Javanese Beliefs (Kebatinan or Kejawen)

Javanese beliefs (Kebatinan or Kejawen) have principles embodying a search for inner self but at the core is the concept of peace of mind. Although Kejawen is not strictly a religious affiliation, it addresses ethical and spiritual values as inspired by Javanese tradition. It is not a religion in usual sense of the word, like Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. There are no scriptures such as the Bible or the Qur'an, nor are there prophets. There is no emphasis on eschatology (i.e., life after death, heaven or hell, devils or angels).


Kebatinan is a metaphysical search for harmony within one's inner self, connection with the universe, and with an Almighty God. Javanese beliefs are a combination of occultism, metaphysics, mysticism and other esoteric doctrines, exemplifying a Javanese tendency for synthesis. The Javanese system is so flexible that syncresis in all manifestations is attainable, even that which is in conflict. Javanese ideals combine human wisdom (wicaksana), psyche (waskita) and perfection (sempurna). The follower must control his/her passions, eschewing earthly riches and comforts, so that he/she may one day reach enlightened harmony and union with the spirit of the universe.


Generally speaking, the Kebatinan follower believes in the existence of a superconsciousness in the cosmic world which is beyond humankind's comprehension, yet controls and guides humans' affairs and destiny. This superconsciousness is believed to be contacted via meditation. There are several meditation techniques (tapa):

tapa Ngalong (meditation by hanging from a tree)
tapa Pati-Geni (avoiding fire or light for a day or days and isolating oneself in dark rooms),
tapa Senen-Kemis (fasting on Monday-Thursday),
tapa Mutih (abstention from eating anything that is salted and sweetened, only eat/drink pure water & rice),
tapa Ngebleng (not Eat-Drink for several time, usually 3-5-7 days )
tapa Ngadam (stand/walk on foot from Sunset till Sunset, 24 Hours in Silence)
tapa Kungkum (Meditation under small waterfall or meeting point of 2-3 rivers / Tempuran / Tjampuhan)

Fasting is a common practice employed by Javanese spiritualists in order to attain discipline of mind and body to get rid of material and emotional desires. Many Kebatinan followers meditate in their own way to seek spiritual and emotional relief. These practices are not performed in churches or mosques, but at home or in caves or on mountain perches. Meditation in Javanese culture is a search for inner self wisdom and to gain physical strength. This tradition is passed down from generation to generation.

Satrio Piningit Wiragung

Satrio Piningit means "Hidden Knights/ Hidden Ksatria". He is a character of Jongko Joyobhoyo (Jayabaya Prophecies) in Javanese myths and he is a Javanese who would become a Great Leader of Nusantara and around the world from Java. Maharaja Jayabaya was a King of Kediri in East Java from 1135 to 1157 A.D. and he was known for his righteousness and prosperous rule, and reputed to have been an incarnation of the Hindu deity, Deva Vishnu so that he had a magical strength (sakti manduroguno) and he was abled to predict the future.

Maharaja Jayabaya is most famous for his oracles or prophesies attributed to him, namely the Serat Joyobhoyo Musoror, Serat Pranitiwekyo, and some debatable others. Jayabaya is also attributed as author of the "Pralembang Joyobhoyo", a prophetic book that played an important role in the Japanese Occupation of Indonesia (1942–1945).

According to a selectively abridged set of stanzas within a Jayabaya prophesy (all are extremely long epic poems):

"The Javanese would be ruled by whites for 3 centuries and by yellow dwarfs for the life span of a maize plant prior to the return of the Ratu Adil: whose name must contain at least one syllable of the Javanese Noto Negoro."

When Japan occupied the Netherlands East Indies, in the first weeks of 1942, Indonesians danced in the streets, welcoming the Japanese army as the fulfillment of the prophecy ascribed to Joyoboyo, who foretold the day when white men would one day establish their rule on Java and tyrannize the people for many years – but they would be driven out by the arrival of yellow men from the north. These yellow dwarfs, Joyoboyo had predicted, would remain for one crop cycle, and after that Java would be freed from foreign domination. To most of the Javanese, Japan was a liberator: the prophecy had been fulfilled.

Islamic view

Kebatinan beliefs have spread to some parts of Malaysia in which certain individuals have combined it with Islamic concepts (e.g. proclaiming themselves to be new-age Islamic prophets, but delivering messages that are a combination of Islamic and kebatinan beliefs). This has led to the Malaysian Islamic authorities declaring elements of kebatinan to be "syirik" (shirk) and un-Islamic. Kebatinan interpretations of Islam are widespread in Malaysia among practitioners of silat, traditional healers and some preachers (such as Ayah Pin and other self-proclaimed Islamic prophets).


Javanese spiritualism entails a never ending search for wonder and surprise. It has some foreign influences. The Javanese tend to be flexible and pragmatic as far as one's spiritual life is concerned. The complexity is perhaps the result of Java's complicated cultural background and its myriad cultural influences. But basically, Javanese spiritualism is individualistic in approach, something typically Javanese. The approach is person-to-person or person-to-guru. One on one.

Kebatinan schools

The Sumarah School: According to this school, man and his physical and spiritual world are divided into three parts: the physical body and brain, an invisible world, and a more elusive and sublime world. In the brain, the faculty of thinking has two functions: to record memories, and to serve as a means of communion with God. One section, Sukusma, governs the passions, while the other, the Jiwa, provides the driving forces governing thought and reason. The invisible world, which is situated within the chest, is the Jiwa, the ineffable soul. It is here that the deeper feeling (Rasa) is located. The most elusive and sublime world is hidden somewhere near the anatomical heart. Sumarah theology maintains that humankind's soul is like the holy spirit, a spark from the Divine Essence, which means that we are in essence similar to God. In other words "One can find God within oneself," a belief similar to the "I=God" theory found in Hindu-Javanese literature.

The Sapta Dharma School was the product of the Indonesian Revolution.

Kebatinan commandments

"God is within you. God is everywhere. But do not say you are God.

Historical texts

Kebatinan and kejawen practices are extensively written about in texts that are held in the Sanabudaya library in Yogyakarta, and the main Kraton Libraries of Solo and Yogyakarta. Many of the texts are deliberately elliptical so that those who do not work with either initiates or teachers are unable to ascertain or understand the esoteric doctrines and practices. In quite a few cases codified texts with secret systems to "unlock" the meanings are employed.

Some Javanese texts relate stories about Syekh Siti Jenar who had conflicts with Wali Sanga, the nine Islamic scholars in Java, and the Sultanate of Demak. Although Syekh Siti Jenar was a sufi whose teaching were similar with Al-Hallaj, most of his followers (i.e. Ki Kebo Kenanga) come from Kebatinan. Some historians have doubted the existence of Syekh Siti Jenar (also known as Syekh Lemah Abang), suggesting the stories represent conflicts between Kebatinan and Islam in the past.

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