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The maximum extent of Srivijayan Empire around 8th century with series of Srivijayan expeditions and conquest
|Languages||Old Malay, Sanskrit|
|Religion||Mahayana Buddhism, Animism and Hinduism|
|-||Circa 988||Sri Culamanivarmadeva|
|-||Dapunta Hyang's expedition and expansion, (Kedukan Bukit Inscription)||650|
|-||Singhasari conquest in 1288, Majapahit put an end to Srivijayan rebellion in 1377||1377|
|Currency||Native gold and silver coins|
|Today part of|| Indonesia
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|Rise of Muslim states|
|Emergence of Indonesia|
Srivijaya (also written Sri Vijaya, Sanskrit: श्रीविजय Indonesian/Malay: Sriwijaya, Thai: ศรีวิชัย or Ṣ̄rī wichạy, RTGS: Siwichai) was a dominant thalassocratic city-state based on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia. Srivijaya was an important centre for the expansion of Buddhism from the 8th to the 12th century. In Sanskrit, sri (श्री) means "fortunate", "prosperous", or "happy" and vijaya (विजय) means "victorious" or "excellence".
The earliest evidence of its existence dates from the 7th century: a Chinese monk, Yijing, wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 for 6 months. The earliest known inscription in which the name Srivijaya appears also dates from the 7th century, i.e., the Kedukan Bukit inscription found near Palembang, Sumatra, dated 16 June 682. Between the late 7th to early 11th century Srivijaya rose to become a hegemon in Southeast Asia, involved in close interactions — often rivalries — with neighboring Java, Kambuja and Champa. Srivijaya's main foreign interest was nurturing lucrative trade agreements with China which continued from the Tang Dynasty to the Song era. Srivijaya had religious, cultural and trade links with the Buddhist Pala Empire of Bengal, as well as with the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East. The kingdom ceased to exist in the 13th century due to various factors, including the expansion of the Javanese, Singhasari, and Majapahit empires.
After Srivijaya fell, it was largely forgotten. It was not until 1918 that French historian George Coedès of the École française d'Extrême-Orient formally postulated its existence. An aerial photograph taken in 1984 near Palembang (in what is now Srivijaya archaeological park) revealed the remnants of ancient man-made canals, moats, ponds, and artificial islands, suggesting the location of Srivijaya's urban center. Several artifacts such as fragments of inscriptions, Buddhist statues, beads, pottery and Chinese ceramics were found, confirming that the area was once a dense human habitation. By 1993, Pierre-Yves Manguin had shown that the centre of Srivijaya was along the Musi River between Bukit Seguntang and Sabokingking (situated in what is now Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia). However, in 2013, archaeological research led by the University of Indonesia discovered several religious and habitation sites at Muaro Jambi, suggesting that the initial center of Srivijaya was located in Muaro Jambi Regency, Jambi Province on the Batanghari river, instead of on the originally-proposed Musi river.
There was no continuous knowledge of Srivijaya even in Indonesian histories; its forgotten past has been recreated by foreign scholars. No modern Indonesians, not even those of the Palembang area around which the kingdom was based, had heard of Srivijaya until the 1920s, when French scholar George Coedès published his discoveries and interpretations in Dutch and Indonesian-language newspapers. Coedès noted that the Chinese references to "Sanfoqi", previously read as "Sribhoja", and the inscriptions in Old Malay refer to the same empire.
The historical records of Srivijaya were reconstructed from numbers of stone inscriptions, most of them written in Old Malay, such as Kedukan Bukit, Talang Tuwo, Telaga Batu and Kota Kapur inscription. Srivijaya has become a symbol of early Sumatran importance as a great empire to balance Java's Majapahit in the east. In the 20th century, both empires were referred to by nationalist intellectuals to argue for an Indonesian identity within an Indonesian state prior to the Dutch colonial state.
Srivijaya and by extension Sumatra had been known by different names to different peoples. The Chinese called it Sanfotsi or San Fo Qi, and there was an even older kingdom of Kantoli that could be considered the predecessor of Srivijaya. Sanskrit and Pali referred to it as Yavadesh and Javadeh, respectively. The Arabs called it Zabag and the Khmer called it Melayu. This is another reason why the discovery of Srivijaya was so difficult. While some of these names are strongly reminiscent of the name of Java, there is a distinct possibility that they may have referred to Sumatra instead.
The first part "Sri" comes from Sanskrit and is an honorific place name, similar to Sri Lanka. "Vijaya" means "victory", a similarly named empire in India was called Vijayanagara Empire. The name of the empire can therefore also be written "Sri Vijaya".
Formation and growth
Little physical evidence of Srivijaya remains. According to the Kedukan Bukit Inscription, dated 605 Saka (683 CE), the empire of Srivijaya was founded by Dapunta Hyang Çri Yacanaca (Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa). He embarked in a sacred siddhayatra journey, and led 20,000 troops and 312 people in boats with 1312 foot soldiers from Minanga Tamwan to Jambi and Palembang.
Although according to this inscription, Srivijaya was first established in the vicinity of today's Palembang, it mentions that Dapunta Hyang came from Minanga Tamwan. The exact location of Minanga Tamwan is still a subject of discussion. The Palembang theory as the place where Srivijaya was first established, was presented by Coedes and supported by Pierre-Yves Manguin. Soekmono on the other hand, argues that Palembang is not the capital of Srivijaya and suggests that the Kampar river system in Riau where the Muara Takus temple is located as Minanga Tamwan. Another theory suggests that Dapunta Hyang came from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, and suggests Chaiya as the center of Srivijaya.
Around the year 500, Srivijayan roots began to develop around present-day Palembang, Sumatra, in modern Indonesia. The empire was organised in three main zones — the estuarine capital region centred on Palembang, the Musi River basin which served as hinterland and rival estuarine areas capable of forming rival power centres. The areas upstream of the Musi River were rich in various commodities valuable to Chinese traders. The capital was administered directly by the ruler while the hinterland remained under its own local datus or chiefs, who were organized into a network of alliances with the Srivijaya maharaja or king. Force was the dominant element in the empire's relations with rival river systems such as Batang Hari, centred in Jambi.
From Sanskrit inscriptions, it's notable that the King Jayanasa launched a maritime conquest in 684 with 20,000 men in the siddhayatra journey to acquire wealth, power, and 'magic power'. Under the leadership of Jayanasa, the kingdom of Malayu became the first kingdom to be integrated into the Srivijayan Empire. This possibly occurred in the 680s. Malayu, also known as Jambi, rich in gold and was held in high esteem. Srivijaya recognized that the submission of Malayu would increase its own prestige.
According to the Kota Kapur Inscription, discovered on Bangka Island, the empire conquered most of Southern Sumatra and the neighboring island of Bangka, as far as Lampung. Also according to the inscription, Jayanasa launched a military campaign against Bhumi Java in the late 7th century, a period which coincides with the decline of Tarumanagara in West Java and Holing (Kalingga) in Central Java. The empire thus grew to control the trade on the Strait of Malacca, the Sunda Strait, the South China Sea, the Java Sea, and the Karimata Strait.
Chinese records dating to the late 7th century mention two Sumatran kingdoms, as well as three other kingdoms on Java as part of Srivijaya. By the end of the 8th century, many western Javanese kingdoms, such as Tarumanagara and Holing, were within the Srivijayan sphere of influence. It has also been recorded that a Buddhist family related to Srivijaya dominated central Java at that time. The family was probably the Sailendras. The ruling lineage of Srivijaya intermarried with the Sailendras of Central Java and lived along the Javanese Sanjaya dynasty when the Srivijayan capital was located in Java.
During the same century, Langkasuka on the Malay Peninsula became part of Srivijaya. Soon after this, Pan Pan and Trambralinga, which were located north of Langkasuka, came under Srivijayan influence. These kingdoms on the peninsula were major trading nations that transported goods across the peninsula's isthmus.
The area of Chaiya, in Surat Thani Province, Thailand, was already inhabited in prehistoric times by Semang and Malayan tribes. Founded in the 3rd century, the Srivijaya kingdom dominated the Malay Peninsula and much of the island of Java from there until the 13th century. The city of Chaiya's name may be derived from its original Malay name "Cahaya" (meaning 'light', 'gleam' or 'glow'). However, some scholars believe that Chai-ya probably comes from Sri-vi-ja-ya. It was a regional capital in the Srivijaya empire of the 5th to 13th century. Some Thai historians argue it was the capital of Srivijaya itself, but this is generally discounted.
At some point in the 7th century, Cham ports in eastern Indochina started to attract traders. This diverted the flow of trade from Srivijaya. In an effort to divert the flow, the Srivijayan king or maharaja, Dharmasetu, launched various raids against the coastal cities of Indochina. The city of Indrapura by the Mekong River was temporarily controlled from Palembang in the early 8th century. The Srivijayans continued to dominate areas around present-day Cambodia until the Khmer King Jayavarman II, the founder of the Khmer Empire dynasty, severed the Srivijayan link later in the same century. After Dharmasetu, Samaratungga became the next Maharaja of Srivijaya. He reigned as ruler from 792 to 835. Unlike the expansionist Dharmasetu, Samaratungga did not indulge in military expansion but preferred to strengthen the Srivijayan hold of Java. He personally oversaw the construction of Borobudur; the temple was completed in 825, during his reign.
The Srivijayan was benefited from the lucrative maritime trade between China and India, and also trading Indonesian archipelago product such as Maluku spices. Served as Southeast Asia's main entreport and gain trade patronage appointed by Chinese court, Srivijaya was constantly managing their trade network and always wary of potential rival ports of neighboring kingdoms. The necessity to maintain their trade monopoly has led them to launch naval military expeditions against rival ports in Southeast Asia, and absorb them within Srivijayan mandala. The port of Malayu in Jambi, Kota Kapur in Bangka island, Tarumanagara and port of Sunda in West Java, Kalingga in Central Java, and port of Kedah and Chaiya in Malay peninsula are among regional ports that being absorbed within Srivijayan sphere of influence. Series of Javan-Srivijaya raids on ports of Champa and Cambodia was also their effort to maintain their monopoly in the region by sacking rival ports.
The maritime prowess was recorded in Borobudur bas relief of Borobudur ship, the 8th century wooden double outrigger sailed vessel of Maritime Southeast Asia. The function of outrigger is to stabilize the ship, the single or double outrigger canoe is the typical feature of the seafaring Austronesians vessels and the most likely the type of vessel used for their voyages and exploration across Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Indian Ocean. The ships depicted at Borobudur most likely were the type of vessels used for inter-insular trades and naval campaign by Sailendran and Srivijayan thalassocracy empire that ruled the region from the 7th to 13th centuries.
The Srivijayan empire mainly exercised its influence around coastal areas of Southeast Asia, with the exception of contributing to the population of Madagascar 3,300 miles (8,000 kilometres) to the west. The migration to Madagascar was estimated took place 1200 years ago around 830 CE. According to an extensive new mitochondrial DNA study, native Malagasy people today can likely trace their heritage back to the 30 founding mothers sailed from Indonesia 1200 years ago. Malagasy contains loan words from Sanskrit, all with local linguistic modifications via Javanese or Malay, hint that Madagascar may have been colonized by settlers from the Srivijaya empire. At that time the Srivijayan maritime empire was expanding their maritime trade network.
Relationship with regional powers
Although historical records and archaeological evidence are scarce, it appears that by the 7th century, Srivijaya had established suzerainty over large areas of Sumatra, western Java and much of the Malay Peninsula. Dominating the Malacca and Sunda straits, Srivijaya controlled both the spice route traffic and local trade, charging a toll on passing ships. Serving as an entrepôt for Chinese, Malay, and Indian markets, the port of Palembang, accessible from the coast by way of a river, accumulated great wealth. Envoys travelled to and from China frequently.
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Malayu kingdom was the first rival power centre absorbed into the empire, and thus began the domination of the region through trade and conquest in the 7th and 9th centuries. Malayu kingdom's gold mines up in Batang Hari river hinterland were a crucial economic resource and may be the origin of the word Suvarnadvipa (island of gold), the Sanskrit name for Sumatra. Srivijaya helped spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and western Borneo. Srivijaya's influence waned in the 11th century. It was in frequent conflict with, and ultimately subjugated by, Javanese kingdoms, first Singhasari and then Majapahit. This was not the first time the Srivijayans conflicted with the Javanese. According to historian Paul Michel Munoz, the Javanese Sanjaya dynasty was a strong rival of the Srivijayans in the 8th century when the Srivijayan capital was located in Java. The seat of the empire moved to Malayu Muaro Jambi in the last centuries of Srivijaya's existence.
The Khmer Empire might also have been a tributary in its early stages. The Khmer king Jayavarman II, was mentioned has spent years in the court of Sailendra in Java, and came home to rule Cambodia around 790 CE. Influenced by Javanese culture of Sailendran-Srivijayan mandala, probably with the eagerness to copy the Javanese model in his court, he proclaimed Cambodian independence from Java and ruled as devaraja, established Khmer empire and started Angkor era.
Some historians claim that Chaiya in the Surat Thani province in Southern Thailand was at least temporarily the capital of Srivijaya, but this claim is widely disputed. However, Chaiya was probably a regional centre of the kingdom. The temple of Borom That in Chaiya contains a reconstructed pagoda in Srivijaya style.
Phra Boromathat Chaiya is highlighted by the chedi in Srivijaya style, dating back from the 7th century but elaborately restored. Buddha relics are enshrined in the chedi, in the surrounding chapels are several Buddha statues in Srivijaya style as it was labeled by Prince Damrong in his Collected Inscriptions of Siam, is now attributed to Wat Hua Wiang in Chaiya. Dated to the year 697 of the Mahasakkarat era (i.e. 775 CE), the inscription on a Bai Sema shaped stone tells about the King of Srivijaya having erected three stupas at that site that possibly the one at Wat Phra Borom That. But also be assumed as three stupas at Wat Hua Wiang (Hua Wiang temple), Wat Lhong (Lhong temple) and Wat Kaew (Kaew temple) found in the area of Chaiya ancient city, stand in the direction from north to south on the old sand dune. After the fall of the Srivijaya in Chaiya, the area was divided into the cities (Mueang) Chaiya, Thatong (now Kanchanadit) and Khirirat Nikhom.
Srivijaya also maintained close relations with the Pala Empire in Bengal, and an 860 Nalanda inscription records that maharaja Balaputra dedicated a monastery at the Nalanda university in Pala territory.The relation between Srivijaya and the Chola dynasty of southern India was initially friendly during the reign of Raja Raja Chola I. In 1006 CE a Srivijayan Maharaja from Sailendra dynasty, king Maravijayattungavarman, constructed the Chudamani Vihara in the port town of Nagapattinam. However during the reign of Rajendra Chola I the relations deteriorate as the Chola Dynasty started to attack Srivijayan cities.
The reason of this sudden change of relations with Chola is unknown. However some historian suggests, it seems that the Khmer king Suryavarman I of the Khmer Empire requested aid from the Chola Emperor Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty against Tambralinga kingdom. After learning of Suryavarman's alliance with Rajendra Chola, the Tambralinga kingdom requested aid from the Srivijaya king Sangrama Vijayatungavarman. This eventually led to the Chola Empire coming into conflict with the Srivijiya Empire. The war ended with a victory for the Chola dynasty and losses for the Srivijaya Empire. During the reign of Kulothunga Chola I the king of Srivijaya sent an embassy to the Chola Dynasty.
Arab writers of the 9th and 10th century hardly mention Europe for anything other than its backwardness but they consider the king of Al-Hind (India and to some extent might include Southeast Asia) as one of the 4 great kings in the world. The ruler of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty is described as the greatest king of Al-Hind (India) but moreover to further extent, the kings of Al-Hind might also including the kings of Java, Pagan Burma and the Khmer kings of Cambodia are invariably depicted by the Arabs as extremely powerful and as being equipped with vast armies of men, horses and often tens of thousands of elephants. They are also known to be in the possession of vast treasures of gold and silver.
After trade disruption at Canton between 820 and 850, the ruler of Jambi (Melayu Kingdom) was able to assert enough independence to send missions to China in 853 and 871. Melayu kingdom's independence coincided with the troubled time when the Sailendran Balaputradewa, expelled from Java, seized the throne of Srivijaya. The new maharaja was able to dispatch a tributary mission to China by 902. Only two years later, the expiring Tang Dynasty conferred a title on a Srivijayan envoy.
In the first half of the 10th century, between the fall of Tang and the rise of Song, there was brisk trade between the overseas world and the Fujian kingdom of Min and the rich Guangdong kingdom of Nan Han. Srivijaya undoubtedly benefited from this, in anticipation of the prosperity it was to enjoy under the early Song. Circa 903, the Muslim writer Ibn Rustah was so impressed with the wealth of Srivijaya's ruler that he declared one would not hear of a king who was richer, stronger or with more revenue. The main urban centres were at Palembang (especially the Karanganyar site near Bukit Seguntang area), Muara Jambi and Kedah.
In late 10th century the rivalry between Sumatran Srivijaya and Javanese Medang kingdom has become more intense and hostile. The animosity was probably caused by Srivijaya effort to reclaim Sailendra lands in Java, as Balaputra and his offsprings — the series Srivijaya Maharajas — was belongs to Sailendra dynasty, or probably led by Medang aspiration to challenge Srivijaya domination in the region. In the year 990, king Dharmawangsa launched a naval invasion against Srivijaya, and unsuccessfully attempted to capture Palembang. Dharmawangsa's invasion led the Maharaja of Srivijaya, Chulamaniwarmadewa to seek protection from China. In 1006, Srivijaya's mandala alliance proved its resilience by successfully repelling the Javanese invasion. In retaliation, Srivijaya assisted Haji (king) Wurawari of Lwaram to revolt, attacking and destroying the Medang palace. With the death of Dharmawangsa and the fall of the Medang capital, Srivijaya contributed to the collapse of Medang kingdom, leaving Eastern Java in further unrest, violence, and desolation for several years to come.
By the 12th century, the kingdom included parts of Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, Western Java, Borneo and the Philippines, most notably the Sulu Archipelago and the Visayas islands (and indeed the latter island group, as well as its population, is named after the empire).
Srivijaya remained a formidable sea power until the 13th century.
The 7th century Telaga Batu inscription discovered in Sabokingking, Palembang, testifies to the complexity and stratified titles of Srivijayan state officials. These titles are mentioned: rājaputra (princes, lit: sons of king), kumārāmātya (ministers), bhūpati (regional rulers), senāpati (generals), nāyaka (local community leaders), pratyaya (nobles), hāji pratyaya (lesser kings), dandanayaka (judges), tuhā an vatak (workers inspectors), vuruh (workers), addhyāksi nījavarna (lower supervisors), vāsīkarana (blacksmiths/weapon makers), cātabhata (soldiers), adhikarana (officials), kāyastha (store workers), sthāpaka (artisans), puhāvam (ship captains), vaniyāga (traders), marsī hāji (king's servants), hulun hāji (king's slaves).
During the formation, the empire was organised in three main zones — the estuarine capital region centred on Palembang, the Musi River basin which served as hinterland and source of valuable goods, and rival estuarine areas capable of forming rival power centres. These rival estuarines through raids and conquests were held under Srivijayan power, such as Batanghari estuarine (Malayu in Jambi). Several strategic ports follows, such as Bangka island (Kota Kapur), ports and kingdoms in Java (highly possible Tarumanagara and Kalingga), Kedah and Chaiya in Malay peninsula, and Lamuri and Panai in northern Sumatra. There are also reports mentioned the Java-Srivijayan raids on Southern Cambodia (Mekong estuarine) and ports of Champa.
After its expansion to neighboring states, the Srivijayan empire was formed as the collection of several Kadatuans (local principalities), all swore allegiance to the central ruling powerful Kadatuan ruled by Srivijayan Maharaja. The political relations and system related to its realms is described as a mandala model, typical of classical Southeast Asian Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms. It could be described as federation of kingdoms or vassalized polity under a center of domination; central Kadatuan Srivijaya. The polity was defined by its centre rather than its boundaries, and it could be composed of numerous other tributary polities without undergoing further administrative integration.
The relations between the central kadatuan and its member (subscribers) kadatuans are dynamic; however, the status may shift over generations. Other than coercive methods through raids and conquests, bound by persumpahan (oath of allegiance), the royalties of each kadatuan often formed alliances through dynastic marriages. For example a previously suzerained kadatuan over time might rise in prestige and power, so that eventually its ruler could lay claim to be the maharaja of the central kadatuan. The relationship between Srivijayan in Sumatra (descendants of Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa) and Sailendras in Java describes this political dynamic.
Art and Culture
The Buddhist art and architecture of Sri Vijaya was influenced by the Indian art of the Gupta Empire and Pala Empire. According to various historical sources, a complex and cosmopolitan society with a refined culture, deeply influenced by Vajrayana Buddhism, flourished in the Srivijayan capital. The 7th century Talang Tuwo inscription described Buddhist rituals and blessings at the auspicious event of establishing public park. The Kota Kapur Inscription mentions Srivijaya military dominance against Java. These inscriptions were in the Old Malay language, the language used by Srivijayan and also the ancestor of Malay and Indonesian language. Since the 7th century, the Old Malay language has been used in Nusantara (Malay-Indonesian archipelago), marked by these Srivijaya inscriptions and other inscriptions using old Malay language in coastal areas of the archipelago, such as those discovered in Java. The trade contact carried by some ethnics at the time was the main vehicle to spread Malay language, since it was the communication device amongst the traders. By then, Malay language become lingua franca and was spoken widely by most people in the archipelago.
However, despite its economic, cultural and military prowess, Srivijaya left few archaeological remains in their heartlands in Sumatra, in contrast with Srivijayan episode in Central Java during the leadership of Sailendras that produced numerous monuments; such as the Kalasan, Sewu and Borobudur mandala. The Buddhist temples dated from Srivijayan era in Sumatra are Muaro Jambi, Muara Takus and Biaro Bahal, however unlike the temples of Central Java that constructed from andesite stones, the Sumatran temples were constructed from red bricks.
Some Buddhist sculptures, such as Buddha Vairocana, Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya, were discovered in numerous sites in Sumatra and Malay Peninsula. These archaeological findings such as stone statue of Buddha discovered in Bukit Seguntang, Palembang, Avalokiteshvara from Bingin Jungut in Musi Rawas, bronze Maitreya statue of Komering, all discovered in South Sumatra. In Jambi, golden statue of Avalokiteshvara were discovered in Rataukapastuo, Muarabulian. In Malay Peninsula the bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara of Bidor discovered in Perak Malaysia, and Avalokiteshvara of Chaiya in Southern Thailand. All of these statues demonstrated the same elegance and common style identified as "Srivijayan art" that reflects close resemblance — probably inspired — by both Indian Amaravati style and Javanese Sailendra art (c. 8th to 9th century).
".... many of kings and rulers in the islands of southern seas adore and believed in lord Buddha, in their hearts has flourished (the seeds of) good deeds. Within the walls of Srivijaya capital city lived 1000 buddhist monks, they have studied diligently and performed (the noble teachings) very well.... If a Chinese monk wished to travel to India and seeks the (Buddha's) teachings, it will be better for them to stay here first for a year or two, to deepening their knowledge before continued their study to India.".
— Description of Srivijaya according to I-tsing.
