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Kalasan Temple

Kalasan temple is located on the side of road of Prambanan Jogjakarta, so it will be clearly seen when we pass through. The temple has been severely damaged, reconstructed in 1927 - 1929, but since many stone temples  can not be found anymore, then what is seen now is the most that can be done by archaeologists (Figure 1).

At the time of the investigation was made by the Archaeological Service before World War II, turns on the inside foot of the temple there is an older wall. This means that Kalasan temple has been refurbished before. The custom of rebuilt a shrine by the rulers then become common. For example Sanchi stupa in India has been improved rebuilt or enlarged  the stupa.

Figure 1. Temple of Kalasan

Candi Kalasan  is a  Mahayana Buddhism temple,  the oldest Buddhist temple in Central Java. A Sanskrit inscription known as  the Kalasan inscription issued in  the year 700 Saka / 778 AD have been found not far from the temple.

Based on the inscriptions of Kalasan, a shrine for Tārā (Tārābhavanam) has been built by the teachers of king Sailendra after obtaining permission from the Panangkaran king.
Kalasan inscription is very important, not only to know the form of Buddhism that developed at that time but also to trace the history of the kings who ruled in Central Java in the century 8 - 10 AD.
Based on the books of Buddhist sources, after the death of Siddhartha Gautama, Buddhism split into two major streams,  that is called Hinayana Buddhism or Therawada and Mahayana Buddhism.
The significant difference is the ultimate goal of life of its adherents. The highest ideal of Hinayana Buddhists is to become an Arhat for everyone, who has the sense to eliminate avidya (ignorance), and eliminate all worldly desires to avoid rebirth and reach Nirvana.
As for the highest ideal of Mahayana Buddhists not becomes Arhat for themselves, but to become a Bodhisattva, means suspending the attainment of Nirvana, who deliberately to postpone his own salvation from the world until all suffering beings across the whole world can be saved.
Determination to help other beings is constituted by a sense of compassion (karuna). To become a Bodhisattva is not easy, he should cultivate sacred knowledge to gain wisdom by taking a 10 degree path (marga) Bodhisattva, known as daśa boddhisattwabhūmi Each level (bhūmi) Boddhisatwa associated with a doctrine of perfection (perfections) which amounted to 10 also. Therefore Mahayana Buddhism is also known as Paramitāyana.

Sunyata and Skanda
Other teachings in Mahayana Buddhism ,  is the doctrine of śunyata (emptiness, nothingness) and the 5 skandhas.

Bhakti teachings
According to Mahayana Buddhism, everything is empty, therefore what they want does not exist, or does not materialize, do not need to be requested and sought after. Not only this world is hollow, even Nirvana and Dharma are also hollow, and also  the Ultimate Truth of Emptiness is empty known as Sunyata.

Bhakti teachings
Later Mahayana Buddhism has various influences, among which are the bhakti teachings. This movement emphasized the love and surrender to a particular god. And this influence led to the belief emergence of the Highest Buddha known as the Adi Buddha or any names given by the adepts and from this primordial principle  were evolved other gods, i.e the Tathagathas (Dhyani Buddhas), Boddhisattwas, other gods  and world of phenomena.
The emergence of the Buddhas / Boddhisattwa figures is associated with the Sakyamuni teaching about 5 “heaps” of skandha.  According to the teachings of the man is the blend (samghata) nāmā – rūpa, namely rūpa (physical), Vijñana (consciousness), vedana (feeling) samjña (observations) and samskara (the will).
Furthermore, all five skandha are identified with the 5 Tathagatas or Jinas with a certain cardinal (Buddha-ksetra) under their control, namely Wairocana (Zenith), Aksobhya (east), Ratnasambhawa (south), Amittabha (west) and Amoghasiddha (north). Each of the Tathagata is from its contemplation power and knowledge power, evolved a Bodhisattva and a Manushi Buddha.

Adi Buddha
Another thing we have to deal with the conception of the “three kayas” or “the body of laws/dharmas”. The Mahayanists conceive of the Buddha as no historical man, but instead he is the Ultimate Principle, of the Cosmic unity.  As the Highest Principle, he has three aspects which are known as the three kayas of the Buddha , these are  Dharmakāya (the body of Dharma), Sambhogakāya and Nirmanakāya. Dharmakāya with the nature Sūnyata which is often called the Adi Buddha,  also known as Vajradhara, Vajrasattva, Vajrakaya, Bhatara Buddha etc. Tathagata group including the Dharmakaya, because they never descended to earth,  the Bodhisattvas are the Sambhogakāya and group below among others are the Manushi Buddhas are Nirmanakāya.
Adi Buddha called Bhattara Buddha in the manuscript of Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan (the manuscript of Mpu Sindok era) is described as having "partners" shaped of woman, not sákti because of the Buddhist does not know sákti, but the embodiment of Prajña (Wisdom) that is passive, while Adi Buddha itself is the embodiment of Karuna (Compassion) that are active.
Similarly, each character in the sambhogakāya and Nirmanakāya,   has  prajña called Tārā, with the distinguishing characteristics of the iconography and color.

The oldest Buddhist temple
Attracting attention is that the oldest temple in Java is built to Tārā, meaning Tārā is considered as the supreme goddess. Only the statue has been lost unfortunately so the identification of Tārā is difficult.
In the inscriptions of Kalasan the goddess is called Arya Tārā, a character that is rarely found in India, except in Bengal, while very well known outside India, including in Tibet, Nepal and China. Tārā worship in general, aims to ask safety in the journey at sea, but as the supreme goddess worship to Arya Tārā have a broader purpose. In the inscription of Kalasan, Arya Tārā is associated with the teachings of dharma. and help people cross the samsara sea, to achieve true knowledge.

Inscription of Kalasan is very important to reconstruct the cultural history of the Classical Age (the period of Central Java). Mentioned in the inscription on the establishment of a sacred building (bhavana-) to Arya Tārā (Tara-bhavana-), and a monastery for teachers of Sailendra king. As noted earlier, Arya Tara, the supreme goddess in Buddhism is expected to provide convenience in the human effort to sail through "sea of samsara." As for the one who set it up are the teachers of king Sailendravamsatilaka (:the jewel of the Sailendra dynasty) after obtaining permission from Sri Maharaja Panamkarana.
The mention of that two names cause a variety of opinions about how many dynasties who ruled in the kingdom of Mataram. Is it two dynasties (Sailendra and Sanjaya) or only one dynasty, because there are some opinions that think that Sanjaya dynasty kings since Panangkaran King turned out to be a Buddhist?
Based on the last reading by the writer about the inscription of Kalasan, it can be argued, that in Central Java, there are two dynasties  of king. In lines 2 and 5 Kalasan inscription reads as follows:
2.     āvars (j) yā mahārājam dyāh pañcapanam panamkaranam
śailendrarājagurubhis  tārābhavanam hi kāritam śrimat
(Translation: a sacred building (for) a noble Tara has been ordered to create by the teachers of the Sailendra king, after obtaining the approval of the Maharaja Dyah Pancapana Panamkarana)

5.     rājye pravarddhamāne rajñah śailendravamśatilakasya
śailendrarājagurubhis tārābhavanam krtam krtibhih
(Translation: a sacred building (for) Tara has been established by the teachers of Sailendra king in the kingdom 'the jewel of the  Sailendra kings" that is still developing)

From these two stanzas of Kalasan prasasati, Panangkaran is not Sailendra king, and he has a title a Maharaja, while the Sailendra king has the title of "raja”. Seeing that Tārābhavanam was established in the " Sailendra kingdom that is still growing", then at that time Sailendra kings is still the "inferior” king under the rule of Panangkaran. Even when it would build a shrine for Tārā, the Sailendra king (via his teachers) ask for permission prior to the maharaja Panangkaran.

