When Jaka Tarub Met Nawang Wulan

February 01, 2012

Lake Sarangan
Lake Sarangan
Image is courtesy of Bintang Bintung

Back in 2004, when I went to Beny's home town, Magetan, East Java, for the 1st time. After spent a night at Beny's parent house, in the morning, we both went to Lake Sarangan on motor-bike. Lake Sarangan is one of famous tourism in Magetan. Before we reached Lake Sarangan, we passed by Lake Urung, a lake below Lake Sarangan. From that moment I felt something weird, for me, Lake Urung seems to be superstitious.

Some folks myth said that if a young couple that is going to get married, is passing by Lake Urung, their marriage will be cancelled. Because Urung in Javanese language means not yet, or cancel. Anyway, Lake Urung and Lake Sarangan are in the valley of sacred Mt. Lawu, another famous tourism for mount climbing in Magetan.

Mt. Lawu
Mt. Lawu
Image from wikimedia

After we arrived at Lake Sarangan, my first sight is pointed me to the small island in the middle of Lake Sarangan. I sensed a lot of electromagnetic energies laid there. Beny told me that in some night, there were paranormal activities occured in that island, as also on Mt. Lawu National Park, especially on Saka's New Year eve. Many mount climbers are often get lost when climbed to Mt. Lawu for some unexplain reason without an expert guide.

After that, me and Beny took the ride to Cemoro Sewu, the entrance to Mt. Lawu from East Java side. It was a hard ride with motor-bike. I often jump off Beny's bike, due to the road is to high to climb. After arrived at Cemoro Sewu, we both took a coffee break at a small shop.

I don't have guts to enter Mt. Lawu, due to the high of electromagnetic energy I have sensed. Mt. Lawu was believed to be the center of paranormal activities in Java Island, since the Javanese ancestor, especially for His Majesty Sultans of Solo and Jogjakarta.

I don't know exactly why have I started to remember the story about Goddess Nawang Wulan, when I arrived with Beny at Cemoro Sewu. Perhaps due to lots of sacred watershed pool or small lake at Mt. Lawu, 'Sendang Panguripan' or 'Lake of Life' for instance. Couple days ago, I saw a FTV movie adapted from the legend, which was combined with modern culture. It makes me eager to write about the legend.

The Legend of Jaka Tarub & Nawang Wulan

Painting of Jaka Tarub with 7 Goddess
Painting of Jaka Tarub with 7 Goddess
Image from wikimedia

Jaka Tarub is a handsome young man who has supernatural powers. He often went out into the woods to hunt and gain knowledge. When a full moon day in the evening, he entered a forest, from a distance he heard the faint sound of women who were joking.

Curious, Jaka Tarub goes looking for direction toward the voices. Finally he found a beautiful lake in the middle of the woods, along with 7 beautiful naked women were taking a bath and teased each other. While he was hiding, he found those women's scarfs were lying scattered. Then, he stole one of them and hide it.

A moment later, they seem were about to finnish their bathe. 6 of them were wearing their long scarfs, then flew up into the night sky. Jaka Tarub later noticed that these women were the Goddess from Nirvana. But a Goddess was left alone in the lake. Since she has lost her scarfs, she couldn't return to the sky, and then she burst into tears.

If anyone finds my scarf, if a man, I'll make him to be my husband, and if a woman, I'll make her to be my sister, vowed the Goddess. Jaka Tarub then revealed himself and entertained the Goddess. He gave her a piece of cloth to wear, but he still hid her scarf, so that she couldn't fly.

The Goddess then fulfill her vow and is married to Jaka Tarub. Nawang Wulan is the Goddess name. Since married her, Jaka Tarub were wealthy. Large amount of harvest and his granaries are always filled with rice without ever lack. Nawang Wulan's scarf was hidden by Jaka Tarub, in a barn that is always full. They were blessed with a child and live happily.

But after a long married life, Jaka Tarub was curious. Every day, his family always eat rice, but the barn was never reduced as there is no rice that used to eat them. One day, Nawang Wulan went out. She advised her husband to keep the fire stove in the kitchen, but forbade him to unscrew the pot. Nawang Wulan also prohibit Jaka Tarub to go into the kitchen, while she was cooking. Jaka Tarub was doing what his wife told him to do, but his curiosity made him disobeyed his wife orders. He opened the lid on the pot and it turned out there was only one grain of rice.

Apparently, Nawang Wulan requires only a grain of rice to meet the rice needs of the family in a day. When Nawang Wulan went home and opened the lid of a pot, there was only a grain of rice in it. Nawang Wulan angry because her husband had disobeyed her orders.

Nawang Wulan became sad, because since then she had to cook the rice as a human being. Consequently it was used continuously. Slowly but surely, their rice was depleted, while the harvest season was still not yet arrived. When one day, Nawang Wulan was going to take the grain, she saw a piece of scarf sticking out behind a pile of rice. When drawn and cared for, Nawang Wulan remembered if it was her Goddess scarf.

Apparently all this time you are the one who hid my scarf. And because of the barn's contents continued to decrease, in the end I could find it again. It would have to be the will of the Above, she said to Jaka Tarub. Nawang Wulan then said goodbye and asked him to care for their children well.

Jaka Tarub asked her not to leave, but Nawang Wulan has already wore her scarf. Remember me when you saw a full moon. I'll comfort you from up there, said Nawang Wulan. She was later flown to the sky towards Nirvana, leaving Jaka Tarub who cried in remorse.

Such an ending! The ending that I saw on FTV movie is a happy ending.

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