Srivijaya and its kings were instrumental in the spread of Buddhism as they established it in places they conquered like Java, Malaya, and other lands. People making pilgrimages were encouraged to spend time with the monks in the capital city of Palembang on their journey to India.
A stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. These included the Chinese monk I Ching, who made several lengthy visits to Sumatra on his way to study at Nalanda University in India in 671 and 695, and the 11th century Bengali Buddhist scholar Atisha, who played a major role in the development of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. I Ching also known as Yijing and other monks of his time practiced a pure version of Buddhism although the religion allowed for culture changes to be made. He is also given credit for translating Buddhist text which has the most instructions on the discipline of the religion. I Ching reports that the kingdom was home to more than a thousand Buddhist scholars; it was in Srivijaya that he wrote his memoir of Buddhism during his own lifetime. Travellers to these islands mentioned that gold coinage was in use on the coasts, but not inland. A notable Srivijayan revered Buddhist scholar is Dharmakirti that taught Buddhist philosophy in Srivijaya and Nalanda, he was the teacher of Atisha.
Economy and Commerce
In the world of commerce, Srivijaya rapidly rose to be a far-flung empire controlling the two passages between India and China, namely the Sunda Strait from Palembang and the Malacca strait from Kedah. Arab accounts state that the empire of the maharaja was so vast that in two years the swiftest vessel could not travel round all its islands, which produced camphor, aloes, cloves, sandal-wood, nutmegs, cardamom and cubebs, ivory, gold and tin, making the maharaja as rich as any king in India.
Other than fostering the lucrative trade relations with India and China, Srivijaya also established commerce link with Arabia. Highly possible, a messenger sent by Maharaja Sri Indravarman to deliver his letter for Caliph Umar ibn AbdulAziz of Ummayad in 718, was returned to Srivijaya with Zanji (black female slave from Zanj), the Caliph's present for maharaja. Later the Chinese chronicle mentioned about Shih-li-t-'o-pa-mo (Sri Indravarman), Maharaja of Shih-li-fo-shih in 724 had sent the emperor a ts'engchi (Chinese spelling of Arabic Zanji) as a gift.
The decline of Srivijaya was contributed by foreign piracy and raids that disrupted the trade and security in the region. Attracted to the wealth of Srivijaya, in 1025 Rajendra Chola, the Chola king from Coromandel in South India, launched naval raids on ports of Srivijaya and conquered Kadaram (modern Kedah) from Srivijaya. The Cholas are known to have benefitted from both piracy and foreign trade. Sometimes Chola seafaring led to outright plunder and conquest as far as Southeast Asia. An inscription of King Rajendra states that he captured Sangrama-vijayottungga-varman, the King of Kadaram, took a large heap of treasures including the Vidhyadara-torana, the jewelled 'war gate' of Srivijaya adorned with great splendour. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests of parts of Sumatra and Malay Peninsula for the next 20 years. The expedition of Rajendra Chola I had such a great impression to the Malay people of the medieval period that his name was mentioned in the corrupted form as Raja Chulan in the medieval Malay chronicle Sejarah Melaya. This event marked the demise of the Empire and a sharp turn for the control of the trade route. For the next century, Tamil trading companies from southern India dominated the Straits region, although the domination was weaker than the control of the Srivijayan Empire.
Rajendra overseas expedition against Srivijaya was a unique event in India's history and its otherwise peaceful relations with the states of Southeast Asia. The reasons of this naval expedition are still a moot point as the source are silent about its exact causes. Nilakanta Sastri suggests that the attack was probably caused by Srivijayan attempt to throw obstacles in the way of the Chola trade with the East, or more probably, a simple desire on the part of Rajendra to extend his digvijaya to the countries across the sea so well known to his subject at home, and therefore add luster to his crown. Although Srivijaya mandala still survive and the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms, like Kediri, based on intensive agriculture rather than coastal and long-distance trade. Srivijaya was humbled by this attack but not destroyed, the resilience of Srivijaya mandala still proven by the ascends of other royal members within Srivijaya mandala to step into power. With the time, the regional trading center shifted from the old Srivijayan capital of Palembang, to another trade center on the island of Sumatra, Jambi, which was the center of Malayu.
Between 1079 and 1088, Chinese records show that Srivijaya sent ambassadors from Jambi and Palembang. In 1079 in particular, an ambassador from Jambi and Palembang each visited China. Jambi sent two more ambassadors to China in 1082 and 1088. This suggests that the centre of Srivijaya frequently shifted between the two major cities during that period. The Chola expedition as well as changing trade routes weakened Palembang, allowing Jambi to take the leadership of Srivijaya from the 11th century on.
