IV. Legends and Tales


1. A myth on the birth of Java Island (from Chapter 5)



In an old Javanese manuscript, Tantu Panggelaran[1], was told a mythical story, which follows.


    “Bhatara Guru [Lord Shiva] created the island of Java together with his wife, Bhatari Parameswari [Durga] and provided Mount Dihyang [Dieng], but the island was drifting on the sea. Shiva ordered the gods to move the sacred mountain, Mahameru, from Jambudipa [India] and put it on Java as a weight to stabilise it. Visnu and Brahma transformed themselves into a long serpent and a huge turtle, respectively, and the latter carried Mount Mahameru on his back, while the former put himself around to bind it. When Mahameru was placed on the western part of Java, the island was unbalanced and tilted. During the process of moving Mahameru eastwards, the mountain broke apart and six more mountains, i.e, Kantong, Wilis, Kampud, Kawi, Arjuna, and Kemukus, were formed along the route.”


    Mt. Mahameru, alternatively called Mt. Semeru, located to the east of the present-day Malang as the highest peak in Java (3,666 m), is still a sacred mountain, especially for Tenggerese, an ethnic group who live around the area and have worshipped Shiva ever since the Majapahit time. Note that Semeru is equivalent to the Chinese Xumishan (須彌山) or the Japanese Miyaukau-zan (or Myōkō-zan, 妙高山). When I spoke about Mt. Semeru to my old friend, a textile engineer and scholar of Japanese history as well as a mountaineer who had conquered many high peaks in the world, he pointed out that Semeru would lead to “Sumera”, an archaic Japanese word for emperor. According to his theory, the Sanskrit word, “Semeru”, for “the supreme being”, originating in ancient Indian philosophy prior to the birth of Hinduism and Buddhism, must have been introduced in Japan in the unknown past and applied to “emperor”.




[1] “Tantu Panggelaran: Keberadaan Pulau Jawa Pada Zaman Purbakala (Tantu Panggelaran The Creation of Java Island in Ancient Times)” http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pembicaraan:Tantu_Panggelaran