Mahabharata has evoked the subtlety and richness of the soul of Asia. Centuries have listened to its words, and witnessed presentations in the performing arts. Sanctuaries and palaces have seen its sculptures and paintings. In Indonesia, the Mahabharata has been most vibrant in literature as well as in the performing arts. Known in these isles as the Astadasa-parva and in a shortened form as Parva, it has continued to excite the creative talent of the people. Eight parvas are extant in old Javanese prose adaptations: all works of great literary merit. They were rendered into Javanese in the tenth century: the Indonesian Virataparva records the date of its premier recitation as 12 November 996. Simple and lucid, they tell the story vividly and with fluency.
The Adiparva is the first of the eighteen parvas of the Epic. As a source for wayang purva stories, it plays a major role in the mind of Indonesia. During the last one thousand years Indonesian society has been deeply influenced by the stories of the Epics and the Puranas, particularly by Krsna and Arjuna. The universal presence of these mythological heroes pervades almost every sphere of Indonesian life. The complete Indonesian Adiparva has been translated into English for the first time in this work. It provides a new point for students of the culture, literature, visual and performing arts of South-East Asia.
The present rendering of the Adiparva is the first in the projected English translation of all the available parvas. It is a guide to profound unity of ritual and repertoire, myth and meaning, cosmic transcendence and intrinsic dynamism of life in South-East Asia, where the Epic has been written, recited, sculpted and performed over a millenium.
Dr. I.G. Putu Phalgunadi was born in 1948 at Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. Graduated from Hindu Dharma Institute, Denpasar in Religion and Culture in 1975. His thesis was Tambang Badung Temple at a Glance. In 1978 he won a scholarship to pursue research work in India. Travelled extensively in India for field studies. He has been a research fellow of the International Academy of Indian Culture (1978-79), of the Government of India under the General Culture Scholarship Scheme (1980-85), and Indian Council of Historical Research (1985-88). Lectured on Balinese Hinduism at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. His Ph. D. dissertation was on the Evolution of Hindu Culture in Bali. His Study of the South-East Asian Chronicle Pararaton is ready for the press. Presently working on The Krsna Saga in Indonesia.
The classical Indonesian Adiparva is a tenth century work composed in the classical Indonesian language, known as the Kawi language. At present, this language is no more understood by the common Indonesian people. This prompted me to undertake the present English translation of the Adiparva.
It is believed that Krsna was born to rid the society of evil and evil-doers. Krsna was not only an astute diplomat, a yogi, but also an accomplished warrior. He fought many wars. Although he did not take part in the great Bharata war, yet it was he, who, through the Mahabharata war, established the supremacy of virtue and justice. Similarly, Arjuna is regarded by the Indonesians as the most handsome person on earth, and has a special place in the hearts of Indonesian people, being the most courageous of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata. The legendary figures of Arjuna and Krsna continue to be the heart throbs of the Indonesian people, particularly of the Balinese, who, even today, read, sing, paraphrase and rewrite it in the classical form.
Sri Dharmavamsa was crowned as the successor of king Makutavamsavardhana to rule over East Java. He was given the royal title of Sri Dharmavamsa-teguh- Anantavikramottumgadeva. Dharmavamsa proved to be a great conqueror and a powerful ruler. He conquered many places beyond Java. One of the significant events of his reign was the all round development of classical Indonesian literature. All forms of literature were provided due patronage and as a result, the great epic the Mahabharata, particularly its Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Vanaparva and Virataparva, were written in Kawi.
Udayana's son Airlanga was invited to Java in the year 1016 A.D. to marry the daughter of king Dharmavamsa. A few years after his marriage, the kingdom of Java had to undergo a great tragedy and consequently Dharmavamsa's kingdom was ruined. Not much is known about the exact nature and cause of this great calamity. Most probably, it was an attack by king Vuravuri which destroyed the kingdom of Dharmavamsa. Airlanga had to seek refuge in a forest.
The Kawi language has survived for more than a thousand years, ever since Kawi emerged as the language of literature, both in Java and Bali. The great body of Kawi literature is essentially religious. The most ancient works have come down largely in the form of epics. In Kawi literature, close adherence to the rules of Sanskrit metre is to be found as its general characteristic feature. A number of Sanskrit metres have been successfully used in the Kakawins (poems). Moreover, the epics have drawn numerous quotations from the slokas of original Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. Himansu Bhusan Sarkar rightly says : " Sanskrit authors have given the Indonesian writers the theme of their works, but structurally the two languages belong to two different worlds."
The epics and the Puranas occupy a prominent status in Kawi literature. It proves a close and continued intercourse between India and Indonesia. Many Sanskrit works in manuscript form have come down from the Hindu period in Indonesia. Majority of which belong to the period between tenth century A.D. and the fifteenth century A.D. Within a span of five hundred years Java produced a whole galaxy of Hindu writers. Learning was patronized and large numbers of scholars flourished at the Courts. But, in the later period, the vigour and enthusiasm was lost, because during the sixteenth century the centre of Hindu literary activity shifted to Bali. This change was brought due to the Sultan of Demak conquering the Hindu Majapahit empire in East Java. As a result, large groups of Hindu Javanese royal families, aristocrats, elite, brahmanas and others sought refuge in Bali. They brought along with them almost all the classical and middle Javanese works of Kawi literature, such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas and other sacred texts. Even today, Bali continues to be the centre of Indo-Javanese literature. Thus we see Kawi literature first emerging in Central Java and reaching its golden age during the Kadiri period in East Java, and lastly it found refuge in the Bali island.
The Mahabharata is a great work said to have been composed by the great sage Vyasa. It probably assumed its present form about the fourth century A.D. The Sanskrit Mahabharata of Vyasa iconsists of eighteen Parvas (books); such as : Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Vanaparva, Virataparva, Udyogaparva, Bhismaparva, Dronaparva, Karnaparva, Salyaparva, Sauptikaparva, Stripralapaparva, Santiparva, Anusasanaparva, Asvamedhaparva, Asramavasikaparva, Mausalaparva, Mahaprasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva. Out of these eighteen parvas of the Sanskrit Mahabharata only eight parvas have been preserved in Bali. These are the Adiparva, the Virataparva, the Udyogaparva, the Bhismaparva, the Asramaparva, the Mosalaparva, the Prasthanikaparva and the Svargarohanaparva. Most probably there were at one time, eighteen Parvas in Indonesia also. But it is difficult to say why the Indonesian Mahabharata remained incomplete in Bali. It seems that the Kawi literary manuscripts written on "lontar" (palm-leaves) arid preserved in the royal collection of the Majapahit court were mostly burnt or lost with the coming to an end of the Hindu Majapahit empire. It, too, can be assumed that manuscripts available at present were the only ones actually brought to Bali.
The Ramayana and Mahabharata, the most sacred of all the Hindu literature, are highly popular epics in Indonesia and these have crossed the boundaries of religion by becoming the common heritage of all Indonesians. It is important to note that the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas have served as the basic force and inspiration for development of Kawi literature. Prof. R.C. Majumdar aptly remarks: "Nowhere else, outside India, has Indian literature been studied with so much advantage and with such important consequences."
The Indonesian Mahabharata has not been translated from the Sanskrit Mahabharata, but following the theme it was composed in Kawi language, and occasionally key lines of the Sanskrit text were quoted possibly to add authenticity or prestige. Some of the Parvas were written in Wawachan (prose) and some in Kakawin (poetry). As far as the Indonesian Adiparva is concerned it was written in prose in the last quarter of the tenth century A.D. The other parvas were composed later on. Thus all the Parvas of Mahabharata were neither written at the same time, nor by one single author. It is in the domain of prose that Indonesia achieved considerable distinction in the work of these epics. The Indonesian Mahabharata is the best known work in Kawi literature, second only to the Indonesian Ramayana (Kakawin). The Indonesian Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Vanaparva, Viratparva, Udyogaparva and Bhismaparva were written under orders of king Dharmavarnsa, who was the tenth century ruler of East Java.
The complete Indonesian Virataparva has been translated into English for the first time in this work. The present rendering of the Virataparva is the second volume of the projected English translation of all the available parvas. Eight, out of eighteen, parvas are extant in old Javanese prose adaptations: al. works of great literary merit. They were rendered into Javanese in the tenth century. The Indonesian Virataparva records the exact date of its premier recitation as 14 October 996. Simple and lucid, it relates the story vividly in limpid fluency. It was composed under the patronage of King Dharmavamsa teguh Ananta- vikram-ottungadeva, who was the ruler of East Java from AD 991 to 1016. The reign of King Dharmavamsa is well-known as the golden age of the Kadiri kingdom. During this period there was all-round prosperity not only in the material sense but also in other spheres, particularly in art and literature. The Indonesian Mahabharata is not a literal Kawi rendering of the Sanskrit text. It is an original text in Kawi, which has taken inspiration from the Indian Mahabharata,
Mahabharata has evoked the subtlety and richness of the soul of Asia. Centuries have listened to its words, and witnessed presentations in the performing arts. Sanctuaries and palaces have seen its sculptures and paintings. In Indonesia, the Mahabharata has been most vibrant in literature as well as in the performing arts. Known in these isles as the astadasa-parva and in a shortened form as Parva, it has continued to excite the creative talent of the people. It is a guide to profound unity of ritual and repertoire, myth and meaning, cosmic transcendence and intrinsic dynamism of life in South-East Asia, where the Epic has been written, recited, sculpted and performed over a millennium.
The present English translation of one of the great classical Indonesian literary texts would be of help not only to students of Indology, but also to others interested in the cultural development of South-East Asia in ancient times.
The classical Indonesian Virataparva is in Kawi, the Classical Indonesian language, composed in the tenth century. With the passage of time this language has become almost unintelligible among the common Indonesian people. The present English translation of this classical work will enlighten the people, who are ignorant of their rich literary heritage.
From time immemorial the story of the Mahabharata has enjoyed a place of honour in Indonesian society. The influence is to be seen to be believed. The all pervasive impact of the epics and Puranic stories dealing with the lives of legendary figures of Krsna and Arjuna has left an everlasting stamp on Indonesian literature, sculpture, dance, etc. of the intervening period. These epics seem to have been handed from generation to generation, so much so that these have had a direct and deep imprint on the lives and psyche of the Indonesian people. This is very well illustrated by the striking similarities which are to be found not only in the names of mountains, rivers, temples but also in the names of islands. A few examples will suffice to prove the point. Similar to mount Sumeru in India there is mount Sumeru in Java. Names of the great epic of the Mahabharata, have been used for a number of mountains in Indonesia e.g. Brahma (East Java), Arjuna (East Java), Indragiri (East Sumatra), Kauranchi (South Sumatra), Jaya Vijaya (New Guinea), Madhura, Sunda (West Java), Sumba, Bhima, Bali, Sindhu (South Bali), Ganga (East Bali), are some of the names used for different islands, places and districts. Similarly many temples have the names of Draupadi, Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. Even rivers have been named as Sarayu (Central Java), Narmada (Lombok).