According to a Chinese source in the book of Chu-fan-chi written around 1225, Chou Ju-kua describe that in Southeast Asia archipelago there were two most powerful and richest kingdoms; Srivijaya and Java (Kediri). In Java he founds that the people adhere two kinds of religions: Buddhism and the religion of Brahmins (Hinduism), while the people of Srivijaya adhere to Buddhism. The people of Java are brave and short tempered, dare to put a fight. Their favourite pastimes was cockfighting and pig fighting. The currency was made from the mixture of copper, silver, and tin.
The book of Chu-fan-chi mentioned that Java was ruled by a maharaja, that rules several colonies: Pai-hua-yuan (Pacitan), Ma-tung (Medang), Ta-pen (Tumapel, now Malang), Hi-ning (Dieng), Jung-ya-lu (Hujung Galuh, now Surabaya), Tung-ki (Jenggi, West Papua), Ta-kang (Sumba), Huang-ma-chu (Southwest Papua), Ma-li (Bali), Kulun (Gurun, identified as Gorong or Sorong in West Papua or an island in Nusa Tenggara), Tan-jung-wu-lo (Tanjungpura in Borneo), Ti-wu (Timor), Pingya-i (Banggai in Sulawesi), and Wu-nu-ku (Maluku).
About Srivijaya, Chou-Ju-Kua reported that Srivijaya had 15 colonies and was still the mightiest and wealthiest state in western part of archipelago. Srivijaya's colony are: Pong-fong (Pahang), Tong-ya-nong (Terengganu), Ling-ya-si-kia (Langkasuka), Kilan-tan (Kelantan), Fo-lo-an (Dungun, eastern part of Malay Peninsula, a town within state of Terengganu), Ji-lo-t'ing (Cherating), Ts'ien-mai (Semawe, Malay Peninsula), Pa-t'a (Sungai Paka, located in Terengganu of Malay Peninsula), Tan-ma-ling (Tambralinga, Ligor or Nakhon Si Thammarat, South Thailand), Kia-lo-hi (Grahi, (Krabi) northern part of Malay peninsula), Pa-lin-fong (Palembang), Sin-t'o (Sunda), Lan-wu-li (Lamuri at Aceh), Kien-pi (Jambi) and Si-lan (Cambodia).
According to this source in early 13th century Srivijaya still ruled Sumatra, Malay peninsula, and western Java (Sunda). About Sunda, the book describe it further that the port of Sunda (probably refer to Banten or Sunda Kelapa) is really good and strategic, pepper from Sunda is among the best quality. People work on agriculture and their house are build on wooden piles (rumah panggung). However the country was infested by robbers and thieves. In sum, this Chinese source from early 13th century suggested that the Indonesian archipelago was ruled by two great kingdoms, with the western part under Srivijaya's rule, while eastern part was under Kediri domination.
In the year 1293, Majapahit ruled much of Sumatra as the successor of Singhasari. Prince Adityawarman was given responsibilities over Sumatera in 1347 by Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi, the third monarch of Majapahit. The rebellion in 1377 was squashed by Majapahit but it left the area of southern Sumatera in chaos and desolation.
In the following years, sedimentation on the Musi river estuary cut the kingdom's capital off from direct sea access. The strategic disadvantage crippled the trade in the Kingdom's capital. As the decline continued, Islam made its way to the Aceh region of Sumatra, spreading through contacts with Arab and Indian traders. By the late 13th century, the kingdom of Pasai in northern Sumatra converted to Islam. At the same time, Srivijayan lands in Malay Peninsula (now Southern Thailand) was briefly a tributary state of the Khmer empire and later the Sukhothai kingdom. The last inscription, on which a crown prince, Ananggavarman, son of Adityawarman, is mentioned, dates from 1374.
Several attempts to revive Srivijaya were made by the fleeing princes of Srivijaya. In 1324, a prince of Srivijaya origin, Sri Maharaja Sang Utama Parameswara Batara Sri Tribuwana (Sang Nila Utama) founded the ancient Kingdom of Singapura (Temasek). He maintained control over Temasek for 48 years. Confirmed as ruler over Temasek by an envoy of the Chinese Emperor ca 1366. He was succeeded by his son Paduka Sri Pekerma Wira Diraja (1372–1386) and grandson, Paduka Seri Rana Wira Kerma (1386–1399). In 1401, his great grandson, Paduka Sri Maharaja Parameswara was expelled from Temasek by a Majapahit invasion. He later headed north and founded Sultanate of Malacca in 1402. The Sultanate of Malacca succeeded Srivijaya Empire as a Malay political entity of the archipelago.
Although Srivijaya left few archaeological remains and was almost forgotten in the collective memory of the Malay people, the rediscovery of this ancient maritime empire by Coedès back in the 1920s stimulated the notion that it was possible in the past for a widespread political entity to thrive in Southeast Asia.
