The Storm that Darkened the Entire World:
Did a Tsunami Strike Java and Sumatra During Ancient Times? (cont.)
By Dr. Caesar Voûte and Mark Long
Like A Phoenix Arising From The Ashes
The Javanese have traditionally regarded the occurrence of natural catastrophes as a sure sign that the "magic powers" (kasekten) of the ruler had diminished to such an extent that he no longer possessed the inner strength to unite all cosmic forces within his own person. As the sociologist Franz Magnis-Suseno has pointed out, natural calamities were inevitably interpreted as an indication that a change of ruler was immanent. Moreover, such events were believed to herald an ensuing period of unrest, a so-called "crazy time" (jaman edan) that would only come to an end when a "just king" (ratu adil) finally appeared to restore order, peace and prosperity. It would only have been natural for the region's rulers to have recalled tales concerning "the storm that darkened the entire world" and then taken the necessary steps to ensure that the kingdoms they built would not suffer the same tragic consequences.
The archaeologist Daigoro Chihara has distinguished two different phases of Southeast Asia's integration of Hindu-Buddhist culture: an early period in which most buildings were constructed out of wood and bamboo and a later period characterized by remarkable developments with respect to the use of stone. It is entirely possible that the advent of stone structures represent a logical human response for ensuring that religious shrines and other important structures would be able to withstand future catastrophic events. This might help to account for the abrupt change in the history of Central Java, which featured the emergence of royal dynasties that heavily invested in the construction of stone monuments such as the Borobudur as well as a great number of other magnificent Hindu and Buddhist temples.
The earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis that have occurred throughout the entire Indian Ocean zone for millennia have been very unevenly distributed with respect to both time and location, which makes their prediction very difficult. However, governments from around the world are now taking recent events to heart and embracing measures which will ensure that the tragic loss of life that occurred on 27 December 2004 will not be repeated. It is for this reason that UNESCO, acting on behalf of the United Nations, has decided to establish a Tsunami Observation and Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean region, similar to the Tsunami Observation and Early Warning System established a few decades ago for the Pacific Ocean region, which has its international coordination center on the island of Hawaii.
Born in the city of Magelang on Java, Dr. Caesar Voûte is Professor Emeritus of the International Institute for Aerospace Surveys and Earth Sciences (ITC) in The Netherlands. As a specialist in the fields of hydrogeology and engineering geology, Dr. Voûte served as UNESCO's manager in residence during the early stages of the Borobudur Reconstruction Project. Mark Long is the author of a dozen books on science and technology subjects as well as the Webmaster of Borobudur.tv online. Voûte and Long are also the co-authors of Borobudur: Pyramid of the Cosmic Buddha to be published by D.K. Printworld of New Delhi.