Kakawin Sutasoa is a kakawin written in Old Javanese, a Kawi language with heavy Sanskrit. It consists of 148 chapters and 1,210 verses. Kakawin is Old Javanese poem, consists of four lines with same syllables. This kakawin is famous, as Indonesia motto was taken from this: Bhineka Tunggal Ika.
It was written in the end of 14th Century, during Majapahit Kingdom period by Mpu Tantular, a court poet when King Rajasanaraga (Hayam Wuruk ) reigned.
The original verse in the kakawin in which is used as Indonesia’s motto is ;Bhinnêka tunggal ika tan hana dharma mangrwa. (Differences unites becomes one, there is no dual truths) This teaches tolerance among religions, which in the context of Sutasoma was between Hindu-Siva and Buddha.
There are some opinion scholarly about the religious climate in the Mahapahit Kingdom period. Some declare that there are two religions in that period: Hindu-Sivaism and Buddhism. And some assumed, according to Negarakertagama, there were 4 sects: Sivaism, Brahmaism, Wisnu and Buddhism. During that period, Sivaism was the dominant religion and Biddhism was less popular. But there is another opinion that Sivaism and Mahayana Buddhism share equal popularity.
This is the synopsis of the kakawin. The designated Buddha (Bodhisattva) was reborn as Sutasoma, the son of King Hastinapura, King Mahaketu. Sutasoma grew up and become pious worshipping God and dedicated to Buddhism. He was not happy to be arranged wed and crowned as king. Then one night, Sutasoma escaped from Hastinapura. Arrival at the forest, the prince and then prayed in a monastery and came goddess Widyakarali and said that his prayer was accepted. He then climbed Mountains of Himalaya accompanied by some priests. He then arrive in a hermitage and listed to a king’s story about reincarnation of a king who ate human.
The story was about a king named Purusada or Kalmasapada. One day they ran out of meat for the king, as they were eaten by dogs and pigs. The cook was puzzled and hurried to find meat, yet he could not get one. He then went to cemetery and cut leg of a corpse and served it to the king. The king was so happy as the food tasted very good because he was the reincarnation of a giant. He then asked the cook what kind of meat he cooked. The cook finally admited after threatened, that it was human flesh. Since then, the king ate human meat, until his people were all gone. The king was wounded in the leg and could not be healed and then he became giant in the forest. He vowed to dedicate 100 kings to Kala if his illness could be healed. Sutasoma was asked by the priests to kill the king, yet he refused, until goddess Pertiwi came out to beg him. Yet, still Sutasoma refused and meditated. He then continued his journey and met a giant with elephant head who ate human. Sutasoma could defeat the giant and he preached the giant about Buddhism that he must not kill other beings and then the giant became his student. The prince then met a dragon who was also defeated by him and became his student. He then met a hungry tigress, who ate her own cub but was prevented by Sutasoma, but tigress refused and still wanted to eat her cub. Sutasoma then offered himself to be eaten by tigress and tigress pounced him and drank his blood which tasted nice for her. The tigress then repent and crying, that batara Indra (god) came and brought Sutasoma to life. The tigress became Sutasoma’s student. Sutasoma and his students walked and arrived at a war between Kalmasapada and Dasabahu, who was the cousin of Sutasoma. He asked Sutasoma to go home and offered him to marry his daughter. Sutasoma returned to Hastina and married and had children and crowned as King Sutasoma. The Purusada then had 100 kings to be sacrificed to Batara Kala, yet Batara Kala did not want to eat them, but wanted Sutasoma instead. Purusada then attacked Sutasoma and arrested Sutasoma and then sacrificed to Batara kala, and Sutasoma said he was willingly to be eaten yet, Purusada must release 100 kings. Pursada was touched and he repent. All kings was released.