The Legacy of the Majapahit Kingdom: A Blend of Cultures and Faiths

The Majapahit Kingdom, established by Raden Wijaya, rose to its pinnacle under the leadership of Hayam Wuruk, with the assistance of Gajah Mada. This empire’s influence extended across nearly the entire Indonesian archipelago, reaching even the Malay Peninsula. As a consequence, the kingdom left behind a rich array of artifacts and monuments. Alongside numerous temples and inscriptions, Majapahit also bestowed upon posterity several literary works, such as Negarakertagama and Sutasoma. Moreover, the kingdom’s footprint is also evident in the form of the Trowulan Site, often referred to as the heart of Majapahit.

The majority of temples from the Majapahit era are dedicated to Shiva, with only a few devoted to Buddhism, as noted by Hariani Santiko in “Religion and Religious Education in the Majapahit Era,” published in Amerta, Journal of Archaeological Research and Development (Vol. 30, No. 2, 2012). However, remnants from the Majapahit era also reveal a close connection with Islam. One such example is the Troloyo Tomb Complex, located to the south of Trowulan. The discovery of gravestones in Troloyo is evidence of Islamic trade relations with Majapahit in the 14th century, the peak of Majapahit’s power, as written by Uka Tjandrasasmita in Archaeology of Islamic Nusantara (2009, p. 53) based on Louis-Charles Damais’ writings (1955).

Aside from the Hindu and Buddhist communities, the late Majapahit era also saw the emergence of Islamic followers. Initially scattered around the coastal areas, especially the north coast of Java, which hosted bustling ports frequented by traders, these Islamic communities began to grow. According to some theories, traders from Gujarat, Arabia, Persia, and China played a significant role in spreading Islam to Indonesia. The relationship between Islam and Majapahit began with trade relations, gradually influencing various aspects of Majapahit’s life, as Muhammad Chawari outlined in “The Influence of Islam as One of the Causes of the Decline of the Majapahit Kingdom,” published in the Journal of Archaeology (Vol. 13, No. 2, 1993).

Islam’s influence extended to social, cultural, and governmental aspects of Majapahit’s life. Besides trade, marriage also served as a gateway for Islam in Majapahit. One notable result of these unions was the birth of a figure known as the founder of the Demak Kingdom, Raden Patah, the son of Majapahit’s King, Kertabhumi, and a Chinese princess known as Dewi Kian.

The presence of Islamic burial sites near Trowulan indicates the existence of an Islamic community living near the center of Majapahit in the past. Uka Candrasasmita (2009, p. 76) notes, “The tolerance of this kingdom (Majapahit) is evidenced by the acceptance of Muslim traders who were also given a special place to live in Troloyo, in the capital of Trowulan.”

The Troloyo Tomb Complex contains several groups of tombs. Muhammad Chawari mentioned four groups of tombs in “The Phenomenon of Islam in the Greatness of the Majapahit Kingdom,” published in the book Majapahit: City Limits and Traces of Its Glory (2014). These tombs, with their Arabic inscriptions, are a testament to the blend of cultures and faiths that characterized Majapahit.

In conclusion, the Majapahit Kingdom stands as a testament to the rich cultural and religious diversity that has shaped Indonesia’s history. Its legacy, reflected in the remnants of temples, inscriptions, and the Troloyo Tomb Complex, highlights the interplay of Hindu-Buddhist and Islamic influences, showcasing Indonesia’s unique heritage.