Parameswara (sultan)

Parameswara (sultan)

Infobox Monarch
name =Parameswara (aka Iskandar Shah)
title =1st Ruler of Malacca

caption =An artist's impression of Parameswara, who ruled Singapore in the 1390s.
reign =Malacca Sultanate: c. 1400-1414
coronation =
othertitles =Prince of Sri Vijaya
full name =
predecessor =Sam Agi (Sri Vijaya)
successor =Megat Iskandar Shah (Sultan of Malacca)
suc-type =
heir =
queen =
consort =
spouse 1 =
spouse 2 =
spouse 3 =
spouse 4 =
spouse 5 =
spouse 6 =
issue =Megat Iskandar Shah (Sultan of Malacca)
royal house =
dynasty =
royal anthem =
father =Sam Agi
date of birth =1344
place of birth =Palembang, Sri Vijaya
date of death =1414
place of death =Malacca, Sultanate of Malacca
date of burial =
place of burial =Disputed|

Parameswara (1344 – 1414) (also called Iskandar Shah) was a Malay Hindu prince (from Palembang district of Srivijaya Empire) who founded Melaka around 1402. The historical Malay literary work, Sejarah Melayu, states that Parameswara was a descendant of Alexander the Great.


Parameswara derived from Sanskrit Paramesvara (परमेश्वर), meaning the supreme voice, the attribute of being god or a god and is another name for Lord Shiva.

(see: Parameshwara (God))


* 1344 - Born, as a Hindu prince of Srivijaya
* 1396 - Fled to Temasek
* 1402 - Founded Malacca
* 1405 - Visited the Ming Emperor
* 1409 - Married Pasai's princess, Sultanate of Malacca founded.
* 1411 - Visited the Ming Emperor
* 1414 - Died


Raden Wijaya, the first king (1293-1309) of Majapahit was married to Sri Gayatri Rajapatni, a daughter of Sri Kertanegara, the last king (1268-1292) of Singhasari Kingdom, and had a daughter Tribuana Tunggadewi, the third leader/queen (1326-1350) of Majapahit. She married Kertawardana, and had a daughter: Iswari. She married Singawardana and had a daughter: Sarawardani. She married Ranamenggala, and had a son: Desa Raja, officially styled Raja Kecil Besar Paduka Sri Pekerma Di Raja who was born in 1344 during the reign of his great grandmother, Tribuana Tunggadewi, the third monarch of Majapahit. Raja Kecil Besar Paduka Sri Pekerma Di Raja later became the Raja Parameswara of Malacca and is now popularly known as Parameswara.

Discovered Malacca

In the 14th century, Srivijaya was losing its influence and faced threats from various corners of the Malay Archipelago. Around the same time, the Majapahit empire, centered in Java, was expanding its borders beyond the island. The Srivijayan empire had previously controlled Java but it was driven out of the island earlier in 1290 by Singhasari, a predecessor to Majapahit. As a result, Srivijaya had to move its court from Palembang, on the bank of Musi River in southern Sumatra, to Malayu (now Jambi province) on Batang Hari River bank. Although the royal court had moved to Malayu, Palembang remained an important imperial city. Some time in the later half of the 14th century, Majapahit sent its navy towards Palembang and Malayu, thus conquering the city. This invasion ended a 1000-year old empire.

Parameswara lived in Palembang as a prince within the Srivijayan empire but conquest forced him and many others to flee Palembang. Parameswara in particular sailed to Temasek to escape persecution and came under the protection of Temagi, a Malay chief from Patani who was appointed by the King of Siam as Regent of Temasek. Within a few days, Parameswara killed Temagi and appointed himself as regent. Some 5 years later he had to leave Temasek due to threats from Siam. During this period, Temasek was also attacked by a Javanese fleet from Majapahit.

He later headed north to found a new settlement. At Muar, Parameswara contemplated establishing his new kingdom at either Biawak Busuk or at Kota Buruk. Finding that the Muar location was not suitable, he continued his journey northwards. Along the way, he reportedly visited Sening Ujong (former name of present day Sungai Ujong) before reaching a fishing village at the mouth of the Bertam River (former name of the Malacca River). This evolved over time to become the location of modern day Malacca Town. According to the Malay Annals, it was here that he witnessed a mouse deer outwitting a dog while resting under a Malacca tree. He took what he saw as a good omen and decided to establish a kingdom called Malacca.He made all the facilities for Mallaca so that they can trade at Malacca.


