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The Legend of the Keris of Mpu Gandring

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History Keris Mpu Gandring1
Keris, traditional weapon of South East Asia, with its sheath.
The Legend of the Keris of Mpu Gandring is a tale about a legendary keris famous for its curse. The keris was made by a famous keris maker Mpu Gandring who allegedly lived in the 11th century. He was killed by his own creation and, before his death, he cast a curse on the keris.

Book of KingsEdit

The tale about the legend of the Keris of Mpu Gandring is written in the Pararaton (Book of Kings), a manuscript written in Kawi language. The final part of its text is believed to be written between AD 1481 and 1600. The manuscript chronicles the lives of kings of Javanese kingdoms of Singhasari (1222–1292) and Majapahit (1293–1500).

The LegendEdit

Ken Arok's youthEdit

Java-prajnaparamita
A statue of Prajnaparamita, Hindu goddess of wisdom and learning, from Singhasari era. The statue was allegedly modeled after the face and figure of Ken Dedes.
Ken Arok was believed to be the son of Hindu god Brahma with a human female Ken Endok, the wife of a Hindu priest Gajahpura. Afraid that her affair with the god would be found out by her husband, she left the baby in a cemetary. A thief named Lembong found the baby and took him as his son. Ken Arok grew up to be a thief and gambler. His gambling created a huge debt to Lembong who later drove him away from his house. Ken Arok was then adopted by an older gambler named Bango Samparan who considered him as fortune bringer. Disliking his new stepmother, Bango Samparan's wife Genuk Buntu, he left with his new found friend Tita, son of Siganggeng village chief. The two of them became a pair of robbers feared and infamous in Kadiri area.

Meeting Ken DedesEdit

Ken Arok then met Lohgawe, a Hindu priest from India who was on a journey to Java to find the avatar of Hindu god Vishnu. The priest believed that Ken Arok was the one he seek and he taught him to abandon his sinful life and start a new life. With the priest's help, Ken Arok was accepted to work as a bodyguard for Tunggul Ametung, a powerful regional leader of Tumapel area.

One day, Ken Arok accidentally saw Ken Dedes, the beautiful wife of Tunggul Ametung, when she stepped down from her carriage to take a bath in a nearby pool. A gush of wind blew over the cloth she was wearing revealing her legs. Ken Arok—who already had a wife whose name was Ken Umang, whom he left in his village while she was pregnant—was surprised to see a beautiful light shining from her genitals. Later, Lohgawe told Ken Arok that the light was the sign that Ken Dedes would gave birth to a lineage of kings and that any man who took her as a wife would be a king.

Keris of Mpu GandringEdit

Ken Arok was so taken by Ken Dedes' beauty and instantly fell in love with her. He was so determined to have her as his wife by any means necessary. In order to have his desire come true, he need a special weapon to kill Tunggul Ametung who was known to be very powerful. He seek the help of a famous keris maker, Mpu Gandring, to make him an exceptionally strong keris. The old man promised Ken Arok that the keris would be ready within a year, but Ken Arok was not a patient man. Within five months, Ken Arok visited the old man again to check on his keris. He saw that the kris had already taken shape and was strong enough to be called an exceptional weapon. However, Mpu Gandring stated that he still needed several months to perform rituals to imbue the kris with more magical power, not only to make it strong but also to prevent it from becoming an evil weapon.

Knowing that Ken Dedes was pregnant, and because he was planning to murder Tunggul Ametung before she gave birth to an heir, Ken Arok became furious. He took the keris and stabbed Mpu Gandring. Just before taking his last breath, Mpu Gandring cast the famous curse on the keris that it would kill Ken Arok himself and seven generations of his descendants.

Killing Tunggul AmetungEdit

As part of his scheme, Ken Arok then gave the keris to Kebo Ijo, another bodyguard of Tunggul Ametung who was known as a greedy person fond of collecting keris. As expected Kebo Ijo showed the beautiful but deadly keris to everyone he met. On the night he planned to do the murder, he stole the keris from Kebo Ijo while he was sleeping and secretly went to Tunggul Ametung's room and stabbed the man to death.

The next morning, everyone was shocked to hear that Tunggul Ametung was dead. The keris that was found at Tunggul Ametung's side was recognized as Kebo Ijo's keris, leading to accusation of Kebo Ijo as the murderer. Pretending to avenge Tunggul Ametung's death, Ken Arok stabbed Kebo Ijo to death using the keris.

Marrying Ken Dedes and founding the Kingdom of SinghasariEdit

After killing Kebo Ijo, Ken Arok appointed himself as leader of Tumapel region and took Ken Dedes as his wife. But Ken Arok was not yet saisfied. In 1222, at the battle of Ganter, he defeated King Kertajaya of the Kingdom of Kediri and founded the new kingdom of Singhasari. Kediri became an area under the kingdom of Singhasari.

Death of Ken ArokEdit

As Ken Dedes was pregnant when she married Ken Arok, she had a son Anusapati, who became Ken Arok's step son. For a long tme, Anusapati suspected that he was not Ken Arok's real son by the way he treated him differently. One day, he found out the truth about Ken Arok as the murderer of his real father, Tunggul Ametung. He then took the cursed keris and ordered his assistant to stab Arok from the back with the keris when he was having dinner. After Ken Arok was dead, Anusapati killed the assistant with the same keris so that there was no witness.

Anusapati's deathEdit

After Ken Arok's death, Anusapati took over the kingdom of Singhasari. Tohjaya, Ken Arok's son from his first wife, Ken Umang, eventually found out about Ken Arok's murder by Anusapati and went out to seek a revenge. In a royal cockfight event, something that Anusapati liked to do, Tohjaya grabbed the cursed keris from Anusapati and stabbed him to death, and thus Tohjaya took over Singhasari from Anusapati.

Tohjaya's demiseEdit

As a king, Tohjaya was proven to be a bad one which led to a revolt which cost him his life, in which he was killed by a spear. After Tohjaya's death, the keris of Mpu Gandring went missing. Ranggawuni, Anusapati's son, took over the Kingdom of Singhasari.

ConclusionEdit

Although the keris of Mpu Gandring was proven to be lethal, it did not take the live of any descendants of Ken Arok, as said by the curse, and took only six lives. Here is a list of the victims of the Keris:

  • Mpu Gandring, the maker of the keris.
  • Tunggul Ametung, leader of Tumapel area, husband of Ken Dedes at the time.
  • Kebo Ijo, another one of Tunggul Ametung's bodyguard beside Ken Arok.
  • Ken Arok, founder of the Kingdom of Singhasari.
  • Ki Pengalasan, Anusapati's assistant who killed Ken Arok
  • Anusapati, Ken Dedes' son from Tunggul Ametung.

Tohjaya, Ken Arok's son from his first wife, Ken Umang, was not killed by the keris but by the wound he got from a spear in a revolt.

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