Through various indigents in Hikayat Seri Rama and Cherita Maharaja Wana that were written during the late 16th or early 17th century, all the main characters are closely related to each other, with Sita as the daughter of Ravana, and Hanuman being the son of Rama and Sita. The contest to win the hand of Sita involves numerous tests of the problem over the succession to the throne. It describes King Dasharatha as the great grand son of Adam, and Ravana becoming the emperor of four worlds by the blessings of Allah. Hikayat is studied today in Malaysia as a piece of literature.
From Pre-historic times of Sri Wijaya empire, through Chola-era in the 11th century cultural and trade relations down to James Brooke, the Banaras-born 19th century English adventurer who became the 'White Rajah' of Sarawak, India has never been far away from Malay popular consciousness. To this day, for Malaysia's princelings, yellow is the colour of royalty, a rajabhishek- style sprinkling of water marks every coronation.
Despite Islam’s ban on theater and dance, the performing arts based on Ramayan and Mahabharat survived in Malaysia and Indonesia. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation, Ramayana and Mahabharata are compulsory subjects in most of the universities. Indonesians take pride in saying ‘Islam is our Religion but Ramayan is our Culture’. Malay puppeteers perform old and new episodes from the epic with small leather figures that have only one moveable arm.

Hanuman of Ramayana is known as: Haduman, Hanuman Kera Putih, Kera Kechil Imam Tergangga, Pahlawan Udara, Shah Numan in Malay. Ayodhya the capital of king Das’aratha (father of Sri Rama) is called, in Malay: Andyapuri Negara, Ayodyapuri Negara, Ispahaboga, Mandarapura Negara, Sertapura, Siusia Mendarpapura, Tiutia Mendarapura. Sri Rama is: Agung Gempita, Seri Rama. Sita Devi is: Puteri bungsu Hanyut, Chahaya Keinderaan, Sakutum Bunga Satangkai, Sita Dewi, Siti Dewi. Tara, mother of Angada is: dewi Bermakomala, Tuan Puteri Kacha. Other Malay names from Ramayana are: Dauwichit, Gambar mahasakti, maharaja Duwana, maharaja Wana, Rahana, Raja Di Rimba, Rawana. Other Malay divinities’ names are: Guru, Dewata Mulya Raya, Gangga Sakti, Bisnu, Dewa Berembun.

In Malaysia, Deepavali, apart from being a national holiday, is an occasion for people of various ethnicities visit the home of their Hindu friends. They call this practice 'Open House' and state/national level open houses are also held whereby the state or federal govts hold Deepavali open houses for the masses. The homes of the Indian leaders are also thrown open to a throng of people who represent the diverse ethnic make-up which is what Malaysia is all about.

"Hikayat Seri Rama" the oldest extant copy of Malay version of Ramayan is known as a gem of Malaysian art and culture. Described by English scholars as a Malay literary work of "a Hindu prose narration with a few Islamic adjustments here and there" the onset, successive copies gradually omitted more and more "unislamic beginning" of the saga. Another aspect of "adjustment" applies to names. For example, Dewata Mulia Raya or Greatest Divinity in Hindu has been replaced with Allah Ta'ala, the heroine Sita Devi becomes Siti Dewi. Probably the adaptations make it more appealing to the locals. Children got simplified versions as school texts before and during early days of independence at a time when Malay books were scarce.
The large number of new episodes, especially in the leather puppet theatre, shows how popular Ramayana remained in Malaysia due to centuries of Cambodian and Thai influences with which it shares many features. Tok Dalang the puppeteer always uses the same puppets. To be double sure there is no confusion, the main characters always have their "fixed colours": Rama is dark green, Sita is yellow, Laskhsmana is red, Hanuman is white and black for the evil Ravana.

In spite of these strong cultural links, Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in Malaysia. It is a tragedy that in the name of Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda, the Malaysian authorities are breaking Hindu temples one after the other. It is a heartbreaking calamity that 2 million Tamil Hindus in Malaysia are a suppressed and oppressed community praying for the world conscience to wake up.

