Friday, 15 January 2016

The Origin of The Sailendra Dynasty

The Sri Vijayan empire of South East Asia was once a superpower of the region. They controlled over 24,000 islands. This was once a very successful maritime empire. 

Prior to the establishment of Srivijaya, there were other kingdoms such as Tarumanegara and Kutei. Many of these kingdoms were influenced by Indian kingdoms such as the Pallavas and Kalingas. The people of the kingdom were local natives. This includes the royalties. But there were intermarriages with the people and royalties of India.

The Sri Vijayan empire was first mentioned by the Chinese traveller I-Tsing in 671 AD. The earliest record referring to the Sailendra dynasty in Indonesia are in inscriptions. It has a mix of Sanskrit, Javanese and Old Malay.

The oldest reference to the Sailendra dynasty in Indonesia is the Sojomerto Inscription dated around late 7th century AD to early 9th century AD. This is the oldest proof of the Sailendra dynasty in Sri Vijaya. 

The earlier Chinese (671 AD) record and Kedukan Inscription (683 AD) does not mention about the Sailendra dynasty although they speak about the kingdom. But the Kedukan Inscription spoke about a ruler with the name Dapunta Hyang who departed from Minanga Tamwan with 20,000 soldiers and conquered several places.

Some historians claim that this Dapunta Hyang is the same as Dapunta Selendra in the Sojomerto Inscription. Some disagree with it. The Sojomerto Inscription also mentioned the names of Dapunta Selendra's family members. Santanu was his father, Bhadrawathi was his mother and Sampula was his wife.

We can conclude that the name Sailendra or Selendra first appeared in Indonesia during the late 7th century only. If Santanu the father of Dapunta Selendra was the first king, then the rule of Sailendras began in the mid or late 7th century. i.e after 650 AD.

Prior to that, there were no Sailendras in Indonesia. It is generally accepted that they took over from the earlier Sanjaya Dynasty. The Sanjaya Dynasty were Hindus but the Sailendras were Buddhist. 

The kings of the much earlier Funan kingdom centred around the Mekong Delta were known as Sailaraja. There was also a dynasty in Kalinga known as Sailobhava. They existed before the Sailendras during 550-736 AD.

Saila is the Sanskrit word for hill or mountain. Indra or Raja refers to lord. The word Indra also refers to the Vedic deity Indra known as Devendra (Deva + Indra) as he was the lord of the Devas  in heaven. Sailendri refers to the Goddess Parvathi and her husband Shiva can also be addressed as Sailendra.

Before the kings of Funan or Srivijaya addressed themselves as Sailaraja or Sailendra, the Pandyan kings were also addressed as "Minankita Sailendra" which means the "Lord with the Fish Emblem". This is probably associated with Shiva because he is the main God of the Pandyas.

The Pandyans were known under several names. Malayan (Lord of Hill/Mountain), Thennavan (Southerner), Panchavan (The 5 Person) and a few others. Thennavan because they came from south. Panchavan because the Pandyans always rule with 5 kings with 1 king as the main king. 

They were known as Malayan because their original kingdom was further south of India in the remote past. It was known as Kumari and it comprised a chain of islands with many mountain peaks. The original Meru mountain is said to have existed here. Sangam literatures also speak about it.

The origin of the Indian kings is based on Itihasas like Ramayana and Mahabaratha, and the Puranas. According to Hindu tradition Manu son of Surya (Sun) was the progenitor of mankind. This is why humans are called manusha (Sanskrit), manushan (Tamil) or manusia (Malay).

During the Great Flood, Manu was saved by Vishnu in the form of Matsya Avatar (Fish). Manu then had 10 children. His son Ishvaku created the Suryavamsa (Sun lineage) named after his paternal grandfather Surya.

Ishvaku's sister Ila, married Buddha son of Chandra (Moon). That created the Chandravamsa. This means the Suryavamsa and Chandravamsa are cross cousins. 

As per Hindu tradition, major royal families in India originated from either the Suryavamsa or Chandravamsa. Later, other lineages like Nagavamsa, Agnivamsa and Indravamsa were created. Intermarriage with the same lineage is not allowed.

The Pandyas are Chandravamsa
The Cholas are Suryavamsa

The Pandyas of the Chandravamsa also intermarried with those from Indravamsa. For example, according to some version of the Mahabaratha, Arjuna married a Pandyan princess. 

Although Arjuna was the prince of Pandu and Kunti, his actual father was Indra himself. This is one of the earliest reference to marital alliance between the Chandravamsa and Indravamsa. 

There are then many legends of Pandyan king defeating Indra himself, taking away the armour of Indra with him and Indra refusing to give Pandya nation rain out of jealousy. 

There are also mentions of ancient festivals conducted in Pandyan nation in honour of Indra. It is known as Indra Vizha in Tamil. Then there are mentions of Indra offering worship to Siva in Pandyan country.

All these points to coexistence of Chandravamsa and Indravamsa in the Pandyan country much earlier than South East Asia. 

Earlier I mentioned that there was a dynasty in Kalinga named Sailobhava. The Pandyans and the Kalingans even had marital alliances. 

For example, when the Kalingan Prince Vijaya wanted to establish a colony in Sri Lanka, he married the daughter of the Pandyan king. Kalinga and the Pandyas had alot of interaction directly and also via Sri Lanka colonies.

One important thing which we need to understand here is regardless of the kingdoms, the origins of their dynasties be it Chandravamsa or Suryavamsa is as stated in the Hindu scriptures. It began in India and branched out into several royal families. These royal families maintained ties throughout the ages through marriage.

The royal vamsas then spread out to South East Asia. Some royal families in South East Asia, although they are part of a different race and religion today, trace their ancestries to these royal vamsas which began in India.

Pandyans were powerful between the 3rd century BC and 3rd century AD. Pandyan power declined after the 3rd century AD and this is because of the invasion by the Kalabhras. Then in the 6th century, together with the Pallavas, they defeated the Kalabhras and re-established themselves.

Kingdoms rise and fall. There were times the Pallavas were more powerful than the Pandyas allowing them to even spread their wings into South East Asia, then there were times the Pandyans were under the imperial Cholas. During such times, they will either live as feudatory or remain in exile. 

The Burmese historian, Prof Dr.Than Tun (6 April 1923-30 November 2005) mentioned that when the Funan forces withdrew from Pugama or Pugamadavara in 225 AD, the Mon forces and the Pandyas forces occupied it. It was then renamed as Pandya-Pura. It is presently known as Panthwa. ((Ref : Studies in Myanma history, Volume 1).  Dr.Than's works were banned when Burma (Myanmar) was under the Junta regime. He criticized the military regime for trying to hide the history of Myanmar and accused them of rewriting it in favour of them.

There is a dynasty in Assam known as the Ahom dynasty. They too trace their ancestry to Indravamsa. I am not sure if this Ahom dynasty is linked to the descendants of Pandyas who intermarried and mixed with the Mons in Burma 1000 years earlier. It has to be checked but possibilities are there.

The reason I wrote about the Pandyas and their link with those of Indravamsa is to show that there has been some sort of alliance or inter mingling between Chandravamsa and Indravamsa. The Sailendras could be an offshoot of this union. 

An inscription was discovered in Nalanda, Bihar. It was written in the year 860 AD. According to this inscription, the Sailendra ruler from Srivijaya, built a monastery in Nalanda. He was the son of Samaragriwa.

Samaragriwa's wife and Balaputra's mother named Tara was the daughter of Dharmasetu. According to the Nalanda inscription, Dharmasetu belonged to the Lunar race which is Chandravamsa.

We know that Parameswara, the founder of Malacca, belonged to the Sailendra dynasty. His descendants formed the Perak Sultanate. The Perak royalty can be divided into two houses. The first is the Malacca house. They were the direct descendants of Parameswara. This lineage ended in 1635.

Then in 1636, a scion from the Siak royal family in Aceh was crowned as the ruler of Perak. The Siak royal house is also known as Siak Sri Indrapura, meaning Siak City of Indra. 

I previously posted an article about the royal coronation of Perak. You can view it here

An account of the Malay "Chiri" : a Sanskrit formula by Maxwell, William Edward, Sir, 1846-1897

During the coronation, Sanskrit mantras are chanted. The ruler is addressed as Maharaja Indra Chandra Bhupati. This shows that the Perak royal family is of the Chandravamsa and Indravamsa ancestry. 

The Perak regalia contains an object known as Chap Halilintar or The Lightning Seal. Lightning or Thunder represents the Hindu god Indra. This seal was inherited from Parameswara and the image in the seal was previously known as Dewa Petir (Lightning God). After the Malacca rulers became Muslims, Arabic inscriptions were added on the seal.

I told you earlier that the Pandyans were also known as Minankita Sailendra. We know that the traditional emblem of the Pandyas is fish or to be specific, the double carp. But in the 7th century, the Pandyans had an additional emblem.

It was the thunder/lightning flag and this was mentioned about 3 times in the ancient Tamil literature known as Paandikovai by Nakkeerar (not the Nakkeerar who lived earlier). 

To add on, the Agastya cult was brought to Indonesia from India in the 7th century. The worship of Rishi Agastya is not popular among North Indians. It is popular among South Indians and it is associated with the Tamil Siddha Tradition. 

In Indonesia and Malaysia, Agastya is also addressed as Batara Guru (In some places Batara Guru is Shiva himself). In Perak, the Malay bomohs (shamans) often invoke Batara Guru when they perform their magic rituals. 

Agastya was also the kulaguru (family priest) of the Pandyas. This was mentioned not only in the Tamil Sangam literatures but also in the Chinnamanur Copper Plates.

So you see the link now?

References (Please ask me if you cannot find the resources mentioned)
Epigraphica Indiga. No.17-The Nalanda Copper-Plate of Devapaladeva by Hirananda Shastri: M.A, M.O.I Ootacamund
Kedukan Bukit Inscription (683 AD)
Sojomerto Inscription (late 7th century AD - early 9th century AD)
Kalasan Inscription (778 AD)
Pandikovai (Verse 219,307 and 325)
Madurai Tiruvilayadal Puranam
Chinnamanur Copper Plates
Shaman, Saiva and Sufi A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic, Chapter 2 Gods, Spirits and Ghosts by R. O. WINSTEDT

Note: This article was written to explain the origins of royal lineage. As time goes lineages gets passed into different races. Such process is known as "Dynastic Drift". It is the story about how the Y-DNA travels from a single male ancestor. Although some Malay royalties could trace their ancestry back to India it does not mean they are Indians today.

- Comments

1 comment:

  1. informative and solid ....hope sm ppl will understand that history juz cant changed ...