Findings about Serat Centhini...
SERAT CENTHINI WHY, writing in 1814, might Crown Prince Mangkunegoro chose to compose a tale that favourably portrays the children of the king of Giri, who had been the enemy of his ancestor, Sultan Agung? Discuss possible reasons. Support your answer wit historical information from various assigned readings. Yeo Ikhyun 1000737
JAVA LITERATURE Traditional Javanese texts shows significant development of written tradition that proliferated throughout the population. Kumar and McGlynn describes the culture as follows: “Traditional Javanese literature, meaning that collection of Javanese texts composed and transmitted through written means, flourished within a culture in which most forms of entertainment, knowledge, learning, and wisdom were maintained and transmitted orally.” The interesting format of Serat Centhini is mixture of Indian epics of mythical adventures and Arabic texts about adventures of prophets, both having a purpose of spreading and strengthening the belief within people’s, especially those ruling literate classes’, heart and add mystical power to the title of rulers. Serat Centhini is a classic Javanese text that contains the adventures of the princes and princess of fallen kingdom of Giri. Ironically, Giri was enemy of Sultan Agung of Mataram, who was the ancestor of the director of this text, Prince Mangkunegoro. However, the purpose of this classic Javanese text described above and careful observation of Serat Centhini gave me a sense that it was indeed intended for the important and effective teaching to the readers.
WHY GIRI? Giri Kedaton, according to Gelmen Taylor, was the key to the religious change in Java: ‘By some accounts, Sunan Giri ruled Java for forty days after the fall of Hindu Majapahit to purify the land of all non-Islamic traces.’ SERAT CENTHINI
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Sunan Giri was recorded to be an abandoned baby from a Hindu princess married to and abandoned by foreign holy Muslim due to objection to conversion of her religion. He was raised by Muslims and became the major spreader of Islam to the region of fallen Majapahit, as well as other various regions in the archipelago. The fact that this was beneficial in terms of development of Mataram in terms of politics and religious matters, in Serat Centhini, the descendants of Sunan Giri again contributes for future prosperity of Mataram with their life and this results in completion of the human being’s journey by Jayengresmi and Tambangraras. This probably explains why specifically Giri was chosen while there were many other kingdoms that went under the control of Mataram. Mataram, once it achieved the controls over the kingdoms of Java islands, each rulers were assigned as vassals who had to visit Sultan Agung every year. (pg 156, Gelman Taylor) Serat Centhini, as it will be described later, adds sacred and mythical value to the title of Sultan of Mataram, and adequately justifies the madatory annual visit to the sacred sultan, therefore turning Mataram into the centre of learning and holiness.
WHY THE JAYENGRESMI? The adventure of Raden Jayengresmi starts with the fall of his father’s kingdom. Giri was at its peak power when Mataram, sensing the potential threat, has invaded. Jayengresmi was in sorrow due to the unnecessary battle his father, Sunan Giri Parapen, was making, and spoke up to his father only to stun him but with no avail to stop the war. Jayengresmi starts to worry, that his father, ‘in wanting to acquire worldly power, had undermined his religious position as ‘king of saints’.’ This causes his internal dilemma between the love of God and his parents. By the general teachings of Islam, one should respect and obey his father. However, in this case, where the father has deviated from the path of God, is this justifiable enough to abandon him and follow his own correct path provided by the God as a son?
YEO IKHYUN 1000737
In addition, on the contrary to Jayengresmi, Sunan Giri Parapen is portrayed negatively in the text. Being reminded that this text was written by descendant of Mataram, and the purpose of writing is to transmit the religious knowledge, learning and wisdom, the relationship between Sunan Gri Parapen taking ‘wrong path, one that would lead the entire family to deny God’s decree’, and defeat of his kingdom, Giri, is powerful enough to justify the outcome of fallen faith toward the God. Jayengresmi, in the chaos of the battle, travels towards west which is the direction toward Mecca where the prophet Muhammad rests. This probably is the message that he started to follow the path of the God. King of Mataram, Sultan Agung, according to Gelman Taylor, was ‘revered as a holy king’ by his people. Renowned with his magical and holy powers, he is more than perfect to be the priest who would turn Jayengresmi and his wife into wonder maggots. Also, meditaion of Jeyengresmi resulted in determination to meet Sultan Agung who will eventually provide perfection into his life. Jayengresmi, from his youth to adulthood, goes through adventure that provides learning to himself and the readers about how ideal pious life should be: the perfect management of Artha, Kama, Dharmma, and Moksa. Upon completion of learning, when he and his wife had reached the end of adulthood, they meet Priest or Sultan Agung Anyokrokusumo in order to fulfil their wish to lead people to the right path of the God. Priest Anyokrokusumo turned them into wonder maggots, and they were eaten by the Priest and his brother-in-law, Pangeran Pekik. Sultan Agung’s son and Pangeran Pekik’s daughter were married. Sultan Agung’s son, Sunan Mangkurat was the next king of Mataram. He was exiled by his son and died to end the ‘human being’s journey’ of Jayengresmi and Tambangraras.
SERAT CENTHINI This is powerful story that add more mythical and holy sense of ruling class into the population; they were being ruled by the descendants of the great king Sultan Agung, as well SERAT CENTHINI
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as that of Jayengrsmi and Tambangraras, who had completed the learning from the path of the God, gone through final great pain, and complete the human being’s journey. In addition to the solidification of the title of ruling class, Serat Centhini also provide effective learnings about the path of God. The story of Jeyengresmi, a son of the king of fallen kingdom, whose life has been ‘perfected’ by the mythical powerful king Sunan Agung who captured father of Jayengresmi, add dramatic learning effect about the importance of religion. Personally this added a sort of fanatic sense about the religion, Islam, to me. Still, I feel that this was a clever tactic to make Jayengresmi as the favourable hero of this great Javanese text.
YEO IKHYUN 1000737