It was generally believed that in the year 1409 he married princess of Pasai and he adopted the Persian title 【Iskandar Shah 】. [Zain, Sabri. "A History of the Malay Peninsula." [ Parameswara.] Retrieved on August 2 2007.] The marriage was believed to have been introduced by the Tamil Muslim traders like Rowther and Marakkar.Fact|date=July 2008

Conversion to Islam

Parameswara's conversion to Islam was unclear so far with no evidence as to whether Parameswara had actually converted. According to a theory by Sabri Zain [] , Parameswara became a Muslim when he married a Princesss of Pasai and he took the fashionable Persian title "Shah", calling himself Iskandar Shah. There are also references that indicate that some members of the ruling class and the merchant community residing in Malacca were already Muslims. The Chinese chronicles mention that in 1414, the son of the first ruler of Malacca visited Ming to inform them that his father had died. Parameswara's son was then officially recognised as the second ruler of Malacca by the Chinese Emperor and styled Raja Sri Rama Vikrama, Raja of Parameswara of Temasik and Melaka and he was known to his Muslim subjects as 【Sultan Sri Iskandar Zulkarnain Shah】 or 【Sultan Megat Iskandar Shah】, and he ruled Malacca from 1414 to 1424. [] []


In 1414, Parameswara passed away at the age of 70. It is generally believed that he was buried on top of a hill at Tanjung Tuan (also known as Cape Rachado), near Port Dickson. A symbolic grave exists near Fort Canning in Singapore. Parameswara was succeeded by his son, Megat Iskandar Shah who in turn ruled Malacca until 1424.


The Malays refer to the third ruler of Malacca as Raja Tengah (or Radin Tengah) with the title Seri Maharaja but according to the Sejarah Melayu, he then embraced Islam and took the title Muhammad Shah. Other scholars believe it could have been due to him marrying a Tamil Muslim wife. On his death, he was succeeded by the son of a princess coming from Rokan, Raja Ibrahim.

Hindu-Malay and Tamil-Muslim conflict

During the time of Raja Ibrahim, tension occurs in Melaka between the growing Tamil Muslim community and the traditional Hindu Malay because Raja Ibrahim did not embraced the new religion but instead adopted the traditional Hindu title Sri Parameswara Dewa Shah. As a result, Raja Ibrahim ruled for less than seventeen months and he was stabbed to death.

Raja Ibrahim's elder half-brother, Raja Kasim, by a Tamil Muslim mother, assumed the throne and taking on the Islamic title Sultan Mudzafar Shah. This signalled a new golden era for the Melaka Sultanate. []

Foreign relations and tribute to Ming Dynasty

The relation with Ming China started in the early 1400s [] when Parameswara embarked on several voyages to visit Emperor Yongle (Chinese: 永樂)("Wade-Giles" name is Yung-Lo). He was escorted by Zheng He, Yin Qing ("Wade-Giles" names are Cheng Ho and Ying Ching) and other envoys in his successful visits. Malacca's relationships with Ming granted protection to Malacca against attacks from Siam and Majapahit and Malacca officially summited as a protectorate of Ming China. This encouraged the development of Malacca into a major entrepot on the trade route between China and India, Middle East, Africa and Europe.

In 1411, Parameswara and his wife together with 540 officials from Malacca went to China to pay homage to the Yongle Emperor (r. 1402–1424). Upon arriving, a grand welcoming ceremony was held with sacrification of animals. The historical meeting between Parameswara and Yongle was recorded accurately in the Ming chronicle. The Geoff Wade translations: []

Tributes that Malacca paid to Ming included: agate, carnelian, pearl, hawksbill, coral, crane peak, golden female crane peak, suit, white cloth, Western fabric, Sa-ha-la, rhino horn, ivory, black bear, black ape, white muntjac, turkey, parrot, pian-nao, rosebush dew, su-he oil, gardenia flower, wu-ye-ni, aromatic wood, incense sticks, gold silver incense sticks.

Parameswara's trading port

Indonesian religious leader and Islamic scholar Hamka (1908–1981) wrote in 1961: "The development of Islam in Indonesia and Malaya is intimately related to a Chinese Muslim, Admiral Zheng He." [ [ Chinese Muslims in Malaysia, History and Development] by Rosey Wang Ma] (see: Zheng He#Zheng He and Islam in Southeast Asia)

Melaka grew into an international trading port and heralded the golden age of Nusantara Islam. 80 languages were reportedly spoken in Malacca:Tamil (Tamil Nadu ) Moors of Cairo, Mecca, Aden, Abyssinians, men of Kilwa, Malindi, Ormuz, Parsees, Rumes, Turks, Turkomans, Christian Armenians, Gujarati, men of Chaul, Dabhol, Goa, of the kingdom of Deccan, Malabars and Klings, merchants from Orissa, Ceylon, Bengal, Arakan, Pegu, Siamese, men of Kedah, Malays, men of Pahang, Patani, Cambodia, Champa, Cochin China, Chinese, Lequeos, men of Brunei, Lucoes, men of Tamjompura, Laue, Banka, Linga (they have a thousand other islands), Moluccas, Banda, Bima, Timor, Madura, Java, Sunda, Palembang, Jambi, Tongkal, Indragiri, Kappatta, Minangkabau, Siak, Arqua (Arcat?), Aru, Bata, country of the Tomjano, Pase (Pasai?), Pedir, Maldives.