In the modem times, particularly in Bali, the people take deep interest in reading, singing, paraphrasing and recreating the various incidents/parts of the Mahabharata. Indonesian women have been particularly enamoured of the heroic character of Arjuna, who is considered not only the most courageous person of the time but also the most handsome. Similarly, the divine figure of Krsna combines in himself all the qualities which are taken as the pre-requisites of an ideal patron, ruler and statesman. If one were to visit Indonesia, one will be amazed to see that the names of hotels, cinemas, buildings and a number of places have been taken from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Some of them are Ramayana Cinema, Visnu Cinema, Indra Cinema, Hotel Arjuna, Botique Bhima, Dharmayoga Centre, Drs. SUa, Rsi Markandeya Bank, Sarasvati University, etc.
King Dharmavarnsa's daughter was married to Airlariga, Udayana's son. Som years later a great tragedy struck the kingdom of Java which almost ruined the kingdom. Probably the kingdom had been attacked by Vuravuri. Subsequent to the attack, Airlanga fled to the forests.
Kawi poetics closely follows the rules of Sanskrit metre. Quite a lot of the Sanskrit metres have been directly used in the Indonesian kakawins (poems). The classical Indonesian epics have drawn a number of slokas from the original Sanskrit epics and Puranas.
As regards the subject matter of the great body of Kawi literature, Himanshu Bhusan Sarkar has very rightly remarked that "Sanskrit authors have given the Indonesian writers the theme of their works". Kawi literature seems to be influenced most by the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The peak achieved in Kawi literary activity belongs to the period between the tenth and the fifteenth centuries, when learning was patronised and a whole galaxy of scholars and writers flourished at the Hindu courts. However, all this underwent a sudden change in the sixteenth century, consequent to the attack on the Majapahit empire by the Sultan of Demak. Majority of the royal families, aristocrats, brahmanas and the elite sought refuge in Bali, which till date continues to be the main respository of Indo-Javanese literature.
The great epic of Mahabharata, collected by the great sage vyasa, encouraged and inspired a great many Indonesian authors. The Indian Mahabharata, has eighteen parvas (books), of which only ten are extant in classical Indonesian, namely: Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Vanaparva, Virataparva, Udyogparva, Bhismaparva, Asramaparva, Mosalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva. The Indonesian Mahabharata too must have had eighteen parvas at one time, but either at the time these classical works were shifted from Java to Bali or later on they were either lost, burnt or destroyed.
The Indonesian Mahabharata is not a mere literal Kawi rendering of the Sanskrit text. It is an original text in Kawi, which has, as its theme, taken inspiration from the Indian Mahabharata. Unlike the Sanskrit Mahabharata, it is a prose work. While the parvas had been composed in wawachan (prose), some kakawins were written in poetry. Further, not all the parvas were written by the same author, or at the same time. The Indonesian Virataparva was written in the last quarter of the tenth century, during the reign of king Dharmavamsa-teguh-anantavikramottungadeva, the then ruler of East Java.
The classical Indonesian Udyogaparva was composed sometime during the period AD 991 to AD 1016. It was written in Kawi, the official language of the then Indonesian society. Dr. Phalgunadi presents its English translation, the first of its kind in any European language, to popularise this work of literary value among those English-reading people of the world who are unable to read it in its original form.
King Dharmavamsa teguh Anantavikrama-uttungadeva was the most powerful ruler of the Isana dynasty, who brought a large area under his control. He was the worthy successor and great-grandson of King Sindok, the founder of the Isana dynasty. It was under the reign of King Dharmavamsa that the famous Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Vanaparva, Virataparva, Udyogaparva and Bhismaparva of the Mahabharata were composed in Kawi language. He laid down ideals in every sphere of life and under his rule East Java rose to dizzy heights.
The classical Indonesian Mahabharata is not a translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharata. On the contrary, it is an original literary work of Kawi which has derived its basic theme from the Mahabharata of sage Vyasa, Not all the books of the. Kawi Mahabharata were composed at one time, or by a single author. However this much is sure that king Dhannavamsa was the sole patron by whose encouragement this Kawi classic was composed.
The text of the Indonesian Udyogaparva, unlike manuscripts of other Kawi parvas (such as the Adiparva, Virataparva, Bhismaparva etc.), is available only in an incomplete form. If we compare the Indonesian and the Sanskrit Udyogaparva, the Indonesian Udyogaparva is incomplete in a number of places, including the end. It is probably due to the fact that towards the end of the Majapahit empire when Hindu aristocracy of Java had to flee to Bali in the attack of Sultan of Demark, quite a number of rare and precious manuscripts were either destroyed or damaged.
The present English translation of the Indonesian Udyogaparva will enable scholars all over the world, who have an interest in the study of literature in general and of Indology 'in particular, to have a better understanding of the deep and continuing cultural bonds between two great Asian countries from times immemorial.
It is almost a thousand years since the composition of this text. The very fact that this great literary work is not only read and re-read but also sung, paraphrased and dramatised even in modern Indonesian society, amply proves its transcendental nature. The classical Indonesian Mahabharata, second only to the original Sanskrit Mahabharata, enjoys a prominent .place in the literary history of Indonesia. No other single work of literature has so much influenced the life of its people in any country.
This English translation of the Indonesian original has been done for the first time. Its corresponding Kawi text is given on opposite pages to enable researchers to undertake indepth studies. This work will be of use to students of the Indian Epic, Indonesian literature, Cultural Anthropology, Performing Arts, Linguistics, and allied disciplines.
It is almost a thousand years since the composition of the great Kawi classic, Udyogaparva of the classical Indonesian Mahabharata. The very fact that this great literary work is not only read and re-read but also sung, paraphrased and dramatised even in the modern Indonesian society, amply proves its transcendental nature. The great classical Indonesian Mahabharata, second only to the original Sanskrit Mahabharata, enjoys a prominent place in the literary history of Indonesia. No other single work of literature has so much influenced the life of its people in any country.
The classical Indonesian Udyogaparva was composed sometime during the period AD 991 to AD 1016. It was composed in Kawi, the official language of the then ancient Indonesian society. Today like many other languages of that period, Kawi has gone out of use and become almost extinct, inspire of the great popularity enjoyed by this work of immense literary quality. Because of the language barrier, it is no more understood by the common Indonesian people. As a student of Ancient Indian and Asian Studies, I was encouraged to undertake the present English translation of the classical Indonesian Udyogaparva in order to contribute my humble efforts in popularising this work of immense literary value among those English-reading people of the world who are unable to read it in its original form.
Similar to other language of the contemporary world, Kawi too gives vent to literary expression of human feelings and sentiments through accepted religious or ethical themes. Thus we find that the majority of Kawi literary masterpieces deal with themes essentially ethical and religious, mainly influenced by the Sanskrit epics. As mentioned elsewhere, Kawi language reflects a liberal impact of Sanskrit. However despite their thematic similarities, Kawi and Sanskrit are two languages, entirely different in their grammatical organisation. Himanshu Bhushan Sarkar puts it rightly when he says, "Sanskrit authors have given the Indonesian writers the theme of their works, but structurally the two languages belong to two different worlds." However Sanskrit metres have frequently been used in many Kawi works.
The evolution of Kawi language passed through many phases. Ever since, its use was securely established during the Kadiri period, till the fourteenth century, it was known as classical Kawi language which was open to the influence of local languages. During this phase we find that innumerable words from the local languages found a place in the Kawi vocabulary. In the second phase, beginning with the thirteenth century, the ever increasing impact of various local dialects under the Simhasan and Majapahit (Vilvatikta) regimes brought about a gradual change in the features of the classical Kawi language. Kawi, in this second phase, came to be known as the Middle Kawi.
The impact of the Mahabharata is only to be seen to believe. Whether it is in the field of art, literature, culture or sculpture; living monuments speak of the deep and all- pervading impact of this masterpiece of literature. The legendary figures of Rama, Krsna and Arjuna can be the cause of envy for many a modem day heroes. The story of the Mahabharata, despite being available in writing, seems to be in parts which belong to the oral tradition of literature wherein a particular piece of literature is handed over orally from one generation to another. This alone can explain the immense popularity which this classical work enjoys even among the uneducated masses. The mythological characters of Krsna and Arjuna, and the story woven around them have gone into the lives and psyche of the Indonesian people to the extent of making them believe that the incidents described in the Mahabharata had actually taken place in Indonesia itself. Moreover, such a belief is not without apparent justification for the modems. Quite a number of places, islands, cities, mountains, rivers, temples, shrines, etc. in Indonesia bear names similar to the ones used in the Mahabharata, Take for example, the case of the Himalayas, otherwise known in ancient literature as Mount Sumeru, the highest mountain range in the world. The name of the highest mountain in Java too is Sumeru. Many temples are known by the names of Dropadi, Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. The former sultanate of central Java had its capital at Ayodhya, which is well known, was the name of the capital city of Ayodhya of Lord Rama, the son of Dasaratha.
Similarly, quite a number of mountains in the region also bear names which are similar to the ones used in the Mahabharata. These are Brahma (East Java), Arjuna (Java), Indragiri (East Sumatra), Jaya Vijaya (New Guinea), Kaurinchi (South Sumatra) etc. Again, islands have names like Madhura (mod. madura), Sundha (mod. Sunda), Sumbha (mod. Sumba), Bhima and Bali. One of the rivers in central Java is known as Sarayu, which is the name of the river which flows by the side of the township of Ayodhya in India. Further there is a spring called Narmada in the Lombok isle; Ganga, which is considered as the holiest among the Indian rivers, is the name of a spring in Bali. Again Sindhu, another famous river and kingdom of ancient India, is the name assigned to a region in South Bali.
The similarity is not limited to names alone. Even the moral values espoused and upheld by various characters of the Mahabharata are taken in the same spirit by the Indonesian people. For instance, Krsna is not considered there as merely a shrewd states- man, but also as the one who upheld the supremacy of virtue, peace and justice. Likewise, Arjuna is regarded as the bravest and the most dauntless warrior who used the strength of his arrows to wipe off evil from the earth. Taken together, both these characters continue to be the darlings everywhere of all Indonesian people, particularly of the Balinese.
King Dharmavamsa teguh Anantavikramottungadeva was the most powerful ruler of the Isana dynasty, who annexed many neighbouring states and extended his boundaries, bringing a large area under his control. He was the worthy successor of his ancestor King Sindok, the founder of the Isana dynasty. As regards the parentage of King Dharmavamsa teguh Anantavikramottungadeva, we are told that he was the great-grandson of King Sindok. Regarding the intervening period not much is known, except that after his death, King Sindok was succeeded by his daughter princess Sri Isanottungavijaya. Her son Makutavarnsavardhana succeeded her as the king of East Java. Dharmavamsa teguh Anantavikramottungadeva was the son of king Makutavamsavardhana. His sister princess Mahendradatta was married to king Udayana of Bali. After her marriage, she adopted the royal title of Gunapriyadharmapatni,
It was under the reign of King SrI Dharmavamsa teguh Anantavikramottungadeva, the famous literary works of Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Vanaparva, Virataparva, Udyogaparva and Bhismaparva of the Mahabharata were composed in Kawi language. King Dharmavamsa laid down ideals in every sphere of life and under his rule the Isana dynasty and East Java both rose to dizzy heights.
King Dharmavamsa teguh Anantavikramottungadeva's daughter was married to prince Airlanga who was the son of king Udayana of Bali. However, with prince Airlanga in the saddle, the decline of the kingdom began. A few years later the kingdom of Java was destroyed as a result of some calamity. Probably it was the attack unleashed by king Vuravuri which led to the destruction of this East Javanese kingdom, known for the many significant events that took place during the rule of the Isana dynasty. Thus came the end of a glorious period of Indonesian history.
About the Book
The Bhismaparva of the Indonesian Mahabharata in Kawi, the Old Javanese lanGitage, has been translated into English for the first time by Dr. I.G. Putu Phalgunadi in this volume. It was composed some time between the period 991 AD to 1016 AD.
It is a book of the famous Kawi epic, the classical Indonesian Mahabharata. Though composed almost one thousand years ago, even today it enjoys immense popularity among the Indonesian people and serves as a recurrent theme for numerous stage-shows, dramas, puppet-shows, etc. The Bhismaparva has a separate entity of its own, and is perhaps the most important of the eighteen books from the philosophical point of view. The famous Srimad Bhagavad Gita is a part of the Bhismaparva. In a way it can be held as the philosophical essence of the classical Indonesian Mahabharata,
The Epic enjoys immense popularity in Indonesian transcending religious differences. These have become the common heritage of Indonesia. According to Prof. R.C. Majumdar: "Nowhere else outside India, has Indian literature been studied with so much advantage and with such important consequences".
It would not be fair to say that the classical Indonesian Mahabharata is the Kawi translation of the Sanskrit Mahabharata. It would be more correct to say that the Kawi Mahabharata is an independent work or a recession based on the theme and story of the Sanskrit work. Sanskrit slokas have been faithfully added or quoted in order to provide authenticity and acknowledge its relationship with the original base. All the books do not appear to have been written at the same time or by the same author. This much is sure that the books were composed under the patronage of king Dharmavamsa-teguh-Ananta- vikramottungadeva, the tenth century ruler of Java. The classical Indonesian Mahabharata is a work composed in kakawin (poetry) as also the wawachan (prose) genre.
The present English translation of one of the great classical Indonesian literary texts would be of help not only to students of Indology, but also to others interested in the cultural development of South- East Asia in ancient times.
Bhismaparva is a book of the famous Kawi epic, the classical Indonesian Mahabharata. It was composed almost one thousand years ago. However, even today it enjoys immense popularity among the Indonesian people and serves as a recurrent theme for numerous stage-shows, dramas, puppet-shows, etc. Although a part of the classical Indonesian Mahabharata, the Bhismaparva has a separate entity of its own, and is perhaps the most important of the eighteen books from the philosophical point of view. The famous Srimad Bhagavad Gita is a part of the Bhismaparva. In a way it can be held as the philosophical essence of the classical Indonesian Mahabharata.
Besides being available in a written form, it forms a part of the oral tradition as well, wherein the main story and innumerable sub-stories of the book, have been orally transferred from generation to generation as part of folk-lore. Contrary to common belief it does not belong merely to the Hindus, but is the common heritage of the Indonesian people, who, irrespective of their class and creed, hold it high as a work of reverence.
It has not been possible to find out the precise period or year of its composition. However, it can be safely assessed that it was composed some time between the period 991 AD to 1016 AD. The epic, as is well known, was composed in Kawi, a language which has presently become absolute, consequently rendering this work of great importance out of bounds for the vast number of potential readers. It was precisely this factor which prompted me to embark on the -long and difficult, but at the same time interesting and important, task of translating it into English, so that this work of immense literary value be understood and appreciated by the scholars of Indology.
The social set up in the then Indonesian society thus under went a radical trans- formation, and came to be based on the catur-varna system closely following the Hindu pattern of social division, even in modern day society, while this system is fast being replaced and eroded in India, parts of Indonesia, particularly Bali, bear strong living testimony to the fact that the social system that evolved there has come to stay, firm in its moorings without further evolution displaying the social phase of an arrested culture.
However, it a feast for the eyes and ears to witness the sacred Hindu rites and ceremonies, right from the time of birth (garbhadhana) to marriage (manusayajna) to death (pitryajna), being performed in most colourful paraphernalia amidst the chanting of Vedic and Agamic hymns in contemporary Bali. When a child is born in a Hindu family in Bali, all Hindu rites of Agamic tradition are performed with great devotion and gaiety. This is closely followed by ceremonies performed at the time, when the child is about to begin his or her education. When a girl child attains the age of puberty, again a ceremony (rajasvala) is performed in accordance with Agamic rites.
Marriage ceremony performed in a Hindu family is a festival of colours. All family members and relatives dressed in colourful traditional attire drown themselves in festivities. This is one of the most important ceremonies performed during one's lifetime.
Similarly, death too, if it occurs at a ripe age, is a cause for celebrations, and the ceremonies are performed for days together. Elaborate arrangements are made for the funeral, which is an occasion, where apart from relatives, social acquaintances too are invited to participate.
Indian influence in the field of performing arts is all the more visible. The famous Indonesian puppet-show or the chaya-nataka has striking similarities with its Indian counterpart. Both in forms of ornamentation and attire of Indian origin, as also content, themes and characters, episodes from Indian Mythology are set up and performed in indigenous settings, and the entire task is accomplished with such dexterity and innovation that it is almost impossible, if one is not well versed with Indian mythology, to confidently say that it does not have an Indonesian origin.
The stories of the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas have become part of the oral, as well as, written Indonesian tradition. Although the classical Indonesian Mahabharata was composed around the year 996 AD in East Java, the story seems to have become a part of the oral tradition much earlier. The mythological story of Lord Krsna and Arjuna seems to have been told and retold from generation to generation amid the Indonesian people innumerable times, and have consequently got embedded in the lives and psyche of the masses to such an extent that the people have come to believe that the incidents narrated in the original story in actuality had taken place in Indonesia itself. This belief is further reinforced by the fact that a number of places, rivers, mountains, cities, islands, temples, shrines and even people, bear names identical to the characters found in the original Sanskrit texts. There are numerous examples and illustrations. To cite only a few, Ayodhya, the capital city of the kingdom of Lord Rama, was also the name of the former Sultanate of Central Java and the capital thereof, the river flowing through this region is also known as Sarayu, which is also the name of an Indian river which flows by the side of Ayodhya there; Sumeru which is the name for the highest mountain in the world, namely the Himalayas, is also the name of the highest mountain in Java; some of the other mountains in Indonesia are known as Brahma (East Java), Arjuna (Java), Indragiri (East Sumatra), Jaya-Vijaya (New Guenea), Kaurinchi (South Sumatra); numerous temples and shrines have names such as Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, etc.; islands bear names such as Madhura, Sumba, Bhima and Bali; some other places are known as Sunda and Sindhu (South Bali).
The Indonesian people irrespective of the religion professed by them, believe that Lord Krsna was born on this earth to rid the society of evil. Lord Krsna says in the Bhismaparva that when there is too much of evil in society, and people all around suffer as a result thereof, he the Lord, takes birth in order to punish and decimate sinners and re-establish the path of virtue and righteousness. Lord Rama took birth and rid the society of Ravana and other raksasas. Similarly Lord Krsna was born on this earth to eliminate the Kauravas, besides numerous other cruel autocrats such as Karnsa, Sisupala, Jarasandha and a host of others.
Although Lord Krsna himself did not physically participate in the great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, it was he who was mainly instrumental in getting the Kauravas defeated and wiped out. This shows the astuteness and diplomatic facet of Lord Krsna's personality. Apart from being heroes, the characters of these mythological works seem to embody and represent certain eternal values of nobility and righteous social conduct. Lords Rama and Krsna, for example represent the Supreme Being, as superhuman beings, whereas Ravana, other raksasas, Kauravas and their allies represent the evil forces present in the then society, who had obstructed the righteous path of social progress in milieu of amity, virtue and mutual self-sacrifice for the benefit of the community and were also suppressing and terrorising the common people, as well as men of wisdom. Hanuman together with other monkeys on the one hand, and the Pandavas together with their allies represent the forces of social development on the path of amity, virtue and righteousness, for whom and with whose help the Lord succeeded in eliminating the evil forces.
Thus in the garb of religious stories, such works have successfully helped in establishing the supremacy of amity, human dignity, truth, justice, equity and good conscience, self-sacrifice for the community, duty and righteousness and thus contributed towards the stability and well-being of the society. Of the eighteen books or parvas of the Mahabharata, the Bhismaparva, particularly the portion dealing with Lord Krsna's advice to Arjuna given in the centre of the battlefield of Kuruksetra, also known as the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, popularly called the Gita, and Bhisma's advice to Yudhisthira on rajaniti, seems to be the most important and sacred. It is here that the core of Hindu philosophy of Niskamakarma (action without an eye on the result) with absolute subjugation before the Lord and devoid of all feelings of desire or lust has been expounded in the Gita. Numerous treaties have been written analysing the Gita, which goes to prove its immense eternal value and relevance. It was precisely as the result of this discourse given by Lord Krsna that the great and mighty Pandava warrior Arjuna was cured of his diffidence, dejection and psychic weakness for having to fight with his elders to retain his rightful family inheritance. The rest of the story is history. The Pandava forces, less in number than that of the Kauravas, which were led by many starred, experienced and mighty warriors, crushed their opponents and annihilated the entire enemy forces, with the sole exception of two persons, namely Asvatthama, and Krpacarya, who were let off out of grace, being brahamanas.
In the long and famous discourses of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, divided into eighteen chapters in the original Sanskrit Mahabharata. Lord Sri Krsna assumes his divine and supernatural form and demonstrates before Arjuna that all those for whom he had been feeling sorry had been destined to die, and did not exist in reality. He shows that all living creatures, in fact owed their existence to him alone, and that their birth or death was an act pre-ordained by the lord. He demonstrates that those whom Arjuna considered foes or friends were already dead and that there was no use warrying about them. Further, he expounded the famous doctrine of performing one’s duty without any desire for the fruits there of. He said that living beings had acts preordained for them by their natural predisposition from their very birth and that they should learn to do the respective tasks assigned to them. He also propounded the doctrine that all men are born equal, even those occupying the lowest class, and it is only the deeds, conduct or character given to their lives that either makes them great or small. The body did matter, he said, it was the undying soul that was the essential thing, and the intervening death of the body could be compared to a simple act like discarding one’s worn out old clothes.
Asramavasaparva, Mosalaparva, Prasthanikaparva, Svargarohanaparva
The present English translation of the Asramavasaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva completes the available parvas of the Mahabharata, It is a pleasant coincidence that the English version is being printed just around one thousand years after the composition of the Kawi original. The author has finally succeeded in completing the English translation of all available parvas of the Indonesian Mahabharata , namely Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Udyogaparva, Bhismaparva, Asramavasaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva.
This work of great mythological and historical significance seems to have caught the fancy of the Kawi author or authors, who delved deep into the Sanskrit classic, borrowed the main plot, and at the same time composed a creative work by adding local details and setting. However, Sanskrit slokas have been quoted here and there in the text faithfully and extensively. It seems to have been done intentionally in order to give it a touch of authenticity. The Sanskrit text consists of eighteen Parvas, i.e. Adiparva, Sabhaparva , Vanaparva, Virataparva, Udyogaparva, Bhismaparva, Dronaparva, Karnaparva, Salyaparva, Sauptikaparva, Stripralapaparva, Santiparva, Anusasanaparva, Asvamedhikaparva, Asramavasika parva, Mausalaparva, Mahaprasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva, In Kawi however, only nine Parvas are available. These are the Adiparva. Sabhaparva, Virataparva, Udyogaparva, Bhismaparva, Asramaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanika-parva and Svargarohanaparva. The last four parvas are known by the collective title of Caturasramaparva. The Kawi classic probably comprised all the eighteen parvas which appear to have been lost due to fire or some other reasons with the end of the kingdom of Dharmavamsa Teguh Anantavikramottuilgadeva in Indonesia.
It was more than a decade ago the idea to translate all the parts (parva) of the Classical Indonesian Mahabharata first struck me. It was a formidable task in which I was greatly encouraged and guided at every step by Prof. Lokesh Chandra. I was initially inspired by his Highness Late Bhattaradevata Ida Anak Agung Chokorda Ngurah Pamecutan, X, the former King of Pamecutan, Bali, Indonesia, and my father late Rajadevata Anak Agung Putu Oka Manek, Puri Gerenceng, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, to undertake the enormous task of rendering into English the Classical Indonesian Mahabharata composed in Kawi language, the language, which has not only lost the pride of place once enjoyed by it in the classical period, but has become almost unintelligible now for the common man.
The present English Translation of the Asramavasaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva are a part of a sequence, and it is a matter of pleasant coincidence that the English version is going to be printed just around one thousand years after the composition of the Kawi original Numerous hinderances I had to face, but by the grace of the almighty Lord Siva, I have finally succeeded in completing the English translation of all available parts (parva) of the Indonesian Mahabharata, namely Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Udyogaparva, Bhismaparva, Asramavasaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva.
The present form of the Sanskrit Classical Mahabharata of sage Vyasa was composed probably in the fourth Century A.D. This work of great mythological and historical significance seems to have caught the fancy of the Kawi author or authors, who delved deep into the Sanskrit classic, borrowed the main plot, and at the same time composed a creative work by adding local details and setting. However, Sanskrit couplets (sloka) have been quoted here and there in the text faithfully and extensively. It seems to have been done intentionally in order to give it a touch of authenticity. The Sanskrit text consists of eighteen Parvas, i.e. Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Vanaparva, Virataparva, Udyogaparva, Bhismaparva, Dronaparva, Karnaparva, Salyaparva, Sauptikaparva, Stripralapaparva, Santiparva, Anusasanaparva, Asvamedhikaparva, Asramavasikaparva, Mausalaparva, Mahaprasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva. In the Kawi text however, only nine Parvas are available. Those are the Adiparva, Sabhaparva, Virataparva, Udyogaparva, Bhismaparva, Asramaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohana parva. The last four Parvas together are known by the title of Caturasramaparva. The Kawi Classical probably comprised of all the eighteen Parvas but appears to have been partly lost due to fire or some other reasons with the coming to end of king Dharmavamsa teguh-anantavikramottumgadeva's kingdom in Indonesia.
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two most ancient and sacred Sanskrit epics, composed in ancient India have been equally popular and sacred in Indonesia as well since time immemorial. These epics have transcended the boundaries of religion and enjoy immense popularity among all sections of the population in whole Indonesia, irrespective of creed or language. The mythological heroes Rama, Krsna, Arjuna and other are venerated figures. Their popularity has brought them out of the confines of the written script or print, and the people believe them to have actually been born and participated in acts and incidents attributed to them in real life as flesh and blood characters. Even in modern Indonesia, particularly in Java and Bali, one may come across many persons and places bearing the names of these mythological characters and places, such as Sumeru, Draupadi, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. A number of cities, mountains, islands, rivers, shrines and persons have names similar to the ones which are found in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. To name a few Sumeru is the name of the highest mountain in Java, a river there is known as Sarayu, Ayodhya was the name of the former Sultanate of Central Java.
Krsna and Arjuna and other figures of the Mahabharata are not mere fictional characters for the Indonesians. They have also been attributed moral dimensions. Krsna is considered as having been born to rid the society of evil. His is a multifaceted character. Besides, being a wily and astute diplomat, he was a highly accomplished yogi, and a warrior of immense prowess. His attitude to side with what is good becomes evident right from the days of his childhood, when he fought and killed many evil characters, Karnsa being the foremost among them. His qualities become evident when in the course of the great war of Kuruksetra, he establishes the supremacy of good over evil, without even raising a single finger during the war. Similarly, Arjuna is a charming character surpassing all others in charm and valour. Apart from these two heroic characters transcending the limits of time and place, another character which is considered extremely venerable in Indonesia is Draupadi. The Smara-Stava or the Pancakanya-Stava, is a hymn, wherein Draupadi’s name has been invoked. This hymn is chanted at the time of performing most of the Hindu religious ceremonies, and also chanted to pray for the blessing of a healthy, beautiful and faithful baby by the Saivite priests in Bali.
