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When blind love reaps a bitter harvest, an Indonesian classic story

Updated on March 26, 2013

Indonesia is rich with legends, myths, folk lore, and folktales. There are thousands of stories from different ethnic cultures. This lens is a classic story from Java, Indonesia. The picture beside is leather puppet of King Maesasura.

The Storyline

When blind love reaps a bitter harvest

Once upon a time there was a powerful king. His name was King Maesasura who ruled in the kingdom of Gua Kiskenda. The prime minister was his brother. His name was Lembusura. And the king's youngest brother was an army officer. His name is Jatasura. But there was something strange with them. They were not ordinary human being. The heads of Maesasura and Lembusura looked like the head of a bull. They had horn. While Jatasura was a tiger. Another strange thing is that their palace was located inside of a cave.

One day King Maesasura held a meeting with Prime Minister Lembusura and high ranking officials. Jatasura was also there. Besides discussing the latest situation of their country, they also discussed about the king's personal life. Lembusura told the king that it was time for the king to marry because so far the king had no wives. Lembusura said he was ready to propose any girl for the king. Then Maesasura said.

"Well, I think you are right. The time has come for me to marry a girl. Actually I have been thinking about it lately. But I don't want to marry ordinary girl. I want to marry an angel from the palace of God. Her name is Dewi Tara"

Everybody was surprised to hear that. It was beyond their imagination. The hall was very quiet because everybody was silent. Then Lembusura broke the silence.

"Your majesty, the great king of Gua Kiskenda. I beg your pardon. But this is very unusual. It never happened before. Usually human being marry to human being"

"I know but nothing is impossible. Dream has wings. It can fly. I am a great king of Gua Kiskenda. Isn't that enough for me to marry an angel from the palace of gods? So I assigned you, Lembusura to come to palace of gods in Jonggringsalaka to propose Dewi Tara for me. Don't forget to bring our mighty army. If they refuse then destroy the palace of Jonggringsalaka and bring Dewi Tara home"

"Yes, your majesty"

Lembusura and his brother Jatasura then prepared the army of Gua Kiskenda. It was a great powerful army that had conquered many smaller kingdoms. The soldiers consist of giants, demons and monsters. When they were ready they left for Jonggringsalaka. After several days then they got to Jonggringsalaka. In Javanese literature the palace of gods was located on top of mount Mahameru. The army arrived in a very large field called Prepat Kepanasan. They marched forward toward the gate that was called Kori Sela Matangkep. It was a big gate made of stone that can move automatically.

The gods' army soon deployed to meet the coming danger. When the two armies met in the large field, the commander of god's army talked to Lembusura.

"Stop there. You are entering Jonggringsalaka's territory. You are not allowed to get in here without our permission"

"We have peaceful intention. I would like to talk to the king of god"

"If you would like to have an audience, leave your army here. We will take you inside"

Then Lembusura left his army there and he went inside the god's palace. There he met Bayu, the god of wind, Bromo the god of fire and Yamadipati, the god of death. When Lembusura expressed his mission, the gods were very angry.

"No, that is impossible. Human being cannot marry an angel. It is god's will that human being must marry human being, not an angel"

"I have King Maesasura's order to bring Dewi Tara home. I will destroy Jonggringsalaka if you refuse our proposal.

The heated debate led to hostility. Then Lembusura ordered his army to attack Jonggringsalaka. The army of Gua Kiskenda was invincible. They could easily defeat the gods' army which ran quickly to the gates of Kori Sela Matangkep. They were safe inside the walls surrounding Jonggringsalaka. But then it was besieged by the army of Gua Kiskenda.

Batara Guru, the king of gods then held a meeting to discuss the recent situation. He invited Batara Narada, the second in command of Jonggringsalaka. They decided to ask for help to an extraordinary human being that they believe could defeat Maesasura.


Meanwhile in another place there was a priest named Resi Gotama. He was a well known for his wisdom. He had a beautiful wife, Dewi Windradi and three children. The eldest was a beautiful girl named Dewi Anjani. His second son was Subali. Sugriwa was his third son. Unfortunately his children were quarrelsome. They often quarrel on many things. One day when Resi Gotama was about to meditate his children were fighting. Resi Gotama was very disappointed. Then he asked them what happened.

Subali said:" Anjani is vey stingy. She has a new toy and when I want to take a look at it she hide it. That's not fair"

Then Resi Gotama asked Anjani:"What is that? Let me take a look at it"

Anjani gave her toy to her father. Then everybody was amazed to see it. It was just a small ball but when Resi Gotama opened it, it was shining. On its lid he saw the sky and celestial beings. And on the surface of its main part he saw the earth and everything in it.

"What is this? Who gave it to you?"

"That's Cupu Manik Astagina. We can see everything in the sky and in the earth. Mom gave it to me"

"Windradi, where did you get this? Who gave you this thing?"

Windradi did not dare to say a word. She kept silent. She did not want to tell his husband that it was a gift from his former lover Surya, the god of sun. Once again Resi Gotama asked but still she kept silent. Then Resi Gotama was very angry. He knew that there was something wrong.

"You stay quiet just like a stone"

Resi Gotama was a puritan priest so he was very close to god. Consequently his words were like prayer. They could come true. Anything he said could become reality. At that time Windradi instantly changed into a stone statue. Resi Gotama then threw it away and it landed in the palace of Alengka. Then he threw the toy. Because of his spiritual power he could throw it very far. When it fell to the ground it made an explosion with a loud voice and it made a lake called Madirda Lake. Anjani, Subali and Sugriwa kept chasing after it. When they heard the loud voice they believed that the toy had fallen somewhere. So they ran more quickly to get it. Finally they got to Madirda Lake. They were sure that the toy sank into the lake. So Subali and Sugriwa without thinking twice dived into the lake. Meanwhile Anjani did not dare to dive. She just stood by it and then she washed her face, her hands and her foot. By that time god punished them for sins. Because they often quarrel with their siblings they were cursed to become apes. The water of the lake changed them into apes. Sugriwa and Subali changed completely into apes while Anjani changed partly. Only parts of her body that touched water changed into apes and the rest remain as human being.

Subali did not recognize his brother and neither did Sugriwa. They thought that the ape would take the toy. So they fought inside the lake. When Anjani realized what happened she cried and told her brother about it. Subali and Sugriwa were very surprised. They were very disappointed and then went home.

Resi Gotama was shocked when he realized his children became apes. He told them to do ascetics. Subali must live in the forest and live in trees like bat. He must not eat anything except leaves or water comes to his mouth. Sugriwa must live in the forest and eat only when leaves or grass come to his mouth. Meanwhile Anjani must live in a river and must not eat except fish come to her. And they must do that for years until god forgive them. So they left for the forest to do ascetics as instructed by their father. After some years Subali reached a high spiritual level and he had a super natural power called Aji Pancasona which makes him immortal and invincible. Nobody could defeat him because when he was killed he would live again as he touched the ground. He was a perfect match for Maesasura.


The storyline part 2

Batara Guru assigned Batara Narada to persuade Subali to fight Maesasura. Batara Narada then came to where Subali did his ascetics. Subali was meditating when Batara Narada came.

"Subali, wake up I am coming"

Subali immediately ended his meditation when he realized that a god came. He stood on the ground in front of Batara Narada.

"I am Batara Narada. I was told by Batara Guru, the supreme god that you have the honor to do a holy task. You have to kill king Maesasura from the kingdom of Gua Kiskenda"

"Yes, your holiness. But why must I kill him?"

"Because he did a serious crime. He ordered his army to attack Jonggringsalaka, the palace of gods. That is why Batara guru decided that he must be punished. He must be killed. And you are the right person to do this task because you are invincible. If you can do your job well, then Batara Guru will give you a surprise. You will marry an angel from Jonggringsalaka. Her name is Dewi Tara. Now ask your brother Sugriwa to go to Gua Kiskenda immediately"

Then Subali asked Sugriwa to accompany him to Gua Kiskenda. Sugriwa was also very powerful after some years of spiritual exercises. Several days later they got to Gua Kiskenda. Subali told his brother to get in while he would stay outside. Sugriwa could beat Jatasura and his soldiers but he was no match for Maesasura and Lembusura.

Then Subali entered the cave. Before entering it, he said to his brother,

"Sugriwa, look there is water coming out from inside the cave. Pay attention to it very carefully. If the water is read it means that I win the fight because their blood is red. But if the water is white it means that I am killed because my blood is white. In that case close the gate of this cave with these big stones to let them die inside the cave"

"Yes brother"

So Subali got into the cave. Maesasura underestimated Subali since he thought he was Sugriwa. Violent fight soon broke out. Maesasura was very powerful. He could kill Subali several times. But every time Subali touched the ground he lived again. Lembusura soon helped his brother but the same thing happened many times. Both of them were exhausted and finally Subali defeated them. He crushed their heads so hard that their brains broke into pieces. Red blood and white brain flowed out of the cave.

Meanwhile Sugriwa who had been waiting for Subali outside saw that the water flowing out of the cave was red and white. He was sure that his brother was killed so he decided to close the cave with stones.


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Photo Gallery

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Lembusura, the prime minister.Subali.King MaesasuraSugriwa and Anoman, the white ape.
Lembusura, the prime minister.
Lembusura, the prime minister.
King Maesasura
King Maesasura
Sugriwa and Anoman, the white ape.
Sugriwa and Anoman, the white ape.

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