It has been argued earlier,  the remains of the temple was first discovered in 1940 during excavations and restored conducted by the Archaeological Service. Even though there was only little left of the first building, it can be argued that the first stage of Kalasan temple was having a groundplan of square and simple. It is possible that this first temple which is the one mentioned in inscription of Kalasan, when Sailendra king had just reign as Panangkaran king’s subordinates.
The second temple, which is now can be seen its development, because the groundplan is not square anymore,  but composed  of a square with rectangles  projecting  from all sides , in the manner of a Greek cross. 

As usual temples of Central Java period ( Old Classical style) around 8 - 10 century AD, the temple vertically consists of body - foot - roof. To strengthen the land where the temple stood, there is usually a foundation in the ground or in the soil. Foundation at the surface of the ground at the temple Kalasan measuring approximately 1 meter high, become the basement/pedestal of the temple. The basement  is wider than the foot of the temple, thus forming a walkway to walk around the temple (pradaksina) (Figure 1). The wall of the basement is also decorated  by “Central Javanese profile”, consisting of a bell-shaped ogivo, a vertical part, another ogivo and a cornice.  This basement is usually looked as the foot of the temple. The foot of the temple is actualyy  stands on the basement, with stairs up to the temple to the east, unfortunately the stair is damaged and just a stone pile.
Similarly, a variety of molding that decorate the walls of the temple has been broken, but A.J. Bernet Kempers (1959) can try to reconstruct the frames of the foot of the temple, which is shaped flat seam, padma ogivo and semicircular portion (Kumuda). Two of the projections of the body of the temple have collapsed almost entirely.   Only that at the south is for the greater part still intact.The temple still can be seen its shape on the south and southeast (Figure 2).

The viewer doors and niches decorated kala head without lower jaw, which is connected with 2 pairs of makara. Not many temple walls ornaments, but very nice and has high artistic value. Formerly the temple walls were plaster, and perhaps certain colors. Several years ago, visitors can still found small fraction of the lepa or the stucco of the temple walls. In addition to the kala-makara motif, the beauty is shown also by the motifs of vase with lotus flowers or a lotus vegetation sprouting  from a tuber or a vase  and developing sideways (ricalcitrant spiral).

Inside the body of this temple there is a room of the temple (garbhagrha) that can be entered from the east door.
A hallway (antarala) connects the door to the central room. On the west wall there is a stage of presentation with the remnants of an empty throne, the statue (Tārā?)  has disappeared.
The roof of the temple is actually very unique, the upper part of the roof  is made of octagonal prisms and was surmounted by a large dagob.  Smaller dagobs enliven the projecting parts of the roof.  The projections of the body  of the temple have tops of their own leaning against the main structure. The corners between those projections are crowned by cubic  structures which support stupas on octagonal bases.  Insides the niches of the roof originally contained images of the Tathagathas (Dhyani Buddhas).  Only a few of them are still in-situ.  The octagonal prisms of the central section of the roof  is adorned with figures in relief between niches with more Buddha images. 

Kalasan Temple is surrounded by 52 small stupas but only the foundation left now. When it is dug, it turns out that it contains peripih including bronze articles. In Hindu temples, peripih is put in the temple pit at the bottom of the statue in the central room. At Buddhist temples, peripih in the pit is not found. At the temple Kalasan peripih is apparently placed under the 52 small stupas that surrounding the main temple.
Another specialty of the Kalasan temple is at the end of the path to the temple on the east, decorated with a pattern of "moon stone" (moonstone), curly-shaped which acts as foot cleanser (Javanese: kekesed). The habit of the use of "moonstone" is found in many temples ‘ complexes  of South India.

As noted earlier, Kalasan Temple is generally associated with Kalasan inscription which mentions that Kalasa village as the location of Tārābhavanam (shrine for Tārā). This mentioned Tara’s temple is probably the older temple found during the excation in 1940.
Based on the characteristics of structural and architectural, J. Dumarcay estimates that the existing Kalasan temple was built around the year of 850 AD, which rebuilt on the older temple of  778 AD.

Jakarta. September  23, 2011
JagadKejawen ,

Prof. DR. Hariani Santiko.