Theories of Indianization
Exemplified by Selected Case Studies from Indonesia (Insular Southeast Asia)
by Associate Prof. Dr. Helmut Lukas (Vienna, Austria)
Austrian Academy of Sciences, Commission for Social Anthropology
University of Vienna, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Ludwig Boltzmann Association, Institute for China and Southeast Asia Research, Vienna
This is a slightly revised version of a paper that appeared in Proceedings of Papers. "Sanskrit in Southeast Asia: The Harmonizing Factor of Cultures", International Sanskrit Conference, May 21-23, 2001. Sanskrit Studies Centre and Department of Oriental Languages, Silpakorn University (Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya Press): Bangkok 2003: 82-107
Too preoccupied with illustrating the influence of Brahmanism, Buddhism and Sanskrit in Southeast Asia most theories of „indianization“ seem to undervalue the „recipient“ cultures and societies. On account of a more or less marked „high culture-centrism“ Southeast Asian cultures and religions are measured with the classical expressions of Indian religions available in written records such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Purânas, Samhitas etc. Owing to this „high culture-bias“, these theories of indianization are insufficient to be able to explain the indianization of Southeast Asian societies as creative socio-cultural adaptations. Conditio sine qua non for a deep understanding of the dynamics, reasons and meanings of the indianization is a sound knowledge of Indian cultures and religions as well as an intimate knowledge of Southeast Asian societies, cultures and religions. The „anthropological approach of indianization“ advocated in this paper is illustrated by selected examples from Indonesia. In the center of interest, however, is the deification of rulers under the title Singamangaraja among the Toba-Batak, a tribal people in Sumatra, by means of adoption, transformation and adaptation of Indian concepts, seemingly a striking antithesis to the egalitarian structure of the kinship-based Toba-Batak society. Singamangaraja worshipped as incarnation of Batara Guru were divine kings going back to different sources of indianization, but at least partly deriving from very ancient traditions of sacral rulers.