Javanese Characters and
Aji Saka

In The Palaces / Kratons of Yogya and Solo, as well as some buildings or sites with close relation to Kratons some sign written in Javanese characters can be seen. Nowadays in some parts of Central Java especially in Yogya and Solo, the street names are written with Latin and Javanese letters also the City buses "Bis Kota" It is a positive measure by local society to preserve an ancient literature heritage.

Even in the remote village of Pantaran, on the eastern slope of Mount Merbabu, the villagers are preserving the Javanese characters by writing their names in the gates in front of their houses.


The Javanese upon seeing the characters, should spontaneously remember the legend of Ajisaka of Medang Kamulan Kingdom dated back 1930 Years ago. The year of 1997 is equivalent to Saka Year 1930.

Basically there are 20 characters which is called Dentawiyanjana, namely

to be read :

There are additional "Sandangan" (Lit.) means "Clothes" with sounds :







Lit. means lap.

To be read Macan

without Pangkon

to be read Macana

The Javanese jokingly says that Pangkon is an effective killer - to be killed in someone lap, feeling great but dead. In this Country a new theory to govern others was born :

If you wish to defeat someone, don't use force, put him/her on your lap. He/She should unconsciously surrender with pleasure.

The Javanese letters in fact are not only used in Central and East Java, but it is also used in West Java as they call it Hanacaraka. It is a proof that in the ancient period, the people of Java, no matter where they live in the West, Central and East Java, they had one and similar culture.

Since the Javanese as well as Sundanese, (West Java) Languages are written with Latin letters, less and less people could read and write with Hanacaraka. At schools there is no intensive lessons using this letters. This situation is disappointing. Some efforts have to be taken to improve this situation, considering the facts that Hanacaraka is a part of Javanese literature, literature in Javanese is Sastra, and Sastra does not mean only literature but also knowledge. And for Javanese, knowledge does not mean only ordinary knowledge but also a knowledge of life (Kawruh).

The Legend of Aji Saka

In The Kingdom of Medang Kamulan, in Java, came a young wise man, by the name of Aji Saka to fight Dewatacengkar, the cruel King of The Country who had a habit to eat human flesh of his own people. Aji Saka himself he came from Bumi Majeti. One day he told his two servants, by the name of Dora and Sembodo, that he was going to Java. He told them that while he was away, both of them have to guard his Heirloom / Pusoko. No one except Aji Saka himself not a allowed to take the Pusoko. In the big battle, Aji Saka could successfully push Dewata Cengkar to fall to the South Sea. Dewata Cengkar did not die, he became a Bajul Putih (White Crocodile). Aji Saka became a ruler of Medangkamulan.

Meanwhile a woman of the village of Dadapan, found an egg. She put the egg in her Lumbung (Rice Barn). After a certain period the egg vanished, instead a snake found in the rice barn. The villagers would like to kill the snake, but the snake said : "I'm the son of Aji Saka, bring me to him".

Aji Saka told the snake, that he would be recognized as his son, if he could kill the Bajul Putih in the South Sea. After a long stormy battle which both sides demonstrating phisycal strenght and showing skillfull ability of fighting, the snake could kill Bajul Putih.

As had been promised the snake was recognized as Aji Saka's son and he was given a name Jaka Linglung ( a stupid boy).
In the palace Jaka Linglung greedily ate domestic pets of the palace. He was punished by the King, expelling him to live in the Jungle of Pesanga. He was tightly roped until he could not move his head. He was instructed only to eat things which fall to his mouth.

One day, a group of 9 (nine) village boys were playing around in that Jungle. Suddenly it was raining heavily. They had to find a shelter, luckily there was a cave. Only 8 (eight) boys went inside the cave, the other one who was suffering from very bad skin disease, sting and dirty, he had to stay out of the cave. All of a sudden, the cave was falling apart, The 8 (eight) boys vanished, only the one who stayed outside was safe. The cave in fact was the mouth of Jaka Linglung.

The Simbolic Meaning of Aji Saka's Legend

  1. A Man from Bumi Majeti. Majeti is acronym of :
    Ma = Ketrima (accepted)
    Jet = Grenjet (sincere wish)
    Ti = Pangesti (a solemn pray)

    Meaning : A man with sincere wish and solemn pray is accepted by God

  2. Aji Saka was accompanied by Dora and Sembodo
    Meaning human beings as the creature of God usually has two manners :
    Bad Manners - Dora , Good Manners - Sembodo
  3. He was going to Java
    Java : A wise man who always worship God, so he is always protected by Him
    Pusoko : Heirlooms or holy things.
  4. Medang Kamulan
    Kamulan from Mula - Beginning
    A Place where people worship the Creator who has created the beginning of life.
  5. The woman of Dadapan Village who put an egg in her barn. The egg disappeared and a snake appeared.
    This sentence simbolizing that an adult woman could be pregnant, in her womb, then a baby was born.
  6. The snake / the baby was brought to Aji Saka - his father.
    Meaning that a baby must be well taken care by his parents.
  7. The boy could kill the white crocodile and was name Jaka Linglung (Stupid Boy)
    This sentences would like to explain that :
    The child before being a grown up (21 years old), he is Linglung (stupid) means he is dependant of his parents.
    He could kill the white crocodile, the boy became an independent man, taking care of his own life.
    Dewata Cengkar : a grown up man who has no ability to take care of his own life, he still bothers his parents.
  8. Jaka Linglung was thrown away to the Jungle of Pesanga, tightly roped until he could not move his head, Symbolizing :
    He has to search his own food and necessities, means he has to work.
    He has to use his head or brain to fulfill his demand. The Jungle of Pesanga, Pesanga means 9 (nine).
    He could work everywhere in the eight directions of the World, but he should always remember one thing, that is the blessing of God.
    Without this, things might go wrong
  9. The 9 (nine) village boys. The one who is sick and dirty was not allowed to enter the Cave
    meaning : All the necessities of life must be a result of a good descent job, the dirty things is forbidden.

The Symbolic Meaning of Dentawiyanjana (The 20 letters)

Hanacaraka : There are envoys ( a couple - a man & a woman from God the Creator)
Datasawala : They should do everything upon his instruction.
Padajayanya : Both are the winners with equal status, they live in harmony caring each other
Magabatanga : They completely serve the will of God. Their souls and bodies belong to God (Sumarah)

This symbolizing the beginning of the existence of human life, everything was so holy. Things begin to change when additional letters of i, e, u, o, etc were introduced. Those letters are named "sandangan " (clothes) in Javanese.

The children became adults, they start feeling the pleasure touch of skin to skin (sexual relationships). The wrong - doings, cheating, pretending, lust, greediness, cruelty which bring sickness and calamity are becoming common practice. Many people are only developing rough feeling of five-senses through eyes, nose, mouth, ears and skin. They forget the pure life, so the light of life becomes blur, not clear. The human beings live in a place where there is cold and hot weather, there are sadness and happiness. In order to prevent further sins and calamity, the Rule of Life ( Paugeraning urip) was introduced. So that people should remember His Creator and behave accordingly. Among other thing was the Rule of Marriage, family responsibility, human relations etc.

A man has to pray to God, that's mean that he has to worship God and that he has to command the five-senses.

A man has to do fasting sometimes, it's God's order, that's mean that he has to control the five-senses.

The desire of the five-senses must be aimed to do only positive things for the man himself and other people.

The 'sandangan' (clothes) of Dentawiyanjana are depicting evil temptation.

It should be easier for a man seeking life purification if he could throw away the 'sandangan' that is to say to be free from evil temptation. The Javanese terminology for this philosophy is 'Ngracut-Busono' (ngracut = to take-off ; busono = clothes).

Note : In the writing-book, the Javanese letters are written under the lines (not above) from left to right. Symbolizing that Javanese people is low profile people.

Aji Saka

The words Aji Saka could mean :

Aji = King/ruler

Saka = Pillar of Javanese house

Aji Saka is the symbolic meaning of the principal rule of life. It could happened not only in Java, but in any other place of the world as well.

(Suryo S. Negoro)

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