Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi

gigatos | May 31, 2022


Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi, also known as Dyah Gitarja, was a Javanese queen and the third monarch of Majapahit. She reigned from 1328 to 1350. She also bore the title Bhre Kahuripan (Duchess of Kahuripan). With the help of her prime minister Gajah Mada, she pursued a massive expansion of the empire. In tradition, she is mentioned as a woman of extraordinary courage, wisdom and intelligence.

Dyah Gitarja was the daughter of Raden Wijaya, the first king of Majapahit, and his wife Dyah Gayatri Rajapatni. Gitarja was a member of the Rajasa dynasty, rulers of Majapahit and its predecessor, the kingdom of Singhasari. On her mother”s side, she was also a granddaughter of Kartanegara of Singhasari.

She was Wijaya”s eldest child and had a younger sister, Rajadewi, both of whom were daughters of Queen Rajapatni. She also had a half-brother, Jayanegara, the son of Queen Indreswari. According to the Nagarakretagama, her half-brother Jayanegara succeeded her father after his death in 1309 while she and her sister were given the titles Bhre Kahuripan (Duchess of Kahuripan) and Bhre Daha (Duchess of Daha) respectively.

According to the Pararaton, King Jayanegara wanted his half-sisters to become his wives. Marriage between half-brothers and sisters is abhorred in Javanese tradition, which led the council of royal elders led by the queen mother Gayatri to go against the king”s wishes. The reason for Jayanegara”s wish was not clear – it might have been his way of avoiding rivals, namely the lovers of his half-sisters, who could have claimed his throne.

Nevertheless, Jayanegara continued with his plan to prevent the engagement of his half-sisters by locking Gitarja and Rajadewi in the kaputren (harem) of the palace, where they were confined in a well-guarded courtyard. He also deprived the two princesses of contact with and access to the court. This confinement lasted for years, until both princesses reached adulthood and, in Javanese tradition, were past their appropriate age for marriage. This alarmed their mother, Queen Mother Gayatri, who tried desperately to free her daughters from Jayanegara”s captivity.

According to the Nagarakretagama, Gitarja came to power at the behest of her mother Gayatri in 1329, replacing Jayanegara, who had been assassinated in 1328. One theory suspected that Gajah Mada was the mastermind behind the assassination, as Gajah Mada was the loyal and trusted advisor to Queen Mother Gayatri, who was trying to free her daughters from Jayanegara”s captivity. By this time, Rajapatni Gayatri was the last surviving elder and matriarch of the royal family of Majapahit, and she was supposed to secure the throne because Jayanegara had no sons. But instead she entered a monastery and placed her daughter on the throne.

Princess Gitarja ascended the throne under her new reign name Tribhuwannottunggadewi Jayawishnuwardhani, which means “the exalted goddess of three worlds radiating the glory of Vishnoe.” Tribhuwana ruled with the help of her husband, Kritavardhana.:234 She became the mother and predecessor of Hayam Wuruk, the fourth monarch of the Majapahit Empire.

In 1331, she herself led the army to the battlefield with the help of her cousin Adityawarman, to suppress the rebellion in the areas of Sadeng and Keta. In 1334 she appointed Gajah Mada as her new Mahapatih (Javanese title equivalent to prime minister), and in this instance Gajah Mada took his famous Palapa oath, confirming his intention to expand the kingdom”s influence over the archipelago. According to the Pararaton, his extraordinary vow surprised the court and state officials who attended his inauguration. Some of them, especially Mada”s rival, Ra Kembar, laughed and mocked Mada, ridiculing him as a braggart with a big mouth and an impossible dream. This public humiliation enraged Gajah Mada, resulting in a Tribhoewana-justified duel, which led to Ra Kembar”s death and the execution of others who opposed his authority.

With the help of Gajah Mada as prime minister, Tribhuwana pursued a massive expansion of the empire. In 1343 Majapahit conquered the kingdom of Pejeng, Dalem Bedahulu and the kingdom of Bali. In 1347, Adityawarman was sent to conquer the rest of the kingdom of Srivijaya and the kingdom of Melayu. He was then promoted to uparaja (viceroy) of Sumatra. The expansion of Majapahit continued under the reign of Hayam Wuruk, reaching Lamuri (present-day Aceh) to the west and Wanin (Onin Peninsula, Papua) to the east.

Tribhuwana”s reign ended when her mother Gayatri Rajapatni died during her retirement to a Buddhist monastery in 1350. Because she ruled Majapahit under observers of Rajapatni to represent her, Queen Tribhuwana had to abdicate the throne and had to give up her throne to her son. After her abdication, Tribhuwana did not retire completely; she was still actively involved in state affairs. During the reign of her son, King Hayam Wuruk, she was appointed for the second time as the Bhre Kahuripan, the ruler of the coastal land of Kahuripan, which was a vital port for Majapahit at the time. She also became a member of the Bhattara Saptaprabhoe, the council of royal elders who gave advice to the king.

Tribhuwana later died in her home in Majapahit. This was followed by a grand royal Hindu cremation ceremony. She was deified after her death as Parvati in the Rimbi Temple, East Java. In Javanese devaraja culture, the monarch is believed to be the incarnation of a particular god, and after death their soul is united with that god, and is thus worshipped as such in a temple dedicated to the deceased soul of the monarch.

Tribhuwana appeared as downloadable content for the video game Civilization VI, where she leads the Indonesian civilization, and where she is named by her birth name Gitarja.


  1. Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi
  2. Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi
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