The Legend of Ciung Wanara

Ciung Wanara is one of the famous Pantun Sunda to this day. It has been widely used for dissertation materials, dramas, and movies.

The story is full of political intrigue in usurping the throne in Galuh kingdom. Although some parts of this Pantun Sunda is created for entertainment with all of its conflicts and dramas, it realistically entwines with the history of Prabu Manarah a.k.a. Ciung Wanara, the king of Galuh Kawali.

The Legend of Ciung Wanara

A long time ago, Prabu Permana Di Kusumah [prabu means king in English] ruled Galuh kingdom. He had two wives. His first wive was Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum. His second wive was Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep. They hadn’t had any heir yet.

One day the king wished to step down and become a hermit. He appointed his right hand minister named Aria Kebonan as his replacement with a condition that he didn’t touch the queens. Since Aria Kebonan wasn’t an heir, he told everybody that due to his supernatural power the king was able to rejuvenate himself and became ten years younger. Only five people who knew this agreement: the two kings, two queens and a senior officer named Uwa Batara Lengser. From then on, Aria Kebonan became king called Prabu Barma Wijaya and the former king Prabu Permana Di Kusumah left the kingdom to became a hermit. 

Several months later, both queens dreamt of the moon fell on their laps. At that time that kind of dream meant the dreamer would soon have a child. The king didn’t know what to believe because he promised the former king he wouldn’t touch the queens. So, he ordered Uwa Batara Lengser to find a wise man to translate those dreams. The wise man was a hermit named Ajar Sukaresi. Unknown to the king, Ajar Sukaresi was the former king!

Being able to foresee the future, Ajar Sukaresi confirmed that both queens were pregnant. Each would have a son. Hearing this made the king furious. He stabbed Ajar Sukaresi with his kujang [kujang is a traditional Sundanese weapon], but it bent before it penetrated his body. 

Then Ajar Sukaresi asked the king whether the king really wanted him to die. He died instantly upon the king’s confirmation. The king kicked the body with all of his might, it was thrown into a forest and the spirit became a dragon called Nagawiru.

The birth of two heirs

True to the prophecy, both queens were pregnant. One day, when the king was near Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum, her unborn baby warned King Barma Wijaya of his broken promises to the late king. The king was afraid when this unborn baby grew up he would take revenge of his murdered father, so he asked Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep to help him getting rid of Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum’s baby.

Nine months after the wise man’s prophecy, Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep gave birth to a handsome son. He was named Hariang Banga. 

On the other hand, Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum was pregnant for twelve months. When it was time to give birth, Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep helped her deliver a baby boy. But she swapped the baby with a pup. She put the baby in a basket [Sundanese often refers it as kandaga] along with a chicken egg then floated it on Citanduy river.

When the king found out Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum gave birth to a pup instead of a baby, he ordered Uwa Batara Lengser to kill her. The officer felt sorry for the queen, so he took her to a forest and built her a shack. It was the same forest where Nagawiru, the spirit of the queen's late husband in the form of a dragon, resided.

After a while the basket carrying the baby prince was found by an elderly couple called Aki and Nini Balagantrang (aki is Sundanese word for a grandfather and nini for a grandmother). They lived at Geger Sunten village on the riverbank of Citanduy. Looking at the basket and the baby blanket, the couple believed he was a royal family. When they heard the incident of Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum, they believed the baby was her son. Aki and Nini Balagantrang raised this baby boy.

Call Me Ciung Wanara

One day, aki and his boy went hunting. They saw a bird and a monkey. When the boy asked what they are called, aki explained that the bird was called ‘ciung’ and the monkey was called ‘wanara’. Since the boy was still nameless, he asked to be called Ciung Wanara. 

Several years later, Ciung Wanara grew up to be a handsome and skillful man. His adopted parents told him how they found him inside a basket at the riverbank and who they believed to be his birth parents. 

Hearing the story, Ciung Wanara decided to go to the capital and take revenge. Aki gave him an egg and told him to go to the forest and asked Nagawiru (The spirit of late Prabu Permana Di Kusumah who became a dragon. He was Ciung Wanara's father) to hatch it. It was hatched into a strong rooster.  

How a rooster play a role in usurping the throne

Rooster fights was a favorite gambling tradition at that time. Every man from a peasant to a king was involved in one time or another. Even the king once announced, he would grant the wish of the owner of the rooster that could beat the king’s rooster. So, Ciung Wanara’s rooster was his ticket to approach the king.

First, he met two king’s officers Purawesi and Puragading. They invited him to a rooster fight at capital’s square. Ciung Wanara’s rooster kept winning the fight, until King Barma Wijaya heard about it. He ordered Uwa Batara Lengser to challenge Ciung Wanara on a rooster fight.

Upon meeting Ciung Wanara, Uwa Batara Lengser recognized him as the lost prince of Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum. So, Uwa Batara Lengser told him what happened to his birth parents then advised him to ask for half of the kingdom if his rooster won the fight. Thinking it was a good advice, Ciung Wanara obeyed him.

In front of King Barma Wijaya, Ciung Wanara introduced himself as the son of aki and nini Balagantrang from Geger Sunten village. Then he told the king that he had an extraordinary rooster. When it was still an egg, it was washed away in a river, then it was hatched for a year inside a ‘kandaga’.

Suddenly the king remembered Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum carried her baby for a year before giving birth. Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep had a hunch that the man before them was the baby she put inside a ‘kandaga’ and washed away in the river. They believed he came to take revenge.

When Ciung Wanara’s rooster won, the king kept his promise and gave him half of the kingdom. Ciung Wanara sought his mother, Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum, in the forest and took her to his new palace.

But that’s just the first step of his revenge. Next, he built a very solid dungeon and invited King Barma Wijaya and Queen Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep to inspect it. When the king and queen were inside the dungeon, he imprisoned them.

The battle of two brothers

Of course Hariang Banga, the son of Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep, tried to free his mother. He fought Ciung Wanara until they reached Brebes river. Since they were equal, no one won the fight until the late King Permana Di Kusumah and Queen Nyimas Dewi Naganingrum approached them. The late king ordered his two sons to stop fighting. He said brothers must not fight, it’s pamali (a Sundanese word for taboo). He decided both Barma Wijaya and Nyimas Dewi Pengrenyep would be kept imprisoned as the punishment for their crimes. Then he divided the land between the two sons. The river became their dividing line: Ciung Wanara got the land to the west of the river and Hariang Banga got the land to the east. Starting that day the river was known as Pamali river.

From then on, Ciung Wanara descendants became the ruler of Sunda kingdom. Later on Hariang Banga was known as Jaka Sesuruh or Raden Wijaya, which was the founder of Majapahit Kingdom.

Next: Ciung Wanara and The History of Galuh Kingdom

How real is the legend of Ciung Wanara with the real history of Galuh kingdom? Did Ciung Wanara avenge his father death? Did he become a king? What became of Hariang Banga? Find out how the legend and the history intertwine.

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The Sundanese is not only rich with its epic stories such as this legend of Ciung Wanara, but it also has many breathtaking places to be explored: cities, cultures, highlands and beaches. Let's explore them all!

Cangkuang Temple, Garut.
Pangandaran Beach.
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