Candi Shiva


The great temple of Shiva at Prambanan is the largest and principal temple at that complex; the Sanjayas of Mataram were primarily Shiva worshipers, although they also paid their respects to the other gods (Brahma, Vishnu) of the Trimurti.

Uniquely among the temples here, Candi Shiva has four, not one, directional entrances; this alone, even discounting its size, would be sufficient evidence for the primacy of Shiva worship here. Located in the temple, but not visitable in 2008, is the main statue of Shiva in the central cella, flanked by statues of Durga, Ganesha, and Agastya in the north, west, and south chambers respectively.

The stairs from ground level lead up to the body of the temple through imposing gates that are themselves fashioned like miniature shrines, as seen at the corners of this photograph. The balustrades are decorated with scenes from the Ramayana (see following pages), an oddity because Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu, not Shiva. Evidently here, as throughout Southeast Asia, the story of Rama became so culturally powerful from early times that it was appropriated in every possible context, even by rulers who owed their theological allegiance to Shiva rather than Vishnu.