Pararaton (Part 1)

Pararaton or Serat Pararaton (Kawi language means ‘Books of Kings’) is an text book of medieval Javanese literature written in Javanese Kawi language. This  text is brief, only 32 pagest as big as folio consists of 1126 lines. The content is about kings of Singhasari and Majapahit in East Java. This book is known as Pustaka Raja. There is no record of the writer. In the end of it only written the village name and time when the writer finished the text in 1535 Saka or 3 August 1613. But considering the date, this book was written in the period of Sultan Agung in Java.

Pararaton begins with incarnation of Ken Arok, the founder of Singhasari Kingdom (1222-1292). And almost half of the book was about Ken Arok’s life until he became king in 1222, and this description is tend to be like mythology. The story then continued with short narrative parts in chronological order. Each event is given with calendar. Approaching the end, the history explanation is getting shorter mived with information about Majapahit royal family. Ken Arok emphasizing is not only by the long story about him nut also alternative title offered inside the text “Serat Pararaton atawa Katuturanira Ken Angrok”. As the oldest date in this text is 1552 Saka or 1600, estimated that the last text was written in 1481 Saka and 1600, and probably it is the first year than the second year. Pararaton begins with short prologue about Ken Arok prepared his incarnation to be a king. Ken Arok scarified himslef (yadnya) for Yamadipati, god of hell’s gate, so he could be safe from death. As a return, Ken Arok was rewarded to be born as the king of Singahasari and when he died he would enter the heaven of Wisnu.

And, as planned, Ken Arok was born from a village woman who was just married. His mother put him on a grave and the light from the baby took attention of Ki Lembong, a thieve. He took baby Ken Arok and raised him and taught him all his expertise as thieve. Ken Arok was then involved in gambling, robbery and rape. And in those cases, Ken Arok was saved by god. In incident in Gunung Kryar Lejar for example, gods went down and Batara Guru said that Ken Arok was his son, and that Ken Arok would bring stability and power to Java.

Pararaton prologue then  proceeded with story about Ken Arok encounter with Lohgawe, a Brahman from India who was ordered by Batara Guru to ascertain Batara Guru order was executed. Lohgawe was later suggested Ken Arok to see Tunggul Ametung, the ruler of Tumapel. After period of time, Ken Arok killed Tunggul Ametung to marry his wife, Ken Dedes and get Singasari throne.

Text Analysis
Some parts of Pararton could not be considered as history. Especially on the beginning, as facts and fictions are mixed together. Experts, such as CC Berg stated that the texts was supranatural and ahistoric, and made not to record past events but to determine future events. Though most experts could accept the historic side of Pararaton in certain point by examining similarities with inscriptions and China informations, that a valid interpretation could be found there.

It should be noted that the text was written in Javanese society comprehension. For Javanese, a king function are: to connect past to future, determine human life according to cosmic rules. King symbolizes Javanese scope of power, manifestation of holiness of the kingdom and his palace is believed to be the microcosms of macrocosm. a king and the founder of a dynasty are believed to have divinity degree, and his position is higher than common people.

JJ Ras compares Pararaton respectively with Canggal inscription (732), Sivagrha Inscription (856), Calcutta Stone (1041) and Babad Ranah Jawi (1836). The comparison shows obvious character , structural and function of text similarity to Melayu historiography texts.

Since 19th century, after the discovery of Pararaton text describing about Majapahit kings, experts start arranging the history of the biggest Hindu kingdom in Java scientifically, as Pararaton fits to Majapahit inscriptions. Unfortunately, Pararaton description about Majapahit kings is too short, not complete,a nd sometime confusing, that the scientists should read and translate it carefully. Therefore, until  the early 21st century Majapahit history is not completed yet.

Pararaton interpretation should be based on comprehension toward cosmogony concept of Siva-Buddha that considers a kingdom is a manifestation of Mt Mahameru, the dwelling of Bhatara Indra. Therefore, Majapahit palace family named them as Girindrawangsa, and centuries before, Sriwijaya also claimed themselves as Sailendrawangsa, which have similar meaning ‘The Family of Mt Indra’. The central of Majapahit kingdom (currently :Trowulan, Mojokerto), was surrounded by mandala (smaller regions) constituted of 8 directions (Lokapala) : Kahuripan, Tumapel, Paguhan, Wengker, Daha, Lasem, pajang and Kabalan.

As stated by DR Boechari, ‘While the kingdom is compared with Mount Meru and Indra’s heaven, the king is thought to be Indra on earth, and that the eight Lokapala are incorporated in his nature’ (MIISI, V/1, 1973). Two main mandala are Kahuripan (Janggala. Jiwana) and Daha (Kadiri, Panjalu) is the ax supporting system stability and this was used since Airlangga in the 11th century. Therefore the combination of wilwatika-janggala-kadiri (Majapahit, Kahuripan, Daha) found in inscriptions.

to be continue…