Indonesia Update #6: Borobadur & Prambanan

As of today, our group has safely transitioned from Borneo to the last leg of their journey in Bali.   However, information getting across to this side of the world is delayed somewhat due to internet access and bandwidth limitations.  We hope to have Borneo stories and photos to share soon.  For now, here are some photos and narratives about the two temples visited by Explorations Academy students on their last day on Java:  Borobadur, a Buddhist temple, and Prambanan, a Hindu temple, both majestic stoneworks built roughly twelve centuries ago, and only about twenty miles apart.  (Can you tell which of the temples each picture represents?)IMG_1951

Tim writes:
Prambanan was one of the most spectacular visual experiences of my life. Not only was each structure huge, like the presence of a mountain, they were also each beautiful architecturally. One never saw any depiction of artwork on stone repeated. The walls radiated  with heat from the sun, and the inner rooms smelled like years and years of mildew and the many things that have made there way inside, including humans. What Prambanan represented to its creators was an extreme connection to the divine, and the power of this faith is conveyed easily to all that witness Prambanan.
IMG_1947Personally, upon learning about Prambanan and then seeing it, I perceived a connection between the land and the spirituality of the builders. This was because of our guides explanation that Prambanan was built to appease the gods, specifically, Shiva the god of destruction, the bringer of eruptions, tsunamis, and all natural disasters. I know that without the guide I would not have had the same experience or gained as much knowledge. Instead of just a visual spectacle, I was able to appreciate a bit of what Prambanan meant to its original Hindu builders.
Sequioia writes:
IMG_1944Borobadur is breathtaking in the sunrise. Everyone knows that. This is the largest Buddhist monument in existence, possibly ever. It’s true, it even says so on the postcards! Borobadur is a story as well, a documentation (likely embellished) of the life and times of Gautama Buddha. There are no words, only pictures, thus transcending the limits of communication imposed by language. Everything is symbolism, even as one ascends the structure, one is surrounded by depictions of less and less worldly happenings until the architecture itself loses physical intricacy and is reduced to only the barest forms, depicting the transition from the false beauty of the material world to the perfection of simplicity revealed in the land of enlightenment.
photo[13]I stood near the top and felt quite calm, at ease. Everything was quiet, and everything was perfect. Then a bunch of tourists came out of nowhere and started taking selfies with me because I’m white. Being Indonesian tourists, I don’t even think that they were there for the monument, because it’s right on the edge of town so they’ve probably seen it a whole bunch. They were just there to look at the Western tourists. Whatever.  At least they were better than the white fake-spiritual people who were in a pack walking around really slowly doing some energy healing — I don’t even know. Like they’re super special, like Buddha is about to pop out of the rock and say “Wow, great job, you’re super-conscious and not at all incredibly obnoxious.”  They were in tank tops too, which is pretty offensive to Muslims, and Indonesia is, in fact, the most populous Muslim country in the world. I’m trying to not be super judgmental all the time and I realize that this was definitely judgmental, but it really knocked over my snowman. That’s all. Also the monument was super sacred and left me feeling great the whole rest of the day and week, so I am definitely grateful for that.
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