Hafiz Noor Shams, a Malaysian blogger based in the US has an interesting discussion about the Srivijaya empire on his blog, the__earthinc. The Hindu-Buddhist polity of Srivijaya was one of the greatest empires in the first millenium, with an influence over much of what is now Sumatra, Java and Malaysia. It played a key role in facilitating the trade between China and India. In several posts he talks about the primacy of the Melacca Sultanate over Srivijaya in Malaysian history texts (not an unfamiliar topic), and also about the Srivijaya’s raids on the Khmers. A sample of his posts are reproduced here:
A majority of Malays are content to look only as far as the Sultanate of Malacca in the 15th and the 16th century, apparently accepting the era as the golden age of ancient, classical or medieval Malay civilization. Thanks to the education I received through the Malaysian system, I had the same perception too and I do think even Malaysians as a society in one way or another accept Malacca was the greatest civilization in ancient, classical or medieval Malaysian history. My love for history has allowed me to delve far beyond Malaysian textbooks. While Malacca was a great empire, a greater civilization was Srivijaya, a empire that was almost forgotten. I truly believe that Srivijaya was that brilliant light that stayed bright from nearly a millennium. Malacca was a just spark, though brilliant as it may be.
Srivijaya was one of the greatest empires in the Malay Archipelago. It lasted for possibly about 1,000 years and had interacted with so many proud kingdoms that existed during its time. The Chinese civilizations were the source of Srivijaya richness through a tributary system, which gifts were exchanged between the courts of the two emperors. The exchange was not exactly free trade but it was trade nonetheless. In the east, there was the Chola of which the great Rajaraja was king. In most cases, the two outsiders exerted stronger influence on Srivijaya culturally, economically and politically though from time to time, Srivijaya exported culture to China due to it being the center of Buddhism outside of India. Apart from that, Srivijaya left a mark on one of the great kingdoms of Southeast Asia â€” the Khmer Empire.
Perhaps I shall write a short primer on Srivijaya… after I finish my Many places of Singapura series.
– Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
– Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz
– Sriwijaya: History, religion & language of an early Malay polity by G. CoedÃ¨s and L. Damais