Sunda Wiwitan

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Sundanese tales of Princess Purbasari performing ritual. Many aspects of Sundanese beliefs are transmitted through traditional oral tradition, including local folklore.

Sunda Wiwitan (Sundanese: "early Sunda", "real Sunda", or "original Sunda") is a religious belief system of traditional Sundanese. It venerates the power of nature and the spirit of ancestors (animism and dynamism).[1]

The followers of this belief system can be found in some villages in western Java, such as Kanekes, Lebak, Banten; Ciptagelar Kasepuhan Banten Kidul, Cisolok, Sukabumi; Kampung Naga; and Cigugur, Kuningan Regency. In Carita Parahyangan this faith is called Jatisunda. Its practitioners assert that Sunda Wiwitan has been part of their way of life since ancient times, before the arrival of Hinduism and Islam.

The sacred book of Sunda Wiwitan is called Sanghyang siksakanda ng karesian, it is a didactic text of religious and moral guidance, rules and lessons. The text is identified as Kropak 630 by National Library of Indonesia. According to a kokolot (elder) of Cikeusik village, the people of Kanekes are not adherents of Hindu or Buddhist faiths; they follow an animistic system of belief that venerates and worships the spirits of ancestors. However, over the course of time Sunda Wiwitan was influenced by and incorporated Hindu, and to some extent, Islamic elements.[2]

Ontology and belief system[edit]

The highest spiritual power in Sunda Wiwitan is Sang Hyang Kersa ("The Powerful") or Nu Ngersakeun ("He Who has the Will"). This supreme being is also referred to with several names or divine titles, such as Batara Tunggal ("The One"), Batara Jagat ("Ruler of Universe"), and Batara Seda Niskala ("The Unseen"). Sang Hyang Kersa resides in the highest and the most sacred realm called Buana Nyungcung (Sundanese, lit: "Pointy Realm"). The Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Yama, an so on) are considered subordinates of Sang Hyang Kersa.[3]

According to Sunda Wiwitan ontology, the universe consists of three realms:

  1. Buana Nyungcung ("The Pointy Realm" or "Peak Realm"): the uppermost realm; the abode of the supreme highest Sang Hyang Kersa.
  2. Buana Panca Tengah ("The Middle World"): earth, the realm of human beings and animals, with five cardinal directions: east, west, north, south, and center/zenith.
  3. Buana Larang ("The Forbidden World") : hell, the realm of demons and lowly spirits, the lowermost realm.

Between Buana Nyungcung (the peak realm) and Buana Panca Tengah (earth) there are 18 layers of realms arranged in decreasing order of sacredness from top to down. The uppermost of these heavenly realms is called Bumi Suci Alam Padang or according to Kropak 630 (Sanghyang siksakanda ng karesian) called Alam Kahyangan or Mandala Hyang. This second highest realm is the abode of Nyi Pohaci Sanghyang Asri and Sunan Ambu.

Sang Hyang Kersa created seven bataras[clarification needed] in Sasaka Pusaka Buana (The Sacred Place on Earth). The oldest of these bataras is called Batara Cikal and is considered the ancestor of the Kanekes people. Other bataras ruled various locations in Sunda lands.

Value system[edit]

The value system of Sunda Wiwitan is based on written and unwritten (internalized) norms. The written norms are rules and taboos that govern the way of life of adherents, while the unwritten norms are internal and individual understandings of the faith.

Sunda Wiwitan basic and principle concepts based on two things; Cara Ciri Manusia and Cara Ciri Bangsa. These two principles are mentioned by Sunda Wiwitan elders, yet are not explicitly mentioned in the Siksa Kanda-ng Karesian, the sacred text of Sunda Wiwitan.

Cara Ciri Manusia comprises the basic elements of human life. It consists of five fundamentals:

  • Welas asih: love and compassion
  • Undak usuk: social and family order
  • Tata krama: behavior order and rules of conduct, such as politeness and courteousness
  • Budi bahasa dan budaya: language and culture
  • Wiwaha yudha naradha: "yudha" meaning war or battle, this principle refers to the essential human characteristic to always be wary or suspicious of foreign or unknown influences. This reflects an inherent conservatism and resistance to change in traditional village life. It implies that influences incompatible with tradition must be rejected.

The second concept of Cara Ciri Bangsa states that people have universals or similarities in basic human traits, yet express diversity from one individual or community to another. These elements are the source of variety among human beings:

  • Rupa: looks
  • Adat: customs and rules
  • Bahasa: language
  • Aksara: letters
  • Budaya: culture

The philosophy and value system emphasizes the internal or spiritual elements of human life, indicating that humans need spiritual guidance and wisdom in their life.

Originally Sunda Wiwitan did not incorporated many taboos or prohibitions. The core rules of conduct consist of just two elements, :

  • "Do not do something not to the taste of others" (something that others dislike), and do no harm to others
  • "Do not do something to harm yourself"

However, to honor sacred places (Kabuyutan, Sasaka Pusaka Buana or Sasaka Domas) and follow certain traditions in rice farming, Sunda Wiwitan elaborated many restrictions and taboos. The most numerous taboos (called Buyut by Kanekes people) are applied to those living within the most sacred place on earth—the people of Baduy Dalam that inhabit Sasaka Pusaka Buana (Sacred Place on Earth).

Traditions and ceremonies[edit]

In Sunda Wiwitan tradition, prayer and ritual is performed through songs and chant of pantun Sunda and kidung[clarification needed] dances. These ritual practices can be observed during the rice harvest ceremony and the annual new year festival called Seren Taun. These customary ceremonies are still performed annually by the more traditional Sundanese communities in Kanekes, Lebak, Banten; Ciptagelar Kasepuhan Banten Kidul, Cisolok, Sukabumi; Kampung Naga; and Cigugur, Kuningan.

Although modern Sundanese people may practice Islam or adhere to other faiths, influences and value systems, certain elements of traditional customs, beliefs, and culture of Sunda Wiwitan still survive into contemporary times. In terms of influence on their social values and cultural mores, Sundanese people have never abandoned traditional Sundanese beliefs.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ekadjati, Edi S, "Kebudayaan Sunda, Suatu Pendekatan Sejarah", Pustaka Jaya, Jakarta, 1995, halaman 72-73
  2. ^ Djajadiningrat, 1936: 11-12
  3. ^ Ekadjati, Edi S, "Kebudayaan Sunda, Suatu Pendekatan Sejarah", Pustaka Jaya, Jakarta, 1995, halaman 73
  4. ^ Rama Jati