LUTUNG KASARUNG: FIRST VERSION
PRABU Tapa Agung was an old king. He had two daughters, Purbararang and Purbasari. Prabu Tapa Agung planned to retire as a king. He wanted Purbasari to replace him as the leader of the kingdom. Hearing this, Purbararang was angry.
“You cannot ask her to be the queen, Father. I’m older than she is. It’s supposed to be me, not her!” said Purbararang. But the king still chose Purbasari to be the next queen.
Purbararang then set a bad plan with her fiance, Indrajaya. Together they went to a witch and asked her to put a spell on Purbasari. Later, Purbasari had bad skin. There were black dots all over her body.
“You are not as beautiful as I am. You cannot be the queen. Instead, you have to leave this palace and stay in a jungle,” said Purbararang.
Purbasari was very sad. Now she had to stay in the jungle. Everyday she spent her time playing with some animals there. There was one monkey that always tried to cheer her up. It was not just an ordinary monkey, he had magical power. And he also could talk with humans. The monkey’s name was Lutung Kasarung. He was actually a god. His name was Sanghyang Guruminda. Lutung Kasarung planned to help Purbasari. He made a small lake and asked her to take a bath there. Amazingly, her bad skin was cured. Now she got her beautiful skin back.
After that, she asked Lutung Kasarung to accompany her to go back to the palace. Purbararang was very shocked. She knew she had to come up with another bad idea. She then said, “Those who have longer hair will be the queen.”
The king then measured his daughters’ hair. Purbasari had longer hair. But Purbararang did not give up. “A queen must have a handsome husband. If my fiance is more handsome than yours, then I will be the queen,” said Purbararang.
Purbasari was sad. She knew Purbararang’s fiance, Indrajaya, was handsome. And she did not have a fiance yet. “Here is my fiancé, Indrajaya. Where is yours?” asked Purbararang. Lutung Kasarung came forward. Purbararang was laughing very hard. “Your fiance is a monkey, ha ha ha.”
Suddenly, Lutung Kasarung changed into a very a handsome man. He was even more handsome than Indrajaya. Purbasari then became the queen. She forgave Purbararang and her fiance and let them stay in the palace. ***
Note from Tatang M. Amirin: Lutung = a small black hairy monkey; Kasarung = lost (of way>”way of life”)
LUTUNG KASARUNG: SECOND VERSION
Before it was put in written form, this legend was transmitted via Pantun Sunda, a traditional Sundanese oral performance. It was later written down by Sundanese writers, in both the Sundanese and Indonesian languages.
In the heaven called Svargaloka, there lived a handsome and powerful god named Batara Guruminda Kahyangan. He had almost become the highest god in the heaven; but in his pride, he defied Batari Sunan Ambu, the highest mother goddess in Sundanese mythology. As punishment, he was cursed and banished from heaven and incarnated upon earth as a black lutung monkey, in which body he was condemned to live until he could learn humility and earn the sincere love of a woman.
Meanwhile on earth, Prabu Tapa Agung, the aging king of Pasir Batang, had two daughters: Purbararang and Purbasari. Purbasari was kind and good-hearted, while her older sister Purbararang was wicked. Because of this, the king wanted Purbasari to succeed him when he retired.
This angered Purbararang, the elder daughter. With her fiance Indrajaya, she went to a witch and asked her to cast a magical spell upon Purbasari. The spell left Purbasari with a rash all over her body. This illness was regarded as a curse from the gods, so Purbasari was exiled from the palace and driven to live in a shack in the jungle.
In the jungle, Purbasari’s only companions were the animals. One of these was a black monkey named Lutung Kasarung, who was actually the cursed god Guruminda, and who had magical powers and could talk with humans. To help Purbasari, Lutung Kasarung took her to a lake and told her to bathe in it. He then took some sinom (young tamarind leaves) from the tree, gave it to Purbasari and told her to rub her body with it. This magically cured the skin condition caused by the witch’s spell and restored her beauty.
One morning, Purbasari awoke and was surprised to find herself in a beautiful palace—Lutung Kasarung had transformed her humble shack into a palace overnight. The news of the palace that had magically appeared in the jungle attracted people from all around. When they learned that a kind, generous, and beautiful princess lived there, many stayed, creating a lively new town where there had been jungle. The news of the new town reached Purbararang; when she discovered that her younger sister ruled the town, she was consumed with envy.
Purbararang decided to bring Purbasari down by giving her impossible tasks to do. One day a banteng bull ran amok and began wreaking havoc in the capital city. No man was able to stop it as it destroyed the square and the marketplace. Purbararang sent a messenger to Purbarsari, ordering her to catch the raging bull. Purbasari was distressed; but Lutung Kasarung told her to take a lock of her own hair and put it around the bull’s neck. Purbarsari did so, and the bull was instantly tamed.
Purbararang then ordered Purbasari to make a dam and dry up the Lubuk Sipatahunan wetlands, so that she could catch the fish in them. Lutung Kasarung again saved the day, magically drying up the wetlands. While the people were catching fish, a mysterious handsome man appeared and presented some fishes to the princesses. Purbararang was smitten with the handsome man and instantly forgot about her fiancee Indrajaya. The man, who was actually Lutung Kasarung temporarily transformed back into his form as Guruminda, gave his fish to Purbasari and then vanished. This only made Purbararang more jealous of her sister.
After this, Purbararang summoned Purbasari to the palace in the capital city. When Purbasari arrived, she had her thrown in jail. Lutung Kasarung waited for Purbasari to come home to her own palace; but when, after several days, there was no news about her, Lutung Kasarung grew alarmed. He stormed the palace to rescue Purbasari from captivity. The two of them found themselves surrounded by palace guards, with Lutung fighting bravely to protect Purbasari. In the middle of the chaotic fight, Prabu Tapa Agung returned to the palace from the hermitage where he had been living as an ascetic, and discovered his daughters fighting for the throne.
Purbararang asked Prabu Tapa Agung to select the princess with the longer hair as his successor. The king agreed to do so; then, when he measured his daughters’ hair, he found that Purbasari’s was longer.
Undaunted, Purbararang made a new demand to Prabu Tapa Agung: that he choose as his successor the daughter who had the most handsome fiance. This was a competition that she was confident she could win, since she had the handsome Indrajaya and Purbasari had no man to support her—only an ugly black monkey. However, Purbasari saw beyond Lutung Kasarung’s appearance, and recognized his good heart, loyalty, and devotion to her. She reached out to him and chose him as her fiance.
The people ridiculed her decision; but at that moment, the curse was broken, and Lutung Kasarung resumed his form as Guruminda. Since he was much more handsome than Indrajaya, Prabu Tapa Agung chose Purbasari to be his successor. In one last effort, Purbararang asked Indrajaya to fight Guruminda in a silat martial art combat. The fight was quickly won by the powerful Guruminda.
Purbasari benevolently forgave Pubararang and Indrajaya all their wrongdoing and allowed them to remain in the palace. She and Guruminda were married, and lived happily ever after. ***