Gayatri Rajapatni

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Although popularly believed that the East Javanese statue of Prajnaparamita was the personification of Ken Dedes, queen of Singhasari, other recent opinion suggested that it was probably the deified personification of Gayatri Rajapatni instead.

Gayatri Rajapatni (circa 1276?—1350) was the queen consort of Majapahit's founder and first king Kertarajasa Jayawardhana, and also the mother of Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi, the queen regnal of Majapahit. A devout Buddhist, she was the youngest daughter of Kertanegara, king of Singhasari. She was an influential figure within Majapahit inner palace and later in her life acted as the matriarch of Majapahit's Rajasa Dynasty. Tradition mentioned her as a woman of extraordinary beauty with exceptional charm, wisdom and intelligence.

Early life

Gayatri was raised as a princess in Tumapel palace, Kutaraja, the capital of Singhasari kingdom, East Java. Her name derived from Gayatri, the Hindu goddess personification of hymn and mantras. She was the youngest daughter of King Kertanegara. Her siblings are Tribhuwaneswari the oldest, Prajnaparamitha, and Narendra Duhita. Kertanegara did not have any son as his heir, instead he has four daughters, dubbed as the four Princesses of Singhasari. King Kertanegara was well known as a pious adherent of Tantric Buddhism, it is highly possible that Gayatri also exposed to Buddhism ideas and subsequently adhered the religion. Gayatri's eldest sibling, Tribhuwaneswari was betrothed to Prince Nararya Sangramawijaya (Raden Wijaya), still a relative of Kertanegara's extended family, and probably groomed to be his successor. According to tradition, Gayatri was mentioned as a keen and bright student in literature, social, political and religious matters.

In 1292 Gayatri witnessed the destruction of her home, the Singhasari kingdom, under the unsuspected attack of Jayakatwang, Duke of Gelang-gelang (Kediri). Yet she survived and escape unharmed from the burning palace, immediately discard her identity, hide and blend herself among the captured servants and slaves. His eldest sister, Tribhuwana, managed to escape and reunited with her husband, Raden Wijaya, while her other sisters, Prajnaparamitha, and Narendra Duhita, were captured by enemy forces and held as hostage in Kediri. For about a year she hide herself in Kediri palace posing as a servant.

George Coedes contends Raden Vijaya and Gayatri Rajapatni were married before the Jayakatwang revolt, during which she was killed.[1]:199

Raden Wijaya in 1293 cunningly using the aid of invading Mongol forces manage to destroy Jayakatwang forces in Kediri, and finally liberate Gayatri and rescued her captured sisters. Prince Nararya Sangrama Wijaya ascended to the throne in regnal name as King Kertarajasa Jayawardhana in November 1293, and established Majapahit kingdom. He took Gayatri as his wife, also Gayatri's sisters; Prajnaparamitha, and Narendra Duhita, concluding all of Kertanegara's daughters as his consorts. This action was probably motivated to strengthen his claim of throne as the sole successor of Kertanegara by removing possible contest of princesses suitors. Another opinion suggested that his marriage to Prajnaparamita and Narendra Duhita was just a formality, an act of compassion to safe the family's reputation, since it is probably during their captivity in Kediri, the two princesses suffered severe abuses and harassments that physiquely and psychologically scarred them beyond marriage.

Life as queen consort and queen dowager

Gayatri was one of King Kertarajasa's five wives. Other than Gayatri's three sisters, the Kertanegara's daughters princesses of Singhasari, Kertarajasa also took Dara Petak, the princess of Malayu Dharmasraya kingdom as his wife and named her Indreswari. Among these queens, only she and Indreswari bore Kertarajasa's children, while Tribhuwaneswari, Kertarajasa's first wife and other wives seems to be barren. Indreswari bore Kertarajasa a son and thus an heir, Jayanegara, while Gayatri bore him two daughters, princess Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi and Rajadewi. Tradition mentioned that Gayatri is Kertarajasa's favourite, thus earned her a new name "Rajapatni" or "Raja's (king's) consort or companion", praised the couple as a perfect match, as far as comparing the couple as the incarnation of celestial couple; Shiva and Parvati. She seems to take interest in Adityawarman, Jayanegara's cousin of Malayu Dharmasraya lineage. She carefully see through Adityawarman's education and career development, and became his sponsor and patron.

During the reign of her step son Jayanegara, Gayatri seems to take the role as dowager queen, as an influential matriarch figure of Majapahit inner circle within the palace. During this years she oversaw the rise of capable Gajah Mada's career, and probably become his sponsor, patron and protector, recruiting Gajah Mada into her daughter, Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi's side as a trusted officer.

Later life

At a certain point of time during the last years of Jayanegara's reign, Gayatri renounced her worldly affairs and retired as a Bhikkuni (Buddhist nun). After the death of Jayanegara in 1328, she was then the sole surviving elder of Majapahit royal family since her sisters and Indreswari all already died. Responsible for the succession of Majapahit throne, Gayatri appointed her daughter Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi to rule the kingdom on her behalf in 1329.

In 1350, Gayatri Rajapatni died in her vihara (monastery), subsequently Queen regnant Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi abdicated her throne in favor to her son Hayam Wuruk that ascended the throne in the same year. Her death marked the ascend of Hayam Wuruk to the throne since Tribhuwana Tunggadewi was only become queen regnant on behalf of Gayatri.

The Nagarakretagama written in 1365 by Prapanca during the reign of Hayam Wuruk, Gayatri's grandson, describe the elaborate and solemn Sraddha ceremony dedicated for the departed spirit of revered Gayatri Rajapatni. She was enshrined in several temples and posthumously portrayed as Prajnaparamita, the Mahayana Buddhist female boddhisattva of transcendental wisdom. Some inscription mentions the lofty offering and ceremony performed by Adityawarman and Gajah Mada to honor the spirit of late Gayatri Rajapatni, suggested that both men owed their career to Gayatri Rajapatni's patronage.

References

  1. ^ Cœdès, George (1968). The Indianized states of Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824803681. 
  • Drake, Earl. 2012. Gayatri Rajapatni, Perempuan di Balik Kejayaan Majapahit. Yogyakarta: Ombak
  • Drake, Earl. 2015. Gayatri Rajapatni: The Woman Behind the Glory of Majapahit. Penang: Areca Books.
  • Slamet Muljana. 2005. Menuju Puncak Kemegahan. Jakarta: LKIS
  • Slamet Muljana. 1979. Nagarakretagama dan Tafsir sejarahnya. Jakarta: Bhratara
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