Tantu Panggelaran

The Tantu Panggelaran, an Old-Javanese kakawin (ancient prose in the Kawi language), written in the fourteenth century – the heydays of the Majapahit Kingdom (Bakker 2001: 63). Though it remains unknown as to whom the author of the Tantu Panggelaran was, there is, however, a translation available of this text, namely the work of Theodoor Pigeaud (1924:129 – 139). The text tells about Mount Mahāmeru being brought to Java.

Tantu Panggelaran

First, Śiva gave Brahmā and Viṣṇu instructions to create man. Next, men emerged from Brahmā, and women emerged from Viṣṇu. Because the first humans were rather primitive in behavior, Śiva instructed the gods to create order and stability in the Javanese archipelago. Thus the gods descended from the heavens to Earth. Brahmā created order and stability on Java, but nevertheless the island kept continuously trembling and shocking. And so he went out to seek a solution through practice of yoga. As a result of Brahmā’s diligent practice Mount Hyang had arisen from the Earth’s surface on the place where Brahmā performed his austerities. And yet still the island of Java did not stay in place in the ocean, nor did it stop trembling. Then Śiva sent out all gods to Jambudvīpa in India to take and move Mount Mahāmeru to Java so that the island could be pinned down and would stop trembling.

Mt Mandara

And so the gods went to Jambudvīpa to get Mount Mahāmeru and bring it to Java. Viṣṇu then transformed himself into Ananta, a snake that functioned as a rope tied around Mount Mahāmeru so that the gods could lift up the mountain from its position. Brahmā took the form of Kūrma, the tortoise King, and would serve as a foundation for the spinning of Mount Mahāmeru. Vāyu, the God of the Wind, blew the mountain onto the Kūrma’s back. During this process there had leaked kālakūṭa poison out of Mount Mahāmeru into the ocean. The gods, being very thirsty after all their hard work, and not knowing the ocean had in fact become polluted with the kālakūṭa poison, drank the water from the sea, after which they all died. Śiva witnessed what was happening to the gods and wondered how this could be possible. He, then, noticed that Mount Mahāmeru had become all wet and soaking in kālakūṭa poison. Śiva decided to take a sip from the water so he could determine whether the gods had died from the kālakūṭa poison in the water. However, when Śiva drank the water his neck turned black, but he did not die. He, then, turned the kālakūṭa poison into tattvāmṛta ambrosia, poured some of it in his Kamaṇḍalu jar and sprayed it over the deceased gods in order to revive them back from the dead. Once the gods were brought back to life, they were able again to continue the process of moving Mount Mahāmeru to Java.

Śiva drinks kālakūṭa

At this point the gods called upon assistance from all daityas (a class of demons), dānavas (a class of demons) and rākṣasas (a class of demons). Just before the gods and demons arrived with Mount Mahāmeru in Java, a few boulders fell down the mountain. These boulders, then, formed mountains on various places in Java. Then, finally, the island of Java was brought in balance and stopped trembling. After completion of their task Śiva told the gods to go to Mount Mahāmeru and pay their homage to this mountain. He also ordered the gods to bring him some of Mount Mahāmeru’s core content, which, just like Mount Mandara contained tattvāmta ambrosia from the Kamaṇḍalu jar. After the gods had paid homage to Mount Mahāmeru they brought back with them jewels, rubies and diamonds, and offered these to Śiva. The gods, however, had left behind the Kamaṇḍalu jar, which, then, was found by two rākṣasas (demons). The rākṣasas took the jar with them, but without really knowing what it actually was. When the gods had returned back to Śiva they realized they had forgotten to bring the Kamaṇḍalu jar as well.

Śiva with Tattvāmṛta

The God of the Sun (Āditya) and Moon (Candra) reported that the Kamaṇḍalu jar had been taken away by two rākṣasas, Ratmaja and Ratmaji. Brahmā and Viṣṇu decided to head out to the dwelling place of the two rākṣasas. When they arrived there, Brahmā and Viṣṇu informed the two rākṣasas about the reason why they had come to visit them. But when they asked the rākṣasas to hand over the Kamaṇḍalu jar to them, the two demons refused. Since their initial attempt had failed, Viṣṇu then transformed himself into Mohinī – a beautiful lady – and asked the rākṣasas again for the Kamaṇḍalu jar. The two rākṣasas, then, tempted by Mohinī’s beauty, gave in to her request. And so Viṣṇu and Brahmā were able to return the Kamaṇḍalu jar to Śiva, who shared the tattvāmta ambrosia with the gods to drink from. However, among the gods was also one rākṣasa present. This particular rākṣasa was Rāhu. Rāhu was dressed like a god, so that he too, unnoticed by the other gods, could have some of the tattvāmta ambrosia. Rāhu’s trick, however, was not left unnoticed, for the God of the Sun (Āditya) and Moon (Candra) saw through Rāhu’s disguise. But Rāhu ignored their warning, which, eventually, lead to his head being cut off by Viṣṇu, whose cakra disc beheaded Rāhu before he could swallow the tattvāmta ambrosia, thereby allowing only his head becoming immortal.

Decapitation of Rahu

Bakker, Freek L, 2001, Balinees Hindoeïsme. Kampen: Kok.

Pigeaud, Theodoor Gautier Thomas, 1924, De Tantu Panggelaran: een Oud-Javaansch Prozageschrift. ’s Gravenhage: Nederl. Boek- en Steendrukkerij.

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