THE TWO PRIMARY BUDDHIST MONUMENTS of Śailendra Java, Candi Sewu and Borobudur, are impressive but, as little is known about their genesis or ultimate meaning, mute and historically uninformative. On the other hand, as this essay will attempt to show, there is an important and fascinating dynamic locked in the architecturally unremarkable lithic remains on the southern end of the Ratu Boko prominence, a dynamic which is of much greater importance than either Sewu or Borobudur to both Buddhist sectarian history as well as the history of Bauddha-Śaiva relations.
The primary goal of this chapter is to examine the relationship between two chronologically and thematically distinct sets of lithic structures and inscriptions at the southern end of the Ratu Boko promontory in Central Java. The first set of structures is Buddhist and relates to an ad 792 Śailendra foundation inscription (Fig. 14.1) that explicitly identified the occupants as Sinhalese monks of the renowned Abhayagirivihāra. The specific identification of these Sinhalese monks as paṁsukūlika, literally ‘rag-wearers’, is inferred by the telltale presence of their seemingly signature architecture, the double-platform structure. The second set of structures and artefacts is Śaiva in character, and was erected around 856 by a cultivated Javanese blue blood, the raka of Valaing pu Kumbhayoni, one of whose several Gunung Kidul inscriptions mentions him to have once reigned over some kingdom, although obviously not in Central Java itself. Despite the vast acreage of open terrace available on the plateau, Kumbhayoni's Śaiva structures were erected in remarkably tight proximity to the Abhayagiri structure, with sacred Śaiva architecture, inscriptions, and emblems placed just metres from the prākāra walls and surrounding them on at least three sides.
This chapter seeks to explicate these archaeological facts and offer a plausible narrative about how the Bauddha and the Śaiva intersected in 856 on that small patch of Central Java. I conclude that it is difficult to discern any evidence that Kumbhayoni's Śaiva symbology was intended to promote rather than thwart the Abhayagiri group, but rather represented a deliberate attempt to stamp a countervailing Śaiva presence on the plateau.