In Indonesia, due to muslim influence, believes in an "Esa" God is one of the founding principle of Indonesians.

The words "Esa" in Indonesia can mean many things. Some says it means one (as in islam), or united (as in christianity) or comprehensive (according to my hindu friends).

It seems that whoever wrote "Ketuhanan yang maha esa" wants to unite Indonesians under some open to interpretation terms.

The buddhists in Indonesia then have this concept of Sang Hyang Adi Buddha which they called is "God"

Is it?

What is it?

Is it God? I thought God is more like Bakka Brahma in Buddha.

Is this just Indonesian thingy or is it common among buddha?

In that wikipedia article I found a strange paragraph

“Ketahuilah Para Bhikkhu, Ada sesuatu Yang Tidak Dilahirkan, Yang Tidak Menjelma, Yang Tidak Tercipta, Yang Mutlak. Wahai para Bhikkhu, apabila Tidak ada Yang Tidak Dilahirkan, Yang Tidak Menjelma, Yang Tidak Diciptakan, Yang Mutlak, maka tidak akan mungkin kita dapat bebas dari kelahiran, penjelmaan, pembentukan, pemunculan dari sebab yang lalu. Tetapi para Bhikkhu, karena ada Yang Tidak Dilahirkan, Yang Tidak Menjelma, Yang Tidak Tercipta, Yang Mutlak, maka ada kemungkinan untuk bebas dari kelahiran, penjelmaan, pembentukan, pemunculan dari sebab yang lalu."

I have no idea what Udana Nikaya (VIII: 3) is. I wish we have something like biblehub for buddhism. Let me translate that to English.

Know Bhikkus, Something is not born, something doesn't manifest, something isn't created, something is absolute. Hi Bhikkus, if nothing is not unborn, not manifested, not created, not absolute, then we cannot be free from birth, manifestation (or incaranation/reincarnation), forming, and resulting out of previous causes. But Bhikkus, because something is not born, not manifested, not created, not resulting from previous cause, then there is a possibility to be free from birth, manifestation, forming, and resulting from previous causes.

Any Indonesian can say that my translation is about right. Am I?

  • Did you read the Wikipedia article you linked to? Isn't it clear, and doesn't it answer your questions?
    – ChrisW
    Mar 25, 2018 at 10:42
  • I do not see any english version that fit with the indonesian article. Also most european countries do not have monotheism as one of it's country principle. Hence, it's politically correct to portray buddhism as another monotheistic religions in, and only in, Indonesia
    – user4951
    Mar 25, 2018 at 14:21
  • So it's OK to answer this question (in English) with a summary of what the Wikipedia article says.
    – ChrisW
    Mar 25, 2018 at 14:25
  • Or you can read Indonesian, have read the Wikipedia article, and don't need an English-language summary of it? It seemed to me that the article already contains the answers to your original questions.
    – ChrisW
    Mar 25, 2018 at 14:34
  • You can find Udana 8.3 in English here. It's a description of Nibbana, and not Buddha.
    – ruben2020
    Mar 25, 2018 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia, Indonesia has an official state policy policy/philosphy called Pancasila i.e. "Five Precepts" (which are not the same as the "Five (lay) precepts" of Buddhism).

  1. Belief in the One and Only God (in Indonesian "Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa"),
  2. A just and civilized humanity (in Indonesian "Kemanusiaan Yang Adil dan Beradab"),
  3. A unified Indonesia (in Indonesian "Persatuan Indonesia"),
  4. Democracy, led by the wisdom of the representatives of the People (in Indonesian "Kerakyatan Yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan Perwakilan")
  5. Social justice for all Indonesians (in Indonesian "Keadilan Sosial bagi seluruh Rakyat Indonesia").

My guess (I don't know) is that the first precept is designed to prevent sectarian conflict (if there's one and only one God, then hopefully people shouldn't fight about whose God is which and so on).

My reading of Wikipedia is that, for Buddhism to exist with that (Indonesan) context, in must fit in with those precepts, and therefore:

Sanghyang Adi Buddha is a concept of God in Buddhism in Indonesia. This term was used by Ashin Jinarakkhita at the time of Buddhist revival in Indonesia in the mid 20th century to reconcile the first principle of the official philosophical foundation of Indonesia (Pancasila), i.e. "KeTuhanan Yang Maha Esa" (lit. "Recognition of the Divine Omnipotence") that requires the belief in a supreme God, with Buddhism which strictly speaking does not believe in such monotheistic God.

I guess one way in which the Buddha might be like God is that the Buddha advises humans on what laws to follow?

I don't know how else it's interpreted (I expect there are other interpretations).

I have no idea what Udana Nikaya (VIII: 3) is. I wish we have something like biblehub for buddhism.

https://suttacentral.net/ might be like what youre looking for, i.e. it has translations in many languages of many suttas.

Here is

Note that that sutta is talking about "Nibbāna", not about the Buddha; but the suttas teach that Nibbāna is the state which the Buddha attained.

All this time I thought the essence of Buddhism is that nothing is permanent. And yet here, Buddha says that something is permanent.

Buddhism teaches that all sankharas (all "conditioned things") are impermanent.

Nibbāna is an exception to that rule (not included in that rule), becase Nibbāna is unconditioned (these these topics for further details about "unconditioned").

Also some schools of Buddhism de-emphasise the importance of Nibbāna. Wikipedia's Nirvana (Buddhism) -- Mahayana aticle says,

The Mahayana (Great Vehicle) tradition envisions an attainment beyond nirvana, namely Buddhahood. [...] The Mahayana path aims at a further realization, namely Buddhahood or nonabiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvana. A Buddha does not dwell in nirvana, but engages actively in enlightened activity to liberate beings for as long as samsara remains.

It seems that this concept is only popular in Indonesian buddhism. Are other buddhist in other countries have monotheistic beliefs too?

Some schools of Buddhism seem to me to be a bit like theistic beliefs -- see Pure Land Buddhism for example.

Some schools seem polytheistic (with many Buddhas, or at least many manifestations of Buddha).

And some schools are polytheistic but may de-emphasise the importance of "gods", and explain for example that a god, too, even a god (or, a god's time/existence in a divine realm) is temporary.

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