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East Asia

The only Balinese prince to govern the islands of Bali and Java. His eventful life encouraged the accretion of legend, so that his death image was made in the shape of Vishnu seated on Garuda, the golden sun bird.

Born in 991, Erlanga left his native island as a young man for the Javanese court, where he married a princess and became a yuvaraja, a ‘young king’ charged with the government of a province. In 1006 the kingdom succumbed to foreign invasion, the royal house was decimated, petty chiefs embroiled the population in civil war, and the yuvaraja had to roam the forests and mountains–the haunt of hermits. Thirty years of hard fighting were needed to restore national unity, but after the completion of this gigantic task and a brief reign, Erlanga divided the kingdom between his two sons, and retired to the solitude of a hermitage, where he died about 1050. Erlanga was the great restorer, the sustainer, an incarnation of Vishnu: it was an honour he shared with the Khmer kings of Cambodia.

Subjects: Religion.

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