Kebatinan, also called Kejawen, Agama Jawa and Kepercayaan is a Javanese religious tradition, consisting of an amalgam of animistic, Hindu-Buddhist, and Islamic, especially Sufi, beliefs and practices. It is rooted in the Javanese history and religiosity, syncretizing aspects of different religions.
Kebatinan is the inner-directed cultivation of inner peace, rooted in pre-Islamic traditions, whereas kejawen is outer-directed and community-oriented, manifesting in rituals and practices.
Java has been a melting pot of religions and cultures, which has created a broad range of religious belief.
Nowadays Bali is still pre-dominantly Hinduist, while Buddhist communities also exist in the major cities, primarily among the Chinese Indonesian.
Java "adopted"[note 1] Islam around 1500 CE. Islam was 1st accepted by the elites, which contributed to the further spread and accpetance. Sufi and other versions of Folk Islam were most easily integrated in the folk religion of Java. The learned versions of Sufi Islam and shari`a-oriented Islam were integrated at the courts with rituals and myths of the existing Hindu-Buddhist civilisation. Clifford Geertz described this as abangan and priyayi, "the lower class and elite varieties of Javanese syncretism".
The Kyai, the Muslim scholar of the writ became the new religious elite as Hindu influences receded. Islam recognises no hierarchy of religious leaders nor a formal priesthood, but the Dutch colonial government established an elaborate rank order for mosque and other Islamic preaching schools. In Javanese pesantren , The Kyai perpetuated the tradition of the resi. Students around him provided his needs, even peasants around the school.
Christianity was brought to Java by missionaries, 1st from the Dutch Reformed Church, and in the 20th century also by Roman Catholics, such as the Jesuits and the Divine Word Missionaries. Nowadays there are Christian communities, mostly Reformed in the larger cities, though some rural areas of south-central Java are strongly Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics and other Christian groups have been persecuted for their beliefs such as a ban on Christmas services.
Nowadays more than 90 percent of the people of Java are Muslims, on a broad continuum between abangan and santri. Although Java is nominally Islamitic, kejawen, the syncretic Javanese culture, is a strong undercurrent. Pre-Islamic Javan traditions have encouraged Islam in a mystical direction.
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 (Ki Kebo Kenanga) come from Kebatinan. Some historians have doubted the existence of Syekh Siti Jenar, suggesting the stories represent conflicts between Kebatinan and Islam in the past.
With the Islamisation of Java there emerged a loosely structured society of religious leadership, revolving around kyais, Islamic experts possessing various degrees of proficiency in pre-Islamic and Islamic lore, belief and practice. The kyais are the principal intermediaries between the villages masses and the realm of the supernatural. However, this very looseneess of kyai leadership structure has promoted schism. There were often sharp divisions between orthodox kyais, who merely instructed in Islamic law, with those who taught mysticism and those who sought reformed Islam with modern scientific concepts.
This distinction between "the High Islam or scripturalist, shari`a-oriented Islam of the `ulama" and "living local Islam" or "Folk Islam" or "popular Islam" isn't restricted to Java, but can be found in other Islamic countries as well.
He sees a dialectical relationship between the two, with periods of scripturalist dominance followed by relapses into emotional, mystical, magical folk Islam. Modernity — especially urbanisation and mass literacy — unsettles the balance between the two, by eroding the social bases of folk Islam. An irreversible shift to scripturalist Islam occurs, which is in Gellner’s view the equivalent of secularisation in the West.
In the early 20th century, several groups became formalised, developing systemetised teachings and rituals, thus offering a 'high' form ofabangan religiosity, as an alternative to the 'high' Islam. Bruinessen opines that the kebatinan-movements is a deliberate rejection of scriptural Islam, which arose out of "folk Islam".
Kebatinan is derived from the Arabic word batin, meaning "inner" or "hidden", or "inner self". It is a metaphysical search for harmony within one's inner self, connection with the universe, and with an Almighty God. Kebatinan believe in a "super-consciousness" which can be contacted through meditation.
Kebatinan is a combination of occultism, metaphysics, mysticism and other esoteric doctrines from Animistic, Hinduistic, Buddhist and Islamic origins. Although the Javanese culture is tolerant, and open to new religions, only those qualities are accepted and filtered which fit into the Javanese culture, character and personality. Javanese ideals combine human wisdom , 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.
According to Choy, the Kebatinan have no certain prophet, sacred book, nor distinct religious festivals and rituals. Nevertheless, various kebatinan-movements have their own foundational writings and founders.
A kebatinan practitioner can identify with one of the six officially recognized religions, while still subscribe to the kebatinan belief and way of life.
Although kebatinan is a predominantly Javanese tradition, it has also attracted practitioners from other ethnic and religious groups, such as Chinese and Buddhists, and foreigners from Australia and Europe. President Suharto counted himself as one of its adherents. Their total membership is difficult to estimate as many of their adherents identify themselves with one of the official religions.