In Malay, the word Bhasha stands for language, yet another link to Sanskrit. The husband is addressed as Swami, a teacher as Guru, a senior teacher as Maha Guru, a student as Siswa and a senior student as Maha Siswa. Modern buildings are named in Sanskrit – Chaya Surya, Wisma Putra and Wisma Duta to name only a few.

The president of the republic is addressed as Raja Parameswara, the Royal Queen is addressed as Raja Parameswari and the second son of the sultan is addressed with reverence as Laxmana. Most of the royal customs are also based on practices found in Sanskrit literature.

The Royal prince must take a bath called "Ganga Snan" before his Sunnat or before ascending the Royal Throne. The Royal throne itself in Bahasa Malaya is called by the Sanskrit name "Simhasana". Most royal and wedding ceremonies are accompanied with feasts taken on banana leaves. Yellow rice is sprinkled on brides or bride grooms or prince as a mark of blessings. Once a leading Malaysian remarked that if anyone watches his wedding video, he might mistake it for a Hindu marriage.

The wives of Malaysian leaders have formed the organization 'Vanitha Pushpavalli' for their social activities. Most Malay government officers wear black caps (as part of their uniform) similar to those worn by the Maharashtrians. Sarong (similar to South Indian Dhoti) and Kurta is still the official dress of Malay ministers in all important ceremonies. Kite flying, gilli danda and playing with dice are some of the traditional games of Malays. "Wayang Kulit" or shadow puppet shows still popular in the eastern state of Kelantan is based on Ramayana and Mahabharata characters.

Malaysia is not the only Muslim country which rejoices in its Sanskrit, Ramayan and Indian ancestry. Brunei and Indonesia have also borrowed most words from Sanskrit. The capital of Brunei is “Bandar Sri Bhagwan” (Port of the Lord) while Singapore is derived from the Sanskrit word “Simha” meaning a lion. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is pronounced in the local language as “Jaya Karta”, the city of victory. Other prominent cities are Prambanan (Park of Brahama), Yogya Karta, Madura, Sumatra, Bali and Surabaya. There is no need to specify that the island Bali is named after the character in Ramayana.

Excerpts from: Ravi Kumar, 2007, Ramayana around the world, a living legend (mss.)

The Sultanate of Kedah was one of the earliest sultanates in Southeast Asia. The 9th ruler of Kedah Phra Ong Mahawangsa, a Hindu Rajah, converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Mudzafar Shah, he ruled the northern region of Malay Peninsula from 1136 to 1179. According to the Kedah Annals, the first Raja of Kedah was Maharaja Derbar Raja.

Around 170 AD a group of Hindu and Malay refugees arrived at Kedah; they were soon followed by peoples from nearby islands and the northern Mon-Khmer region. Kedah covered the areas of Kuala Bahang, Kuala Bara, Kuala Pila and Merpah, and the inhabitants of Kedah appointed Tun Derma Dewa and Tun Perkasa as their village chiefs.
In the year 630 CE, Maharaja Derbar Raja of Gemeron in Persia was defeated in battle and escaped to Ceylon, but was blown off course by a storm and landed on the shores of Kuala Sungai Qilah, Kedah. The inhabitants of Kedah found him to be a valiant and intelligent person, and they made him the king of Kedah. In the year 634 AD, a new kingdom was formed in Kedah. It consisted of Persian royalty and Malay and Hindu peoples. Its capital was Langkasuka.
Situated near Merbok, Kedah, between Gunung Jerai in the north and Muda River in the south, Bujang is the richest archaeological area in Malaysia. “The area consists of ruins that may date more than 1,500 years old. More than fifty ancient tomb temples, called candi, have also been unearthed, many of which were built during the Bujang Valley civilization's heyday. The most impressive and well-preserved of these is located in Pengkalan Bayang Merbok. The Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum is also located here.
Research also indicates that an ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdom ruled here as early as 300 CE. Relics found at the site are now on display at the archaeological museum. Items include inscribed stone caskets and tablets, metal tools and ornaments, ceramics, pottery, and Hindu icons...Rajendra Chola’s territories ca. 1030 CE. Early contact between the kingdoms of Tamilakam and the Malay peninsula had been very close during the regimes of the Pallava Kings (from the 4th to the 9th Century C.E.) and Chola kings (from the 9th to the 13th Century C.E.). The trade relations the Tamil merchants had with the ports of Malaya led to the emergence of Indianized kingdoms like Kadaram (Old Kedah) and Langkasugam. [International Tamil Language Foundation (2000). The Handbook of Tamil Culture and Heritage. Chicago: International Tamil Language Foundation, p. 877. ] Furthermore, Chola [ king Rajendra Chola I sent an expedition to Kadaram (Sri Vijaya) during the 11th century conquering that country on behalf of one of its rulers who sought his protection and to have established him on the throne. The Cholas had a powerful merchant and naval fleet in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.”
In Kedah an inscription in Sanskrit dated 1086 A.D. has been found. This was left by Kulothunka Cholan I (of the Chola empire, Tamil country).

