maandag 4 juni 2012

A Portrait for Pak Teeuw

At the occasion of his 85th Birthday, 12 August 2006, a book was prepaired for Prof. Hans Teeuw under the title Een Milde Regen  (A Mild Rain). For this occasion I asked for a portrait of Hans Teeuw by G. M. Sudarto, the cartoonist of the newspaper Kompas. He pictured Pak Teeuw with a lontar manuscript in his right hand for his knowledge of Old Javanese and a laptop in his left hand, indicating his modernity.

I also asked Gabriel Possenti Sindhunata, Jesuit Priest and Editor of the literary journal Basis to write a wuku, a horoscope, or mystical portrait of Hans Teeuw, as he used to do of public figures. The following was the result. The Engelish translation is by Dr. Simon Rae, now in New Zealand:

Prof. Dr. Andries  Teeuw
Lahir di Gorinchem (Gorkum)
12 Agustus 1921

Nilai A bulan Agustus = 153
Nilai B tahun 1921 Masehi = 44
Nilai C = A + B + 12 =  209

Nilai C di bawah 210 jatuh pada 209,
ketemu  hari Jumat (6) Kliwon (8), neptu = 14.
Wuku ke-XXX: Watugunung

Di mana pun ia berpijak
hidupnya selalu mengalir bijak
karena ia disangga daya seekor naga
Sang Hyang Antaboga
di kedalaman bumi yang gelap gulita.
Pengorbanan dewa naga
menjadi terang di pelupuk matanya.

Bagai resi yang ingin suci dengan bertapa
ia suka mencari sunyi dengan bekerja
daun-daun dengan teliti diperiksanya
seakan di sana tersembunyi sejuta rahasia
dari kayu Wijayakusuma
tempat ia menyandarkan keprihatinannya.

Burung Gogik terbang di langitnya yang kelabu
membawa dia menghadap Batara Guru
dihantarkannya dia menyepi dari candi ke candi
diajarinya dia mengupas hidup dari sandi ke sandi.

Baginya hidup ini adalah naskah bagaikan lautan
dan ia adalah seorang nelayan
yang menjaring kata-kata bagaikan menjala ikan.
Sejuta ikan di laut
berjuta kata di dalam hidup
tapi tak satu pun mencakup
kerinduannya yang seluas laut.
Maka dilepaskannyalah ikan-ikan
dituturkannyalah kata-kata
ia yang kaya dengan kata
menjadi miskin karena kata
ia lalu menjadi pengemis kata-kata
sampai kata-kata sendiri menelan habis hidupnya:
ia adalah nelayan kata-kata
jalanya terkoyak habis oleh kata-kata.
Di hidupnya yang telah senja
kata-kata itu adalah misteri mina
ia akan mati bila ia bekerashati memeganginya.
Biarkan ikan bebas di laut
biarkan kata-kata bebas di dalam hidup
dan hidupnya pun dibebaskan oleh kata
bagaikan ikan yang tak lagi dapat dijala.

Ia bisa menghancurkan dirinya
karena Batara Kala menghuni di hatinya
Maka dengan segala upaya, Kala dijadikannya kala
maka waktu pun terhampar menjadi hampa
diisinya waktu dengan kata
maka kala berubah jadi kata
Kala Kata, Kata Kala
Kala Kata, Kata Kala
Kala Kata , Kata Kala
Enyahlah kau, hai Dewa Kala
Begitulah ia telah meruwat Kala menjadi kata.
Jadilah sekarang ia pendeta kata
yang disucikan oleh kata
dan murah hati dengan kata.

Adalah banaspati di awang-awang hidupnya
adalah api yang menyala di hatinya
adalah ketidaksabaran yang berkobar dalam dirinya.
Mengapa banaspati keluar di waktu malam
dan api makin menyala dalam kegelapan?
Ia pun berguru pada rembulan.
Kali ini ia hanya bisa berdiam.
Tanpa kata.
Diam seribu bahasa.
Malam pun bertaburan dengan kata-kata
Dan bulan hanya menjadi sebuah kata
kendati bulan adalah Kata, raja diraja dari kata-kata.
Ia pun makin diam, tunduk pada malam kata-kata.
Di akhir hidupnya, tak lagi ia mempunyai kata
Meski seumur hidupnya ia adalah pencari kata-kata.


 Perhitungan wuku didasarkan pada cara perhitungan Pradiko Reksopranoto, “Menemukan Wuku berdasar Hari/Tanggal Kalender Masehi”, dlm.: Almanak Dewi Sri yang bersengkalan “Ngesthi Suka Trusing Sabangsa” (1978). 

Translation by Dr. Simon Rae, Dunedin

Wherever he stands
his life always flows with wisdom
because he is supported by the strength of a dragon
Sang Hyang[1] Antaboga[2]
in the pitch-black depths of the earth.
The sacrifice of the divine naga
becomes light in his eyes.   

Like a hermit who seeks holiness through an ascetic life
he likes to seek quietness by working,
lontar leaves with great care he examines
in case there are hidden there a million secrets
from a branch of Wijayakusuma[3]
the place to which he commits his cares.

The Gogik bird flies in the grey skies
bearing him to present himself before Lord Shiva,
he brings him to seek a place of retreat from shrine to shrine,
he teaches him to peel life bare from joint to joint.

For him this life is a document like an ocean
and he is a fisher
who filters out words as one nets fish.
A million fish in the sea
millions of words in life
but not even one catches
his longing as wide as the sea. 
So then he releases the fish
words were spoken by him,
he who is rich in words
becomes poor because of words
he had become at last a words beggar
up to the point where words themselves swallow up his life:
he is a fisher of words
his casting net was torn to pieces by words.
In his life that was already approaching dusk
these words are a fishy mystery
he will die if he persists in holding on to them.
Let the fish be free in the sea
let the words be free in life
and life itself will be set free by words
like fish that can no longer by netted.

He is able to destroy himself
because the Lord Kala[4] dwells in his heart
so then by every means he turns Kala into time [kala][5]
so that time itself is spread out to become empty
time[waktu] he fills with words
so that time [kala] becomes word[kata]
Kala Kata, Kata Kala
Time Word, Word Time
Kala Kata, Kata Kala
Time Word, Word Time
Kala Kata, Kata Kala
Time Word, Word Time
Be off, I tell you divine Kala
in this way he has already exorcised Kala who became a word [kata].
So it came about that now he is a word pandit
who is sanctified by words
and generous with words.

There is a ghost[6] in the heights[7] of his life
there is fire that flames up in his heart
there is an impatience that flares up inside him.
Why is it that the banaspati (ghost) comes out at night
and fire burns brighter in the darkness?
He also goes to the moon[8] to learn.
This time he can only keep silent.
Without a word.
Silent in a thousand languages.
Night itself is scattered with words
and the moon becomes no more than a word.
Although the moon is Kata, king of kings among words.
Even he becomes more silent, bowing his head to the night of words.
At the close of his life, he no longer has words
although all his life he was one who looked for words.

[1] Sang Hiang: honorific for a god.
[2] Antaboga: A great snake with supernatural powers
[3] Wijayakusuma: Skt ‘bunga kemenangan’, ‘the victory flower’ believed to have supernatural power to revive the dead.
[4] Kala: the god Shiva appearing as an agent of age and death.
[5] Kala is Old Javanese from Skt kâla = Indon. waktu = time.
[6] Banaspati: Skt a ghost of the forest
[7] Awang-awang: the space between the sky (langit) and the earth (bumi)’.
[8] rembulan: ‘Javanese: moon’.  The Indonesian word, bulan, is used a few lines later.

 In 2006 there was no room for these portraits in the Memorial Book, but I am happy to put it here on the Internet for all friends who want to remember him.

vrijdag 1 juni 2012

Religious Minorities in India and Indonesia

On Thurdsay 31 May I attended a meeting in Utrecht on the theme Believing in the House of the Other. The idea was that Christian minorities have sometimes a difficult time in the house in Hindus (India) and Muslims (Indonesia). There were about 40 people present, from development organizations like ICCO, Cordaid, Islamic Relief, TEARS, Mensen met een Missie (Catholic Religious Orders, CMC or Centraal Missiecommissiariaat in earlier decades). I was invited by Dr. Kees de Jog and his wife Tuti, working in Yogyakarta but on visit in the Netherlands.

The first speaker was Radj Bhondoe, for a long time, consultant with Cordaid, the Catholic Development Organization, but now president of the Hindu Union in the Netherlands and also with a Hindu organization. He blamed the media in the West for giving so much attention to aggressive acts by Hindus and not by Christians. India and Hindus in India have given shelter to Ahmadis who fled from Pakistan, to Zoroastrian refugees from Iran, to Buddhists from Tibet. So, Hindus can be very tolerant and helpful. In Orissa some time ago a Christian missionary, working for lepers, was killed. But the press does not mention that this also was active in conversion work, not following the rules of Indian society that one has to respect other religions. Of course, this killing cannot be defended. But, when two years later a Hindu Swami who built primary schools in Orissa was killed, the Western press remained silent.
Above we see Radj Bhondoe talking in front of a maedieval painting of the seven works of mercy, in the main hall of St. Batholomew's Hospital where the meeting was held.
Bhondoe also stressed that much money given for the fight against leprosy to Sister Teresa, was not spent for medical puporses, but for missionizing. Swamis who fight against leprosy also are less successful in finding funds in Western countries.

Second speaker wasJason Fernandez from Portugal, now working on his Ph.D in the UK. He talked about the grammar of secularism in India. To be clear: in India secularism is not understood as neutrality in the field of religion or even opposition against religion, but as a very positive value, more or less like pluralism. A secular society given opportunities to all religions. He showed how cast, gender, class is interwoven with religion in India and even how the use of one's language has to do with a religious and social position.
The two ladies representing the Islamic Relief. The one in the left is probably Surinam-Muslim, judging from the name of Rahman. The one on the right looks like a non-Muslim, but still is an official in this organization. About language and denomination!

Jasper Slob gave an overview of the situation in indonesia (in ten minutes only; this was more a short conference of orientation than a thorough debate of practical problems). He sketched the situation of Christians in a transition from first class citizens (due to colonial privileges, better education, high position in the bureaucracy) towards second class citizens, because now they have often less right than the Muslim majority. Salafi Islam is growing, but among Christians aggressive preachers are also more successful than moderate classical churches.
Last speaker was Ward Berenschot, who wrote a dissertation on Muslim-Hindu conflict in Gujerat, India, but also has experience about field research in Indonesia and now has a research position at the Leiden Research Institute on Indonesia, KITLV (by the way: the Maluku Museum in Utrecht must close due to financial problems and lack of political support. Its collection will be brought to KITLV in Leiden).
Ward Berenschot pictured how Pancasila now again is popular with liberal Muslims and Christians. In the late Soeharto period it was identified as a cover up for political oppression (Pancasila wants harmony, no opposition). Now Pancasila again is the banner fro defenders of pluralism.
He promoted that development organizations should not neglect religious issues, because they are so important in countries like India and Indonesia. Human rights, gender equality, economic progress: it all has a religious dimension and that must be taken serious by all people who want to promote a better and just society.

Ayu Utami on Saman

Ayu Utami, the Indonesian writer of quite remarkable novels, was last week in the Netherlands. She arrived for a talk at the Ton-tong Fair. At the burial ceremony of Professor Teeuw she read the address written by Goenawan Mohammad. That same day sha also gave a talk/interview on her newest novel, Bilangan Pu. I still have to read that novel, but now include some observations on her two books about the seminarian/priest/ex-priest Saman.
In 1998 the first novel by Ayu Utami, Saman, appeared about the inner struggle of an Indonesian priest, written by the young novel writer Ayu Utami (born 1968). The novel is about a young priest Athanasius Wisanggeni who serves a parish in the inland regions of Sumatra where poor farmers are chased away from their forest and farmland by a coalition of plantation owners, helped by the army who want to start agricultural business. The young priest joins the poor farmers in their protest against the greater business. He is warned by a Dutch missionary, Westenberg:
"The Dutch priest, an expert in Malay languages, continued to tal about duties in the parish. Wisanggeni listened quietly. He knew that he would be reproached for neglecting his duties. Or at least, for being absent when he was needed. ‘I know that you plan to improve the fate of the poor planters in that region. That is good. But serving and supporting the faith of you congregation is also an important mission.’ So he concluded his introduction. Wisanggeni remained silent.  Then he offered his apologies. ‘It is not my purpose to neglect the ecclesiastical work. But I cannot get asleep since I visited that village.’ He wanted to say that he felt it a sin to sleep on a soft mattress and enjoyed good food. It even felt as a sin if he only would pray. He could not stand that he saw economic disaster without doing anything, though it could be repaired with some of his proposals. In a humble way he asked for an opportunity to carry out his plans." (91-2)
It took some time, but finally the priest Wisanggeni could continue his struggle for the poor farmers. However, the army supported the illegal occupation of territory, burnt the village, killed some activists and the Wisanggeni was arrested and accused of ‘preaching theology of liberation.’ (125) Father Westenberg defends him, but asks also for understanding: ‘we should not expect support from the leadership in our church. The church is in a difficult position. It has terrified many people that we are accused of being infiltrated by the Communists.’ (127) Winsanggeni takes a new identity and calls himself further Saman. He falls in love with one of the other activists fighting for the rights of the poor farmers.
                The novel Saman attracted much attention, because of the open discussion of the cooperation of the army and corrupt officials with agro-business. Besides, the quite explicit description of sexual relations made it a bestseller that sold more than 100,000 copies.
In 2001 Utami published a sequel to Saman with the novel Larung where similar themes as corruption, the internal relations within NGOs that fight for human rights, are discussed. Another theme in Larung is the traditional Javanese spirituality, that is even more elaborated in the novel of 2008, Bilangan Fu. Besides a formal, official or recognised world religion, most Indonesian people still cherish a traditional way of life. The formal religion can be seen as the male, austere and commanding side of religion, while the local tradition is more the female, free, creative line of spirituality. In this way her oeuvre can be seen as an attack on the clergy rather than a sympathetic and understanding description. Utami is, however, still quite close to people in the Catholic Church and in 2012 she published a popular biography of Bishop Albertus Soegijapranata.
In fact, I found Larung a quite difficult book to interpret. It looks as if it is divided in three sections. In the first roughly 65 pages Larung is a medical student who looks after a strange grandmother who is very sick, but cannot die, because her magical power keeps her alive. Larung receives some advice from a friend of her grandmother how to liberate her and let her die. This gives some reflections on the end of live, on euthanasia, on a fufilled life. This section is in small villages of the Javanese countryside.

The second section is in the United States and the main figures are four women who talk about husbands, lovers, bi-sexuality (Shakuntala). One woman, Yasmin, married to Lukas, is also fond of Saman. On p, 88 I wrote in the margin: 'more or less like the themes of Desperate Housewives. 
The third section is concentrated on four men: Saman, his brother Anson, Larung of the first section, but now he is also an environmental and social activist and Wayan Togog, a Balinese with the official name of Katut Ali Kertapati. Togog must escape from Indonesia, but the final action is not successful and the men are taken prisoner/killed. The rich novel has many side themes like the difficult relation between high ideals to fight for and the wish to have a nice life, to seek fulfilment in love. There are short references to the passion of Jesus (p. 151: lamasabachtani), criticism on Balinese religion: p. 174 'Brahmins are not wiser than low-cast sudra. The only difference is that they have the privilege to become priests.' Is this also a criticism on the privileges position of Catholic priests?
The combination of religion and sex is not unusual in modern literature. Gerard Reve was the most important author in the Dutch scene, but also Jan Wolkers and Maarten 't  Hart shared this interest. Ayu Utami has the somewhat absurdist atmosphere of Reve.
The photographs were taken in the nice garden in Amsterdam North where Utami gave her talk. It was a beautiful night in sunny Amsterdam.