This is a story about a man who finally find Him.
The Javanese have their own interpretation and method regarding to their understanding about God. It’s a very unique and sophisticated perspectives that I could find not only in Asia, but also in the world. Are Javanese looking for God? Sure. But what are we have to highlight is; Javanese have a tendency to see God not as something far, something that is difficult, or something that is menacing. In fact, they found God as something that is very close. He is very close, so close until we can’t see Him anymore.
This understanding is an ancient concept, build from the earliest Javanese religion. But it might be correct if we speculate that Javanese learn and upgrade their religion to the higher level when Hindu and Buddha are introduced to them circa 5th or 6th century AD. This is the time when Javanese learned to see human and everything in the universe as another form of God.
It might be a little bit confusing, but the basic concept is actually simpler than it looks. I’m going to tell you about the story of Bima and his ultimate knowledge. This is the story of Dewa Ruci.
Bima is the third child from the Pandawa family. His older brother, Yudhistira and Arjuna, are the only people he would bow to besides his teacher. Bima is brave, honest, and very strong. These feature Bima has, are one of the famous characterization in the wayang mythology, alongside with the other character.
The story starts when Bima asked his teacher, Dorna, about the holy water. The holy water is called Prawitasari. The Prawitasari known for its ability to give the essence of eternal knowledge for anybody who finds it.
“You can find Prawitasari at Trikbasara jungle, my apprentice.” Said Dorna to Bima.
Bima go to the jungle, finds nothing but beasts and monsters. He fight it all alone, yet he founds nothing.
“It might be at Reksamuka mountain.” Dorna stares Bima eyes when he said that. The apprentice decide to try it again. It’s the holy water, it must be worth the danger.
Reksamuka is nothing but peril. It is the mountain of raksasa. Bima fights two of the biggest raksasa. And still, he hasn’t find any holy water.
Bima didn’t know that Dorna is not as a good teacher as he thought. Dorna wants something bad happened to him. Dorna knows that Bima won’t find any holy water. It’s only the matter of time Bima would failed, Dorna think.
But our knight is stronger than it seems. After Bima fights and kills the raksasa, he realized that he won’t find anything soon. The holy water is too difficult, and it might be only on his mind.
“There is one place that I haven’t try.” Bima thinks. “The ocean.”
In the realm of Javanese philosophy, the ocean represents the depth of knowledge. Unlike the sky, the ocean has it limit. But yet we won’t touch it. Simply because it’s too difficult, or because it’s too dark. What Bima gonna meet at the ocean is something that he never ever imagined before.
Bima was looking for Prawitasari when out of nowhere the sea monster, with an appearance looks like a giant snake, grab him and try too kill him. It was one of the hardest battle ever. Bima won, but he lost all of his energy. Bima drowned at the depth of the ocean, and it was the time when he thinks that he won’t make it.
Suddenly, just like a dream, Bima woke up. He was at the bottom of the sea, looking at a weird creature that stares his eyes.
“Who are you?” Bima ask.
The creature still stares him when it speak, “I am you, and you are me.”
Bima didn’t understand, but then he realized something unusual. The creature in front of him looks like him, only smaller. It’s like he meet his mini version.
“Do you want to understand? Do you want the Truth? Go inside of me.” the creature point its left ear.
Not like it’s weird already, Bima try to open its left ear. He passed it easily, and suddenly deep inside the unknown creature, Bima see the whole things. The Truth.
Inside the mini version of himself, Bima found everything. He already fought all over places, from the jungle to the mountain and the sea. He didn’t found the holy water, for there is no holy water. His teacher lied to him, but he meet something more precious than anything in the world, himself.
Javanese called the creature Bima met at the sea, the mini version of Bima; Dewaruci. Ruci means halus, or soft. Bima is anything but halus. But because Dewaruci is actually Bima himself, it is probable that Javanese juxtapose the two of them by adding a different characterization.
When Bima meet Dewaruci, not only that he meet himself, but he also meet God. And when he penetrates into Dewaruci’s ear, it symbolize how Bima merge with God, how he finally meet the Truth. Inside Dewaruci’s small body, he found the universe. Another wonderful juxtaposition.
The merging between human and God is called Manunggaling Kawula Gusti, the state where human and God are finally one. This concept – in my opinion – has a level of sophistication that you won’t find any match almost anywhere. The concept itself is not pure Hindu or Budha, but also has an Islamic tasawuf influence. The merging between man and God are used to be popular in Islamic world , thanks to Al-Ghazali and Ibn Arabi. (The concept is not popular anymore, like we all know).
Javanese brought and told this concept on a new level. They mixed it with the character that has its origin in India, added with a new philosophy from the west (Islam), teach it with the local wisdom, and they came with the story of Dewaruci. Dewaruci is very Javanese, very Indonesia. Its character might come from somewhere far, but its basic idea is original. The concept might be weird when we try to see it and understand it right now. But if you look at it, you might find something new, something that you haven’t try to see before.
You might want to search your God somewhere far, but He is actually near you. Search it yourself, and you might see Him in you.