The most important legacy of Srivijayan empire was probably their language. For centuries, Srivijaya through their expansion, economic power and military prowess was responsible for the widespread of Old Malay language throughout the Malay-Indonesian archipelago. It was the working language of traders, used in various ports and marketplaces in the region. The language of Srivijayan was probably had paved the way for the prominence of present day Malay and Indonesian language, to be the official language of Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore and as the unifying language of modern Indonesia.
According to the Malay Annals, Parameswara the founder of Malacca Sultanate claimed to be the member of the Palembang Srivijaya lineage. This suggested that in the 15th century the prestige of Srivijaya still remained and was used as the source for political legitimacy in the region.
Modern Indonesian nationalists have also invoked Srivijaya along with Majapahit, as a source of pride in Indonesia's past greatness. Srivijaya has become the focus of national pride and regional identity, especially for the people of Palembang, South Sumatra province, and the Malay people as a whole. For the people of Palembang, Srivijaya has also become a source of artistic inspiration for Gending Sriwijaya song and traditional dance.
The same situation also happened in southern Thailand, where Sevichai (Thai: Srivijaya) dance was recreated in accordance with the art and culture of ancient Srivijaya. Today the Srivijayan legacy is also celebrated and identified with Malay minority of Southern Thailand. In Thailand, the Srivijayan art were associated with Javanese art and architecture, probably demonstrate the Sailendra influences over Java, Sumatra and the Peninsula. The examples of Srivijayan style temples are Phra Borom Mathat at Chaiya constructed in Javanese style made of brick and mortar (c. 9th – 10th century), Wat Kaew Pagoda at Chaiya, also of Javanese form and Wat Long Pagoda. The original Wat Mahathat at Nakhon Si Thammarat (a Srivijayan city) was subsequently encased by a larger Sri Lanka styled building.
In Indonesia, Srivijaya is a street name in many cities and has become synonymous with Palembang and South Sumatra. Srivijaya University, established in 1960 in Palembang, was named after Srivijaya. Kodam Sriwijaya (a military commando area unit), PT Pupuk Sriwijaya (a fertilizer company), Sriwijaya Post (a Palembang based newspaper), Sriwijaya Air (an airline), Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium, and Sriwijaya F.C. (Palembang football club) were also all named to honor this ancient maritime empire. On 11 November 2011 during the opening ceremony of 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium, Palembang, a colossal dance performance titled "Srivijaya the Golden Peninsula" was performed featuring Palembang traditional dances and also an actual size replica of ancient ship to describe the glory of this maritime empire.
List of Rulers
|History of Thailand|
|Date||King's name||Capital||Stone inscription or embassies to China and events|
|683||Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa||Srivijaya||Kedukan Bukit (682), Talang Tuwo (684), and Kota Kapur inscriptions
Malayu conquest, Central Java conquest
|Embassies 702–716, 724(China)
Embassies to Caliph Muawiyah I and Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz
|No information for the period 728–775|
|prior to 775||Dharmasetu or Vishnu||Java||Nakhon Si Thammarat (Ligor), Vat Sema Muang|
|775||Dharanindra||Java||Ligor, started to build Borobudur in 770,
conquered South Cambodia
|782||Samaragrawira||Java||Ligor, Arabian text (790), continued the construction of Borobudur|
|792||Samaratungga||Java||Karangtengah inscription (824), 802 lost Cambodia, 825 completion of Borobudur|
|Lost Central Java, moved to Srivijaya
Nalanda inscription (860)
|No information for the period 835–960|
|Embassies 960, 962|
|1006, 1008||Sri Maravijayottungga
|Constructed the Chudamani Vihara in Nagapattinam, India in 1006.
|Chola invasion of Srivijaya, captured by Rajendra Chola
Chola Inscription on the temple of Rajaraja, Tanjore
Building of Tien Ching temple, Kuang Cho (Kanton) for Chinese Emperor
|1078||Kulothunga Chola I
|No information for the period 1080–1155|
|1156||Rajaraja Chola II||Palembang
|Larger Leyden Plates|
|1183||Srimat Trailokyaraja Maulibhusana Warmadewa||Jambi||Dharmasraya Kingdom||Bronze Buddha Chaiya 1183|
|No information for the period 1183–1275|
|1286||Srimat Tribhuwanaraja Mauli Warmadewa||Jambi||Dharmasraya Kingdom||Padang Roco inscription 1286, Pamalayu expedition 1275–1293|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sri Vijaya.|
- Britannica Encyclopedia: Srivijaya empire
- Articles about Srivijaya Kingdom in Southeast Asian Archaeology.com
- Timeline of Indonesia from prehistory to present: click on the period for info
- Melayu online: Çriwijaya Kingdom
- Candi Muaro Jambi
- Śrīvijaya―towards ChaiyaーThe History of Srivijaya - Takahashi Suzuki
- Chaiya National Museum