Sunday, October 16, 2011

Candi Prambanan - The Prambanan Temple

Candi Prambanan is Indonesia's cultural heritage which amazes me most. Borobudur is of course majestic in size. But I hold Prambanan dear in my heart. This temple compound is distinctively pretty. Each temple was delicately created, as if it was specifically built for a woman (I have had this thought even before I heard the story of Lara Jonggrang, you see). Unlike Borobudur, the spiritual vibe here is also stronger. Many ghost stories revolve around Prambanan. In fact, a photographer who is a friend of mine, had his camera broken when he took a picture of Dewa Wisnu in one of the major temples in Prambanan. A local said that my friend was supposed to whisper the word "amit" --which means 'excuse me'-- first before he take pictures of the sculpture. That's how you give courtesy to the spirits there. Prambanan also keeps some tragic stories --the sort of story that I fancy.

The story which is believed by the locals live around Candi Prambanan is that the temple was once built for a very beautiful princess named Lara Jonggrang. We can find a sculpture of her inside the main temple in Prambanan, that is the Candi Siwa. If you are wondering about how pretty Lara Jonggrang was, that someone can build a huge temple compound to please her, the answer is in her name. Imagine Lara Jonggrang in her heyday as someone who has a rockin body as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. This is because Lara Jonggrang means 'Slender Virgin' (I highly doubt Ms Whiteley is still a virgin though). Men seemed to be willing to go beyond the distance, no matter how far just to make the slender virgin smile at them.

Lara Jonggrang was once lived in Keraton Boko, a small kingdom within the authority area of a powerful kingdom named Kerajaan Pengging. The prosperous Pengging Kingdom ruled by a wise king named Prabu Damar Moyo who has a son named Bandung Bondowoso.

Lara's father, Prabu Boko, the ruler of Boko kingdom was the opposite of Prabu Damar Moyo in terms of character. He was a cruel king with physical appearance resembles a flesh-eating giant rather than a human. Funnily, his genes didn't passed on to his daughter. Lara Jonggrang grew up as a very beautiful lady which the locals refer to as 'an angel sent from heaven'.

Prabu Boko had long desired to revolt against the Pengging Kingdom and overthrow Prabu Damar Moyo from his throne. On a one fine day he ordered his warlord, Patih Gupolo (who  is said to also has an appearance resembles a giant) to gather forces. Patih Gupolo quickly trained young men to fight and forcefully confiscated any property he can get from the Boko kingdom's citizens to fund the war.

Once the preparation had completed, Prabu Boko led his troops marched to the Pengging Kingdom for war. The war cost many lives on both sides. When Prabu Damar Moyo found out that his people started to suffer from hunger and poverty because of the war, he sent his son, Bandung Bondowoso to fight Prabu Boko to end the battle.

The war between Bandung Bondowoso and Prabu Boko was fierce. Unfortunately for Prabu Boko that Bandung had a super power that he couldn't match. The king ended up killed by the Pengging prince.

Patih Gupolo ran away when he saw his king slayed. Bandung chased him to Keraton Boko, determined to eradicate all usurpers alive. At the Boko kingdom, Patih Gupolo went straight to see Lara Jonggrang and told her that her father died in battle, killed by a Pengging warrior named Bandung Bondowoso. The princess was devastated by her grief. 

Prince Bandung Bondowoso, who didn't expect to see such beauty possessed by Lara Jonggrang, was shaken upon arrival in Keraton Boko. It didn't take long for him to ask her to be his wife. Lara Jonggrang wasn't willing to accept his proposal of course, knowing the prince as the murderer of her father. But she couldn't say no as Bandung had conquered her kingdom. Lara Jonggrang tried to find tricks to escape the prince's marriage proposal. She came up with two challenges that the Prince should fulfilled. She will marry the prince if Bandung can build her 1,000 temples in one night. She also wanted the prince to make her a well.

Bandung accepted the challenge. He made the well first, which was named the 'Jala Tunda' well. He called the princess to look at the well when it finished. The princess came, unimpressed and asked the prince to go down the well (No local knows why the prince did what she asked. Did the princess say that it was so he can tell her about the depth of the well?). As Bandung reached the bottom of the well, Lara Jonggrang told Patih Gupolo to fill the well with stones. The prince was trapped inside. Lara Jonggrang and Patih Gupolo thought that they have successfully killed Bandung Bondowoso. What they didn't know was that Bandung was a special man with amazing super power. He was still alive and he meditated to get out from the well. He made it.

Bandung went to see Lara in huge rage. But Lara's beauty was so extraordinary that he couldn't help but to forgive her. Lara asked Bandung about the temples that he had promised her. And just like any man who is in love, Bandung did what his lady told to do. He started to work on the temples.

Bandung called a large number of supernatural creatures to help him build 1,000 temples in one night. This was worrying the princess. Afraid if Bandung Bondowoso could meet the challenge ontime, she ordered the girls around the Prambanan area to pound rice in mortars and burn the hay to create light –from the fire--, as if the morning has come. The roosters were also somehow started to crow.

Hearing the roosters crow, rice pounded and a bright light in the East, the supernatural creatures stop their work. They told Bandung Bondowoso that they couldn’t continue to work on the last temple as the morning has arrived. However, Bandung Bondowoso had the feeling that those were fake signs.  

He called the princess to come and count how many temples have been built. The total was 999. There was only one more temple left unfinished. Lara Jonggrang made this as an excuse to refuse his marriage proposal. Bandung Bondowoso felt cheated and tricked that he went mad and cursed Lara Jonggrang into a statue which he placed inside the last temple. As if that wasn’t enough, Bandung Bondowoso cursed the girls around the Prambanan area into spinsters, as they took part in the princess’ trick.

Today, the myth has grown into a belief that a young couple will have their relationship end sooner or later after they visit the Prambanan compound. 

Several months ago I visited Prambanan for my travel article. It was not long after the Merapi eruption. Prambanan was not affected much by the disaster though. But it has not fully recovered from the series of earthquakes happened years ago. Here are some photos which i took while i was there.

Candi Apit
stairs...i love stairs
inside one of the temples...i can't remember which one

Candi Siwa, the biggest in the compound. Visitors weren't allowed to go inside. The temple was still under restoration.
at the bottom left: a top part of the temple which perhaps fell during one of the earthquakes

more ruins
Prambanan is situated in a very windy area. I don't know if it's an area with great thunder storms. But i can see lightning rods in some of the tallest temples.
a cable to connect the lightning rod to the ground

the name sign of each temple is put on the ground like this. there's no money to make more appropriate name signs? i don't know

this looks like a temporary stage meant for visitors who would want to take pictures of the whole Prambanan compound

the greatest thing of being a president (even the bad one as Soeharto), you would have your name engraved in lots of important places. My mom would die to see my name on one of Indonesia's cultural heritage sites!!
more ruins...restoring a Hindu temple is like solving a very difficult puzzle. It must be hard to find which stone is right to be put in which order.
I challenge every genius out there to come to Indonesia to solve this puzzle for good. And maybe I can entertain you afterwards with a fine story about what happen if someone can remove Bandung Bondowoso's curse on Lara Jonggrang, and she comes to life in the 21 century.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Out of Love

It's scary how people could go as far below morality and humanity, because of love.

A mother could put aside her dignity and accept money from any man who'd pay her service, just so she can feed her kids.

A desperate, unemployed man looking for money for his family would jump right away at the chance of making money, even if it means that he has to sell drugs to minors.
A religious fanatic man kill other people who mock his god.
A husband corrupts to pay for his pretty wife's expensive lifestyle.
A woman with children decides to stay with a man who occasionally beat her up everytime he is upset just because he provides money for the family.

A doctor helps his severely-ill patient to die, after the patient repeatedly said that he can't take the pain anymore.
A father beats a young boy to death after he harassed his daughter.

There's a lot more of such stories that can give you the chill down your back and that can make you think.

On some saturday evenings, when my fate treating me bad, as i have to go to the office to work instead stay at home watching tv and indulge myself in excessive eating, I curse at every sight of human being on the street. I hate them as they are so many! Imagine a Saturday evening when I have to be at work, but it doesn't feel that suck as at least after my work is finished, I don't get to be trapped in a traffic when I am tired and angry. It would be pleasant. Unfortunately, it never works like that. Everytime I go to work on Saturday, I can always expect a horrible journey back home, thanks to all people that fill the streets going somewhere just because it's a Saturday evening.

Looking at the buzzing, crazy vehicles, I would automatically think of ways to reduce the bugs in number. Maybe I should be a president, I'd think. And I will make a law in which every wrongdoings conducted by a citizen will receive a death penalty. Even if it's just a tiny case as pickpocketing. Or maybe I have to become a filthy rich business woman just so I can pay the government to conduct a massive killing to reduce the number of useless people on the planet.

I feel extraordinarily happy everytime I can think of something that might successfully be a solution to how to cut the number of people living in this world. Maybe I should work for George W. Bush.

But I changed my mind about doing a massive killing at that day when my taxi passed the WTC building at Sudirman. I saw a man in the middle of the street down on his knees and bent his body so his forehead on the ground -similar to how a Moslem pray in a prostrate position. There was a lot of blood on the street from his head. The man was dying. But everyone on the side of street were only looking at him, doing nothing. One cop was focusing on organising the traffic caused by that event. I was wondering what has the man done that he received such inhuman treatment. Why there was nobody that help him and take him go to hospital. The taxi driver answered to my question, "Perhaps the man was a pickpocket thief. He's lucky people don't burn him alive...", he said.