ராஜேந்திர சோழன் கண்ட ‘Lembah Bujang’!!!
Ju6e 18, 2007 ஆல் விக்னேஷ்வரன் அடைக்கலம்

(கி.பி 671-ஆம் நூற்றாண்டுகளில் சிரிவிஜயா(SRIVIJAYA) அரசாங்கத்தால் அமைக்கப் பட்ட கட்டிட சுவடுகள் மீண்டும் ராஜேந்திர சோழனால் கி.பி 1030களில் மேம்படுத்தப் பட்டதாக நம்பப் படுகிறது)
என்னடா இது புதுசா விளங்காத வர்த்தைய பேசி குழப்பரானு நினைக்காதிங்க. இந்த வார்த்தை மலேசியர்களுக்கு பழைய வார்த்தையாதான் இருக்கும். ஆமாங்க அது ஒரு மலாய் மொழி வர்த்தையாகும். இந்த வார்த்தைக்குத் தனி அர்த்தங்களை ஆராய்ந்தால் அது தமிழில் வேரு அர்த்தத்தைத் தந்துவிடும்.
நாம் தெரிந்து கொள்ள வேண்டியதெல்லாம் ‘Lembah Bujang’ என்றால் என்ன என்பதுதான். ஆங்கிலத்தில் இவ்விடத்தை ‘Bujang Valley’ என்று அழைக்கிறார்கள். ‘Lembah Bujang’ மலேசியாவில் உள்ள கெடா (ஆட்டுக் கடா இல்லைங்க) மநிலத்தில் அமைந்திருக்கும் சரித்திர புகழ் பெற்ற சுற்றுலா தளமாகும்.
அப்படின இதுக்கு முன்னாடி என்னவ இருந்தது….
கெடா என்ற சொல் கடாரம் என்ற சொல்லின் வழி வந்ததாகும். கடாரம் என்ற தமிழ்ச் சொல் எப்படி வந்தது….. கி.பி 1030-ஆம் ஆண்டுகளில் ராஜேந்திர சோழனின் ஆட்சி காலத்தில் அவர் தென் கிழக்கு ஆசியாவின் மீது படை எடுத்த போது இந்நிலத்திற்கு கடாரம் என்று பெயரிட்டிருக்கிரார். நாளாடைவில் அது கெடா என மாறி அது இப்பொழுது வழக்கத்தில் உள்ளது.
அக்காலத்தில் ராஜேந்திர சோழனால் அமைக்கப் பட்ட வியாபார மையமாகவும், ஆட்சியிடமாகவும் இருந்ததுதான் ‘Lembah Bujang’ ஆகும். இதற்கன சான்றுகள் ‘பட்டிணபாலை’ என்ற தமிழ் கவிதையில் இருந்ததாக ஆராய்ச்சிகள் கூறுகின்றன. அது மட்டுமிற்றி அப்பொழுது வியாபாரத்திற்கு வந்து சென்ற அரபு மற்றும் சீன நூல்களிலும் ‘Lembah Bujang’-கை பற்றி நிறைய தகவல்கள் இருபதாக Braddly மற்றும் Wheatly-யின் ஆராய்சியில் கூறியிருக்கிறார்கள்.
நான் முன்பு கெடா மாநிலத்தில் அமைந்துள்ள வட மலேசிய பல்கலைகழகத்தில் படித்துக் கொண்டிந்த சமயம் ஒரு முறை இங்கு சென்றிருக்கிரேன். (என்ன ஒரு முரைதானா?! என்று ஆச்சர்ய பட வேண்டாங்க, என்னா நான் வசிப்பது பேராக் மாநிலத்தில். சரி சரி வெட்டிக் கதை பேசத விசயத்துக்கு வா…….)
இப்படியாக பல நூறு வருடங்களுக்கு முன் மாபெரும் வியாபார சந்தயாக விளங்கிய அவ்விடம் வெரிச்சோடி கிடந்தது. பள்ளிச் சுற்றுலா என சொல்லிக் கொண்டு ஐந்தாறு பிள்ளைகள் அங்கங்கு சுற்றிக் கொண்டிருந்தார்கள். மலேசிய அரசாங்கத்தால் நல்ல படியாக இதற்கு விளம்பரங்கள் கிடைப்பினும், சுற்றுலா தளமாக கருதி மக்கள் வருகை புரிய ஆர்வம் காட்ட தவரியிரிக்கிறார்கள். இதனை அடுத்து ‘lembah bujang’-கிள் உள்ள தகவல்கள் வெளிநாட்டு சுற்று பயணிகளுக்கு போதிய விளக்கத்தை தர வில்லை என்பதே என் கருத்து.

