9. Krsnayana (from Chapter 4)



    During the reign of Jayabaya (1135–57), the third king of Kediri, poet brothers, Mpu Sedah and Mpu Panuluh, composed the Bharatayuddha, a monument of classic Javan literature, and some other kakawins. Although the Bharatayuddha was an adaptation of the last chapter of the Mahabharata, homages to the king were added in the beginning and the ending parts[1], and the year of drafting, 1157 AD, was noted.

    The Krsnayana was another famous kakawin, composed by a contemporary poet, Mpu Triguna. The abstract of story[2] goes as follows:


    “When Princess Rukmini of Kundana Kingdom was engaged for political expediency to King Suniti of Cedi, Krsna received a letter from his aunt, Rukmini’s mother, that ‘The only man my daughter ardently loves is no other than you, Krsna. Please, rescue her before it is too late!’ He went to Kundana by chariot with his army, pretending to have appeared as a relative for felicitations and was given accommodation in the outside of the palace. Krsna contacted Rukmini through a maid. Under cover of the darkness, while it was congested with a number of guests, Rukmini successfully escaped out of the palace in the disguise of a nun. Krsna put her on his chariot and ran away. When Rukma, the brother of Rukmini, who chased after them, discovered them in a shelter and accused Krsna’s infamous conduct, Krsna countered that it was a generally accepted custom for a ksatria (warrior) to obtain his bride by force. A battle began and when Rukma finally fell to the ground and lay defenceless, Rukmini seized Krsna by the feet and implored him to spare her brother’s life. Krsna carried his bride off to Dwarawati, where they enjoyed the pleasures of their union in undisturbed peace. Rukmini bore him ten children.”



A part of the Krsnayana relief surrounding the outer wall of the 2nd floor of the main temple’s basement of Panataran Temple Complex (Left-half of the front-left side. Height: ca. 65 cm.). Krsna is running away with Rukumni by his chariot. Photographed by M. Iguchi, May 2010.




[1] In the last canto, the authors wrote, “When Krsna and the Pandawas have gone back to heaven and the Kali era [foul era] has finally come, Vishnu has incarnated himself [not this time in Krsna but] in His Majesty Jayabaya to restore peace and prosperity in Java.”

[2] P. J. Zoetmulder, Kalangwan, A Survey of Old Javanese Literature, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague 1974.