Biographical Note: Spiritual Message of Indonesia to the World
By Bapak Hardjanta
This is a brief commentary by the Yogi on his childhood, immersed in the Javanese spiritual tradition with its Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) plays, through his education abroad and consequent turn towards materialistic thinking during the Dutch occupation in Indonesia, his disillusionment with the Japanese invasion of WWII, and later, his full spiritual awakening.
(note: The God Ishmaya/Semar, a character who dares to represent the voice of justice and people against great Kreshna in the Wayang story, is held as a special protector of Java. The Yogi had a great affinity for this God, considered to represent the causal plane of reality. A photo of a statue of Semar is shown in the heading banner on the right)
From childhood off till nowadays my life shows a pendulous motion. From the extreme Eastern (mystical) it turned to the extremest Western (materialistic) attitude. Disappointment and disillusion have driven me back to the East. I left the East for the West from my 7 years off, during my school-years. “Dur Weg zurück” occurred in the middle of the Japanese occupation. The details are as follows:
Language and psychology are inseparably linked together. By the oral exercises in my mother language (Javanese), my mind was filled with Eastern mythology. I was startlingly struck both by the cleverness of the dalang (the single executor of the Indonesian shadow-play) and the contents of the mythologies which were related during the whole night. The heroic attitude and the miraculous deeds of the Pandavas (five brothers in Hindu lore) who were supported by Vishnu and Ismaya impressed my psyche deeply: Semar Kuning (The Vengance of Ismaya) always kept my fantasy in its grip. The concise story is as follows:
The wedding of Abimanyu (son of Harjuna) and Siti-Sundhari (daughter of Kreshna) was celebrated very luxuriously. Night and day and for months there was feast in the kingdom of Dvaravati. “Rice, wine and women” became the device of the heroic relatives of the Pandavas. The increased burden of taxes was far too heavy for the population. Hyang Ismaya, who functioned as Semar, the servant of the Pandavas, was very discontented. One day he went to the palace; and there before the throne at the presence of all government’s authorities he uttered in a loud voice the following insulting words: “Bathra Kreshna, the incarnation of Hyang Visnu, pretends to be the torch of the world, the corn of the earth! Why does he not know the suffering of his people? Where is his all-knowledge and all-wisdom? Truly, the vision of Bathara Kreshna is darkened by rice, wine and women!” After these words he went. Hearing such phrases from a humble servant, Abimanyu was furiously angry. He followed Semar, and in the middle of the square he struck and struck Semar with the stem of his arrow. Semar only murmured:
“A child knows nothing. If he only does not touch my tuft”.
The reader must know that within the tuft of Semar dwells his wife (shakti), the symbol of occult power. Semar only becomes devilish angry if his tuft is touched. At the top of his anger Abimanyu hit the tuft! And Semar lost all his patience. In a thundering voice he said to his two sons Gareng and Petruk: “The Pandavas are not worth to be served. Let us go away my sons”. He turned and departed.
Accompanied by his two sons, Semar went to Mount Tidar and at the top of this mountain he upheavaled his consciousness with the aim of reaching that state of consciousness in which he was able to command all the Devas, the Lords and Movers of the cosmic elements. After a while Hyang Bayu (the wind-god), Hyang Brama (the fire-god), Hyang Baruna (the water-god), Nagatatmala (the mover of the earth) and Narada (the ‘ambassador” of Hyang Guru, the Lord of Lords) appeared before his spiritual vision. He commanded the Devas to utilize their power, for the Pandavas must be righteously punished. The Devas obeyed and behold! Earth-quakes and extraordinarily strong waves of wind, fire and water testified Dvaravati.
By his occult power Narada transformed the face of Semar, Gareng and Petruk; and thus they returned, and subjugated Dvaravati by arresting all the members of the Pandava group with the exception of Kreshna. Realizing the almighty power of the enemies, Kreshna escaped to the wood. Here Lord Kreshna upheavaled his consciousness and then he knew that the one way to save his relatives and country was to ask his enemies for mercy and forgiveness.
