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Jawa Dwipa

Jawadwipa was the name of the island of Java in the ancient time. All the islands located in South East Asia archipelago were named Sweta Dwipa in ancient Javanese.

The Javanese elders named the group of islands in South and South East Asia : The Islands of Jawata. ( in Javanese Jawata means God or god).

In the old days, India was named Jambu Dwipa.While the islands in Nusantara/Indonesia named Sweta Dwipa. Both are from the same region, so it is not surprising to have many similarities in their culture and both cultures were  influencing each other. There was a  geographical change in South Asia 36 to 20 million years ago. There was a movement from the south continent to the north, resulting land erection in north India, then Himalaya was born. At that time, the land of China was still under the ocean.
The sub-continent of South and South East Asia emerged as the chains of volcanic archipelago including the present Indonesia and Java.

The Descendants of gods

Accoding to ancient legends, the Javanese people are the descendants of gods. In common Javanese language- ngoko, the Javanese people is wong Jawa from wahong Jawa; and in refined Javanese language-kromo inggil is tiyang Jawa from ti hyang Jawa. Both has the same meaning i.e. the descendants of gods.

The old name of South and South East Asia sub-continent was Jawata which means  Gusti, God , the teacher of the Javanese people. According to wayang folkstales, the beauty of the island of Java had lured the gods and rhe goddesses. They left their domain in Kahyangan ( the world of gods and goddeses) and went down to earth, on the island of Java and built several kingdoms in Jawadwipa.
Jayabaya, the king of Kediri kingdom in East Java was god Wisnu who came down from his swargaloka-heaven domain. Jayabaya was very popular in Java and Indonesia  for his accurate prophecy in the course of the country. He inherited valuable teachings consisted of :

  1. Guidance on how to be a good and qualified leader for kings, queens, state officers etc.
  2. Moral guidance for leaders as well as for ordinary people.

The teaching of moral conduct  in fact has  universal values.


The First Kingdom in Jawadwipa.

Another traditional source said that Jawadwipa was the first kingdom in Java, its location was at the Mount Gede, West Java. The first king was Dewo Eso or Dewowarman, the official title was King Wisnudewo. He descended from his heaven domain- Kahyangan, manifested himself as a human being and became the king of Jawadwipa. He married to a local woman, Dewi Pratiwi who became  his consort. Dewi Pratiwi ( lit. means the goddess of Earth) was the daughter of Lembu Suro, a famous ascetic, holy man of Jawadwipa. Lembu Suro had mastered high level of spiritual knowledge and was able to live in 7/seven different dimensions of life – Garbo Pitu in Javanese. His domain was at Mount Dieng, Central Java. The word Dieng itself comes from the word Adi Hyang which means : The perfect Spirit.

The marriage between  Wisnudewo and Dewi Pratiwi is the manifestation of spiritual being ( god) that become human being who live on earth. They could live safely and comfortably on the planet earth due to the back up of earth energy as depicted by Lembu Suro.


Betara Guru

The beauty of Java had also lured The King of gods, Betara Guru who was then determined to establish his kingdom in Java. He descended from his swargaloka/heaven domain to settle at Mount Mahendra ( the old name of Mount Lawu, located in the border of Surakarta and Madiun).

Another names of Betara Guru are :

  • Sang Hyang Jagdnata – The King of the Universe
  • Sang Hyang Girinata   - The King of the Mountains 
In the kingdom of Mahendra which means The Great Heaven, his title as the king was Ratu Mahadewa-  King of the great God. The palace of Mahendra was built exactly the same with his heaven’s palace.

In Mahendra’s palace  , there were some instruments/goods which were made precisely like in his palace in heaven such as :
  1. A set of gamelan music instruments. The gods enjoyed very much its melodious voice while they were dancing. Dancing is not merely to move the bodies to follow the melody/rhytm of the gamelan music, but it is also an exercise for concentration of mind, furthermore it is for contemplation to know the real self, a way to spiritual unity with God The Creator. The name of the gamelan set was Lokananta.

  2. There were statues of Cingkarabala and Balaupata, placed on the left and right sides of the main palace’s gate.
  3. Some heirlooms in the form of daggers ( kris), cakra ( wheels),spears, arrows, made by Empu Ramadi, a well-known heirlooms maker.

The Other gods-kings

After number of  gods were able to settle comfortably in Java, married to local women and had children, Betara Guru returned back to Suralaya, the domain of gods. Some of his children then became kings in several kingdoms in Java, Sumatra and Bali.

In Sumatra

Sang Hyang/ god Sambo, was the king of Medang Prawa Kingdom, lived at the Mount Rajabasa. His title as king was Sri Maharaja Maldewa. ( At present, nearby Ceylon, there is a country by the name of Maldives or Maldewa).

In Bali

Sang Hyang Bayu, his title as king was Sri Maharaja Bimo, at the Mount Karang, his kingdom was Medang Gora. ( Up to now, another name of Bali is Pulau Dewata which means The Island of God).

In Java

Sang Hyang Brahma, his title as the king was Sri Maharaja Sunda. His palace was at the Mount of Mahera, Anyer, West Java. ( Thet was the beginning the people who live in West Java was named  Sundanese, the people of Sunda, in honor of king Maharaja Sunda)

Sang Hyang Wisnu, his title as king was Sri Maharaja Suman, the king of Medang Puro, he lived at the Mount Slamet, Central Java.

Sang Hyang Indra, his title as king was Sri Maharaja Sakra, the king of Medang Gora, at the Mount Semeru, East Java.

The palaces on top of the mountains

It is interesting to learn that gods always built their palaces on  mountains’s top. It depicted that their origin was somewhere in the sky, up at a  high rise place.

A high rise place means is considered as clean, free from dirt. It depicts that gods who have manifested themselves as human beings who lives on earth must keep their good behaviour, moral conduct and ethics.

Bumi Samboro

In Javanese  Bumi Samboro means a land which rises up to the sky. It is a symbol in Javanese spirituality. In Javanese spirituality, the example is Mount Dieng, Adhi Hyang- the teaching behind it is : people as long as they live in the world is expected to reach the peak of spiritual knowledge- soul enlightened. This achievement called Adhi Hyang or Bumi Samboro.

The manifestation of gods

Gods with light bodies, have no physical bodies, they can appear as human beings. Our brothers and sisters who have gained high spiritual knowledge know the reality of life, with  spiritual eyes, they can see , encounters and communicates with gods.

From the spirituality point of view , the descent of gods to planet Earth depicts the spirits who are permitted by Gusti( God) to live on earth as human beings who wears subtle and physical bodies. All human beings, also the Javanese,  originally are spirits, gods.

Suryo S. Negoro
Edited by Arie Suryo