Gayatri Rajapatni (circa 1276?—1350) was the queen consort of
Majapahit's founder and first king Kertarajasa Jayawardhana, and also
the mother of Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi, the queen regnal of
Majapahit. A devout Buddhist, she was the youngest daughter of
Kertanegara, king of Singhasari. She was an influential figure within
Majapahit inner palace and later in her life acted as the matriarch of
Majapahit's Rajasa Dynasty. Tradition mentioned her as a woman of
extraordinary beauty with exceptional charm, wisdom and intelligence.
1 Early life
2 Life as queen consort and queen dowager
3 Later life
Gayatri was raised as a princess in Tumapel palace, Kutaraja, the
Singhasari kingdom, East Java. Her name derived from
Hindu goddess personification of hymn and mantras. She
was the youngest daughter of King Kertanegara. Her siblings are
Tribhuwaneswari the oldest, Prajnaparamitha, and Narendra Duhita.
Kertanegara did not have any son as his heir, instead he has four
daughters, dubbed as the four Princesses of Singhasari. King
Kertanegara was well known as a pious adherent of Tantric Buddhism, it
is highly possible that
Gayatri also exposed to
Buddhism ideas and
subsequently adhered the religion. Gayatri's eldest sibling,
Tribhuwaneswari was betrothed to Prince Nararya Sangramawijaya (Raden
Wijaya), still a relative of Kertanegara's extended family, and
probably groomed to be his successor. According to tradition, Gayatri
was mentioned as a keen and bright student in literature, social,
political and religious matters.
Gayatri witnessed the destruction of her home, the Singhasari
kingdom, under the unsuspected attack of Jayakatwang, Duke of
Gelang-gelang (Kediri). Yet she survived and escape unharmed from the
burning palace, immediately discard her identity, hide and blend
herself among the captured servants and slaves. His eldest sister,
Tribhuwana, managed to escape and reunited with her husband, Raden
Wijaya, while her other sisters, Prajnaparamitha, and Narendra Duhita,
were captured by enemy forces and held as hostage in Kediri. For about
a year she hide herself in Kediri palace posing as a servant.
George Coedes contends Raden Vijaya and
Gayatri Rajapatni were married
Jayakatwang revolt, during which she was killed.:199
Raden Wijaya in 1293 cunningly using the aid of invading Mongol forces
manage to destroy
Jayakatwang forces in Kediri, and finally liberate
Gayatri and rescued her captured sisters. Prince Nararya Sangrama
Wijaya ascended to the throne in regnal name as King Kertarajasa
Jayawardhana in November 1293, and established
Majapahit kingdom. He
Gayatri as his wife, also Gayatri's sisters; Prajnaparamitha, and
Narendra Duhita, concluding all of Kertanegara's daughters as his
consorts. This action was probably motivated to strengthen his claim
of throne as the sole successor of
Kertanegara by removing possible
contest of princesses suitors. Another opinion suggested that his
Prajnaparamita and Narendra Duhita was just a formality,
an act of compassion to safe the family's reputation, since it is
probably during their captivity in Kediri, the two princesses suffered
severe abuses and harassments that physiquely and psychologically
scarred them beyond marriage.
Life as queen consort and queen dowager
Gayatri was one of King Kertarajasa's five wives. Other than Gayatri's
three sisters, the Kertanegara's daughters princesses of Singhasari,
Kertarajasa also took Dara Petak, the princess of Malayu Dharmasraya
kingdom as his wife and named her Indreswari. Among these queens, only
she and Indreswari bore Kertarajasa's children, while Tribhuwaneswari,
Kertarajasa's first wife and other wives seems to be barren.
Indreswari bore Kertarajasa a son and thus an heir, Jayanegara, while
Gayatri bore him two daughters, princess Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi
and Rajadewi. Tradition mentioned that
Gayatri is Kertarajasa's
favourite, thus earned her a new name "Rajapatni" or "Raja's (king's)
consort or companion", praised the couple as a perfect match, as far
as comparing the couple as the incarnation of celestial couple; Shiva
and Parvati. She seems to take interest in Adityawarman, Jayanegara's
cousin of Malayu Dharmasraya lineage. She carefully see through
Adityawarman's education and career development, and became his
sponsor and patron.
During the reign of her step son Jayanegara,
Gayatri seems to take the
role as dowager queen, as an influential matriarch figure of Majapahit
inner circle within the palace. During this years she oversaw the rise
of capable Gajah Mada's career, and probably become his sponsor,
patron and protector, recruiting
Gajah Mada into her daughter,
Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi's side as a trusted officer.
At a certain point of time during the last years of Jayanegara's
Gayatri renounced her worldly affairs and retired as a Bhikkuni
Buddhist nun). After the death of
Jayanegara in 1328, she was then
the sole surviving elder of
Majapahit royal family since her sisters
and Indreswari all already died. Responsible for the succession of
Gayatri appointed her daughter Tribhuwana
Wijayatunggadewi to rule the kingdom on her behalf in 1329.
Gayatri Rajapatni died in her vihara (monastery),
subsequently Queen regnant
Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi abdicated her
throne in favor to her son
Hayam Wuruk that ascended the throne in the
same year. Her death marked the ascend of
Hayam Wuruk to the throne
since Tribhuwana Tunggadewi was only become queen regnant on behalf of
Nagarakretagama written in 1365 by Prapanca during the reign of
Hayam Wuruk, Gayatri's grandson, describe the elaborate and solemn
Sraddha ceremony dedicated for the departed spirit of revered Gayatri
Rajapatni. She was enshrined in several temples and posthumously
portrayed as Prajnaparamita, the Mahayana
Buddhist female boddhisattva
of transcendental wisdom. Some inscription mentions the lofty offering
and ceremony performed by
Gajah Mada to honor the
spirit of late
Gayatri Rajapatni, suggested that both men owed their
Gayatri Rajapatni's patronage.
^ Cœdès, George (1968). The Indianized states of Southeast Asia.
University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824803681.
Drake, Earl. 2012.
Gayatri Rajapatni, Perempuan di Balik Kejayaan
Majapahit. Yogyakarta: Ombak
Drake, Earl. 2015.
Gayatri Rajapatni: The Woman Behind the Glory of
Majapahit. Penang: Areca Books.
Slamet Muljana. 2005. Menuju Puncak Kemegahan. Jakarta: LKIS
Slamet Muljana. 1979.
Nagarakretagama dan Tafsir sejarahnya.