25 September 2023
This guest blog post is by Agung Kriswanto and Aditia Gunawan, librarians at the National Library of Indonesia. In June 2023, Agung spent a week at the British Library through the Bollinger Javanese Manuscripts Digitisation Project and recently contributed a blog post on Javanese palm leaf manuscripts written in Buda script. This post looks specifically at one Old Javanese text, Sang Hyang Hayu, the subject of Aditia's recent Ph.D. at École Pratique des Hautes Études - PSL, Paris.
MSS Jav 53 is a collection of 35 palm leaf manuscripts, numbered MSS Jav 53 a to MSS Jav 53 ii, which has been digitised by the British Library in collaboration with the École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO). The collection was obtained in Java by Colonel Colin Mackenzie during his time on the island between 1811 to 1813. The manuscripts, which are all written on the palmyra palm leaf known in Indonesia as lontar (Borassus flabellifer), contain texts written in Javanese, Old Javanese and Balinese languages, and in a variety of scripts.
The oldest known Javanese palm leaf manuscript in Buda script, dated 1493. British Library, MSS Jav 53 t
Six manuscripts in the British Library collection MSS Jav 53 are written in the archaic Buda or Gunung ('Mountain') script, and probably the most significant is found in MSS Jav 53 t, a lontar manuscript containing the text Sang Hyang Hayu, 'The Holy Good', a religious treatise in Old Javanese probably composed in the 14th century. Although Sang Hyang Hayu was written in Old Javanese, it does not appear to have been a popular text in Old Javanese literary circles, whether in Central or East Java, or in Bali. In fact, this text circulated more widely in the Sundanese cultural region of West Java, as can be seen from the fact that almost all known manuscripts of Sang Hyang Hayu originate from West Java, and nearly all are written on gebang palm leaf (Corypha gebanga), not the more usual lontar.
The importance of this text for Sundanese communities can be judged from its reception in this region: the most important portions of the text were translated into Old Sundanese by the author of Sang Hyang Sasana Mahaguru, 'Sacred Instructions of the Master', in around the 15th century. Certain authors of Old Sundanese texts have referred to Sang Hyang Hayu as vataṅ agəṅ,'The Great Book', reflecting its authoritative status (Aditia Gunawan 2023).
The importance of the British Library manuscript MSS Jav 53 t lies in the fact that this is the only copy known of Sang Hyang Hayu written in Buda script, for this text is not found in the large Merapi-Merbabu collection in National Library in Jakarta, or in any other collection of Buda-script manuscripts worldwide. Furthermore, this manuscript is complete, compared to the other Buda-script manuscripts in MSS Jav 53 which contain only fragmentary texts; equally crucially, the Sang Hyang Hayu text in MSS Jav 53 t contains a colophon. The scribe of MSS Jav 53 t also described this work as apus agəṅ, 'The Great Book', echoing the approbation of the Sundanese writers. The colophon states that the manuscript was written within the hermitage (batur) of Kasinoman, Ketralingga (read: Kertalingga?), in the Javanese Śaka year 1415, equivalent to 1493 AD. Although the precise location of Kasinoman and Ketralingga cannot be identified, the dating of 1493 AD is extremely significant not only within the group of Buda-script Javanese manuscripts, but also in the broader context of other Indonesian manuscripts, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, MSS Jav 53 t is older than the Ramayana manuscript dated 1521 AD in the Merapi-Merbabu collection held in the National Library of Indonesia in Jakarta, which has long been regarded as the oldest known Buda-script manuscript (Kuntara Wiryamartana & van der Molen, 2001: 55). Secondly, this is the second oldest known manuscript of Sang Hyang Hayu, after manuscript L 638 in the National Library of Indonesia, which is dated Śaka 1357, equivalent to 1435 AD. Thirdly, with its date of 1493, MSS Jav 53 t is by far the oldest Indonesian manuscript in the British Library.
Colophon of Sang Hyang Hayu in Buda script: ti titi pva yeka vula(n) saptami, kr̥ṣṇāpakṣa ø I śaka, 1415 ø Om̐ saṁ hyaṁ [...], giving a date equivalent to 1493 AD. British Library, MSS Jav 53 t, f. 43r
In the MSS Jav 53 collection, apart from MSS Jav 53 t which is in Buda script, there is another lontar manuscript of Sang Hyang Hayu written in a different script: MSS Jav 53 gg, which is in a form of coastal (pasisir) Javanese script. This manuscript is also extremely important as the only known copy of Sang Hyang Hayu written in Javanese script. Unfortunately, and unlike MSS Jav 53 t, MSS Jav 53 gg does not have a colophon giving details of its production, and so it is not known where or when the manuscript was written. Thus the Mackenzie collection MSS Jav 53 contains two copies of Sang Hyang Hayu, both originating from the Javanese tradition, written using two different scripts, namely Buda script and (coastal) Javanese script.
Sang Hyang Hayu, written in (coastal) Javanese script. British Library, MSS Jav 53 gg
In the British Library, in addition to the two Sang Hyang Hayu manuscripts in the MSS Jav 53 collection, there is a third Sang Hyang Hayu manuscript, MSS Jav 105, which is written in Old West Javanese quadratic script (see Acri, 2017: 48). This manuscript comes from the West Javanese tradition as it is written on gebang leaf, like the other Sang Hyang Hayu manuscripts known from West Java.
The opening lines of the text of Sang Hyang Hayu in the manuscripts MSS Jav 53 t and MSS Jav 53 gg, written on lontar, are essentially identical to that found in MSS Jav 105, which is written on gebang leaf, and all other known texts of Sang Hyang Hayu also start in the same way. It can therefore be concluded that the two copies of the Sang Hyang Hayu text found in MSS Jav 53, and written in Buda script and Javanese script on lontar (and therefore both originating from the Javanese cultural milieu of Central and East Java ), are the only two known copies of this text from a manuscript tradition outside West Java.
Beginning of Sang Hyang Hayu in Buda script, incised on lontar (palmyra leaf): Om̐ Avighnam astu nāma siḍəm· ø ndaḥ saṁ hyaṁ hayu hikaṁ hajarakna mami riṅ vaṁ kadi kita, kunaṁ deyanta humiḍəpā... British Library, MSS Jav 53 t, f. 1v
Beginning of Sang Hyang Hayu in (coastal) Javanese script, incised on lontar (palmyra leaf): Om̐ Avighnam astu nama. ṅdaḥ saṁ hyaṁ hayu hajarakna mami (- -) kadi kita, kunaṁ deyanta humiḍəp·... British Library, MSS Jav 53 gg, f. 2v
Beginning of Sang Hyang Hayu in Old West Javanese quadratic script, written in ink on gebang leaf: //ø// Om̐ Avignam astu //ø// nḍaḥ saṁ hyaṁ yu Ikaṁ Ajarakna mami riṅ vaṁ kaḍi kita, kunəṁ deyanta humiḍəpā... British Library, MSS Jav 105, f. 1v
Munawar Holil and Aditia Gunawan (2010: 140-141) have identified five Sang Hyang Hayu manuscripts in the National Library in Jakarta. Two more are held in the Kabuyutan (hermitage) of Ciburuy, at Garut in West Java, which have been digitised through the Endangered Archives Project EAP280 (EAP280/1/2/5 and EAP280/1/2/3). The text of Sang Hyang Hayu was edited by Undang A. Darsa in his master's thesis in 1998, based on three manuscripts in the National Library of Indonesia. The most recent research by Aditia Gunawan (2023) listed 12 copies of Sang Hyang Hayu held in collections worldwide. The two lontar manuscripts described above, MSS Jav 53 t and MSS Jav gg, now bring the total number of copies of this text to 14, while also showing that the 'Great Book' Sang Hyang Hayu circulated not only in the western part of Java, but also further east in the island.
[This blog post was translated by Annabel Gallop from the Indonesian original, which can be read here]
Acri, A. (2017). Dharma Pātañjala: A Śaiva Scripture from Ancient Java : Studied in the Light of Related Old Javanese and Sanskrit Texts. Second Edition. Śata-Piṭaka Series 654. New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan.
Aditia Gunawan (2023). Sundanese Religion in the 15th century: Philological Study based on the Śikṣā Guru, Sasana Mahaguru, and the Siksa Kandaṅ Karəsian. Ph.D Thesis, EPHE-PSL, Paris.
Kartika Setyawati, Kuntara Wiryamartana & Willem van der Molen. (2002). Katalog Naskah Merapi-Merbabu Perpustakaan Nasional Republik Indonesia. Yogyakarta: Universitas Sanata Dharma.
Kuntara Wiryamartana & Molen, Willem van der (2001). The Merapi-Merbabu manuscripts A Neglected Collection. Bijdragen Tot de Taal-, Land-En Volkenkunde, 157(1), 51–64.
Munawar Holil dan Aditia Gunawan (2010). ‘Membuka Peti Sunda Kuna di Perpustakaan Nasional RI: Upaya Rekatalogisasi’. In: Sundalana 9. Bandung: Pusat Studi Sunda.
Ricklefs, M.C., P. Voorhoeve and Annabel Teh Gallop (2014). Indonesian manuscripts in Great Britain: a catalogue of manuscripts in Indonesian languages in British public collections. New Edition with Addenda et Corrigenda. Jakarta: Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, Perpustakaan Nasional Republik Indonesia, Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia. [Includes a facsimile edition of Ricklefs & Voorhoeve 1977.]
Undang Ahmad Darsa (1998). ‘Sang Hyang Hayu: Kajian filologi naskah bahasa Jawa Kuno di Sunda pada abad XVI’. Master's thesis, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung.