Arok The Great Pioneer From Tumapel

(Artikel Sejarah Malang versi Inggris -1)
hoever that are interested in studying history would find the background of this controversy figure in the history of Tumapel. But I am sure that people will tend to view him as a sly, cruel and terrorist figure in his era. In short, he is likely to be regarded as a representation of a robber or rebel. There are many historical books and historians that tended to only describe his dark sides of his life and at last created a negative opinion about him. It is on this ground that history seemed unjust and tendentious

People and the young generation must seek to understand history objectively. In attempt to achieve this, historical re-orientation through fruitful debates and discussions are in need. We must view history from different points of view, not only based on old manuscripts written for the sake of the rulers’ vested interests at that time.
In this essay, I point to analyze the great figure in the history of Tumapel[1], Ken Arok. Afar from his dark sides, in opinion, he was a great figure whose great ideals were beyond his age. In his very young age, he was able to organize local youth intended to “rob” the tribute of Akuwu Tumapel, which would be dedicated to Daha (now Kediri). The fruits of his robbing were, then, donated and distributed to the people and temples.
 At that time, Tumapel was under the authority of Daha. The appointment of Tunggul Ametung was likely to be result of political intervention from Sri Baginda Kretajaya (the king of Kediri). Thus, Tunggul Ametung was commanded to pay annual tributes as a form of loyalty to the king. The consequence was that Akuwu had to work hard to accumulate tributes from his people, and it was often accumulated through oppression and violence.
 Ken Arok grew in the time of the oppression. As a critical youth in his era, he absolutely denied the various kinds of oppression and injustice shouldered on the people.  In addition, he was a curious figure. Based on historical facts, in the very young he had ever been educated in a temple under the guidance of a Brahmana named Danghyang Lohgawe.
His perfect personality made those Brahmana who were jointly oppressed by Akuwu Tunggul Ametung “guided” this naughty, progressive, and brave youth to organize mass in term of liberation movement. Historical books mostly described that Akuwu Tunggul Ametung was overthrown and killed by Ken Arok by medium of a Keris. I think that this history tended to simplify the historical facts. It was impossible that Ken Arok with a Keris could kill Tunggul Ametung guarded by his thousands of soldiers. 
Ken Arok’s coup d’etat was a form of a great liberation strategy that involved religious figures (Brahmana) who were disappointed with the leadership of Tunggul Ametung. It was absolutely right that Tunggul Ametung led Tumapel in oppressive way. In this context, Ken Dedes who was the daughter of a known Brahmana was married by force in the manner that was in contradiction with the existing tradition. And this was a sensitive case of the time.
In 1220 M, Arok succeeded overthrowing Tunggul Ametung after passing some long and fatigable scenarios. Before killing Tunggul Ametung, Ken Arok firstly killed a well-known goldsmith called Empu Gandring. This actually results in historical questions. Was Ken Arok a cruel figure for murdering Empu Gandring who had help him making his Keris? I think that it is too simple to explain the phenomena this way. Gandring was a figure that was assumed as having a highly mystical power. Of course, in the time when the political sphere in Tumapel was not stabile resulted in Arok’s movement, he had in mind a political ambition to grasp. Gandring certainly had many loyal followers and weapons that could protect him from any danger. It was possible that Gandring had certain political ambitions as well to take over Akuwu position when Tunggul Ametung was overthrown. Therefore, after well planned, Arok murdered Gandring by his keris. The question is that why does the book of Pararaton not explain this in detail? The answer is that the book of Pararaton was written after the death of Arok that it had to be accorded to the interests of the ruling figure, which were possibly against him.
In the time of coup d’etat, Kebo Ijo, the commander in chief of Tumapel, was surprisingly murdered. This was certainly related to the Arok’s great project – coup d’etat. But we are encouraged to conclude that Kebo Ijo was potentiall to fail Arok’s great plan for Kebo Ijo was commander in chief that controlled thousands of sword and spear soldiers. To exercise his plan, Kebo Ijo had to be killed.
Following the overthrow of Tunggul Ametung, Arok proclaim at least two plans. First, he sought to eliminate various kinds of oppression and violence exercised by his predecessor. He highly respected the rights of people and Brahmana that it resulted in empathy and supports from the people of Tumapel. This supports that enabled Arok to overthrow the great ruling figure of Daha – Kretajaya.
Second, Arok proclaimed that Tumapel was independence kingdom. It meant that Tumapel was not under the domination of Kediri that at the time dominated most of Java Island. This challenge made Kretajaya angry and directly sent thousands of soldiers to conquer Tumapel that was commanded by Arok. As a great figure, Arok received this challenge by organizing the people and monks. Finally, the Ganter war was broken out.
Mahesa Wulungan that was the nephew of Sri Baginda Kretajaya was killed in the war. This certainly marked the victory of Arok. In the historical estimation, the time span Arok needed to overthrow Daha was two years (1220-1222). It was short time to create a great change. In the time of Kretajaya, Java Island was under his power. But the conquer of Daha moved the Daha control over Java Island into Tumapel. In this context, Java integration was commenced at this time. Arok was a pioneer in term of integration before the other pioneers. It is important to note that the liberation movement, which was widely discussed currently, was pioneered by Arok around 785 years ago. He rejected to admit the authority of Daha and denied sending tribute for Daha. This was a brave act that would eliminate the burden of the people of Tumapel. Arok succeeded to design his personality into a champion, progressive, and gentle figure though he was born from the common people. 
From this history, we should draw positive aspects of Ken Arok than negative ones. Indonesian youth in general and especially Malang youth should take this militant spirit as medium to pursue knowledge. The term “Arek” itself might come from the term “Arok”. This is a kind of great cultural ties between the past the present. Suppose the spirit of Ken Arok I have described above could be referred as guidance in any context, Kota Malang would become a “New Tumapel”, Tumapel that was great and prosperous. Even, the most successful people both in regional and national context would emerge from Malang.

[1] It is currently known as Malang 

*Artikel ini diambil dari Buku Wasiat Mpu Tantular karya KRT. Peni Suparto, atas ijin penulisnya.

Subscribe to receive free email updates: