With a land area of only 780,000 square miles, and a population approaching 250 million this year, Indonesia largely Muslim is the fourth largest country in the world. Among its 14,000 to18,000 islands Java is the most fertile, and one of the worlds most densely populated places. Java furthermore has seven currently active volcanoes yet one of the few islands. where volcanic ash is not acidic, hence eruptions have improved the soil. Javanese history-in the sense of locally produced written records- begins in the fifth century AD; with seven brief stone inscriptions found near what is now Jakarta. Other records show Roman geographical texts from the first century AD., and Chinese records references Javanese kingdoms. It is estimated that around 1800 Java already had about 3.5 million inhabitants, a figure that had been relatively stable through the Hindu-Buddhist empires of the eighth and ninth centuries.
visiting there last year, Mount Merapi blew up near the earthquake site that
killed 7000 the same year
At the same time in S.Asia, floods displaced a million people in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam.
Today a rise in population has created problems, including degradation of forests, depletion and erosion of soils and the endangerment of many indigenous species of flora and fauna, including public health problems. Thus a huge pereent of all land on Java is developed, compared to only ten to twenty pereent on other Indonesian islands. But for example Jakarta, once the tiny swamp-surrounded trading port of Batavia, had less than one twentieth of its present population just fifty years ago. People moving to the urban centers has created gradual change in the economy, culture and landscape.Family plots grow smaller, as bits of land are sold off to pay for children' s education, medical care and other necessities.More and more people are moving into the cities to look for factory work, as their family farms shrink and fewer children are available to tend them, as the government' s national birth control campaign has successfully decreased the average size of the family on Java. Around urban centers and across the Javanese landscape, new real estate developments are being carved out of land that was, until recently, primary forest or rice fields. And rapidly escalating deforestation causes mudslides and floods in record numbers, increasing public health concerns, epidemics, and opening the way for more urban sprawl. Yet many urban homes are still without running water or a sewage system; whole neighborhoods still shareone water pipe that may operate sporadically or may have to go to the river to do laundry, to bathe, and/or to defecate. Also road travel in Java is an experience that literally has to be seen to be believed and the air pollution is often so thick, one's hair and skin is stilt with it after a brief jaunt outside. Even accidents happen much less frequently than the plethora of obstades and the breakneck speeds would seem to occasion. Roadside shops and restaurants, fruit stands and mattress kiosks, tiny stalls selling gasoline by the glass liter bottle, telephone shops and internet cafes line the roads to the extent that the major roads of Java all seem to invoke - huge urban sprawl that blurs the line between once. Mercedes and BMW sedans idle next to a fifty year old bicyde; Chinese electronic shops sit closed within their air conditioned comfort next to noisy, open, smelly, wet markets; and the main town mosque on the main town square in for example Malang, sits quietly between two enormous churches-one protestant, one Catholic.
Five religions are given official recognition: Islam, Catholicism, protestant Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. Javanese (a term which refers to speakers of the Javanese language) constitute about two-thirds of the total population of the island, and are to be found mostly in Central, East, and North Java. In West Java, the Sundanese, a distinct ethnic group with a very different language is to be found, and Madurese and Osin is spoken in Banyuwangi.
Whereby most eities and some villages see communities of Chinese and Arab Indonesians, who despite being fifth or sixth generation born in Java still maintain their own heritage, language and 'culture. However, ideological slogans and the key rituals of state are in a large degree derived from the Javanese language and culture, even though they are expressed through the national language, Bahasa Indonesia. Anthropologically helpful before any journey include Ward Keeler's two volumes from the mid and late 1980s: Javanese Shadow Plays, Javanese Selves and Javanese: A Cultural Approach.They contain an insightful analysis of Central Javanese cultural values and traditions. Suzanne Brenner's 1998 Domestication Of Desire is another important work. Posing as an examination of the batik industry in a small Central Javanese enclave, this book contains a comprehensive examination of gendered life, language and economies and the social world around a fundamental aspect of traditional Javanese culture. A third recomendes on every insightfull travellers list (and the one we started with) is Steve Ferzacca's 2001 book Healing the Modern in a Central Javanese City focusing on the plurality of medical systems and beliefs in Central Java, and the impact of government political ideology and development programs on the individual concept of self and welfare, and the impact of notions of modernity on traditional praxis. Plus if one looks for an ethnographic book as we did in the beginning, one of the best we encountered is Jerome Weiss titled The Folk Psychology 0f the Javanese 0f Ponorogo. This fascinating study of Javanese beliefs about and terminology of personality, behavior, consciousness and mental illness is an ethnopsychiatric trove of lexicon and lore, detailing language and concepts in a thorough way. Several ideas essential to understanding the concept of mental illness and the sodal response to the mentally ill in Bast Java as we have seen in P.1, revolve around Javanese language, order and disorder (including the concepts of selamat and rukun), power, and the opposition of lahir-batin. As for culture and language the Javanese for example, have seven ways of saying "yes", and depending on how it is pronounced, the same word can mean anything from 'yes' to 'maybe' or even an insulting 'no'. It is always a great source of amusement for village people when a puppeteer plays upon this word during a shadow theatre performance, having a servant of the king reply to command in the different tones. Here the audience is delighted by the way the servant insults his master and ruler while the latter is supposedly unaware of the intended insult.
Not unlike other languages in S.E.Asia, during every encounter, speakers must assess their relative sodal standing and determine the language level that is appropriate to the relationship, and each spoken word reifies the social order.Thus when strangers first meet there can be a lengthy period of mutual assessment and relative status negotiation. Thus when addressing someone, Javanese speakers must choose from several different linguistic levels of politeness. These „speech levels" are comprised of completely different lexicons of words that have the same meaning. In general, a person uses the highest level to speak to high-status people in formal situations, and elders or others of higher status, and the lowest levels to speak to people of lower rank, younger people, or with whom they are the most intimate. Although clilldren learn to speak the lowest level first, they traditionally have been gradually socialized to speak to some of their more distant kin, old people, and respected strangers in higher Javanese. A superior or even two strangers of the same status may be deeply offended, or feel defied, if addressed in anything less. And an unwillingness or inability to use the situationally-appropriate language level thus can cause great consternation and offense.
The two most basic levels of Javanese speech were probably created in the early 17th century as one of several powerful tools. How many language levels there are today however is somewhat controversial. Some identify 3 other 5, and Soepomo Pudjosudarmo (1969; Wolff and Soepomo 1982) identified variously nine and twelve, depending on the individual speaker's intimacy with the Javanese court elite; but the essence of Javanese language levels and how they reify social relations can be seen through a discussion of the two most basic levels of ngoko and krama. James Siegel in his book Solo in the New Order (1986), terms ngoko "that which is reserved for oneself" (1986:270) that which is "apart from hierarchy" (1986:270), or hidden from one's. superiors. It is an intimate index of the private self that should not be exposed in Javanese society Krama is used to address superiors or equals. Siegel describes it as pure sign, as only referring to the world-language that is divorced from the self-and thus the use of krama protects self from the other. Siegel suggests that in one sense while speaking krama indicates defenence to a superior, at the same time it restores control of a situation to the (inferior) speaker, because in effect the speaker is demonstrating that. he or she is controlling his or her seIf, his/her ngoko. Thus as we will see starting in P.3, curers that treat the mentally ill use language quite differently in ways that deeply affect their relationships with clients and their families.
the vocabulary of. the hand is quite complex. Javanese handshakes are generally
a gentle offering of one' s hand -a slight touch of the fingers" of one or
both hands followed by a touching of one's heart (for the Bast
Javanese) or bringing both hands palms together to the nose (if one
simultaneously wants to indicate extreme refinement and respect). A
particularly refined handshake could include the grasping of the right forearm
with the left hand before offering the right hand to shake, as if indicating adesire to hold back the potentially offending member, a reluctance
to sully another with the profanity of skin to skin contact. There are some
people, however, who, once they feel comfortable with a friend, will hold their
hand during a greeting handshake for an extended period while they engage in eatch-up talk. As elsewhere in S.E.Asia ointing is never
done with the index finger, but with a gentle inclination of the right thumb.
