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Learn About Indonesian Sanskrit Names: History and Examples

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Have you ever come to Indonesia? Or do you have Indonesian friends? If yes, named it!

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Most of Indonesian named their children with Sanskrit names like Adi, Widya, Bayu, Devi, Mira. It so rare to see an Indonesian with western name like George, Catherine, Mark, Smith. Do you want to know why?

Indonesian name usually use Sanskrit name because of its history with India and the influence of Hinduism. In this article, there will be a slight history about Indonesian ancient and how it influenced Indonesian names.

Indonesian Sanskrit Names History 

On decades ago, when Indonesia still a mere-island with animism and dynamism belief, Hinduism reached the archipelago and it was well received in Indonesia. There are four big theories about how  Hinduism spread in Indonesia: First, Vaishya’s theory said that Hinduism spread because of the marriage of Hindustan merchants and Indonesian people. Second, Kshatriya’s theory that said war-losing soldier from India come to Indonesia to solace themselves. Third, Brahmin’s theory which said that the missionaries spread to every island in Indonesia and taught Hinduism to indigenous people. And the last, Bhumiputera’s theories that said the religion was spread from Indonesian people that has traveled to Hindustan.

All those theories lead to one conclusion that Hinduism had spread through Indonesia and influenced Indonesian people.There are many things that changed after Hinduism spread. Indonesian people being known of God, prayers, and so on. Because of that, Indonesian also build some temples and literate. Indonesian learned how to write and read the holy book in Sanskrit language. Some of Indonesian also named their children with Sanskrit names that they had learned before as they know the meaning of it. It can be said that the Sanskrit language is the first modern language in Indonesia.

Sanskrit language cover many aspects of religion, art, scientific, and everyday life. It has its own character and symbol. In Java, this language often mixed with traditional language at daily life, however this didn’t change the big influence of Sanskrit language.

Here are a few examples of Sanskrit name and it’s meaning in Indonesian language:

  • Based on God or Heroes: Krisna, Wisnu, Rama, Sita, Sri
  • Based on things: Surya, Aditya and Mitra that means sun
  • Based on other: Wibisono, Wijaya, Aryo and many others

Even Though, Hinduism are no longer the major religions of Indonesia, the sanskrit language still remain and use until know as it has become culture in Indonesia. Not only to name a person, the sanskrit language also used to named Indonesian government institution and mottos just like “Laksamana” that taken from “laksman”, a younger brother of Rama. Or in motto, there are sanskrit motto in Indonesian Military Army called Adhitakarya Mahatvavirya Nagarabhakti which means Study gallant to be applied for the glory of the nation and state. Also check out about Sanskrit Words in Indonesian Language

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Sanskrit names also used as in contemporary medal of honor and awards, such  Bintang Mahaputra Medal, Kalpataru award and Adipura award. Bintang Mahaputra medal is an highest civilian star that issued to members of military corps. This star is given to those who have contributed extraordinarily to the military as well. Kalpataru awards is taken from sanskrit kalpavriksha which means the tree of life. This is an award given to individuals or group for their service in preserving the  environment. While Adipura awards is an award for cities in Indonesia that are success in maintain the cleanliness and urban environmental. Also check out about Indonesian High Context Culture

Another example of Sanskrit names are the name of Indonesia’s president. The first president of Indonesia. Mr. Sukarno is using Sanskrit name Su means good and Karno is taken from Mahabharata that means warrior. So Mr. Soekarno’s name means good warrior. It is same like Mr. Suharto, Su means good and harto means wealth. So, Mr Soeharto name means good wealth. Another example is Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former president of Indonesia. Susilo comes from sushila that mean good character. Bambang in Java language means Warrior and Yudhoyono comes from yudha with meaning war. So Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono means Warrior in Battle with good character. Some of sanskrit names still used by noble families especially among Sundanese and Javanese even until now. Some names like notonegoro, adiningrat dharmokusumo, wongsoatmodjo used to characterizing the noble family. Also check out about Indonesian Sayings about Family with English Translation.

Since Islam influence on 13th century, some name in Indonesia also get influenced by Islamic culture. Some parents named their children with Islamic touch like muhammad, fatimah, zahra, or another Arabic notion. However, the Sanskrit language still remained the same. Indonesian has some attached series with Sanskrit languages and still use it to name everything. Also check out about Learn Indonesian Words for Family Members

Indeed, that’s all about the Indonesian Sanskrit names that you need to learn!

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