Semar Philosophy: The Javanese True Ways of Life Quotes

August 19, 2012

Painting of Semar on a Javanese wayang
Painting of Semar on a Javanese wayang kulit

Javanese poets in their literary works had been described that Semar was not just an ordinary commoner, but Semar was known as Batara Ismaya, the brother of Batara Guru, the king of the gods. Although on Javanese traditional Wayang Kulit performance, Semar often played the role as a servant with his 3 sons, Gareng, Petruk and Bagong.

Semar with his 3 sons
Punokawan (clown), from left to right: Semar, Gareng, Petruk and Bagong

Kris (Kris = Keris = Cross, traditional Javanese sword) of Semar Mesem, a really small kris, not bigger than an adult palm of hand, and easily be put into your pocket, was often believed by lots of Javanese people used to gain loves and respects from others (by adding with some spells and rituals). So, that others will kneel before him, or to be fear of. But, Kris of Semar Mesem was not an ordinary kris. Only paranormals or a person who received premonition can get the kris. In other words, it was a magic kris, but also real (I've seen it by myself).

Kris of Semar Mesem
Kris of Semar Mesem

Sorry! That was out of topic. OK then! Some Javanese people had already known that Semar was our guide to understand the meaning of the true lifes itself. Some ancient Javanese quotes was known labelled under the pictures or paintings of Semar who always breast naked, and only wears Batik sheet with Parang Kusumorojo pattern. Below are some of the Javanese true ways of life quotes, that was believed Semar had been said to his 3 sons, and often performed on Wayang Kulit, from generations through generations.

Sugih tanpa bandha, digdaya tanpa aji. Nglurug tanpa bala, menang tanpa ngasorake
Being rich eventhough didn't own any properties, being the mighty withouth any magic spells. Fighting alone without the necessity to bring masses, and gain winning without humiliating, or degrade the defeated.

Datan serik lamun ketaman, datan susah lamun kelangan
Do not easily get an heartache or even trying to hurt yourself when you feel sorrow. Sorrow for a day is enough for a day, because tomorrow has it own sorrow. Do not feel sad (drown into sadness) when you lost something.

Sepi ing pamrih, rame ing gawe. Banter tan mbancangi, dhuwur tan ngungkuli
Working hard together without expecting on any tendencies as in return. Be quick without precede, heighten without exceeding.

Aja gumunan, aja getunan. Aja kagetan, aja aleman
Do not easily be surprised, do not easily regret. Do not get easily surprised by surprise, do not be a spoiled person.

Aja ketungkul marang kalungguhan, kadonyan lan kemareman
Do not be obsessed or trapped by the desire to gain status, material things and worldly satisfaction.

Aja kuminter, mundak keblinger. Aja cidra, mundak cilaka. Sing was - was tiwas
Do not feel that you are the most intelligent,so that you might lose your way of life. Do not like to cheat on other, so that other will not harm you. Anyone who hesitated are lost or lose.

Aja milik barang kang melok, aja mangro mundak kendo
Do not be tempted by things that look fancy, beautiful, or luxury. Do not be ambiguous, so that you don't loosen your intentions and courages.

Aja adigang, adigung, adiguna
Do not be arrogant of being the only one of such powerful, bigger, or useful person.

Sing sabar lan ngalah dadi kekasihe Gusti Pangeran
Anyone who patient and yield towards other will become the lover of the Lord.

Sing prihatin bakal mimpin
Anyone who would live in sorrowful life, will lead.

Sing resik uripe bakal mulya
Anyone who would live a clean life will live happiness.

Urip iku urup
Life is a flame. Your life should benefit towards others. No matter how small our contributions, we shouldn't be a useless person in our society.

Sura dira jayaningrat, lebur dening pangastuti
All the hatred properties of hard-hearted, narrow-minded, and insolence, could only be defeated by wise manner, soft-hearted and patience.

Memayu hayuning bawana, ambrasta dur hangkara
All people live in this world should pursue peacefulness, happiness, prosperity, and fight against the nature of insolence, and greed.

Jer basuki mawa beya
No pain no gain. Successful can only be obtained by sacrifice. It also become the motto of my born city of Surabaya.

Ajining dhiri dumunung ing kedhaling lathi. Ajining sarira dumunung ing busana
The value of a person lies on his tongue movement, in other words, your mouth is your tiger. Others will judge you from what you are wearing, or you might say, the book is judged by its cover.

Sepiro duwurmu ngudi kawruh, sepiro jeromu ngilmu, mburine mung arep ketemu marang sejatine awake dewe
How high you are hanging your hopes? How deep are the knowledges that you seek? When in the end, it just a desire to know who you really are.

And for anyone who had managed to meet with his 4 soul brothers, kakang kawah, adi ari - ari, sedulur papat, kelima pancer, means that, your elder brother of the amniotic fluid, your younger brother of the placenta, four brothers and the five (you) as the center, means that he has found his true teacher/master.

I had already met them, their faces are just like me. My 4 soul brothers sometimes helped me when I needed them.

How did I call them?

I used this spell, kakang kawah, adi ari - ari, sedulur papat, kelima pancer added with my wishes, such as rewangono aku nyambut gawe, means, help me with my work, or tambanono laraku, means, heal my wounds. It really works on me.



  2. Hello! I am an Australian who is 1/4 Javanese. I am interested in getting a tattoo saying Urip iku urup in traditional language. Is there any place to find an accurate translation of this online? Thank you!

    1. If 'hanacaraka' or Javanese alphabet, that you are looking for the term 'urip iku urup', just google image by typing 'urip iku urup dalam aksara hanacaraka'. Here I found an image from instagram site

      Thank You for reading and commenting.


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