A Buddhist Past…

19 Jul

A visit to the local muzeum was not really on the top of my to-do list. However, I found myself visiting it along with a bunch of my friends from Kechara as part of an educational visit arranged by H. E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. We are there not to soak in the culture of Malaysia as we are already Malaysians but to see relics of Malaysia's Buddhist past. 

Everybody knows that Malaysia is predominantly Muslim today but this was not so, over a thousand years ago. The Malay archipelago (which include Malaysia and the Indonesian islands) were then predominatly Hindu-Buddhist. Smaller and larger Malay kingdoms rose and fell throughout history. At that time, they were a thriving civilisation that were heavily influenced by India due to trade routes bringing Indian traders that have been ploughing through the region for over a millenia. 

Bandar Kuala Lumpur-20110714-00838
This ancient 8-armed Amoghapasha Avalokiteshvara statue is one of the few relics of that past. Its serene smile hints of the turbulent moments in history that only its bronze eyes have seen. Who commissioned this statue? Who prayed and made offerings to this this divine statue? 

We may never know as the muzium does not have much to say about it and have relegated it to prehistory of Malaysia. The muzium have very little artifacts from this period except a few scant pottery shards, beans and worn-out sculptures. There is little archelogical explanation which perhaps is reflective of today's prevalent belief system. This period is very much a past that seemed glossed over, unwanted and very much under-researched. 

Whatever it is, Hinduism and Buddhism arrived here and set the seeds of the local culture to germinate into the modern Malay culture. Perhaps, with this somewhat Tantric emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the earlier waves of Tantra may have arrived here much earlier as well. This statue is an exciting find and a very interesting clue to what Malaysia was like back then. 

And not only Malaysia but what the whole region was like, especially when Atisha arrived on the Indonesian Isles to study under the great Bodhichitta master, Serlingpa. I left the muzeum wishing there were most exhibits and explanations from this era of our history. 

2 Responses to “A Buddhist Past…”

  1. hire a web programmer July 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Marvelous pictures. Seems like the true spirit and heritage is clearly defined here.

  2. David Lai August 2, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Thank you. I am glad you like it.

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