(’Lembah Bujang’ காட்சியகத்தில் வைக்கப் பட்டிருக்கும் பழங்காள கண்ணாடித் துண்டுகள்- கி.பி 670களில் வியாபாரத்திற்கு பயன்படுத்த பட்டவையென நம்பப்படுகிறது)

(’Lembah Bujang’-கின் கடற்கரையேர அமைப்பு இந்தியா-சீனா கப்பல் வழி வியாபார வசதிக்காக அமைக்கப் பட்டதாக நம்பப் படுகிறது)
வாய்ப்புக் கிடைத்தால் தவராம போய் பாருங்க….. ராஜேந்திர சோழன் காண்ட கடாரத்தை……
கடாரத்தின் சரித்திரத்தை மேழும் ஒரு பதிவில் போடலாம் என்றுள்ளேன். நேரம் ஒதுக்கிப் படித்த அன்பர்களுக்கு மிக்க நன்றி.
Bujang Valley , also known as Lembah Bujang, is a famous historical site in Kedah found in the western part of the serene Sungai Petani Town . This place of interest in Malaysia was the place of a prosperous Hindu-Buddhist civilization dating back to the 5 th century AD. The famous Chinese monk named I-Tsing was here in 671 AD while this rich kingdom was involved in trade with other nations such as Cambodia , India and Srivijaya.

During the 7 th century AD, this tourist attraction was part of the well known Srivijaya empire of Sumatra and reached its architectural peak in the 10 th century AD. Srivijaya and the Lembah Bujang kingdom were attacked by the Cholas of India in 1025 and when the Srivijaya empire was losing its power, the Lembah Bujang kingdom forged an alliance with the Cholas.
Tourists making their trip to this astonishing site will be glad to know that there are more than fifty archaeological sites containing the magnificent ruins of Hindu and Buddhist temples found here which was left deserted with the coming of Islam to the region. The amazing fact is that these temple ruins stretches from Gunung Jerai to all the way to Kuala Muda. British archaeologist Quatrich-Wales was the first person to excavate the ruins in 1936.

The main attraction here is the Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum (Muzium Arkeologi) which is located beside the great Bujang River , roughly about two kilometers north of Merbok village. Some of the exhibits seen at this popular museum are pottery shards, ceramics and stoneware dating to almost two thousand years. Other interesting items shown here include Chinese porcelain, gemstones, Indian tridents and beautiful stone carvings but without doubt the most exciting finds here are the temples and among the items obtained from the temples were a fragment of a wall frieze and a statue of the elephant god Ganesh. The partially restored candi (temples) can be seen at the rear section of the museum. Two remarkable sites of six hundred years old chandis were found in 1997 with the one thousand years old Candi Bukit Batu Pahat being the most important whereby the entire complex will become a famous National Historic Park in Malaysia.
See: Maritime Asia
See :

No comments: