Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Indonesia and Sukarno

In Indonesian Destinies by Theodore Friend on page 17:
To evoke the great range of character and characteristics of this nation that lives so markedly in the world of myth, I turn to a symbolic pairing whose source is Indian mythology, transformed by centuries of Javanese history. The pairing is of Durga, who stands for power, destruction, rage at man, and Umayi, who represents all that is gentle, feminine and beautiful. Durga appears in old Javanese sculptures as a many-weaponed warrior, female, adamant, Amazonian in her fearlessness. Umayi, not captured in stone, represents the soft, submissive and creative side of the same mighty character. Both are consort to the great god Siva. Umayi is his sweet and domestically fulfilled spouse; but by an ancient curse she is always transformable into her angry and vengeful opposite, Durga, with her appetite for war.

All his life Sukarno courted Indonesia as Umayi. He charmed and won her. She was faithful to him; and he, in his fashion, despite his petty mortal passions, was faithful to her. But in the end Sukarno had to face the reality that he was playing games with the gods. Eventually, the curse emerged, and Umayi was transformed into the dreadful Durga. Sukarno's rule went down, and with it the lives of half a million Indonesians. The romantic who had aroused the masses was reduced to an isolated, weeping wreck.

No comments: