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Senin, 14 November 2011

The Story of Manik Angkeran

There once lived in the East Javanese kingdom of Daha, a brahman named Sidi Mantra. Sidi Mantra was known far and wide as an exemplary person, carrying out all the tenets of his religion, and purifying himself by long period of meditation.

Sang Hyang Widya acknowledged Sidi Mantra’s devotion by rewarding him with a beautiful wife and a more than adequate share of worldly goods. Sidi Mantra’s happiness was not complete, however, since, even after long years of marriage, he still had no child. He prayed and meditated, recited all the necessary formulas, and made costly sacrifices, all to no avail. Finally, after many years of loneliness and longing, his prayers were answered, and his wife gave birth to a son whom they named Manik Angkeran.
And what a splendid child Manik Angkeran was – his well-formed body and handsome face a joy to behold, his mental prowess a thing to marvel at – but it was obvious even in his earliest years, that he had an evil streak in his nature. Manik Angkeran liked to gamble. Wherever there were people gambling, there was Manik Angkeran. In the beginning, he only watched, but as soon as he began to take part in the games himself, he was ruined. When he gambled, the stakes were always high, and when he lost, which was often, this did not daunt him. He only bet more, and lost more, and gambled away everything his parents owned.
Sidi Mantra did his best to lead his son away from the path he had taken. He thought he had brought him up well enough, but what a disappointment to his parents he was now! Not only had all their own possessions been taken to pay Manik Angkeran’s debts, but money had been borrowed from other people as well, bringing the young man deeper and deeper into debt.
Finally, Manik Angkeran, in desperation, begged his father to do something, to do anything, to pay his debts to the people were now angrily demanding what he owned them. And Sidi Mantra, whose love for his son was still greater than his disappointment in him, promised that he would do whatever he could to help him.
For days on end Sidi Mantra fasted and meditated and prayed to the gods for a way out of these overwhelming difficulties. One day, deep in his meditation, he suddenly heard a voice calling his name: “Sidi Mantra, Sidi Mantra! There is a volcano in the east called mount Agung, and deep within its crater is hidden a fantastic treasure hoard, guarded by a huge dragon named Naga Besukih. If you go to the mountain and ask the dragon to give you some of the treasure he guards, he will surely do so.”
Emerging from his dreamlike state, Sidi Mantra stood up and looked about him. Then, for the first time in many a month, a smile crossed his face. He set off at once for mount Agung, and full of courage and resolve, met the obstacles he had to face on the way: dense forest, ravines, streams and rapids, and wild beast. He climbed the mountain, and at the top, looking down into the crater, sat in an attitude of response and submission, and waited, all the while ringing the Genta that he had brought with him, and mumbling the mantras that would call forth Naga Besukih.
It was not long, before the dragon appeared, and Sidi Mantra then told him the reason for his visit to the mountain. Naga Besukih understood at once. He knew that the Brahman Sidi Mantra was a favorite of the Gods, and he quickly moved his body, the whole enormous length of it, in such a way that gold and precious stones fell from his scales. The dragon said that Sidi Mantra could take home as many of the jewel he wanted.
Sidi Mantra took leave of the dragon with profuse thanks, and on returning home, paid all of Manik Angkeran’s debts with the dragon’s treasure.
Unfortunately, Sidi Mantra’s hopes that now his son would cease his gambling were all in vain, and the debts piled up as before. Again, in desperation, Sidi Mantra made the journey to Mount Agung, and again asked the dragon to help him. As before, he was able to bring home a treasure hoard.
At the sign of such riches, Manik Angkeran could not conceal his astonishment. He asked his father again and again how and where he had acquired such treasure, but Sidi Mantra adamantly refused to reveal his secret.
Of course, as before, there was soon nothing at all left of Sidi Mantra’s treasure. There was no way Manik Angkeran could be persuaded to stop his compulsive gambling, and he was never out off debt. Again, he pleaded with his father to let him know where he had obtained the treasure, but as always, Sidi Mantra refused.
One day one of Manik Ankeran’s friends suggested that riches his father had brought with him had come from Mount Agung, and Manik Angkeran decided to go there himself. He knew that if he went to such a holy place he would need to recite certain magic formulas, but these he had refuse to learn when his father had wanted to teach him. This worried him, but he decided that the Genta his father always had with him would be sufficient. When his father was asleep, he stole the Genta and set off at once for Mount Agung. After a long and arduous journey, Manik Angkeran climbed up the mountain and shook the Genta so long and so hard that the crater was filled with its sound. Then, when the dragon emerged, it seemed as though the whole mountain trembled and quaked, and Manik Angkeran was afraid.
“Who are you?” the Dragon asked. “What do you want of me?”
A bit fearfully, but most politely, Manik Angkeran told Naga Besukih why he had come to the mountain. He spoke so charmingly and convincingly, that he succeeded in evoking the dragon’s interest as well as his sympathy. The dragon then spoke to Manik Angkeran.
“Manik Angkeran,” he said, “I will give you the jewels you have requested, but only on condition that you retract your evil ways. You know that gambling is bad and that it will cause you and those who love you great sadness and misery. Never forget the law of karma: “that every single thing that you do in this life influences what will happen to you in the future. If you lead a good life perform good deeds, you will find happiness. If you lead a bad life, performing evil deeds, you will live in misery. Do you understand, Manik Angkeran? And do you promise to change your way of life?”
Without hesitating a moment, Manik Angkeran replied with a firm, “Yes!”, and as Naga Besukih turned to fetch the jewels, his long body gradually disappeared into the crater. Manik Angkeran watched, fascinated by the sight, and then, as he saw the sparkling rubies, emeralds, amethysts, and diamonds, an evil desire possessed him, and in a flash he pulled out his Keris and cut off the edge of the dragon’s tail.
Naga Besukih, wild with rage and pain, turned around again, and catching sight of Manik Angkeran running away as fast as he could, began to pursue him. Manik Angkeran’s progress was so swift that the dragon could not possibly have caught up with him. But he had no need to, for with his magic power, he could inflict any punishment he wished on the wicked young man. He stopped, licked Manik Angkeran’s footprint and at that very moment, far in the distance, Manik Angkeran’s body burst into flame. In an instant, he had become nno more than a heap of ashes.
At home, Sidi Mantra and his wife wondered what have become of their son. He had stayed away from home before, but never this long. All their inquiries met with the same response, no one had seen Manik Angkeran and no one knew where he had gone. It was when Sidi Mantra discovered that his Genta was missing that he finally realized that his son had gone to mount Agung to try to obtain more jewels from Naga Besukih, and he immediately set off on the journey to the mountain. As before, when he had reached the crater and uttered the magic formulas, the dragon came forth, and he told Sidi Mantra all that had happened, including the death of his son.
Sidi Mantra’s grief was intense. In spite of his son’s abominable behavior and the sorrow he had caused his parents, the father still loved him, not only loved him, but felt that he needed him as well, that neither he nor his wife could live without him. He spoke to the dragon.
“Naga Besukih, you must understand how I feel. You have destroyed my son, but you have the power to bring him back. Will you do so?”
“And my tail?” asked the dragon. “Manik Angkeran cut off my tail, and that after he promised to mend his ways. Can you see that my tail is returned to me?”
“Willingly”, replied Sidi Mantra. Reciting the necessary formulas, he begged Batara to restore the Dragon’s tail, and it was done. In his turn, the dragon pronounced the magic words to bring Manik Angkeran back to life. And it was done.
Manik Angkeran, restored to life, bowed low before his father and Naga Besukih, begging forgiveness and promising to lead a good life from that day forward. Sidi Mantra then took leave of his son, telling him that he knew from his long meditations that Manik Angkeran would now indeed be a praiseworthy human being – but not here.
“You will begin your new life in a new place”, he said. At that very moment, Sidi Mantra disappeared, and between the land on which Manik Angkeran stood and the land from where his father had vanished, a great pool of water appeared, flowing and deepening until it became a sea. Sidi Mantra had split open with his staff the ground on which he walked, and the grooves had immediately filled with water. This was the Bali Strait, which to this day separates Java from the island of Bali.

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