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Sunday, April 19, 2009


The role of Wayang is very big in development of Islam in Java, considering that most of Javanese people religion was Hindu with the art is wayang. Therefore, the holy persons ( Sunan Bonang and Sunan Kalijaga ) modified wayang stories and insert Islam elements into wayang in order to spread Islam and wake people easier to understand it through Wayang.
One of the elements of Wayang is the character of Pandawa whom is set up representing the five pillars of Islam.

Pandawa as the symbol of Islam Pillars :
The member of Pandawa, Yudhistira (Puntadewa) and brothers, who are the good in the genuine version became special characters by Sunan Bonang and Sunan Kalijaga, not only their behavior which are depicted in the "Ora's" (narration by "Dhalang"), but also through the shape of Wayang visually, so we can predict the characterization, behavior, and the attitude of the characters from their visual shape.

1. Yudhistira : the eldest of Pandawa sibling, the symbol of the first Islam pillars that is "Syahadat".
Therefore, He has special weapon named "Jamus Kalimosodo" which has meaning " Kalimah Syahadat", while the visual shape is representing patience, nature, honest, simple (without accessories). The philosophy is that someone who become a Muslim is person who is ready to be a honest, wise, and good person. Property and wealth are not important.

2. Bimasena : the second brother in Pendawa, who is symbolized as the second pillar of Islam that is "Prayer" (Sholat)
Implicitly, Bima is a character which is very firm, strong, brave, wise, fair and discipline. These are appropriate with the character of sholat itself, that sholat is obligatoried for each Moslem's no matter who they are or no matter what social class they belong to no matter how old they are everyone has to do sholat with the same method and manner. This is similar Bimo's language and diction when he talked/spoke with all people without manning any difference.
And also depicted by the shape of the Wayang itself, that is representing the character above.

3. Arjuna : the symbol of "Fasting" (Puasa)
The third brother of Pandawa who is usually called Janoko is completely appropriate to symbol " Puasa", because this character known as a person who like meditation, learning to the "Wiku" (priest) to reach kindness for his family and public wealth in this country. Visually, the shape of Arjuna Wayang depicting a character of gentle, handsome and simple (without accessories).
The handsomeness makes him adored by many women, so he is known as a character who has many wives.

4. Nakula and Sadewa : the symbol of "tithe" (Zakat) and "pilgrimage" (Haji).
Zakat and Haji are two types of charity which has material needs, that is money (wealth). Therefore, the figure of Nakula - Sadewa is depicted in beautiful dress with accessories such as bracelet, kilatbahu (arm bracelet), necklace and many accessories which representing property and wealth.

That was the depiction of the holy person's genius in digging traditional arts of Java especially Wayang, which is modified to be medium in spreading Islam to the society. And as we know that the success reached by Sunan Bonang and Sunan Kalijaga is wider in fact that their hermitation reach the primitive area until the south coast, mean while Sunan Ampel and Sunan Giri just reached the north coast.

We need to give honest appreciation toward those holy persons (Walisongo) and furthermore their strategies can be a good example for us in developing and pursuing a dream, through culture, it could be more useful and successful than a physic war strategy. Fulfilling desire by physical contact was an old - fashioned war strategy in this information era. If the 9 century ago the holy persons had used the cultural approach in developing their influences, but now when there are many leaders, in politics and non-politics in the world, why do they still rely on physical strength or even violence? How ironic it is since they all addressed themselves as intellect, well-educated and religious people.
Hopefully Obama the President of USA read this blog.

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