Saturday, March 16, 2013

Buddhism in Indonesia

This is an assignment to serve the Subject of Buddhism in Contemporary world and the topic here I would like to mention is about Buddhism in Indonesia. The aim of this topic is just let all you know the current Buddhism situation in Indonesia and also to know about the history of Buddhism and how Buddhism was flourished in Indonesia. So I deeply hope that this assignment makes all of you very knowledgeable and this knowledge will play some important part in the process of our journey. I would like to give my special thanks to our teacher Dr. Doungkamon Tongkanaraksa  for giving me this chance to write this assignment and also guiding us the right way to reach our destination

In Indonesia, Buddhism is a religion which has since long been embraced by most of society archipelago. Srivijaya and Majapahit era was the golden era for Buddhism. The existence of Buddhism in Indonesia can be proven by the existence of a legacy-legacy in the form of inscriptions and buildings of the temple as well as foreign literature, particularly literature-originating from China.
Indonesia especially in Java was not isolated at all from other advanced Buddhist development centres in India, Sri lanka, and China, before, during, and probably after Borobudur construction period. There were probably more two way communications going on among those countries at this early period than what the history might know about.
And also I would like to express about religions in Indonesia, Buddhist percentage of Indonesia, The Borobudur Temple, and also I would like to describe more about present situation of Buddhism in Indonesia, so first of all I am going to write about religions in Indonesia
Religions in Indonesia
  The religious systems found in Indonesia are comprised of a wide variety of beliefs with 90% of the population claiming to be Muslim. Indonesia is considered to be the largest Muslim country in the world; however, the Islam of Indonesia contains a myriad of current of beliefs, each with a slightly different set of beliefs and practices. There are also groups who practice forms of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity. There also exists a set of practices common to many of the religious currents which includes patterns of fasting, ascetic labor, communal meals, prayer for the dead, and the keeping of relics.
The State recognizes only 5 faith categories and each religion must fall under one of these in order to be legally practiced. These categories include:
  • Islam
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Protestantism
Since 90% of the population considers itself to be Muslim, practicing a different religion even one considered to be legal can be difficult. For instance, several church buildings, Buddhist building and other religions in Indonesia have had to be abandoned since the Muslim controlled local governing bodies would not allow building permits to be granted. This can also make converting from Islam to another religion difficult.
Buddhist percentage of Indonesia
Buddhism is the smallest of the official religions in Indonesia. Just only nearly about one percent of Indonesians are Buddhist. This religion came to Indonesia around the same time as Hinduism.
According to the 2000 national census, roughly 0.8% of the total citizens of Indonesia were Buddhists and numbered around 1.7 million. Most Buddhists are concentrated in Jakarta, although other provinces such as Riau, North Sumatra and West Kalimantan also have a significant number of practitioners. However, these totals are likely high, because practitioners of Confucianism and Taoism, which are not considered official religions of Indonesia, referred to themselves as Buddhists on the census. Today, most Buddhists in Indonesia are Chinese, however small numbers of native (such as Javanese) Buddhists are also present.
The Borobudur Temple
The magnificent Borobudur temple is the world’s biggest Buddhist monument, an ancient site widely considered to be one of the world’s seven wonders. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, the temple’s design in Gupta architecture reflects India's influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian. This awe inspiring monument is truly a marvel. People has remained strong even through ten centuries of neglect. It was rediscovered in 1815, buried under volcanic ash. In the 1970’s the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty The restoration took eight years to complete and today Borobudur is one of Indonesia and the world’s most valuable treasures.
Temples in Indonesia
There are many Buddhist temples in Indonesia, here I would like to show the name of Buddhist temples in Indonesia but it is hard to say how many temples in Indonesia because the number is now totally changed but here I just want to describe some temples that are very famous in Indonesia
Buddhist Colleges in Indonesia
·        Kertarajasa Buddhist College
·        Bodhi Dharma Buddhist College
·        Syailendra Buddhist College
·        Smaratungga Buddhist College
·        Jinarakkhita Buddhist College
Current Buddhism situation in Indonesia
Sri Lankan monks have been helping revive Theravada Buddhism in Bali, other parts of Indonesia, and Malaysia, where it had slowly died out by the end of the fifteenth century. This is on an extremely limited scale. Those showing interest in Bali are the followers of the traditional Balinese mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism and the local spirit religion, while in other parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, the audience is the overseas Chinese Mahayana Buddhist community. There are also some very small new Indonesian Buddhist sects that are hybrids of Theravada, Chinese and Tibetan aspects.
According to the Indonesian government's policy, all religions must assert belief in God. Although Buddhism does not assert God as an individual being and is therefore sometimes characterized as atheistic, it is officially recognized because of its assertion of Adibuddha. This is, literally, the "First Buddha," and is discussed in The Kalachakra Tantra, which had flourished in Indonesia a millennium ago. Adibuddha is the omniscient creator of all appearances, beyond time, words and other limitations. Although represented by a symbolic figure, he is not actually a being himself. Adibuddha is more abstract and is found in all beings as the clear light nature of the mind. On this basis Buddhism is accepted, along with Islam, Hinduism and the Catholic and Protestant forms of Christianity, as the five state religions of Indonesia.
Buddha bar in Jakata
Several Buddhist groups in Indonesia on march 2,2009 filed complaints over a recently opened Buddha-themed bar in central Jakarta, saying it insults Buddha's teachings and must be closed down.

An official of the Association of Indonesian Buddhist Councils told Kyodo News that a number of Buddhist organizations have filed official complaints with the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Home Affairs Ministry and the Tourism Ministry alleging the Buddha Bar is misusing Buddha's name.

''The name 'Buddha Bar' has humiliated and ruined the universal values taught by our great spiritual guru Buddha,'' the official said.

Gunabhadra Mahasthavira, chairman of the Buddhist group Sangha Mahayana Indonesia, slammed the use of Buddha's name and Buddhist symbols by the bar and other similar businesses.

''We call on Indonesian Buddhists to be careful of efforts by irresponsible groups to damage the unity between Buddhists and other religions,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Eko Nugroho, chairman of the Indonesian Buddhist Student Association, said his group and student groups from other religious backgrounds are considering filing a class-action lawsuit against the Jakarta authorities for issuing permits for the bar.

Nugroho told the English-language Jakarta Globe that the city administration has failed to follow the country's 1945 Constitution, under which Buddhism is protected.

A Buddhist would never permit anyone to take Buddha's name for commercial use, he was quoted as saying.

Jakarta late last year became the first city in Asia to host the Buddha Bar, which was originally established in Paris in 1996. Other franchises are located in Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Kiev, London, New York and Sao Paulo.
Ministry Orders Removal of Buddha Statue
And also scandal news for Indonesia Buddhist. Indonesia's commitment to promote religious tolerance has been questioned again after the Religious Affairs Ministry ordered a large Buddhist statue in the Tri Ratna Buddhist monastery  in Tanjungbalai, North Sumatra, to be taken down after some ‘hardliners’ in the area complained against its presence.
 Leaders and members from other churches were attacked by Muslim ‘fanatics' which led many people to observe that religious minorities are being harassed in Indonesia. Indonesia is the most populated Muslim nation in the world.
The problem in North Sumatra started after a number of people calling themselves GIB / Gerakan Islam Bersatu (United Islamic Movement) began to consider the Buddha statue in Tri Ratna a threat to Islamic faith in the city. They argued that the statue could upstage the city's historical symbol ‘Balai di Ujung Tanduk’ located in front of it. GIB's letter demanding the removal of the statue was published in a Buddhism discussion forum website.
A discussion thread was also created to give support to the appeal of the Buddhist monks to the local government.
Buddhism grows peacefully in our modern world, spreading only though reason and example, never by violence. Now in Indonesia, Buddhism is incredibly flourishing both sects Theravada and Mahayana tradition. We cannot denial that  Borobudur  is a big evidence and reason how Buddhism was developed and flourished in Indonesia in the past for many centuries. But now also begin to develop again Buddhism in Indonesia the efforts of Buddhist scholars and pious Buddhist people in Indonesia.
Although there are still many difficulties and challenges  to propagate Buddhism in non- Buddhist countries especially in Islamic countries, Buddhist leaders monks and people are trying to overcome these difficulties to expand the teaching of the Buddha and trying to set up the world with peace, happiness, and harmony with Buddhist teaching. We Buddhist deeply hope that one day the world would be very beautiful, and true happiness by decorating with Buddha teaching and not violence, and no conflicts, no riots any more.


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