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Author: Laxman Burdak IFS (R)
Political divisions of Borneo

Borneo (बोर्नियो) is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. The island is politically divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south.

Variants of name

  • Varunadvipa वरुणद्वीप = वारुणद्वीप (= borneo बोर्नियो), इंडोनेशिया (AS, p.834):
  • Borneo dvipa (बोर्नियो द्वीप), इंडोनेशिया , (AS, p.649)


The island of Borneo is divided administratively by three countries.

  • The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak (The Malaysian Federal Territory of Labuan is located on nearshore islands of Borneo.)
  • The independent country of Brunei (main part and eastern exclave of Temburong)


At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra.

The island is politically divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. In the north, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up about 26% of the island. Additionally, the Malaysian federal territory of Labuan is situated on a small island just off the coast of Borneo. The sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo's land area. A little more than half of the island is in the Northern Hemisphere including Brunei and the Malaysian portion, while the Indonesian portion spans both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.


The island is known by many names. Internationally it is known as Borneo, after Brunei, derived from European contact with the kingdom in the 16th century during the Age of Exploration. The name Brunei possibly derives from the Sanskrit word váruṇa (वरुण), meaning either "water" or Varuna, the Hindu god of rain.

Indonesian natives called it Kalimantan, which was derived from the Sanskrit word Kalamanthana, meaning "burning weather island" (to describe its hot and humid tropical weather).[2]

In earlier times, the island was known by other names. In 977, Chinese records began to use the term Po-ni to refer to Borneo.

In 1225, it was also mentioned by the Chinese official Chau Ju-Kua (趙汝适).[3]

The Javanese manuscript Nagarakretagama, written by Majapahit court poet Mpu Prapanca in 1365, mentioned the island as Nusa Tanjungnagara, which means the island of the Tanjungpura Kingdom.[4]


Early history: Dayak, the main indigenous people in the island Territorial loss of the thalassocracy of the Sultanate of Brunei from 1400 to 1890 due to the beginning of Western imperialism

In November 2018, scientists reported the discovery of the oldest known figurative art painting, over 40,000 (perhaps as old as 52,000) years old, of an unknown animal, in the cave of Lubang Jeriji Saléh on the island of Borneo.[5][6]

According to ancient Chinese (977),[7] Indian and Japanese manuscripts, western coastal cities of Borneo had become trading ports by the first millennium AD.[8] In Chinese manuscripts, gold, camphor, tortoise shells, hornbill ivory, rhinoceros horn, crane crest, beeswax, lakawood (a scented heartwood and root wood of a thick liana, Dalbergia parviflora), dragon's blood, rattan, edible bird's nests and various spices were described as among the most valuable items from Borneo.[9]

The Indians named Borneo Suvarnabhumi (the land of gold) and also Karpuradvipa (Camphor Island).

The Javanese named Borneo Puradvipa, or Diamond Island. Archaeological findings in the Sarawak river delta reveal that the area was a thriving centre of trade between India and China from the 6th century until about 1300.[10]

Stone pillars bearing inscriptions in the Pallava script, found in Kutai along the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan and dating to around the second half of the 4th century, constitute some of the oldest evidence of Hindu influence in Southeast Asia.[11]

By the 14th century, Borneo became a vassal state of Majapahit (in present-day Indonesia),[12][13] later changing its allegiance to the Ming dynasty of China.[14] The religion of Islam entered the island in the 10th century, following the arrival of Muslim traders who later converted many indigenous peoples in the coastal areas.[15]

The Sultanate of Brunei declared independence from Majapahit following the death of Majapahit Emperor in mid-14th century. During its golden age under Bolkiah from the 15th century to the 17th century, the Bruneian Empire ruled almost the entire coastal area of Borneo (lending its name to the island due to its influence in the region) and several islands in the Philippines.[16]

During the 1450s, Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab born in Johor, arrived in Sulu from Malacca. In 1457, he founded the Sultanate of Sulu; he titled himself as "Paduka Maulana Mahasari Sharif Sultan Hashem Abu Bakr".[17] Following their independence in 1578 from Brunei's influence, the Sulu's began to expand their thalassocracy to parts of the northern Borneo. Both the sultanates who ruled northern Borneo had traditionally engaged in trade with China by means of the frequently-arriving Chinese junks.Despite the thalassocracy of the sultanates, Borneo's interior region remained free from the rule of any kingdoms.[18]

बोर्नियो द्वीप

बोर्नियो द्वीप (AS, p.649) इंडोनेशिया में स्थित है. संभवत: इस विशाल द्वीप का प्राचीन नाम बार्हिणद्वीप है.[19]


बार्हिणद्वीप (Cambodia) (AS, p.612): पुराणों में वर्णित एक द्वीप जिसका अभिज्ञान श्री ओ.सी. गांगुली ने विशाल द्वीप बोर्नियो के साथ किया है. (दे. जर्नल ऑफ दि गुजरात रिसर्च सोसायटी, मुंबई 3,1) [20]