Malacca became an important port in the far east during the 16th century. It became so rich that the Portuguese writer and trader Duarte Barbosa said "He who is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice".


Parameswara's Sultanate of Malacca (as a prosperous international port) changed the entire Malay Archipelago. Its success was admired by kings from neighbouring kingdoms. Melaka's dominance in the region also influenced the spread of Islam in the Malay Archipelago. In 1447, Kertawijaya became King of Majapahit and converted to Islam on the advice of his wife, Darawati, a princess of Champa. The nephew of Kertawijaya, Sunan Ampel works to spread Islam around Surabaya, and around the same time, Palembang converted to Islam. In 1459, Sultan Mansur Shah of Malacca sent Tun Perak to conquer Kedah and Pahang. Pahang became an Islamic sultanate under Malacca. In 1470, Dai-Viet captured Vijaya, the capital of Champa, killing 60,000 Cham and caused a mass Cham emigration to Malacca and Cambodia. The Islamic Kingdom of Demak was founded in 1478 by Raden Patah, son of King Kertawijaya and his Champa wife. An Islamic Sultanate was founded at Cirebon too.


# Sejarah Melayu a Malay literature written by Tun Sri Lanang in 1621. (see Sang Nila Utama)
# Suma Oriental written by Portuguese Tom Pires during the conquering of Melaka in early 16th century.
# The Ming Shi-lu [] (Chinese: 明實錄) also known as the Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty, has a comprehensive 150 records or more on Parameswara (Bai-li-mi-su-la) and Melaka. The massive translation work was contributed by Dr.Geoff Wade, a senior researcher in the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. []

Ming Shi-lu

* (Date: 28 Oct 1403) -- eunuch Yin Qing was sent to Melaka []
* (Date: 3 Oct 1405) -- Bai-li-mi-su-la, the native ruler of the country of Melaka followed the Imperial envoy Yin Qing and visit the Ming court to offer tribute. []
* (Date: 16 Feb 1409) -- envoy A-bu-la Jia-xin sent by Bai-li-mi-su-la visit Ming court and offered tribute of local products... []
* (Date: 4 Aug 1411) -- Bai-li-mi-su-la, on banquet in reward him on visit to Ming court. []
* (Date: 14 Aug 1411) -- Bai-li-mi-su-la, and his wife, children and attendant ministers, a total of over 540 persons, visit Ming Court. []
* (Date: 17 Aug 1411) -- banquet was conferred upon Bai-li-mi-su-la and his consort Ba-er-mi-su-li and others in the Interpreters Institute. []
* (Date: 5 Oct 1414) -- son of the king of the country of Melaka, Mu-wo Sa-yu-di-er Sha visit Ming court and memorialized that his father Bai-li-mi-su-la had died. And the Imperially commanded that Mu-wo Sa-yu-di-er Sha should inherit his father's title as king. []

Unsourced information

Coming from the unpublished Palembang royal records, Parameswara (1344 – 1414) whose full title was Paduka Sri Maharaja, Raja Parameswara of Temasik. He was called Desa Raja at birth and was the son of Paduka Sri Maharaja Vikramavira, Raja of Temasik. He was officially styled Raja Kecil Besar Paduka Sri Pekerma Di Raja and was a Hindu Malay prince-consort whose family originally hailed from the Palembang district of Srivijaya Empire. Parameswara supposedly formally settled on a hill in the Malacca town area around 1402.

The controversial Sejarah Melayu alleged that Parameswara was a descendant of Alexander the Great via his Hindu and Indian forebears on the one hand and also retrospectively tried to put an Islamic identity on the early Melaka rulers who were by and large Hindu on the other hand. The early rulers of Melaka always bestowed the title of Raja Parameswara of Temasik on their eldest sons who usually went on to become the Raja Parameswara (later Sultans) of Melaka. Specify|date=August 2008Fact|date=August 2008


Other references

*"The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Languages & Literature," edited by Prof. Dato' Dr Asmah Haji Omar (2004) ISBN 981-3018-52-6

ee also

*Strait of Malacca
*Orang Laut
*Hang Tuah

External links

* [ The history of spices is the history of trade]
* [ Parameswara at Sejarah Melayu]
* [ Malacca Genealogy by Christopher Buyers]
* [ Beyond the Monsoon]
* [ Genealogy of Malacca Sultanate]
* [ The Travels Of Marco Polo]
* [ The Golden Chersonese and The Way Thither - by Isabella L. Bird]
* [ Parameswara at National Library of Malaysia]
* [ Article by Muzaffar Tate in Star Online 1999]

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