It struck me that cruel punishments have existed already within the society. I knew that people can go as far as beating a pickpocket thief to death. But how horrible it is to actually witness such event. I am not so sure anymore that I can be the person that promote death penalty for criminals. Instead, whatever that man has done, I think he deserves to be saved.

Yesterday, there was a pengamen when I took an angkot to Pasar Minggu. Very unlikely, his voice was one of a kind as well as his song. He reminded me of Iwan Fals with a collection of songs about humanity. His song tells about a prostitute. I remember a part of the lyrics and out of curiousity, I looked out for it in the internet and found out that it is a song of Iwan Fals'. The title is Doa Pengobral Dosa.

"Di sudut dekat gerbong yang tak terpakai
Perempuan ber make-up tebal dengan rokok di tangan
Menunggu tamunya datang
Terpisah dari ramai
Berteman nyamuk nakal dan segumpal harapan
Kapankah datang tuan berkantong tebal

Habis berbatang-batang tuan belum datang
Dalam hati resah menjerit bimbang
Apakah esok hari anak-anakku dapat makan
Oh Tuhan beri setetes rezeki
Dalam hati yang bimbang berdoa
Beri terang jalan anak hamba
Kabulkanlah Tuhan..."

I took a good control of myself for not crying inside the angkot. It's a sad song, it is.
And the song took me back to that day when I passed the pickpocket thief in front of WTC.
Maybe it was a desperate man with hungry children at home.
Maybe he didn't know what else to do to make money to buy them food.
And I remember Al Pacino as Dr Jack Kevorkian in You Don't Know Jack...

People can go so far because of love

And how the right punishments should be created for people like that?

Imagine this scenario:

A wealthy man owns a huge company. He's a good man who's doing lots of charity work. He is a good provider for his family. He enjoys a very comfortable life. Then there's this man who has just lost his job. He lost his job many times. Fate is kinda cruel to him. He's a nice man with good work ethic. Too good that he let people mess with him at work. For him, office politic is not something he can deal with. At the end, his family falls apart due to financial difficulties. His wife threatens if he's not going to find a job soon, she will take away their children. Out of desperation, he apply for a job everywhere, including to the company owned by the wealthy man. He don't get the job. The wife left as promised and he's so upset that in rage he goes to the wealthy man's house. He doesn't understand why a company that big doesn't need a good employee like him. And he thinks with some money in his hand, he can have his family back. He needs money fast and he think by taking a little from the wealthy man won't hurt the man. What he doesn't know is that the wealthy man is at home when he comes to steal at the man's house. He gets panic when the wealthy man attacks him trying to get him down. He eventually kill the wealthy man.

What do you think as the right punishment for the man? Does the man deserve to be punished? He desperately needed a job, but the wealthy man's company said no. He only need a little money, but the wealthy man attack him. And what do you think of the wealthy man's death. Is it the right punishment for him as he doesn't realise that he has neglected other people in needs? Does the wealthy man, who has enjoyed a comfortable life since the day he was born, deserve to receive death as the punishment for being happy all his life while other people are suffering?

The court tries to bring justice by giving the man a life sentence. But is it a justice really? The wealthy man's family is in great grief after the lost. But after three years, they move on with life. His wife find a new wealthy husband and the family enjoy an even more comfortable life. On the other hand, the killer's wife lives a hard life as a waitress in a restaurant with a very small wage. People look at her as an unfortunate wife of a murderer. Her children are unhappy at school. Other children can't stop to mock them about their father. They feel embarrass about their father situation. They don't get dinner when their mother come home with small tips from the restaurant guests. The books they use to study are second hand items that their mother got from other parents. They wear old clothes and worn-out shoes. No one in the family is happy. The mother doesn't even know until how long the children can study at school as education fee is very expensive for her.

Where's the justice in this situation?

There's no justice in life, I tell you. What's there is a balance. If a human has a hypothalamus which controls the body to remain as it is and fights any changes inside the body (that's why fat people find it hard to go on diet), so is the world. The world has something which is more or less functions as human's hypothalamus. Things need to be in balance. So if the world has set that among 100 poor people there's only one wealthy man, somehow we have to believe that it's for a balance in life. Perhaps if all people rich, the world ends faster and that's not what the hypothalamus want, is it? So some people have to be sacrificed.

Now whenever I see too many people on the street, I take a deep breath and hope for many more natural disasters to happen as I believe that that's how the world 'detox' itself from the unhealthy human being. I'm imagining that human is more or less like white blood cell. Too few and too much is not good for the human body. This means, too few or too much people is not good for the future of the universe.

I won't dreaming of myself being a massive killer as Hitler or George W. Bush anymore as I am a human and I don't know exactly how to bring balance in life. How many people should i kill or should I let alive. Let the world decides.

I can only go this far for my love to the universe.