Hindu-Buddhism of Candi Singosari

The idea that Candi Singosari has a Buddhist aspect is actually derived from a description of another East Javanese temple, Candi Jawi, in the Nagarakertagama. The text presents this temple, Jajawi, identified as the present Candi Jawi, as having a Shaivite lower part and a Buddhist upper part. The main chamber housed a statue of Shiva, but a small image of the Buddha Akshobhya was, according to the text, located higher up. Miraculously, the image disappeared when the temple was struck by lightning. Candi Jawi does not, however, have the same peculiar structure as Singosari. It is, as usual, composed of a base, a temple body and a roof.

The idea of a Buddhist aspect is supported by another passage in the Nagarakertagama, where it is written that King Kertanagara, who was a well-known follower of Esoteric Buddhism, was enshrined at Singosari in a Shiva-Buddha image (shivabuddharca). Translations of this part of the Nagarakertagama seem to suggest that the Shaiva and Buddhist aspects of the king were, however, merged into a single Shiva-Buddha image (shivabuddharca, an image of Buddha that is Shiva), which would not accord with the idea of two separate images.

However, shivabuddharca can also be translated as ‘images of Shiva and Buddha’ and thus could also refer to two separate images, one of Shiva (below) and one of Buddha (above). Nevertheless, there is no clear evidence that the text refers to Candi Singosari, and not to one of the other temples found in the village of Singosari. In theory, the text may refer to any of the structures. On the other hand, an inscription found to the north of Candi Singosari also alludes to King Kertanagara’s divine Shiva-Buddha (or Shiva and Buddha) status. It was found closer to this temple than to any of the other temple structures, which were located to the south of Candi Singosari.

As to the empty spaces above the main temple chamber, it should be noted that other temples sometimes have one such empty space. Comparable vaults are found in numerous Javanese temples, both in Central and in East Java, and their function seems to have been primarily practical: The presence of such an empty space reduces the pressure exerted by the superstructure on the corbelled vault topping the main temple chamber. On the other hand, in a number of temples such empty spaces have been found to contain ritual deposits, which could suggest that they had a specific symbolic meaning.