It is no wonder that these figures, despite being thousands of years old, continue to enchant and mesmerise the Indonesians, particularly the Balinese, who, even today recreate the original scenario of these epics by reading, singing, acting and staging especially the Mahabharata in its classical form.
The whole Classical Indonesian Mahabharata was composed sometime in the tenth century A.D. Probably, it, too, was composed during the reign of king Dharmavamsa-teguh-anantavikramottumgadeva, who ruled over East Java from 991 A.D. to 1016 A.D. However, that cannot be fully ascertained, as the invocation part of the Asramavasaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva is missing, where traditionally such details about the patron king are given.
Her brother Prince Dharmavamsa succeeded his father king Makutavarnsavardhana in East Java. He was the most famous king of the Isana dynasty and his reign is famous not only for his victories but also because the king turned out to be a great patron of art and literature. Armed with the royal title of Sri Dharmavamsa-teguh-Anantavikramotturngadeva he extended his frontiers well beyond Java. The great epic of Mahabharata was composed during his reign only.
Prince Airlanga the son of king Udayana and Mahendradatta married king Dharmavarnsa's daughter in 1016 A.D. Within a period of few years, the kingdom of Java had to suffer a severe tragedy resulting in ruin and destruction. Airlanga had to seek refuge in the forests. It is believe that the tragedy occurred as a result of being attacked by king Vuravuri.
As a result of the impact of Sanskrit, Kawi displays strict adherence to the Sanskrit metre. This is particularly the case with Kakawins (poems). As is the characteristic feature of all contemporary literature, Kawi literature is essentially religious. The themes have generally been borrowed from the Sanskrit epic and Puranas. Himansu Bhusan Sarkar's famous quote that 'Sanskrit have given the Indonesian writers the theme of their works is very corroborated by the facts.
The continuous trade intercourse between Indonesia and India resulted in cultural intercourse. Under the impact of the Sanskrit Ramayana, Puranas and Mahabharata, many Indonesian authors were intellectually stimulated. This was more so during the Hindu period spanning over five centuries beginning with the tenth century. During this period the literary activities were at their peak. There was hectic activity all-round. Art and literature were patronised and many works of artistic and literary value were composed during this period. The pace was however lost towards the close of the fifteenth century when the centre shifted from Java to Bali. This change was the result of the change in political climate where the ruler of Demak had conquered the Majapahit empire. Consequently the ruling elite of the Majapahit empire fled from Java and sought refuge in Bali. However, even in their flight they did not forget to bring along their literary heritage in the form of a vast body of Kawi works, such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas and other sacred Agamic Hindu literature. Kawi literary activity began in Central Java, reached its peak in East Java, and ultimately found in Bali.
Writing about the impact of Hindu literature on literary activities outside India, Prof. R.C. Majumdar says, "Nowhere else, outside India, has Indian literature been studied with so much advantage and with such important consequences." The great body of Kawi literature bears good testimony to this statement. The Kawi Mahabharata was co posed in one single genre. Some of the Parvas were written in prose (Wawacan) while others in poetry (Kakawin).
Apart from the Classical Indonesian Asramavasaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svaragarohanaparva there are numerous other Kawi classics based on the theme derived from the Sanskrit Asramaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva and Svargarohanaparva. Each author however, has given a different and indigenous colour and setting to the same theme. These works have been composed in both Kakawin as well as Wawacan. Some of the works composed in the Gaguritan and Parikan genre also.
The Classical Indonesian Asramavasaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva or Svargarohanaparva are an original creative work in the sense that despite borrowing the main theme from the Sanskrit Asramavasikaparva, Mausalaparva, Prasthanikaparva, Svargarohanaparva, the Kawi author has moulded the theme in such an environ and setting which sets it apart from the Sanskrit work. Local names of trees, animals, shrubs, rivers, mountains, places, etc. have been used in order to give it an indigenous setting. Further the poet has been methodical, systematic and selective in choosing details from the Sanskrit Mahabharata. The narrative deployed creates an impression as if the events described in the text took place in Indonesia itself.
Excessive repetition which is a characteristic feature of ancient Sanskrit works has been avoided in the Classical Indonesian Mahabharata. Names of some of the minor characters have been changed and similarly minor events have been omitted.
The Classical Indonesian Mahabharata was neither written by one single author, nor at one particular time. It is most evident from an in depth study of the Caturasramaparvas which is quite distinctive in style, and has got additional peculiarities. Although it is a part of the same manuscript, yet it is quite certain that it was composed by a different author or authors. Further, unlike other Parvas of the Kawi Mahabharata, the Svargarohanaparva has been divided into four Chapters, with each Chapter having a distinct beginning and ending, for example in the case of other Parvas of the Kawi Mahabharata, we have to guess about the beginning of a different Chapter on the basis of certain distinctive marks or signs or use of words like 'atha', 'papada' etc. However, in the case of the Svargarohanaparva, the author himself has divided the text into Chapters and the first sentence in each of the Chapters clearly spells out the beginning of a new Chapter. Many authors contributed to give addition of this work of great literary value, and the
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