Indonesia President, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued a Presidential regulation recently, which proclaims the Hindu Dharma State Institute (IHDN) in Denpasar, Bali into the first state Hindu University of Indonesia.
The University has been named Gusti Bagus Sugriwa State Hindu University (UHN), after Sugriva, a character from Hindu epic, Ramayana. The new University would “administer Hindu higher education programs” as well as other types of higher education programs with the object of supporting Hindu higher education programs.
With this regulation, all students of the erstwhile IHDN automatically stand converted into UHN students, and all assets and employees of what was IHDN University till now will vest in the UHN, the first state Hindu University established by Indonesia, the country with the highest Muslim population in the world.
IHDN rector I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana said, “The change in status has been declared through a Perpres and is just awaiting the handover from the central government. I am very happy and thankful.”
Sudiana also said, “Clearly this shows that President Jokowi has given special attention to Hindu educational institutions in Bali in order to improve the quality of our human capital.”
This move reaffirms that Indonesia, which despite having the highest Muslim population across all countries in the world, doesn’t live in an identity crisis by denying its past heritage and cultural Hindu roots.
In fact, last year a Hindu temple was restored in Indonesia after more than 1000 years. For the first time in more than 1100 years, the sanctification ceremony or the Abhishekam was performed at the Prambanan Temple complex, which is located between Sleman, Yogyakarta, and Klaten, Central Java.
The Prambanan Temple complex, constructed in the 9th Century AD, is one of the largest temples dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva around the world.
In fact, the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo is himself a Bhagwan Krishna follower. When asked about who is his favourite superhero, he had answered “Krishna”, recognising how the Chakra made Bhagwan Krishna very powerful and how the Hindu God also happens to be very wise. He had also iterated how Bhagwan Krishna is considered very powerful in Indonesia, the world’s largest Island country.
Who Is Your Superhero?
When asked to The President of Indonesia Joko Widodo, He said Lord Krishna!
Please watch the video. pic.twitter.com/vo4fznw9Zo
— Iskcon,Inc. (@IskconInc) August 18, 2019
In fact, what shows Indonesia’s deep connect with cultural Hinduism and how Indonesia glorifies its roots is the island country is the only country in the world which boasts of Bhagwan Ganesha on a currency note. Bhagwan Ganesha is inscribed on the 20,000 rupiah note of Indonesia.
— TANUJJ GARG (@tanuj_garg) September 4, 2019
Interestingly, 87.2 per cent population of Indonesia is Muslim, while only 1.7 per cent population is that of Hindus. However, this has not stopped Indonesia from acknowledging its Hindu past and identity, something that even a Hindu-majority India has failed to accept and acknowledge due to domestic issues and vested political interests, finding it detrimental to acknowledge the country’s Hindu roots.
The island country’s Hindu roots date back to the first Century and certain aspects of Hindu culture have now become an intrinsic part of the Indonesian culture. The Arjuna Wijaya statue is a historic landmark at the Jakarta square. Moreover, Bhagwan Hanuman is the official mascot of the country’s military intelligence. Similarly, the Bandung Institute of Technology, a state research university in the country, has Bhagwan Ganesha as its logo.
Last year, the 120-metre-tall Garuda Wisnu (Vishnu) statue was inaugurated in the month of August. This again represents how Indonesia acknowledges its Hindu culture, identity and past. This also happens to be the reason why Sanskrit words and phrases still resonate in Indonesia. The motto of the Indonesian Navy is, for example, Jalesveva Jayamahe, which translates as “at sea we are victorious”.
Back here in the sub-continent, Pakistan has virtually deleted its Hindu past, in an attempt to indoctrinate the people of its country and to establish Islamism firmly. Historic temples have been ransacked as the dominant Islamist elements abhor their cultural Hindu past. This is what has caused an identity crisis for Islamabad.
Indonesia, on the other hand, another country with an overwhelming Muslim-majority, doesn’t want to get rid of its cultural Hindu past. Jakarta doesn’t believe in deracination. It is not as if Islamic radicalisation is not an issue in Indonesia. In fact, the island country’s moderate Islam is falling apart, giving way to radicalism. But notwithstanding such obstacles, Indonesia continues to acknowledge its Hindu past and identity.