Tatang M. Amirin; 25 Januari 2011
From the legend, we can determine how long the Sundanese have been living in Java island. From the legend supported by geological fact, it is predicted that the Sundanese have been living in Java island since thousand years BC.
The legend of Sangkuriang was almost certainly a story of oral tradition before being written down. The first written reference to Sangkuriang legend appeared in the Bujangga Manik manuscript written on palm leaves at the end of the 15th century or the early 16th century AD. Prince Jaya Pakuan, alias Prince Bujangga Manik or prince Ameng Layaran, visited all of the sacred Hindu sites in Java island and Bali island at the end of the 15th century AD. Using palm leaves, he described his travels in archaic Sundanese. His palm manuscript was taken to England by an Englishmen and put at the Bodleian library, Oxford, in 1627.
After a long journey, Bujangga Manik arrived in the current Bandung city area. He is the first eyewitness reported the area. Here is his report:
Leumpang aing ka baratkeun (I walked forward to the west)
datang ka Bukit Patenggeng (arriving at Mount Patenggeng)
Sakakala Sang Kuriang (where the legend of Sang Kuriang is)
Masa dek nyitu Ci tarum (in which he would dam Citarum river)
Burung tembey kasiangan (he failed because a new day came)
According to the legend, Sangkuriang had been separated from his mother, Dayang Sumbi, as a child. Yet he was destined to meet his mother again. On his way home, he stopped at a small village and met and felt in love with a beautiful girl. He didn’t realise that the village was his homeland and the beautiful girl was his own mother. They fell in love and made plans to marry.
One day before the planned wedding, Dayang Sumbi saw and recognized a scar on Sangkuriang’s head. She suddenly realized that she had fallen in love with her own son who had left her twenty years previously. She was horrified and realized she could not marry her own son. She revealed the whole truth to Sangkuriang and asked him to call off the wedding. But Sangkuriang didn’t believe her and insisted on going through with the wedding. Dayang Sumbi then told Sangkuriang that she would only marry him if he could build her a great lake by filling the whole valley with water. She said he must also build a boat for them to sail in, and both of these tasks must be completed in one night. Sangkuriang accepted the challenge. With the help of some guriangs (heavenly spirits / god in ancient Sundanese belief), he dammed the Citarum river with landslides. The river’s water rose and filled the plain, transforming it into a lake. Then Sangkuriang cut down a massive tree to make a boat.
When dawn was about to break, the boat was almost complete. Dayang Sumbi realized that Sangkuriang would fulfill the conditions she had required of him. So she prayed to God to help her prevent the disgrace of a marriage between a mother and her son. With a wave of her magic shawl, Dayang Sumbi lit up the eastern horizon with flashes of light. Deceived by what looked like dawn, cocks crowed and farmers rose for a new day.
Sangkuriang thought that he had failed. In his anger, he kicked the boat that he had built and it fell, turning upside down, transformed into Mount Tangkuban Parahu (in Sundanese, “tangkuban” means “upturned” or “upside down”, and “parahu” means “boat.”) The wood left over from the boat became Mt. Burangrang and the rest of the huge tree became Mount Bukit Tunggul. The lake became Lake Bandung (lit. “dam.”)
Centuries later, the inhabitants of Bandung city knew from traditional lore of the existence of a former Lake Bandung and the creation of Mount Tangkuban Parahu. Without a knowledge of geology, but living under the taboos of spirits, ghosts and gods, geologic facts were woven together into a tale which was understandable according to their beliefs.
Relevance with geological fact
Recent geological investigations indicate that the oldest lake deposits has been radiometrically dated as old as 125 thousand years. The lake ceased to exist at 16000 Before present (BP).
There had been two Plinian type of eruptions of ancient Mount Sunda dated respectively at 105000 and 55000-50000 BP. The second plinian eruption has caused ancient Gunung Sunda’s caldera to collapse and create mount Tangkuban Parahu, Mount Burangrang (Mount Sunda), and Mount Bukit Tunggul.
It is more likely that the ancient Sundanese have lived in the Bandung area long before 16,000 years BP and witnessed the second Plinian eruption which wiped out settlements west of the Cikapundung river (north and northwest of Bandung) during the 55000-50000 eruption period when Mount Tangkuban Parahu was created from the remnants of ancient Mount Sunda. This era was the era of homo sapiens; they have been identified in South Australia as old as 62000 BP, while on Java the Wajak man has been dated about 50000 BP.
Sundanese philosophy of Sangkuriang
The legend of Sangkuriang contains a philosophy enlightening (Sungging Perbangkara or sun) for anyone (plant Cariang) who is still doubt of his existence and wants to search his humanity identity / spirit (Wayungyang). The result of this search will bear enlightened consciousness (nurani) as real truth (Dayang Sumbi, Rarasati). But if the search was not accompanied by carefulness and awareness (toropong or binocular), then he will be mastered by continuing anxiety (mastered by Tumang) which will bear egos, that is, the soul which has not been enlightened (Sangkuriang). When the conscience annoyed again by the anxiety (Dayang Sumbi ate the heart of the Tumang) then the real awareness will lose. The compunction of the conscience is wreaked by beating arrogance of Ego Ratio (the head of Sangkuriang is beaten). The arrogance also force the Ego Ratio to leave the conscience. And the arrogance of the Ego Ratio which despairingly seeks for science (intellectual intelligence) during its adventure in the world (eastward). At the end, the Ego Ratio returns westward consciously or unconscious seek for the conscience (the meeting of Sangkuriang and Dayang Sumbi).