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[21] ने लेख किया है ...कशेरु (AS, p.152) 'इंद्रद्वीपं कशेरुं च ताम्रद्वीपं गभस्तिमत् गांधर्ववारुणं द्वीपं सौम्याक्षमिति च प्रभु': महाभारत सभापर्वा 38, दक्षिणात्य पाठ . अर्थात शक्तिशाली सहस्रबाहु ने इंद्रद्वीप, कशेरु, ताम्रद्वीप, गभस्तिमत्, गंधर्व, वारुण और सौम्याक्ष द्वीप को जीत लिया था. प्रसंग से यह इंडोनेशिया का कोई द्वीप जान पड़ता है. क्योंकि इंद्रद्वीप = सुमात्रा का एक भाग, ताम्रद्वीप = लंका, वारुण = बोर्नियो


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[22] ने लेख किया है ...वरुणद्वीप (AS, p.834) - 'इंद्रद्वीपंकशेरुं च ताम्रद्वीपं गभस्तिमत् गांधर्वं वारुणं द्वीपं सौम्याक्षमिति च प्रभु:' महाभारत सभा. 38 दाक्षिणात्य पाठ. इस उल्लेख के अनुसार वारुण (या वरुण) द्वीप को अन्य द्वीपों के साथ, शक्तिशाली सहस्त्रबाहु ने जीत लिया था. यह द्वीप संभवत: बोर्नियो, (इंडोनेशिया) है. ताम्रद्वीप लंका का ही नाम है. बोर्नियो का एक अन्य नाम संभवत: बर्हिण भी था. मार्कंडेय पुराण में वारुण के साथ भारत के व्यापार का उल्लेख है.

In Mahabharata

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Book I Chapter 59 gives genealogy of Danavas, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Yakshas, Rakshasas. Barhi (बर्ही) is listed in verse (I.59.45). [23]...Prava's daughters and sons - Anavadya Manu, Vansa, Asura, Marganapria, Anupa, Subhaga, Vasi, were the daughters brought forth by Pradha, Siddha, and Purna, and Varhin, and Purnayus of great fame, Brahmacharin, Ratiguna, and Suparna

See also


  1. Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas, the Ancient Rulers of India, p.333,334
  2. Eugene Linden (17 March 2011). The Ragged Edge of the World: Encounters at the Frontier Where Modernity, Wildlands and Indigenous Peoples Meet. Penguin Publishing Group. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-1-101-47613-0.
  3. Siti Norkhalbi Haji Wahsalfelah (2005). "Traditional Woven Textiles: Tradition and Identity Construction in the 'New State' of Brunei Darussalam" (PDF). Universiti Brunei Darussalam. pp. 48/29.
  4. Suyatno. "Naskah Nagarakretagama" (in Indonesian). National Library of Indonesia. Archived from the original on 23 May 2017.
  5. Zimmer, Carl (7 November 2018). "In Cave in Borneo Jungle, Scientists Find Oldest Figurative Painting in the World - A cave drawing in Borneo is at least 40,000 years old, raising intriguing questions about creativity in ancient societies". The New York Times.
  6. Aubert, M.; et al. (7 November 2018). "Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo". Nature.
  7. Cœdès, George (1968). The Indianized States of South-East Asia. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1., p.129
  8. Derek Heng Thiam Soon (June 2001). "The Trade in Lakawood Products Between South China and the Malay World from the Twelfth to Fifteenth Centuries AD". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 32 (2): 133–149.
  9. Jan O. M. Broek (1962). "Place Names in 16th and 17th Century Borneo". Imago Mundi. 16: 129–148.
  10. Jan O. M. Broek (1962). "Place Names in 16th and 17th Century Borneo". Imago Mundi. 16: 129–148.
  11. (Chapter 15) The Earliest Indic State: Kutai. The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. E Press, The Australian National University. 2006.
  12. Peter SkalnÃk (1 January 1989). Outwitting the State. Transaction Publishers. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-1-4128-3041-6. Ooi Keat Gin; Hoang Anh Tuan (8 October 2015). Early Modern Southeast Asia, 1350–1800. Routledge. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-1-317-55919-1.
  13. Ooi Keat Gin; Hoang Anh Tuan (8 October 2015). Early Modern Southeast Asia, 1350–1800. Routledge. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-1-317-55919-1.
  14. Mohammad Al-Mahdi Tan Kho; Hurng-yu Chen (July 2014). "Malaysia-Philippines Territorial Dispute: The Sabah Case" (PDF). National Chengchi University. NCCU Institutional Repository.
  15. "Islam In Indonesia. A resource of Islam in the archipelago".
  16. Frans Welman (1 August 2013). Borneo Trilogy Brunei: Vol 1. Booksmango. pp. 8–. ISBN 978-616-222-235-1.
  17. Shinzō Hayase (2007). Mindanao Ethnohistory Beyond Nations: Maguindanao, Sangir, and Bagobo Societies in East Maritime Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-971-550-511-6.
  18. Ranjit Singh (2000). The Making of Sabah, 1865–1941: The Dynamics of Indigenous Society. University of Malaya Press. ISBN 978-983-100-095-3.
  19. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.649
  20. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.612
  21. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.152
  22. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.834
  23. सिद्धः पूर्णश च बर्ही च पूर्णाशश च महायशाः, बरह्म चारी रतिगुणः सुपर्णश चैव सप्तमः (I.59.45)