I am very happy that my latest book providing a guide to some of the more important reliefs in the temples of Indonesia has just been published by Ehipassiko in Jakarta. This volume, entitled Avatāra, is a 170-page guide to the reliefs found at the three main Hindu temples in Prambanan, near Yogyakarta, which are the largest Hindu temples in the country.
The three temples are dedicated to Śiva, Viṣṇu and Brahmā, so it may seem odd that the reliefs concern two incarnations of Viṣṇu, those of Rāma (on the Śiva and Viṣṇu temples) and Kṛṣṇa (at the Brahmā temple). These however were popular stories in old Java, as they were in India.
The book complements my 5 volumes on the Borobudur reliefs, which were previously published by the same group. The guide is in both English and, thanks to Mr. Handaka Vijjānanda, in Indonesian.
Although Rāma’s story originates in the Hindu tradition it has been popular all across Buddhist societies in SE Asia, and is as well known as are many of the Buddhist stories in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia; it was previously very well known in Indonesia also, where it is still told in dance and puppet shows.
Kṛṣṇa’s story on the other hand is not so well known in Buddhist circles, but was very popular in ancient Indonesia, and a long retelling of the story was known in Old Javanese poetry.
The book is being promoted in two events, one at the Manohara Hotel in Borobudur, and one in the Prime Plaza Hotel in Yogyakarta, where it will be given free to tour guides so they are better able to explain the reliefs to visitors, both foreign and Indonesian.
At present the book will be made available to people in Indonesia as a matter of priority, but in around 6 months I will have permission to publish on my website http://bit.ly/PhD-Books where the other books from Borobudur are already available. All the photographs and text are also available on the same website at the following addresses: http://bit.ly/PhD-Rama and http://bit.ly/PhD-Krisna.