The Indonesian state ideology strives toward a unified nation, recognizing only monotheism. Meanwhile, there is also a tolerance for non-recognized religions. A broad plurifomiy of religions and sects exist. In the middle of 1956, the Department of Religious Affairs in Yogyakarta reported 63 religious sects in Java other than the official Indonesian religions. Of these, 22 were in West Java, 35 were in Central Java, and 6 in East Java.
These include also kebatinan-groups, such as Sumarah and Subud. This loosely organized current of thought and practice was legitimized in the 1945 constitution, but failed to attain official recognition as a religion. In 1973 it was recognized as Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Maha Esa , but withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religion and placed under the jurisdiction of the ministry of Education and Culture.
Many Kebatinan followers practice in their own way to seek spiritual and emotional relief. These practices aren't 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.
Kebatinan often implies pantheistic worship, because it encourages sacrifices and devotions to local and ancestral spirits. These spirits are believed to inhabit natural objects, human beings, artifacts, and grave sites of important wali . Illness and other misfortunes are traced to such spirits, and if sacrifices or pilgrimages fail to placate angry deities, the advice of a dukun or healer is sought.
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 don't 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.
But according to Bruinessen, the writing down of kebatinan teachings was a novelty which appeared with the institutinalisation of the kebatinan-movements in the beginning of the 20th century.
The appearance of formal kebatinan movements reflects the modernisation of Indonesia. Kebatinan movements appeared early in the 1900s in urban traditional elite circles, together with the rise of nationalism and the Muhammadiyah, a modernist Islamic movement. Hardopusoro, one of the earliest kebatinan-movements, had strong links with the Theosophical Society. Some remained very elitist, while others also accpeted lower urban and rural followings, thereby popularising abangan, or syncretistic Islam, as an alternative to shari`a-oriented Islam.
Umbrella organisations representing several hundred kebatinan organisations, lobbied to attain legitimacy and recognition as an official religion. They are registered at the HKP , which is controlled by the PAKEM (Pengawas Aliran Kepercayaan Masyarakat).[web 2] After the Suharto-era (1967-1998), the kebatinan-movements lost political support, and have become less dynamic, their adherents avoiding public engagement.
Subud was founded in the 1920s by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo. The name Subud was 1st used in the late 1940s when Subud was legally registered in Indonesia. The basis of Subud is a spiritual exercise commonly referred to as the latihan kejiwaan, which was said by Muhammad Subuh to be guidance from "the Power of God" or "the Great Life Force". The aim of Subud is to attain perfection of character according to the will of God. Only when passion, heart and mind are separated from the inner feeling is it possible to make contact with the "Great Life Force" which permeates everywhere.
Muhammad Subuh saw the present age as one that demands personal evidence and proof of religious or spiritual realities, as people no longer just believe in words. He claimed that Subud isn't a new teaching or religion but only that the latihan kejiwaan itself is the kind of proof that humanity is looking for. He also rejected the classification of Subud as a kebatinan organization.There are now Subud groups in about 83 countries, with a worldwide membership of about 10,000.
Sumarah was formed in the 1930s by Pak Hardo, Pak Sadina and Pak Sutadi, without a formal organisation. In those early days, the younger members were taught kanoman, occult practices including invulnerability for knives and guns. This was regarded as essential in the struggle against the Dutch colonial powers. Around 1950, when Indonesia becale an independent nation, Sumarah was streamlined and organised by dr. Surono. The emphasis shifted from magic to "surrender to God". From 1957 on internal struggles surfaced between dr. Surono and the founders Pak Hardo and Pak Sadina, leading to a change in leadership by dr. Ary Muthy in 1967.
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.
Sumarah's conception of God is different from Islam. It has a pantheistic vision of reality, considering God to be present in all living beings.
Pangestu was founded in 1949. It's doctrine was revealed in 1932 to Sunarto Mertowarjoyo, and written down in the Setat Sasangka Djati by R.T. Harjoparakowo and R. Trihardono Sumodiharjo Pangastu. It describes the way to obtain wahyu, the blessing of God.
Sapta Dharma was founded in 1952 by Harjo Sapura, after he received a relevation. According to Sri Pawenang, it was God's wish to provide the Indonesian people with a new spirituality in atime of crisis. It's aim is to free man of his passions.
According to Sapta Dharma teachings, suji is necessary to pierce through different layers of obstacles to reach Semar, the guardian spirit of Java. Theory and practice resemble Indian Kundalini yoga, aiming at awakening the Kundalini energy and guiding it through the chakras.
Kebatinan beliefs have spread to some parts of Malaysia in which certain individuals have combined it with Islamic concepts . 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).
In the Netherlands, the former colonial power in Indonesia, some kebatinan-groups are active.