Liubov Goriaeva

Vostochnaya literatura

Moskva, 2011, 646 pages

ISBN: 978-5-02-036355-7

It is common knowledge that the Indian Mahabharata had an exceptional
influence on the literary creation in the insular South-East Asia, actually
inspiring a number of epic poems (kakawiri) and prose literary works (parwa)
in Old Javanese. Moreover, most of the traditional Malay and Javanese
wayang (shadow-theater) repertoire is based on the Mahabharata story or, at
least, uses the principal characters of the Indian prototype.
The first Malay version of the Mahabharata known under the title of Hi￾kayat Pandawa Jaya (“The Story of the Victorious Pandawas”) is a patch￾work of episodes and scenes of different origin. The main part of its story is
based on the Old Javanese kakawins — Bharatayuddha and Ghatotkacagraya
(12th century), framed by a number of lakon (plays) from the wayang reper￾toire and interlaced with some motives taken from the Javanese epic poems
of the Majapahit era. According to some indirect data, the roots of the
Hikayat Pandawa Jaya can be traced to a supposed Middle Javanese proto￾type — an adaptation of the Bharatayuddha bearing the name of Pandawa
Jaya and dated, most probably, to the late 14th — early 15th century.
There is no doubt that the passage of the Mahabharata story from Java￾nese epic and theatrical traditions into Malay narrative prose has been a com￾plex creative process. The text of the Hikayat Pandawa Jaya bears traces of
kakawin figurative style, as well as a number of features proper to the
wayang tradition — staging, scenery, succession of episodes. Woven together
in one continuous narration, all these elements were bound into an organic
whole — an epic cycle about heroic deeds of the Pandawas — legendary
ancestors of Javanese kings.
Despite the Hindu-Javanese origin of its story, the Malay Hikayat Pan￾dawa Jaya, taken as a whole, appears as an original composition, one of the
earliest Malay fictional narratives displaying most of the characteristics of the
hikayat genre.