Approval is sometimes shown by a pat on the shoulder, the arm or the leg, but touching the head of another is considered very disrespeetful. The left hand should not be used to touch others, give or receive objects, point, write, or eat. Standing with hands in poekets or on hips is interpreted as defiance, anger or arrogance and should be avoided. It is not considered rode for men to sit cross-legged when sitting on the floor, but women should sit with their legs folded under them to one side. Status is reflected in the relative heights at which people sit; higher status demands a higher seat. A related custom is stooping when you have to walk in front of anyone who is seated.
Learning the speech levels thus is not the same as learning proper Javanese conduct (cara Jawa), since all aspects of conduct and self-presentation need to be enacted and evaluated interactionally. The Javanese linguistic etiquette and behavioral further encourage humility, self-sacrifice, communicative indirectness, and deferral to others' wishes. A Javanese may defer to others, mayadopt humble forms of conduct and address not only to demonstrate respect, but also to avoid conflict. And they are proud of their ability to humble themselves, to conform to correct behavior, to display the self-control one must master to constantly maintain a state of emotional and linguistic equilibrium. In a very real sense, language here equals culture, and self-control equals power.Javanese teachings are full of instruction about order, and the privileging of order is reflected and reinforced in the traditional Javanese arts. Two ideas Central to an understanding of the concept and implications of order are selamat and the selamatan. A condition of selamat implies peace, harmony, safety, a condition of well being in which the individual or small group or greater society is free from the risk of shock, a condition "which the Javanese defines with the phrase' gak ana apa-apa' -'there isn't anything,' or, more aptly, 'nothing is going to happen to anyone' Selamat, is a condition which reflects astate of being that is orderly, calm, and free of incident, or a reassertion and reinforcement of the general cultural order.
When events seem to indicate that order has been or potentially could be disturbed (this can range from earthquakes to setting up in a new house, a death or an illness in the family or a new pregnancy) the dire consequences of disorder can. be mitigated by holding a selamatan, a communal socio-religious meal that ethnographers usually refer to as a ritual feast, in which neighbors, relatives and friends participate. Through the sharing of ritual food, prayers, and fellowship in a selamatan, the Javanese frequently perform a ritual that demonstrates their belief that they can and should maintain order and constrain dangerous disorder.
In Java, where neighbors are always invited to selamatan, food seems to cement the sodal relationship. Food is shared at the selamatani food parcels are distributed in the neighborhood after a selamatani oleh oleh (sma1l presents, usually in the form of a regional snack) are brought home for friends, family and neighbors after a trip or a party. Then there is the state of rukun translated as "to feel oneself in a state of harmony,""without quarrel or dispute," or "united in purpose for mutual help" It is a comprehensive principle of sodal order requiring a mode of behavior in which all signs of sodal dissent or personal tension are repressed, and social harmony is observed and preserved. A Javanese thus is expected to keep good relations with her or bis neighbors, to live in conformity with the local norms, to share in community obligations and activities. Mutual aid and cooperation or gotong royong is offered or requested in everything from neighborhood cleanups, home repair and construction, to arranging funerals. The Indonesian government promotes the ideas öf rukun, gotong royong, and cooperation. Education--elementary, secondary, and compulsory continuing professional education for state employees, including teachers and members of the military - always contains a module of moral education designed by the state to reinforce the principles of order, rukun, cooperation, hierarchy and the importance of submitting the individual will to the greater benefit of society. See Mulder 2000 for a very interesting discussion of the Indonesian elementary and high school educational curriculum and culture; esp. pp. 44-53 and 83-100 on Pancasila education and national ideology.The national Indonesian state ideology, the Pancasila, capitalizes on the götong royong ideal: stresses common endeavor, mutual help, mutual understanding, and tolerance" (Koentjaraningrat 1985a:461) as important aspects of human relationships cind civil society. It reinforces the need for order, and argues that order is threatened by individualism and conflict.
