Shiva Temples Nataraja Kshatriya Sects The Cham Vietnamese

Santana Dharma,Hinduism made earlier inroads into Vietnam,

Shiva Linga in Vietnam.jpg
Ancient Vedic Cham Vietnamese Shiva Linga at the My Son Temple Complex, Vietnam


Vietnam was the home to a vibrant Vedic civilization. Many spectacular temples and sculptures still remain to this day . Vedic Deities such as Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and minor Deities were widely worshiped. Buddhism also has a certain role in Cham people, but Shiva sect has always been considered as the national religion. According to the statistics of Palumus, in total of 128 steles found out in Cham Pa , there were 92 ones of Shiva sect and Deities of Shiva sect, 3 ones of Vishnu sect, 5 ones of Brahma sect and 7 ones of Buddhism.

Nataraja In Vietnam.jpg
Nataraja In Vietnam.


The Balamon Hindu Cham people of Vietnam consist of 70% Kshatriyas (pronounced in Vietnamese as “Satrias”). Although Balamon make up only 25% of the overall Cham population (the other 75% are Muslims or Cham Bani). These Balamon Kshatriyas claim to be the descendants of the Champa Empire.”..

The kings built temples of all the three chief Deities of Hinduism, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

The kings date back to 7 Century AD, but Hinduism had been there much  earlier.

The Cham were Hindus for most of their history. They embraced Buddhism in the 10th and 11th centuries and made some great art for that faith. But the Hindu god Shiva was usually their most honored deity.

Cham people called themselves Satriya.

Royal archives of Panduranga, Vietnam.jpg
Royal archives of Panduranga, Vietnam. Seal with Sanskrit characters. image source: Hindu-Buddhist Art of Vietnam: Treasures from Champa – By Emmanuel Guillon

Nataraja was also worshiped.

“Cham Hinduism had more depth than partying out. An early Cham king, Bhadravarman (5th century), identified himself with one of the gods that Shiva manifested as, Bhadreshvara.

Cham kings erected temples that housed Shiva lingas. These symbols embodied ideas of the great god’s power to create and destroy–as Nataraja, he creates and destroys the universe–don’t shimmy too close to him! The linga also resonated with Southeast Asians’ own ideas about the land’s power to generate life. So this easily replicated art form fused both cultures’ ideas of nature’s powers.

Khmer kings also worshiped Shiva with temples that housed lingas early in their history  (see The Bakong). But Khmers built temples with whopping size. Champa’s people kept theirs small and exquisitely proportioned and decorated (see yesterday’s post on Champa). The pic above is from the ruins of Temple B1 in My Son. It was built in the 11th century and bombed in the last century (humans wield the most destructive forces). Its single room with an altar in the middle is the most common Cham temple form–a huge contrast with Angkor Wat.


Vedic Empire


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