From Cosmogony to Exorcism in a Javanese Genesis, 6


6. Incomplete and Impure Persons





Order versus Disorder



Myths of the Half-Children



Children's "Faults"



A Child's Four "Foetus Siblings"



Ablutions of Children by Water



Ablution of One's Body Housing Ancestors



Qualifying Faulty and Incomplete Children


6.1 -- p. 157 utility in reciting sequences of letters of alphabet

"If someone is out of kilter vis-a`-vis their {his or her} destiny, order can be restored by reciting the alphabet backwards ..., ... returning to one's origin. Among the many examples of this,

the second canto of the well-known Serat Darma Gandhul mentions this ... value and order of letters, called the sastra rancang or sastra jendra and supposed only to be known to the gods.

The position of these letters on the body

{specified also in the H.urufi, and its successor the Bektas^i, lore}

is discussed in canto III of the same work ... .

A Surakarta Palace manuscript, Serat Sastra Jendra sastra Cetha seka macapat (Florida 1993:404 sub voce), treats cosmogony and the position of the four primordial colours in the different parts of the body.

A more recent text, the Naskah Wedharing Sastra Jarjendra (Istana Mangkunagaran Library MS A314), published by R.M. Sajid, treats graphogony as a creation of the huan body from the sounds {phonemes} of the alphabet."

Florida 1993 = Nancy K. Florida : Javanese Literature in Surakarta Manuscripts, Vol. I. Ithaca : Cornell Univ.

6.1 -- p. 159 iindication of commencement of wayan-performance

"Every wayang performance begins with bthge dhalang twirling the parchment image of the mountain range (gunungan) or tree (kayon) which indicates that the cosmos is in movement and that something is happening."

6.1 -- p. 160, fn. 5 Skt etymology for Jawi /sukerta/ 'impurity, pollution'

"Kern had shown in his 1901 (article reproduced in his Verspreide Geschriften 1913-36, vol. x) that suker (dirt) was only a popular etymology for sukerta, and proposed svikrta (Sanskrit : seized, possessed)."

6.2 -- pp. 161-2 changeling-myth (West Jawa romance)

p. 161

"In the changeling myth, a mother becomes pregnant from a falling light, a sort of fireball. She is rejected by her father for having no known husband, and her child, Jaka Sasigar (body half), is born only half formed."

p. 162

"A beautiful ... princess dreams during the night ... that the effulgence of the ... ('made' of light) fell into her womb.

{Dream : "the sun had entered her body." (WS, p. 110, n. 4)} {Dream : "the sun entered her body." (WS, p. 111, n. 5)}

A month later she found that she was pregnant and her father chased her away. Her delivery took place on Purwajati mountain ... . She gave birth to a half (sasigar) son. The child immediately consoled her by his lessons of wisdom ... . When this very pious youth came of age, ... His mother advised him to go to the Mt. Serandil Wiat. ... He was followed by all sorts of livestock : ... They asked him about their fate ... . ... Now he came to ... where he saw the Serandil Mountain ... . ... Henceforth he led an ascetic life and his soul left his body, arising [into Heaven]. ... He obtained a new body, the old one was burnt ... .

He was henceforth known as True Man (lanan sejati)."

{This is the Chinese title for a mortal who had achieved immortality and ascended into Heaven.}

WS = Richard E. Strassberg (transl.) : Wandering Spirits : Chen Shiyuan’s Encyclopedia of Dreams. U of CA Pr, Berkeley, 2008.,_II.1-2.htm

6.2 -- p. 163 the half-boy (sasigar) [MS now at Jakarta]

"The pious king of Kelahun ... Abandoned by his nobles, ... retires to a cave to meditate.

After his death, his guard dog reports to heaven.

{Cf. the faithful hound (incarnation of god Dharma) who accompanied Yudhis.t.hira to Svarga (Heaven).}

His eldest son Ra`den Unus marries in Malaka ahd obtains a son named Daraputih who is also given to meditation and often teaches. His own {i.e., Ra`den Unus's?} daughter, Sari-langgeng (Eternal Essence), is so beautiful that many princes (from Minangkabau, Manilla, Aceh, Palembang ...) ask for her hand. She refuses them all until one night a fireball (... a 'fabricated' fire) falls on her lap, immediately creating a child, without placenta or head and only half-formed. ... The mother's servant advises her to kill the child ..., but the child without placenta or head, and using the voice of an adult, defends his misshapen form. ... Then ... men who dream of higher wisdom ... Sari-langgeng sends ... for instruction to Mt. Serandil where the prophets gather."

6.2 -- p. 164 the 2-toned boy (sle`wah) [MS from Tegal, on north-central coast]

"In the sle`wah myth, the mother is repudiated by the grandfather after the birth after the birth of a half-white, half-black son (Sulaweh). The boy goes in search of his father ..., dies, and on meeting him in heaven is given a whole new body. He later exorcizes his mother who had since become a demon queen."

"Jaka Sulaweh,

[p. 164, fn. 14 "Jaka Sle`wah" in "the Sanskrit literature ..., ... appears as Jarasandha {Jara-sandha '(by ogress) Jara assembled'}, a half-person in a royal consecration myth still used in the Javanese wayang repertoire during the play entitled Sesaji Raja Suyo."]

prince of Purwa Kanda, is black on one side and white on the other (so 'half and half', sle`wah). Jaka Sulaweh, along with his mother, is repudiated by his {mother's} father, King Istiknah, but later ... the boy falls out of a tree and dies. He is given a new body ... . Renamed Surya Kusuma, he returns ... to Purwa Kanda. There he wins the Princess Se`la Arja ..., and exorcizes his own mother, become the queen of the demon, Sokarini {/S`okarini/}, using ... the sabre of a loom (wlira). He finally succeeds his father as king. Then his own son's adventures are recounted."

6.2 -- p. 165 half-child myth from Rembon, northeast Mangarai (Flores)

"[The] first child was round. It had no arms and legs and its voice came out of its stomach. The child's name was Siti (earth). At this time there was no food to eat and people ate iron. [His father] had a dream in which he was told to ... cut up his child, and plant his flesh ... in the garden. [The father] ... cut him up and sowed his flesh ... in the ground. ... Seven days later rice ... started to sprout in the garden. The shoots called out to their mother, telling ... that they were her child reborn in a new form." [fn. 16 "Cf. Erb (1987:87)."]

Erb 1987 = Maribeth Erb : When the Rocks Were Young and Earth Was Soft : Ritual and Mythology in Northeastern Manggarai. PhD, State Univ of NY at Stony Brook.

6.4 -- pp. 168-70 survival of appetitive-souls of the organic concomitants of parturition

p. 168

"from the moment of birth, a baby ... is the centre of a group made up of his {or her} 'birth siblings'[,] that is, his {or her} placenta, umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, and

vernix caseosa.

[fn. 21 "Creamy substance which covers the body of a premature baby; the closer the birth is to term the less thick the cream."]

Care is lavished ... on these four partners of a baby's birth,

p. 169

called its siblings (cf. Headley 1987a:133-52). ... they are ... revered, and prayed to for a lifetime, by Ego as he or she grows into an adult, who thus becomes the visible centre of this invisible group of siblings. ... As time goes by, these birth siblings change aspect while continuing to assist the person whom they knew from the mother's womb. In Java these life companions are variously addressed as four elder siblings (kandha; Hooykaas 1974:93) ... . Whether fourfold or reduced to two ..., they are viewed as brothers, or sisters, of the same sex as Ego.

In Bali distinctions among the birth siblings are taken several steps further. Each of the four is said to inhabit a specific part of the body

{As such, they are aequivalent to the Bodish Bon deities who are regarded as one's external souls stationed invisibly just external to one's material body : standing on one's shoulders, etc.} {They may also be somehow aequivalent to the Taoist deities praesiding over one's internal organs (heart, lungs, liver, etc.), and visible in refined trance.}

and to have helped in distinct and specific ways to push the foetus out of the mother's womb into the world. ...

{Such assistance is, at least, reminiscent of the spirit-guides who extract one's astral-body out of one's material-body for astral travel by way of projective transvection.}

This has led the Balinese to distinguish four sets of siblings [fn. 22 : "Cf. Eisemann (1988:101-5). These four have distinct tasks; they successively accompany birth, aid in magic and rituals, help accomplish deliverance (moks[.]a)".],

{In the Umbanda practice of Brazil, some four sets of spirit-guides are likewise distinguished, each set being dedicated to a specific mode of assistance to the person whose spirit-guides they are in the current lifetime.}

depending on location and temperament, whom they experience as friends ... ."

"It is said that your kandha give life; your kala devour you."

p. 170

"practising Javanese Muslims syncretically conjoin ... the four birth siblings with ... the {Aristotelian-derived} four 'humours' {Classical Latin /umores/} found in Muslim medical psychology ... . Traditionally Muslims consider one's personality to be composed of four 'breaths' (i.e. humors {/umores/} or napsu {= Strong's 5315 /nepes^/ 'appetite'}) : accusing, approving, inspired, and quiescent."

Headley 1987a = Stephen Cavanna Headley : "The Body as a House in Javanese Society". In :- Charles Macdonald (ed.) : De la hutte au palais : socie'te's 'a` maison' en Asie du Sud-Est insulaire. Paris : E'ditions CNRS. pp. 209-18.

Eisemann 1988 = Fred B. Eisemann : Bali, Sekala and Niskala. Vol. I : Essays on Religion, Ritual and Art. Berkeley (CA) : Periplus Edns.

6.5 -- p. 171 Mantra of the Ninefold Water


__ water

becoming __


"of torture"






"of madness"

"a snake"



"a tiger"



"stone beauty"


"black" {Confucianist}

"a stone"








"the nin[e]th which comes down from heaven" {water-of-life?}

"white" {"The Lord went into the dye works of Levi. He took seventy-two different colors and threw them into the vat. He took them out all white." (GPh)}

GPh = Gospel of Philip

6.6 -- p. 173 stanzas 12 to 14 of Serat Memule` Sadhe`re`k Sakawan (Karaton Surakarta KS/587; Florida 1993:324


my bath is __

occurrent __


"jewelled feeling" [fn. 31 "welcomed and polished by jewels"]

"the close family, honoured honey water"


"a vase of green glass"

"flowing on each side from 10,000 fairies {vidyadhara-s}"


"a tree ..., a branch girl, ... kastuba sprouting ["Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd."] leaves"

"torch stars in the moon of solar essence"

6.6 -- p. 173 locations, relative to one's body, of one's own ancestors (according to the Serat Memule` Sadhe`re`k Sakawan)

my __ (ancestor)

is located at my __






in front


"on the crown of my head"

cangah (4th-generation ancestor)


waren (5th-generation ancestor)


"dheg-udheg" (6th-generation ancestor)


gantun siwur ('suspended ladle' 7th-generation ancestor)


grepak ('rotten' 8th-generation ancestor)


amun-amun ('foggy' 9th-generation ancestor)


sinagok ('chicken-coop' 10th-generation ancestor)


"kunthu string" (11th-generation ancestor)


tumbu ('a worn-out basket' 12th-generation ancestor)

"whole body"

6.7 -- p. 176 euphemistic pun contrasted with correct word

[quoted from Gonda 1952, p. 371] "a word for 'good or meritorious act' [fn. 34 : cf. also /sam-skara/ 'ceremony' {related to the language-name /Sam-skr.ta/}] ... Sanskrit sukr.ta- is indeed preserved in the literary Javanese sukerta, but the homonymous {viz., punning} word for 'disturbing, teasing' must, like Javanese sikara, which is identical in meaning, be derived from Sanskrit svikara 'appropriation ...' ...;

{The word /su-kr.ta/ 'good act' can, by way of a euphemistic pun, be substituted in place of (and not, as per Gonda, directly "derived from") /svi-kara/ 'for-oneself [dative of pronoun] making'. Perhaps, Gonda was simply too polite to ascribe any playful punning to his Javanese litte'rateurs.}

the native suker 'unclean; obstacle' may have cooperated in producing the new meaning." {Varaha, "depicted as a human figure with a boar's head, has rescued the earth, personified as a beautiful woman" ("BIVV") : but the Earth (Pr.thivi) in its aspect of soil can as well be described as a "soiled woman" (thus unclean).

{Skt /SUKARa/ (praecisely cognate with Latin /SUCUL-us, -a/, cited by Monier-Williams) 'swine', whose eating-habits are rather "unclean".} {"For the removal of all obstacles" (VJ"SV"), a 4-armed Vis.n.u is invoked : boar-god Varaha (known as /Emus.a/ in the Veda) "is depicted either as the animal or as a boar-headed man with four arms." ("PS&B")}

Gonda 1952 = Jan Gonda : Sanskrit in Indonesia. SARASVATI VIHARA SERIES 28. Nagpur : Internat Acad of Indian Literature.

VJ"SV" = "Sandhya Vandanam".

"BIVV" = "Boar Incarnation of God Vishnu (Varaha) Lifting the Earth Goddess Bhudevi"

"PS&B" = "Pig, Sow & Boar".

6.7 -- p. 177 exorcizing of Dus-yodhana

"in the Korawasrama {Kaurava-s`rama} (Swellengrebel 1936 {transl. 1983}:129), a Javanese Text from sixteenth century {ChrAira}, Kala (considered to be the demonic counterpart of the multicoloured Guru) exorcizes Duryadana, the leader of the Korawas, by using holy water from an infernal cauldron. In this text, a multicoloured Guru is transformed into a red Kala who vanquishes evil with evil."

Swellengrebel 1983 = J. L. Swellengrebel : "Some Characteristic Features of the Korawasrama Story". In :- Patrick Edward de Josselin de Jong (ed.) : Structural Anthropology in the Netherlands. KONINKLIJK INSTITUUT VOOR TAAL-, LAND- EN VOLKENKUNDE TRANSLATION SERIES 17. Leiden, Foris Publ. pp. 83-99.

6.7 -- pp. 178 & 180-1 striped pet-animals' bodies; variegated snakes

p. 178

"In the Manikmaya myth (canto 18) during the battle of the opposing armies in the first rice fields, the animals shake off their stripes and spots to reveal their true powers."

p. 180

"However, in Javanese mythology, ... the stripes of dogs and cats ... are also associated with creation processes. ...

p. 181

A striped (dalir) dog and [a striped (dalir)] cat were brought in to combat the army of monstrous ... kala-murti (embodiments of Kala), kala-srenggi (horned kala), who were destroying the rice. The dog and cat shake off their stripes and spots (belang). These stripes are of opposite colour configuration : white on brown {i.e., white stripes narrower than brown ones?} and brown-on-white {i.e., brown stripes narrower than white ones?}.

From the hairs of 'these blemished white' bodies emerges an army of dogs and cats who throw themselves into the attack against the rice-destroying kala.

{Cf. how aggressive animals emerged from the skin-pores of the kama-dhenu ('wish-cow') : according to the Lalita Mahatmya of the Brahman.d.a Puran.a, "poisonous snakes emerged from all her pores" ("LMBP").}

In the same battle, Jaka Puring, leader of the army defending the rice field from the parasites (cf. Jordaan 1987 and de Josselin de Jong 1985), produces soldiers of helpful snakes from a short spear (talempak).

helpful snakes from a short spear (talempak).

{Cf., with >ahrown, "the serpent into which His rod had been changed" (LB, p. 327).}

Led by 'Rising and Falling', Sengkan-Turunan, who uses his lengthy penis like an enormous whip, the snakes save the harvest."

"LMBP" = "Lalita Mahatmya according to Brahman.d.a Puran.a".

Jordaan 1987 = R. Jordaan : "Skin Disease, Female Ancestry and Crops". In :- Elsbeth Locher-Scholten & Anke Niehof (editrices) : Indonesian Women in Focus. Verhandelingen KITLV; Leiden : Foris Publ. pp. 120-34.

De Josselin de Jong 1985 = Patrick Edward de Josselin de Jong : Een Interdisciplinaire benadering van Indonesie als anthropologisch studieveld : een bundel opstellen. ICA PUBLIKATIE no. 73. Leiden : Instituut voor Culturele Antropologie & Sociologie der Niet-Westerse Volken.

LB = Louis Ginzberg : Legends of the Bible. Konecky & Konecky, Old Saybrook (CT).

6.7 -- p. 182 varieties of sle`wah ('2-toned')


its meaning











6.7 -- p. 184 varieties of otherwise-toned-than-sle`wah


its meaning










Stephen C.[avanna] Headley : From Cosmogony to Exorcism in a Javanese Genesis : the Spilt Seed. Oxford Univ Pr, 2000.