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In the article of “ The Levels in Kejawen Spirituality” ( Chapter ; Spirituality), it has been explained that Kanoman Knowledge is destined for the youngsters.  The highest spiritual level in Kejawen is Kebatinan or Spirituality, the other words are Ngelmu Sejati which means True Knowledge or Ngelmu Kasampurnan ( The Knowledge of spiritual perfectness).

One who has gained True Knowledge is spiritually enlightened, he/she  knows his /her Real Self or Higher Self and also Reality of Life.In this spiritual level, one has reached the highest consciousness,and aware that we come from the same and one source of life, We are one.

Our brothers and sisters who have not reached ultimate reality, their souls are not yet enlightened.Probably they have excellent moral behaviour but in dealing with people their mind are still discriminating between I, you, he and she.  They still have egoistic feeling , or they probably are not greedy, but they still make discrimination. The most important person(s) is I, my family, my friends, my group. In this  life they incline to take side with worldly matters .

We have to acknowledge sincerely that not all worldly things are bad, some of them are also positive  such as the progress of  science and technology which are beneficial to humanity.


Fair Fight

The writer will tell you his experience when he was a youngster.This experience could possibly happen  in other place and time.

The writer lived in Jogjakarta until the year 1959 when he was graduated from High School.
When he was a teenager in Jogjakarta, he saw many fights between two youngsters, the fight was a duel, one boy fought with another boy, not a massive fight. No weapon such as knife or gun was used in the fight.

The situation at that time was fair and honest. When two groups of young boys were facing each other, usually they could reached a gentleman agreement, each group chose its fighter, then a fair fight occured between the two fighters.

Each group histerically supported its fighter, they fought using their skill and strength. So many blows and kicks launched between them. If one of the fighter has already pushed and looked miserably, the duel would be stopped immediately,  no one died nor fainted. The two fighters shook hand and they promised that there will be no  revenge.

A man who likes to fight
Since the old time, they were people who like to fight or one who has hobby to fight against another person ( Ngoho In Javanese slank). The cause of the fight is only trivial things. In every opportunity, a person who likes to fight always seek opportunity to be involved in fight. He just wants to practise his talent and ability by inviting other people to fight.

During that period, according to  writer’s experience, there was no fight occured due to political competion or difference of  political views. The way youngsters chose their best friends was not based on their belief nor political idea.The pupils and the students were eager to build unity for the nation and country. They were proud with the freedom of Indonesia and mentally they were ready to free West Irian ( West Papua) from the Dutch colonialists. Before and during the first democratic General Election  in the year 1955, there was no political unrest. The General Election went on smoothly and it was noted as the most democratic election held in the history of the Republic of Indonesia.


In the year 1950, there were many organizations or perguruan pencak silat. The majority of the youth who learned Pencak Silat were High School pupils, while the Gurus were skilfull and wise men in their 50’s, there were many assistants of the Gurus who were university’s students.

Pencak is a kind of physical sport,an art of self-defence. Pencak has many kinds of basic physical movements( jurus in Javanese language) and variations. The movements of Pencak can be demonstrated artistically by a good Pencak player. Every school of Pencak and every region, they have their special jurus- physical movements.

Silat is special tactics to defend and to attack including to conquer an enemy ( Kunci in Javanese language). The special tactics, kunci are  secretly kept by every school.

All students who learn Pencak Silat have to do it step by step.  Pencak Silat is an art of self-defence, not a martial art. It  indicates that a pencaksilat player is not aggresive, he/she will use his/her skill when  necessary to protect  or to defend the truth.

Pencak Silat is indeed a sport, art of self defence which needs regular training  with strong discipline, supported by healthy body and mind.

The schools of Pencak Silat do not teach supernatural knowledge using mantras or Kanuragan. They utilize maximally the potencies of the body, hands, feet etc and the brain.

A member of Pencak Silat organization is required to use his/her skill only for self-defence, for positive aims, not to boast the skill and strictly forbidden to be involved in crimes.

Any member who runs against the rule will be punished  and even suspended, but it was  rare cases in the past.


Pencak Silat “Setrum”

The students of Pencak Silat “Setrum” are guided and trained directly by Guru using supernatural power. Guru sits cross-legged or stands on the side of the training ground.He concentrates fully, sometimes he moves  his hands  slowly or fastly  doing silat movements. With his mind, he instructs his students to play silat movements. All students stand erect and are ready to do silat under the guidance of the guru. Their bodies , hands, feet, neck, torso  move as they display silat movements, sometimes slowly, other time very quick and energetic. They make defence and attack movements. They move automatically, there is no instruction heard from guru’s mouth. He gives instruction through his mind. This kind of Pencak Silat is called Pencak Silat”Setrum”

Setrum” is a word from dutch language( strom) which means “ electrical current”. Probably ,nowadays, this kind of Pencak Silat should be more proper to be called Pencak Silat using the flow of natural energy.

The exercises of Pencak Silat “Setrum” consists of : display of basic silat movements by all students; fight between one and another; a ; a fighter against several opponents; fight with tools such as using sticks, knives, swords etc.

The students are obliged to trust and  obey the guru whole-heartedly. Guru chooses his students very carefully and selectively, based on his intuition . At that time, there was no Pencak Association or Perguruan Pencak in Indonesian language which had many students,because  it would be a heavy responsibility for the guru. If a student has a bad behaviour, he/she will stain the reputation of guru and the association.

All students who learn Pencak Silat have to do it step by step. In general, guru will teach all students the same lessons of pencak silat movements for self defence and attacking foes. There are some movements like the movements of a heron, snake, monkey, tiger etc. A guru will also teach special silat movements only to certain students and not to every student.

Difinitely it is not guru’s favoritism but guru will teach special silat movements only to certain students whom considered to be suitable and capable to accept it.

Guru will also teach the students the knowledge of alternative healing such as massage  to heal strained muscles,  cure wounds and healing other illness due to mysterious things.

After a certain period of time, according to guru’s evaluation, the guru is convinced that his students are already able to absorb his teaching of Pencak Silat, he will then teach step by step the use of mantras to perform movements of Pencak Silat.

In order to be able to control every silat movement, a student must clean his body and purify his mind and heart by doing some self –denials such as fasting.

The other self-denial other than fasting is less sleeping etc. are intentionally done in order  to raise the power of the subtle body and sensitivity. To absorb the knowledge of kanuragan and other higher levels of  knowledge such as karahayon for safety, kadonyan for earning better and succesful living and kasepuhan used to heal and help sick and unhappy people, in fact  one must be brave to do self-denial.  It is a traditional heritage from the ancestors since  ancient time.The same thing applied to the gurus when they learned.

For the students to be able to absorb the teaching completely,they  must  determine to master the knowledge and at the same time be strong enough to do self-denials.

They should not complain of hunger, thirsty,less of sleep etc , as it is an indication that there are ready to accept and to absorb the knowledge.

The self-denials ( tirakat)for kanuragan and Pencak Silat “Setrum” among other are :

  1. Take a shower or bath to clean the phisical body and the subtle body. It can be done in the bathroom, in the river, in the sea or one simply could take a bath with water mixed with petals of flowers and wash the hair thouroughly.
  2. Avoid sexual relation for a certain period.
  3. Fasting, no food and drink during day time. Ngrowot- only consumes fruits and water. Mutih – only consumes  a small portion of white rice and water. Nganyep- consumes a bit of rice and vegetables without salt.

Nglowong- no food, no drink for 24 hours. Ngebleng- no food, no drink but is allowed to be outside the bedroom.

Patigeni – no food, no drink, must stay awake in the bedroom without light  for 24 hours. There is also special tirakat-self-denial like : one must do mutih for a week and during that time one is not allowed to enter the house,  sleep only under the sky. By doing tirakat/self denial , it is not considered  as self-ill-treatment, on the contrary it is a mental exercises to strengthen the ability to manage supernatural knowledge. It is in accordance with the advice of our elders : Ngelmu iki kelakone kanthi laku – One can master a (supernatural/spiritual knowledge) by doing tirakat – spiritual exercise or practice.  

The guru gives three important lessons or steps to his students :

  1. Mantra or mel or amalan in Javanese language.
  2. Fasting, self-denials .
  3. Patrap – correct position of the body i.e one has to sit crossed-leg , to stand erect etc. Niat mantap – a strong wish .

The above three steps are interrelated. Every knowledge or skill has diferent mantra and patrap. There are different kind of mantras and patraps for defense and attack.Mantra can function well if there is a harmonious relation between the man mastering the knowledge/mantra and the mantra itself.

In spirituality , The true knowledge  , the utilization of some proper mantras during spiritual exercises may lead you to open your spiritual awareness.

Transfer of Pencak Silat “Setrum” Knowledge.
When the time has come for the guru to transfer his pencak silat knowledge officially to his students, Guru will decide for the place and the time.

Place :  can be organized in the guru’s house, in a meadow, at the bank of a river, in the wood etc.
Time : Usually is at night time during full-moon  at certain Javanese calender day such as Friday Kliwon or Friday Legi. But it could also be done  in the morning or during  day time.

Transfer of knowledge

At the set date in the evening, at the yard of guru’s house, one or a number of students who are still fasting and do self-denial are ready to accept the transfer of pencak silat knowledge from guru.
Guru will whisper the related  mantra to the ear of each student. He says the mantra solemnly and in a low but clear voice. Every student repeats the mantra the same way and they must remember the mantra by heart. In the old days, it was not allowed to write a mantra.

After receiving the mantra, each student will be instructed by the guru to practise the mantra. While spelling the mantra, the student will automatically plays pencak silat movements.Beforehand, the guru has also told the student  way to stop the movements.

After the transfer of  knowledge, usually there is a prohibition order among other things they are not allowed to:  consume certain kind of food such as satay, liver etc ; not allowed to say certain words, not allowed to kill animals etc. But sometime there is no prohibition order at all .

Definitely, there are certain rules or advices to be followed ,so that silat knowledge will always function whenever needed.

Exercises of Pencak Silat “ Setrum”

In the 1950-s, I was a pupil of Elementary school in Jogjakarta. I oftenly saw my neighbors who were training pencak silat “setrum”.

Constantly there were 4(four) male neighbors between the age of 15 to 25 years old did kanuragan exercises in the bananas garden, behind our house. 

( At that time, my father had considerably a rather large plot of land in the city of Jogja. Our house  surrounded by small garden was built  in the front part , the rear part  was for banana and cassava garden. In the middle of the garden , there were four houses of our neighbors. With the consent of my father, they built their houses and lived there. They did not pay anything to the owner of the land.  Such kind of neighbors are called magersari in Javanese language.In every house lived the grand parents, the parents and the children).

The situation in our small community was warm and happy, we had a good and harmonious relations. Our “magersari” neighbors were free people, they earned their living in various sectors of life. There was one  who worked  as a mechanic in the State Railways Company, others worked as tailor, becak/pedicab driver, maker of rattan chairs, porter, while their wives were pecel( mixed vegetable dishes) sellers  in the city’s market. My father was a civil servant in the regional government of Jogjakarta, my mother was a traditional wedding beautician – pemaes in Javanese language. The children of our neighbors were the writer’s good and close friends in the neighborhood.

Silat “Monyet”

Silat”monyet” is silat imitating the movements of monkey, monyet in Indonesian and Javanese language. With my own eyes, I saw my neighbors played silat”monyet” several times.

A silat player stood erect firmly, both hands  in front his chest, he concentrated fully by closing his eyes, then said the related mantra in his mind.

Then he began to move slowly and made some quick movements like a monkey , sometimes he also shouted like a monkey.
He played the complete movements of silat by moving his body, hands, fingers, legs,  did beat, kick, scratch, jump,bite,roll his body and  attack.

Several times, I saw a silat player made a demonstration to peel coconut’s fibre using his teeth.He peeled the coconut adroitly,  held the coconut with his hands, then  peeled the fibre by biting it piece by piece. . After several minutes, the coconut be peeled off completely.

One day, I saw two front teeth of  silat player were half broken, I was surprised, how it could happened. My father was a traditional Javanese, when he was young, he was also a silat player, gamelan music player, Javanese classical dancer and always loves art and spirituality. I asked my father to answer my curiosities. My father was a traditional Javanese, when he was young he wasalso  a silat player, gamelan music player , Javanese classical dancerand always love art and spirituality. He explained to me that the silat player did not concentrated well and his teeth were not strong.Further more he told me that the silat player had a bad time, therefore his magic spell did not function well. My father then said that we must be well prepared in practising supernatural power.

According to him, when you learn  kanuragan, learn the knowledge which is useful. Kanuragan for Pencak Silat is good, but monkey silat to peel a coconut  is not. May be at that time ,he had not thought that demonstration of monkey silat to peel a coconut is quite an attraction for tourism and it can be used to make money.

The movement of Tiger’s grip

In mid  1958, I was not 17 years old yet, I was in the 3d grade of high school. One Saturday evening ,our school organized a yearly bazaar,  it was a common event held by some schools at that time. The bazaar was also opened for public. It was a lively evening, there were many outside visitors , besides our schoolmates. They usually came in a group which naturally made it more fun. r. They looked around every stand, happily they participated in some games offered or bought  something or just chatting with our female schoolmates who became vendors of the stands.

When they met another group of visitors, they greeted each other warmly and in friendly manner.  Student’s bazaar at that time was a happy event, an occasion when you can get entertainment as well as mingle with friends.

Sometime, a group of naughty teenagers, cross-boys intentionally created disturbance by fighting with other gang.

That night, a group of naughty youngsters came to our bazaar, they were asked to leave the venue by our friends who function as securities. A fight broke up.

All of a sudden, there was a loud noise like the roar of a tiger in the front school yard. I was at the back yard of the school supervising the flooded bazaar attended with many visitors. Upon hearing the roar, I ran to the front yard to see what was happening. Under the gloomy light of street lamp and moonlight, I saw my junior schoolmate was attacking his foe by movements of tiger’s grip. Every time he attacked his enemy using his both hands, tried to scratch his enemy’s face, he roared loudly like a tiger  . When he did not attack, he growled.

I saw his oppenents calmly avoiding the attacks by moving his body to right and left side, he was practising silat self-defence.Sometimes he launched some hard  punches to my friend’s face. The fight was fair, one fighter against one fighter. After several minutes, due to the loud noise of tiger’s roar, all my schoolmates who served as security guards came to the site of fight. We drove away our naughty visitors. I said in a loud voice : “ OK, that’s enough. All the perpetrators leave our school now. Or we have to do by force”.

They obeyed our warning, quickly they withdrew by riding their bicycles which were parked in front of our school.

After the attackers left, I embraced our fighter, saying : “ That’s ok, your foe has run away”, and I said  to the gathering crowd : “ Please dispersed , the show is over”. I asked my security friends to return to their places .

For “security” reasons at school, my schoolmates listened to me, probably because I was a pupil of 3d grade( the latest grade of high school) and  considered also as a naughty boy. 

Under the light, I checked our fighter, he was allright, only his left temple was bruised, he was hit in that part. I smacked lightly his shoulders, to calm him down. His breath was irregular and strong, he could not talk yet. After a while , he was breating normally and I gave him a glass of water.

Then, enthusiastically he told us what had happened.He was challenged to fight and that was why the fight occured.

It was a common thing that a fighter would analyse his performance after every fight, the same thing did by our fighter who had the tiger’s mantra.

From his story, we learned that when he spelled his mantra of tiger’s grip, he was concious. He could recall how many times he had gripped and scratched his opponent, although he was also tottering when he was hit hard on his head.

I asked him :” When you hit him down, why don’t you grip him to make him surrender?” He replied  annoyingly : “ I intended to finish him. But I saw he  drew a knife which was feasibly glaring under the moonlight, so I refrain to grip him. It could be dangerous”. Laughingly ,I said : “ I don’t understand why a tiger is afraid of a knife?” He smiled and said : “ Oh, don’t say that, if it is dangerous, you have to avoid it”.

Finally  I asked him wether he knew who his opponent was? He said that he have met him sometime ago. It seems that they would try their skills and abilities to fight. So what had happened was merely an explosion which long been anticipated.     

Meeting “An Old Tiger”

In the year of 1980-s, a close relative of mine spent several nights in our house.

He was just recently retired as an Army Colonel. The main purpose of his visit was ; 1. Enjoying his retirement.2. To  have a closer relation with me and my family. 3. This is the most important reason : He would like to explain his skill in supernatural power and share about Kejawen knowledge.

I felt honored to accept him. I know  Oom ( that was how I call him) for 20 years.

The first time I met , he was a young , healthy and handsome officer. I heard from his friends in the army, his seniors and juniors  about his tremendous supernatural ability. Some said that he could become a tiger , others said , he could be invisible. He has joint the army since the Japanese occupation period, he fought against the Dutch colonialists and participated in many military operations to uphold the unity of Indonesia including to free West Irian.

In the 1970-s, I witnessed Oom with his two brothers did Pencak Silat exercises using  sophisticated movements for attack and defence. I could know because I learned pencak silat too when I was young. The three of them were independent fighters against the Japanese and the Dutch occupation forces in Central Java.

His two brothers were gurus of Pencak Silat. I have witnessed  Oom’s accurate ability in reading situation or the fate of someone.

That night after dinner, we talked privately in the front veranda of our house.

He said to me politely, straight to the point :” I understood that you have a broad and deep knowledge of Kejawen spirituality”. I would like to explain to you what kind of ngelmu, supernatural ability I have and my related experience , so that you will understand correctly”. I replied politely : “ Sure Oom, as a younger person,  I feel honored of your visit”.

“ Look Suryo, as a traditional Javanese, I would like to say that what I am saying  is the truth, I don’t want to be considered as arrogant. It is also  my attitude of life”. 

In short he told me , in his young age during the Independant War, he and his elder brother and several friends learned kanuragan knowledge to a guru in East Java. They need kanuragan for protection, it was quite common in the time of war.

The knowledge he absorbed , kanuragan was suitable to him, because he was a soldier. He had not have enough time to accomplish Kejawen Spirituality. His guru said that he may come to learn spirituality latter-on when he is ready.

He then said seriously : “Now , I have time,and I am going to visit the place where I learned my knowledge. I hope I can meet some old friends who have become spiritualists. So that I can learn Spirituality from one of them”.
He paused for a while then he continued : “Look Suryo, when I am here, if you notice I growl, during the day or night time or during my sleep, immediately call my name once, remember only once, do not repeat “.
I said :” Okey Oom”.

Then he further explained : “ If you call my name twice or several times, my “tiger supernatural power” ( ngelmu macan in Javanese) will get up and I will run amok”

I have heard stories from his colleagues telling that during his assignment, more than once, Oom ran amok ,moving and roaring like a wild tiger. He was a popular figure among his friends, he was a good officer, he liked to joke and he was famous when he was angry he could be a tiger and became invisible.

The last time “the tiger” ran amok was  when he worked in a private company after his retirement. He felt that he was treated unfairly by the director who was a young man. For one hour “the tiger” ran amok and turned upside down the entire office.

“ Okey Oom, I’ll do as you ask me”. In my mind I said “the tiger” would not rise while he stayed in my house  . I understood quite well that the tiger would run amok if he felt insulted, not treated fairly or if faced a dangerous situation. The sensitivity of feeling, honor and safety  are  important factors.

It is also rational that someone who is not able to refrain himself when he feel insulted, he will just explode. That is the reason we have to train our patience, as it is easy to say but difficult to implement.

I never heard from Oom, how he had perfected his spiritual knowledge. One thing is sure, until he passed away peacefully  several years ago, ‘the tiger” never run amok again. Probably, “ the tiger” has returned to its habitat, while Oom is a real human being blessed by Gusti, The Loving God.

It is completely true the advice of our wise elders saying : “ An old man should leave kanuragan power ( if he has any) and also the mantras of kadonyan- worldly materialistic way of life, because kanuragan and kadonyan will hamper the true understanding of true spiritual life”.

Suryo S. Negoro
Edited by Arie Suryo