Historians of Indonesia called classical period of the th to xv th century AD. During which were built, often at the same time and near each other, in Java and Sumatra , religious monuments belonging either to Buddhism or to Hinduism or sometimes presenting elements of both cults. For this reason, they also call this Hindu-Buddhist period .

The most striking illustration is the plain that surrounds the ancient royal cities of Surakarta and Yogyakarta in central Java , where there are both the Prambanan Shivaite temple and Buddhist monuments, which are more or less contemporary. The viii th to th century , two dynasties ruled the region, the Sailendra Buddhists who notably built the Borobudur Buddhist in plain Kedu , and Sanjaya Saiva.

This was also the situation in the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java . Witness a kakawin or poem Kawi (Old Javanese), the Sutasoma , written in xiv th century by the court poet Mpu Tantular, to the time of King Rājasanagara, better known under the name Hayam Wuruk . This poem advocates tolerance between followers of Buddhist and Shivaite cults , both present in the kingdom. The motto comes from the following quatrain:

  • Rwāneka dhātu winuwus Buddha Wiswa
  • Bhinneki rakwa ring apan kena parwanosen
  • Mangka ng Jinatwa kalawan Śiwatatwa tunggal
  • Bhinneka tunggal ika tan hana dharma mangrwa .

resulting in :

  • “Buddha and Shiva are two different principles.
  • They are indeed different, but how can we recognize it?
  • Because the truth of Jina (Buddha) and Shiva is a
  • Although divided, she is one and there is no confusion in the truth. “

Bhinneka Tunggal Ika “, improperly translated as “unity in diversity”, is also the motto of the Republic of Indonesia.

It seems that this coexistence goes back to the beginning of the Java indianization. Indeed, east of Jakarta in the area Karawang , where once stood the realm of Tarumanagara( th century ), are the remains of buildings as well Buddhist qu’hindouistes.

This situation also existed in Sumatra, where the city-state Buddhist Sriwijaya ( viii e  -  xiii th centuries ) was a vassal to the Hindu kingdom of Malayu .


  • Chihara, Daigorō. Hindu-Buddhist Architecture in Southeast Asia . Brill. 1996