He returned and approached the throne. On his knees he promised that he would rule his people wisely and righteously. Hearing the humble words of Kreshna the transformed face of Semar, Gareng and Petruk changed and took its ordinary form. Semar, Gareng and Petruk were, as of old, the humble servants of the Pandavas.
Before the screen and narrated by the daleng this story occupies the whole night. In my infant years the greatest enjoyment was to look at the shadow-play and to hear the melodious voice of the daleng which was accompanied by the Indonesian music. Only with the greatest reluctance and the biggest tears from my side could my parents get me to go home. The first turning point was at the age of 7 years. I went to school and there I was instructed day in and day out that 2 + 2 = 4; 2 = 2, and 3 = 1 is faulty. The daily lessons and circumstances occupied my mind. In one word, rational, materialistic thinking was my business. I became a one hundred percent materialist. I rejected all that was illogical to the materialistic concept of life. I did not even believe in the existence of God for:
- He was not to be seen by means of my physical senses, and
- there was no justice in the social relations of my country.
There must be no God in the style of the description of religious teachers. If there should be a God, He must have the qualities of the devil! This vision and the crying social contrasts, created by the Dutch government, made of me an atheist and an ultra-nationalist. National leaders were my idols. I “swallowed” their books and essays. My mind was full of their revolutionary, materialistic theories. It was my hobby to read economy, sociology and revolutionary books, for “Knowledge is power” was my device. My eldest brother who was assistant-professor supplied me with the necessary books. World War II broke out. The Japanese subjugated the Dutch and occupied my country. Many of my idols left their revolutionary theories and became opportunists. I was disappointed and disillusioned. I realized the weakness of man’s character and knowledge if he was confronted the cruel, bare fact: THE JAPANESE SAMURAI!. I left school and books and lived in seclusion.
One day an old friend paid me a visit. He related his experiences during the years when we had not met and then HE GAVE ME A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF MY EXPERIENCES WITHOUT THE EXCEPTION OF THE MOST PERSONAL PARTS OF IT. Truly this man possessed the just, clear vision of Hyang Visnu and even the knowledge of all the books that were ever written was not able to give me the power as exhibited by my old friend! After a while of the deepest silence, he proposed to take a walk. We both left house. When we arrived at the middle of the town, a sudden storm surprised us. We took refuge to one of the Chinese houses. And after waiting there for a moment my friend murmured: “Wind and rain, be still!” Suddenly there was a great calm! I was very amazed! Here before my eyes I saw one who was able to give full demonstration of the truth of the miracles of the old prophets and avatars. The spiritual power of Ismaya was not a mere fantasy existing in the mind of the dalang and superstitious, backward peoples. It was a reality! The glass-house of my materialistic theories was annihilated in a moment. From that time off I always looked for a Guru to be initiated and become an earnest seeker for the eternal truth.
Now I have been living in a cottage on an island of the Bengawan Solo. One believes that I can do wonderful deeds, another is skeptical. One who does not like me declares me for mad. Another who is envious makes fun of me at my back. I myself do not bother about what others think of me, for I have only one device:
Recently I have decided to write an essay, which will give an exposition, as understandable as possible, of the background of the Philosophy of the prophets and avatars. The subject matter which I will put forward is scatteredly to be found in the Indonesian literature. It is the exhibition of the world of the prophets and avatars according to the Indonesian mind. So it is a protest against materialistic concept of life which pretends to be the ultimate, just theory. It contrarily pretends that the modern concept of life with all its scientific advancement wrenches and discredits man’s place in the cosmos. It asserts the claim that though deeply hidden there are in man super-cosmic forces which, if fully unveiled – I reject the terminology: developed – are able to invalidate even the deadly effect of the atomic bomb, the modern ghost of modern scientific man!
This writing holds up the idea that the decline or survival of mankind depends upon the rejection or reception, with all its consequences, of the ultimate truth in Wisdom-Philosophy: