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The Laksamana (Jawi: لقسامان) is a position within the armed forces, similar to the position of admiral in Malay sultanates and in present-day countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Since South East Asia was part of Indosphere of Greater India since earlier, during and after the Hinduised Srivijaya empire, Hindu titles based on Sanskrit were used. The word Laksamana originated from Lakshmana, a figure in the Hindu epic of Ramayana.
The Laksamana in the Malacca Sultanate was in charge for the sea security of the Sultanate, and most importantly, the China-India trade route within the Straits of Malacca. That trade route was the lifeline of the Empire. He was in full command of the Malaccan fleet, outranked only by the Bendahara and the Sultan.
Malacca's most famous Laksamana is Hang Tuah.
In modern times, the word refers to a rank in the Indonesian Navy, Royal Brunei Navy, and in Malaysia by the Royal Malaysian Navy and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (the Malaysian Coast Guard).
The common grades for "Laksamana" title are:
- Laksamana Pertama (lit. "First Admiral", a one-star rank, Rear Admiral or Commodore)
- Laksamana Muda (lit. "Young Admiral", "Rear Admiral", a two-star rank)
- Laksamana Madya (lit. "Middle Admiral", "Vice Admiral", a three-star rank)
- Laksamana ("Admiral", a four-star rank)
- Laksamana Armada (lit."Fleet Admiral", a five-star rank used by Royal Malaysian Navy)
A five-star rank has been established by Indonesian Navy, known as "Laksamana Besar" ("Grand Admiral"). Nobody has yet been awarded this rank and it is reserved for such a person with a great service and achievement to the Navy. The term has also be used by normal civilians in referring to a person commanding a number of ships.
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