Hindu religious conceptions.
The cultural effects of these commercial exchanges, usually described as
"Hinduization," have been discussed for many years. It is now held that Hinduism
was brought to Indonesia not by traders, as was formerly thought, but by Brahmans who
taught the Shaivite message of personal immortality. Sanskrit inscriptions, attributed to
the 5th and 6th centuries, have been found in eastern Kalimantan, a considerable distance
from the international trade route, and also in western Java. They reveal that Indian
literati, or their Indonesian disciples, were honoured in some royal courts. The rulers
were prominent rakas, heads of groups of villages in areas where irrigation and other
needs had brought into being intervillage relationships and supravillage authority. The
inscriptions, and also Chinese sources, indicate that some rulers were involved in warfare
and must have been seeking to extend their influence. The Shaivite Brahmans supervised the
worship of Shiva's phallic symbol, the lingam (linga), in order to tap the god's favours
on behalf of their royal patrons. These Brahmans were representatives of an increasingly
influential devotional movement (bhakti) in contemporary Indian Hinduism; they probably
also taught their patrons how to achieve a personal relationship with the god through
"austerity, strength, and self-restraint," in the words of one inscription from
Borneo. The rulers, therefore, were encouraged to attribute their worldly successes to
Shiva's grace; the grace was obtained through devotional exercises lovingly offered to
Shiva and probably regarded as the guarantee of a superior status in the life after death.
These Shaivite cults, marks of a privileged spiritual life, would have been a source of
prestige and royal authority.