Village decisions are often made by elders engaging in Musyawarah is decision-making by consensus, which is often cited in Java as a democratic processes by which decisions are come to by mutual agreement-a process that is meant to support the 'orderly progression of rukun. And the lowest, unpaid levels of government functionary are called Rukun Tetangga or RT (which means harmonious neighbors or neighbor harmony), and Rukun Warga or RW (which means very roughly citizen harmony or harmonious citizens).The RT is a man or woman elected by their neighborhood association to serve s arbiter of disputes, collector of land taxes, organizer of neighborhood watches and clean-ups, and custodian of information on births, deaths and identities of everyone in their neighborhood for census purposes and registration for national elections. The RW serves over several RT, is elected by the RT in their area.
Being seen as rukun usually requires observing the rules of tata krama, keeping one' s hati kedl or inner little heart to oneseIf and avoiding conflict.The physical body or lahir must reflect the social norms of the body politic, show respect and deference appropriate to sodal position; the unknowable inner seIf or batin can exist quite apart from the public physical seIf, keeping opinion, thought and belief private. Social harmony prornotes inner peace; maintaining social order and supporting rukun keeps the lahir world from disturbing the balance and harmony of the inner batin. An example of how to maintain rukun while respecting the dichotomy of the lahir - batin took place during the national elections of 1997. In the interest of order, the government limited campaigning to a certain period of time, and identified certain days as designated for certain of the key parties' campaigning. Thus, for several weeks, one day the streets would be filIed with Indonesian Democratic Party supporters the next day the Islamic Unity in Development party (PPP) supporters would race up and down the streets on motorcycles, trucks, arid by foot; the next day the reigning government Golkar party supporters would parade and shout and carry on. Each party bad a color associated with it - red for the POl, green for the PPP, and yellow for the Golkar party. If you went out wearing the wrong color on the wrong day, you could be subjected to verbal abuse or worse. And if your car should be on the road displaying a flag from a riyal party on another' s campaign day, windows or mirrors could be smashed, the car maybe turned over. So the ever-flexible Javanese, (used to keeping their deepest beliefs hidden in their hati kecil [their innermost 'little' heart or liver]min the interest of rukun) devised the following system: keep three sets of flags for the radio antenna and to hang from the rear view mirror in the glove box, pull out the appropriate set on the appropriate day, place them on the car, and proceed freely about your business while giving thumbs up (or whatever might be the appropriate hand signal of the day) to the rowdy campaigners on the road.The indirectness and respect imbedded in Javanese speech patterns and the deference demanded by the interaction-tata krama, sopan santun, and so on-serve to help keep conflict from disturbing the desired state of rukun, or from upsetting the social order."
Rukun requires everyone to suppress all forms of conduct or language that could lead to open conflict. Rukun does not require abandonment or sacrifice of personal interest, opinion or attitude Si it does not imply the triumph of altruism over egotism - but it does demand a high degree of self-control and standardized social intercourse.
Thus, Javanese feel the need for order in a world that tends toward disorder; they cultivate an intricate codified linguistic and corporal vocabulary of order in the tata krama; they need to ritually. reimpose or reinforce order with the selamatan; and they are generally willing to defer to authority, to respect hierarchy, and consider it a moral act to resist conflict. Western ideas about the primacy of rights of the individual and the need for individual expression do not hold sway in Java; the Javanese respect the need for rukun, and the mentally ill are the exemplars of failure to accept and to implement order."The need for rukun motivates partidpation in the selamatan; and thesyncretism of the selamatan transforms ideological difference into rukun" (Beatty 1999:47).
Javanese ideas of power
Kejawen and kesakten or magical power:Kejawen is a tautologicaI term describing that which is essentially Javanese and that defines Javanese-ness as a unique category. Javaneseness, or kejawen, is not a religion. per se, but. is an ethic and a style of life, a fundamental, quintessentially Javanese philosophy and cosmology combined. Whereas some people define kejawen as Javanese religious practice heavily inclined toward mysticism (e.g. Stange 1990and 1993), Mulder defines it as basically a characteristic culturally induced attitude toward life that transcends religious diversity" (Mulder 1989: 3). Negoro (2000) defines kejawen as coming from the word Jawa (the Javanese term for Java), and consisting of traditional spiritual knowledge gained in search of the good, harmonious and correct way of life (2000:4) that insures good physical and mental health in the individual, and allows one to more easily contribute to the society, i.e.others, the country and the world" (2000: 135). While the religious views and practice of various Javanese may vary greatly, kejawen is a deep expression of Javanese culture, and gives rise to shared ideas about the nature of power, the relationship between individual and society and a shared system of ethics.In the kejawen conception, power is a kind of fluid force rurining through the universe. Political power, physical strength, great economic success or extreme celebrity can be seen as evidence of an ability to harness the power inherent in the universe, and loss of political position, strength, wealth or popularity is evidence of the loss of the ability to harness that power. The disorder of protest or open conflict reflects on the power of a leader, suggests their power is waning. It is a sign that he has lost potency, and is thus gravely insulting (Coedes 1968; C. Geertz 1979; Keeler 1987; Antlov 1994, Anderson 1990).
Power here, is only of a single sort, and may manifest itself in individuals depending on their individual ability to harness, direct, control and maintain that universal power force (cf Wessing 1978). It takes strength of will and character to harness power. "The politically powerful, the financially secure, the severely ascetic, and the athletic are all referred to as "strong" (kuwat)" (Keeler 1987: 39). However, there is no exact equivalent for the English word "power" in Javanese (Magnis-Suseno 1997:101; Anderson 1972). Kesakten can be defined as being in possession of magical power (Koentjaraningrat 1985a:343), or "a power that may inhere- in things as well as persons resulting from the possession or application of ngelmu. Therefore, "knowledge is power" is even more a suitable motto for Javanese science than it is for Western science" (Weiss 1977:265). Those who possess this sort of power are known as sakti, and are held to be able to perform one of several types of magie, and can be impervious to physical or mental disease or disaster. Potent kesakten energy can be harnessed by the mentally strong, and can be found in power objects like keris daggers, lances and gamelan sets.
Kesakten magical powers or potent energy that confers supernatural powers can be generated by the power of wQrds, speIls and formulae and can be allegedly found in some people, particular body parts of some people, some animals or plants, in saered objects and heirlooms, amulets, and "other unusual things" (Koentjaraningrat 1985a:412). Particularly sakti individuals can control the natural world and supernatural beings, like little thieving spirits ealled tuyul, or the djinri I described in my introduction. The sakti individual develops a body of magical knowledge known as ngelmu, which Pemberton defines as "esoteric 'knowledge“the theoretieal abstractions behind magical formulas and eosmologieal designs to concrete manifestations in the form of empowered objects...(including) mantas, charms, herbal potions, amulets and other practieal specifics" (1994:210). Supatmo defines ngelmu as "the knowledge or science of getting into communication with the spirits" (1945: Paper 2:1-2)
The types of ngelmu one can aequire vary as greatly as the types of magic the ngelmu will help perform. For the kejawen, magie is praetieed to produce power objects (like the Javanese keris daggers) or wealth, proteetion, prediction (or foretelling the future), procuring a love match or harming rivals or enemies (Koentjaraningrat 1985a:410-422i Magnis-Suseno 1997:177-183).
Whether productive magic or protective, soreery or destructive magic, magic is still practiced frequently by Muslim or Christian kejawen Javanese, even in urban environments.Asceticism, meditation and self-control are the way. to the attainment of kesakten and powerful ngelmu. When one begins to lose self-control and surrender to the passions, kesakten power and sodal respect is lost (Magnis Suseno 1997:107-108). The most popular!ist of destructive passions is the ma lima, a kind of Javanese equivalent of the seven deadly Sins. Ma is the Javanese alphabetical gloss for the letter m; lima is the low Javanese word for five.) They are madat (smoking opium); madon (fornication or adultery); mabuk (intoxication from alchohol); mangan (eating to excess); and main (gambling).
Lahir and Batin: In the Javanese conception, people and things are composed of the outer appearance or manifestation (lahir) and the inner, hidden side (batin). The outer lahir is eonsidered kasar or coarse, the inner batin is halus or fine, refined, (Magnis-Suseno 1997:115- 120) and like the Chinese yin and yang, together they form the unity of existence. Lahir and batin influence each other, Negoro says, and must fit together like two hands clapping (2000: 19). These do not exact1y correspond to Western ideas of the body and the soul; they describe a world of being in which some things are seen and. some unseen, and the human body is a microcosm of the universe. For example, passions are seen as kasar feelings. Indulging in some of the passions described above can affect the lahir and batin. Passionate addiction to opium (the bodily lahir) creates a coresponding disruption in the batin, in the form of emotional passion, and this individual body in imbalance can influence the body politie. A passionate man is seen as uncontrolled and displaying great potential for disrupting the social order. Any upset of social or emotional peace creates disorder in the cosmos, which threatens the individual and society. The idea of order is so important in Javanese cultui'e that even when discussing the dichotomy of lahir-batin. Lahir is that which is perceptible to the senses, sensible, if you will; batin is that which is generally imperceptible, irrational and mysterious. The lahir is that which we experience through physical movement throughout a concrete world. Batin expresses the ephemeral world of mystical forces. To speak of an individuals' 'strength of batin' (kakuwatan batin) refers to their capacity to channel the immaterial potency that exists in the world. Such capacity is prior to, and more important than, such manifest (Iair) signs of power as physical strength, material wealth, or formal political authority. „Asceticism is a means of amassing this spiritual power (Keeler 1987: 39-40).
Kebatinan/mystical practice:Although there are many types of kebatinan sects and ascetic practice, generally these mystical sects seek to help the individual gain power over sell and desire, which in turn will help produce the desired state of detachment from the material world. The kebatinan seeks also seek to develop the individual' 5 tenaga dalam, or inner power, that can make them more physically powerful and increase their spiritual potency.Kebatinan practices can be dangerous for the weak, the unwell or the unwise. Kebatinan sects were listed as approved social organizations in the 1945 constitution of Indonesia, and in 1973 when kebatinan was reeognized as one of the approved religions, President Suharto counted himself as one of its adherents.They draw heavily from indigenous animistic and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs; however some kebatinan sects are influeneed by Islamie sufie practice. Tarekat Islamie mystic movements use dzikir ehanting as a hypnotic vehicle to focus meditation and occasionally lead the participants into trance (Koentjaraningrat 1985a:391). A charismatic leader leads the spiritually inclined in Islamic mystical practices, rhythmic ehanting, body movement and the telling of prayer beads and teaches speeialized ngelmu derived from Islamic theology and law in a very speeialized form of Javanese Sufism (Koentjaraningrat 1985a:406-410; C. Geertz 1976:183). Five of the most popular organizations Merpati Putih, Satria Nusantara, Kalimasada and Perisai Diri and Teratai Tunjung teach a kind of Javanese Tai Chi which develops ritualized body movement as a way of strengthening the body and controlling the breath to focus power. Ascetic practices reflect the kejawen belief that seeking hardship and discomfort brings strength and blessing, and strengthens one' s lahir, and, especially, batin (Koentjaraningrat 1985a: 370; Keeler: 1994:42).Semedi or meditation can involve strenuous physical practices, such as taking up uncomfortable positions for hours, or engaging in some form of sensory deprivation. Semedi takes place beyond, past, above language, in a silent contemplation and concentration of self and energy. Tirakat ascetic practice can involve different kinds of fasting (no food, no salt, only vegetables or bananas, only rice or only a handful of rice a day, etc.) Successful pursuit of ascetic practice in Java assures the accumulation of kesakten, improvement of strength of batin, and concomitant rise in worldly accomplishment. Unsuccessful pursuit of these ascetic practices can sometimes result in madness. For the weak of lahir or batin who are unable to accomplish the rigors of ascetic practice, magical specialists known as dukun, or Islamic religious specialists known as kyai can help provide power in the form of spells, rituals, amulets or other power objects.. .and so once again we come back to our discussion of Javanese culture and language. Arguably, the power of chanting, the power of silence in meditation, the powerful speIls and mantra that these ritual specialists provide, and the power of the psychiatrist, centers around language.