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Tony Boey johorkaki@gmail 🇸🇬 Singapore active senior food, travel & lifestyle diary

Sang Sapurba & Damang Lebar Daun, Father & Grandfather of Sang Nila Utama 📖 Sejarah Melayu Chapter 2

Bukit Siguntang where Sangsapurba first appeared in Palembang

Bichitram Shah descendent of
Raja Secander (Alexander the Great) and son of Raja Suran and Putri Gangga appeared in Palembang. He took the name Sang Sapurba and married Wan Sundaria, the daughter of king of Palembang, Damang Lebar Daun.

*I am studying the Malay Annals for insights into the roots of Malay cuisine.

In return for marrying his daughterDamang Lebar Daun, his family and subjects pledged loyalty to Sang Sapurba and his descendants, even should they become tyrannical. Sang Sapurba in turn promised to treat his subjects well. Damang Lebar Daun abdicated the throne of Palembang in favour of Sang Sapurba.

The coronation of Raja Sang Sapurba was celebrated for forty days and forty nights. There was a great feast.

"There was playing and music on all kinds of instruments that ever were heard of, and what a carnage of buffaloes, kine (cattle), goats, and sheep. The heaps of half-burnt rice rejected, lay like hillocks, and the skimming of the foam of the rice-broth stood in little seas; and in these were floating the heads of buffaloes and goats like so many islands."

Princess Paramisuri, sovereign of Bentan (Bintan island) invited Raja Sang Sapurba to her kingdom. Sang Nila Utama son of Raja Sang Sapurba (with Wan Sundaria) married Wan Sri Bini, the daughter of Princess Paramisuri. Raja Sang Sapurba returned to Sumatra while Damang Lebar Daun remained in Bentan with his grandson Sang Nila Utama. Sang Nila Utama became the raja of Bentan.

Raja Sang Sapurba settled in west Sumatra where he became raja of Menangcabow (Minangkabau).

Sejarah Melayu compiled in Jawi by regent of Johor, Yang di-Pertuan Di Hilir Raja Abdullah in 1612, translated into English by Dr. John Leyden in 1821. The Malay Annals has 30 chapters.

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Original translation by Dr John Leyden

Chapter 2 of 30

THERE is a country in the land of Andalas named Paralembang, which is at present denominated  Palembang, the raja of which was denominated Damang Lebar Dawn, (Chieftain Broad-leaf,) who derived his origin from Raja Sulan, (Chulan?) whose great-grandson he was. 

The name of its river was Muartatang, into which falls another river named Sungey Malayu, near the source of which is a mountain named the mountain Sagantang Maha Miru.   

There were two young women of Belidung, the one named  Wan-Ampu, and the other Wan-Malin, employed in cultivating rice on this mountain, where they had large and productive  rice-grounds. One night they he held their rice-fields gleaming and glittering like fire. Then said Ampu to Malin, "What is that light which is so brilliant? I am frightened to look at it." "Make no noise,"  said Malin, "it is some great snake or naga." Then they both lay quiet for fear.  

When it was daylight, they arose and  went to see what it was shone so bright during the night. They both ascended the hill, and found the grain of the rice converted into gold, the leaves into silver, and the stalks into brass, and they were extremely surprised, and said, " This is what we observed during the night." They advanced a little farther up the hill, and saw all the soil of the mountain of the colour of gold.    

And on the ground which had assumed this golden colour, they saw three young and handsome men. One of them had the dress of a raja, and was mounted on a bull, white as silver; and the other two were standing on each side of him, one of  them holding a sword, and the other a spear. 

Ampu and Malin were greatly surprised at the handsomeness of the young men, and their elegant apparel; and immediately thought that they must be the cause of the phenomenon which had appeared on their rice-grounds. They immediately inquired who they were, whence they had come, and whether they were Jins or Peris ; for as long as they had remained in this place they had never seen any of the race of man until that day.   

The person in the middle answered, " We are neither of the  race of Jins nor Peris, but that of men. As to our origin we are the descendants of Raja Secander Zulkarneini, and the offspring of  Raja Suran, the king of the east and west; our  genealogy ascends to Raja Suleiman. My name is Bichitram Shah, who am raja; the name of this person is Nila Pahlawan; and  the name of the other, Carna Pandita. 

This is the sword, Chora sa mendang kian, and that is the lance, Limbuar; this is the signet, Cayu Gampit, which is employed in correspondence with rajas." " If you are the descendants of Raja Secander," said the girls,  "what is the cause of your coming thither?"  Then Nila Pahlawan related the whole story of Raja Secander's espousing the daughter of Raja Kida Hindi, and of Raja Suran's descent into the sea.

Then Ampu and Malin asked what proofs they could  produce of the truth of this relation: "Ladies," said Nila Pahlawan, " this crown is an evidence of descent from Raja Secander.  If any farther evidence is wanting, consider the phenomenon which you have seen on your rice-grounds in coming hither."   

Then the girls were rejoiced, and invited them to their house, whither they proceeded, he of the centre being mounted on the white steer. Then Ampu and Malin returned, and cut the paddy for their food. The name of the prince they changed into Sangsapurba. The bull which was his conveyance, vomited foam, from which emerged a man named Bat'h, with an immense turban, who immediately stood up, and began to recite the praises of Sangsapurba, (which he does very ingeniously in the Sanscrit  language *.)  

The title which the raja received from this Bat'h, (Bard), was Sangsapurba Trimarti trib'huvena. From this Bat'h or Bard are descended the original reciters of Cheritras, or histories of the ancient time. 

Nila Pahlawan and Carna Pandita were then married by Bat'h to the young females, Wan Ampu and Wan Malin; and their male offspring were denominated by Sangsapurba, Baginda Awang, and the female offspring, Baginda Dara; and hence the origin of all the Awangs and Daras.    

At last the chief, Damang Lebar Dawn, discovered that the two girls, Ampu and Malin, had found a young raja, who had descended from the regions of the atmosphere, and he proceeded accordingly to pay his respects with numerous and rich presents. He was very courteously received by the young prince. It was soon noised over the whole country,  that a descendant of Raja Secander Zulkarneini had descended on the mountain Sagantang Maha Miru, and all the rajas of the neighbouring countries came, with rich presents, to pay their respects to him, and were most courteously received by him. As he wanted to marry, they all brought him their daughters; but as  they were not of proper rank for such a noble prince, as soon as they associated with him they were stricken with a leprosy, as  with a plague sent as a curse, to the number of thirty-nine.  

According to the persons from whom the author derives his  information, the raja of the country of Palembang, which was formerly of such great extent, had a daughter of extreme beauty, named Wan Sundaria. Then Ampu and Malin made obeisance to Sangsapurba, and represented to him that Damang Lebar Dawn had a daughter: Sangsapurba accordingly sent to ask her in marriage, but he excused himself, alleging that she would probably be struck with sickness, and that he would only resign her to him as a wife on certain conditions: these conditions were, that on Sangsapurba marrying his daughter, all the family of Damang Lebar Dawn should submit themselves to him; but that Sangsapurba should engage, both for himself and his posterity, that they should receive a liberal treatment; and in particular, that when they committed faults they should never be exposed to shame nor opprobrious  language, but if their faults were great, that they should be put to death according to the law.   

Sangsapurba agreed to these conditions, but he requested, in his turn, that the descendants of Damang Lebar Dawn should never move any treasonable  practices against his descendants, even though they should become tyrannical. "Very well," said Damang Lebar Dawn, "but if your descendants break your agreements, probably mine will do the same." These conditions were mutually agreed to, and the parties swore to perform them, imprecating the divine vengeance to turn their authority upside down who should infringe these agreements.   

From this condition it is that none of the Malay rajas ever expose their Malay subjects to disgrace or shame; they  never bind them, nor hang them, nor give them opprobrious language; for whenever a raja exposes his subjects to disgrace, it is the certain token of the destruction of his country: hence also it is, that none of the Malay race ever engage in rebellion, or turn their faces from their own rajas, even though their conduct be bad, and their proceedings tyrannical.  

After this agreement, Damang Lebar Dawn delivered his daughter, Wan Sundaria, in marriage to Sangsapurba, who returned with her to his country. After associating with the raja, it was found that she had escaped the curse of  leprosy which had afflicted his former wives; to his great satisfaction, he immediately sent to inform Damang Lebar Dawn of the circumstance, who came with great haste, and was rejoiced to find her in excellent health. In his great joy he requested  him to pack up his baggage, and return with him to Palembang. To this proposition Sangsapurba agreed.   

After his return to Palembang, Damang Lebar Dawn ordered a splendid bathing-house to be constructed, and the architect was the aforesaid Bat'h. This bathing house was named Pancha Presadha, and it had seven stories, and terminated in five towers on the roof. A public festival was then made for the space of forty days and forty nights, which was attended by all the inferior rajas, mantris, seda sidas, or eunuchs, bantaras, champions, and commons in general. 

There was playing and music on all kinds of  instruments that ever were heard of, and what a carnage of buffaloes, kine, goats, and sheep. The heaps of half-burnt rice rejected, lay like hillocks, and the skimming of the foam of the rice-broth stood in little seas; and in these were floating the  heads of buffaloes and goats like so many islands.   

After the completion of the forty days and nights, the bathing water was  introduced, with all kinds of music and an immense concourse of people, into the bath, adorned with gold and gems; and the husband and wife having, with a great multitude, seven times encircled the bathing-house, afterwards bathed in the highest story, and Bat'h was the person who officiated at the bath. 

After bathing, they changed their garments, and Sangsapurba arrayed himself in the cloth, derapata deremani,  and the queen in that termed burudaimani, after which they entered on the duties of government, and mounted the golden throne of authority, and the state drums were beat.   

He was now installed in state, and all the mantris and champions came to pay their respects to him, and he feasted them in state; and the prince and princess eat with them, and Bat'h inserted the Panchawa Panchara, on the temples of the royal pair. Sangsapurba then assumed the sovereignty of Palembang and Damang Lebar Dawn was appointed mangku bumi.    

It  happened on a certain day, that the river of Palembang brought down a foam-bell of uncommon size, in which appeared a young girl of extreme beauty. The raja being  informed of the circumstance, ordered her to be brought to him. This was done, and the raja adopted her as his daughter. She was named Putri Tunjong-bui, or the Princess Foam-bell. The prince was extremely fond of her. By the queen Wan Sundaria, he had four children, two of them daughters of uncommon beauty, the one of whom was named Putri Sri Devi, and  the other Putra Chandra Devi. Two of  them were sons, of whom one was named Sang Mutiaga, and the other Sang Nila Utama.    

It was now noised all over the world, that the descendant of Raja Secander Zulkarneini, of the race of Hindostan, had descended on the mountain Sagantang Maha Mini,  and was now in the land of Palembang. All were astonished at the report, and it even spread so far as the land of China. Then the raja of China sent to Palembang, to Raja Sangsapurba ten prows, to ask his daughter in marriage. They brought with them as presents three bahars of gold, and a great quantity of articles of China. Along with them one hundred male Chinese slaves, and a young Chinese of noble birth; a hundred female Chineses; all to convey the raja's  letter to Sangsapurba.  

They reached Palembang, and delivered the letter of the raja of China, in the most respectful manner, in the hall of audience. The letter was read and comprehended, and Raja Sangsapurba consulted with his warriors, whether it  would be proper or improper. They were all of opinion, that if the request were not complied with, the safety of the country would be endangered; " besides," said they, " there is no greater prince than the raja of China, nor of more noble extraction, whom she could get for her husband, nor is there any country greater than the land of China." " Then" said Sangsapurba, "if you approve of it, we will grant his request, in order to promote the friendship between the Malay and the Chinese rajas."    

Accordingly the elder princess, named Sri Devi, was delivered to the Chinese ambassador, together with a letter, stamped with the signet Kampen, desiring the ambassador to take notice, that when a paper signed with a similar stamp, should arrive in China, they might depend on its being sent by him or his descendants, the Malay rajas, but not to credit any other. The Chinese mantri was highly gratified. The young Chinese of noble birth, remained in Palembang, and became greatly attached to Raja Sangsapurba, who likewise had a great affection for him, and wished to settle him in marriage with the Putri Tunjong-bui.   

The Chinese ambassador left with this young nobleman one of his prows, and took his leave of the raja, who honoured him with a rich change of dress. He returned to China, the raja of which was highly gratified with the daughter of the raja, from the mountain Sagantang, and treated her with the dignity due to her rank and family. She in due time produced a son, from whom are descended the royal race who reign in China at the present time.    

After Raja Sangsapurba had remained a long time quiet in Palembang, he was seized with the desire of viewing the ocean. He summoned Damang Lebar Dawn, and the rest of his chiefs, and informed him of his intention to go and look out for a fine situation to found a new settlement. Damang  Lebar Dawn very obligingly offered to accompany him, as he did not wish to be separate from him. Prows were accordingly prepared, and the younger brother of Damang Lebar Dawn was directed to remain in  the government of Palembang.  

According to some, the noble Chinese who had married Tunjong-bui, was made raja of the upper country of Palembang, and had the command of all the Chinese in Palembang. The  present rajas of Palembang are all descended of this family. The younger brother of Damang Lebar Dawn had, according to the same authority, the command of Lower Palembang.  

These arrangements being made, Raja Sangsapurba embarked in a golden galley, and his queen in a silver galley, accompanied by Damang Lebar Dawn, with all his mantris, seda-sidas, bantaras, and champions. The forms of the prows were so various as to defy description; their masts like tall trees, and their standards like the floating clouds, and the royal umbrella like a dark cloud; and the number of vessels almost filled the seas.  

After setting sail from the river of Palembang, they sailed towards the south; and after six days and nights, they arrived at Tanjongpura, where Sangsapurba was very honourably received by the raja and a thousand of his chiefs, who introduced him into the country, seated him on the throne, and honoured him like a prince.  

Intelligence of his arrival soon reached Majapahit, stating that the raja, who had descended from the mountain Sagantang Maha Miru, was now at Tanjongpura; and the bitara (awatara) of Majapahit went to visit Sangsapurba. The raja of Majapahit was at this time very powerful, and of very noble extraction; and as recorded in stories, he was descended from Putra Samara Ningrat.  

When he arrived at Tanjongpura, he paid his respects to Sangsapurba, who received him graciously, and gave him in marriage his daughter, Chandra Devi, the younger sister of the princess of China. After his marriage, he returned to Majapahit; and it is from this marriage that the rajas of Majapahit  are descended.    

After a long residence in Tanjongpura, Raja Sangsapurba set out again in search of some other country for a settlement. But he first married his son Sang Muttaya to the daughter of the raja of Tanjongpura, and  established him on the throne as raja of Tanjongpura, and gave him a crown adorned with gems, pearls, and diamonds. After leaving Tanjongpura, Sangsapurba set sail and traversed the sea till he arrived at a strait, when enquiring the name of the hill which he saw in view, one of the guides answered, the hill of Lingga, and that the galley had now arrived at the straits of Sambor. The news quickly reached Bentan, that the raja  who had descended from the mountain Sagantang had now arrived at the straits of Sambor.  

There was at this time a queen on the throne of Bentan, named Paramisuri Secander Shah, whose husband was dead, and who had a daughter of extreme beauty unequalled at that time, and her name was Wan Sri Bini. The raja of Bentan had been a prince of great might, and had gone to Siam, and the queen governed in his stead. He was the first who established the practice of the royal drums, in which he has been followed by all the rajas under the wind. 

On receiving this intelligence the princess Paramisuri summoned her chief mantris, named Indra B'hupala and Aria B'hupala, and sent them to invite Sangsapurba with a fleet of 400 prows, directing them that if they found the raja aged they should invite him in the name of his younger sister (Adinda), if young, in the name of his elder sister (Kakanda), and if quite a boy, in the name of his mother (Bonda).  

The messengers proceeded accordingly to Tanjong-rangas, and thence to the straits of Sambor, between which their prows extended in an unbroken line. When they reached  the prow of Sangsapurba they saluted him in the name of his eldest sister (Kakanda), and invited him to Bentan. He acceded  to the invitation, and was introduced to Paramisuri who had resolved to take him for her husband had he been older; but who finding him still youthful, was contented to be reckoned his sister. However she had a great affection for him and conferred high honours on him. His son Sang Nila Utama, she chose for the husband of her daughter the princess Wan Sri  Bini, and he afterwards became raja of Bentan.    

Sangsapurba also gave him a kingly crown, the gold of which could not be seen for the multitude of gems, pearls, and diamonds with which it was studded. He  also gave him a royal signet of the same form as the signet Gampa, and with the same letters inscribed upon it. 

Then Sangsapurba  made his apologies to the Princess Paramisuri Secander Shah, being desirous of looking out for a more extensive country for a settlement, as Bentan was only an island of small extent; but Damang Lebar Dawn remained in Bentan with his grand-son Sang Nila Utama, to whom he was greatly attached.    

When Sangsapurba had left Bentan, he sailed on for a day and a night, till he arrived at Ruco, whence he proceeded to the point of Balang, where he observed a river's mouth of very great extent. He enquired of  the guide, what was that river? The guide answered, "the river of Cuantan, and  the country is extremely populous. "Let us ascend it," said the raja. It was represented to him that all the fresh water was exhausted, and that there was no place to obtain more.  

Then Raja Sangsapurba directed  them to bring rotans and tie them in circles and throw them into the water; then  having himself descended into a small boat, he inserted his feet into the water, within the circles of bamboo, and by the power of God Almighty and the virtue of a descendant of Raja Secander Zulkarneini, the water within these circles became fresh, and all the crews supplied themselves with it, and unto this day the fresh water is mixed  with the salt at this place.   

Raja Sangsapurba now ascended high up the river Cuantan, and when he arrived at Menangcabow, all the Menangcabows were surprised at his appearance and the splendour of his diadem, and they all came to enquire of his attendants whence they came, and who they were, and "who" said they, "is this raja, and what is his origin?  His dress is amazingly elegant." They answered, "this is Raja Sangsapurba, the descendant of Secander Zulkarneini, who descended on the mountain Sagantang Maha Miru. Then they related his whole history and adventures.   

Then all the chief men of Menangcabow consulted about appointing him their raja, since they had none. Then the ancient chiefs desired them first to enquire if he would engage to kill the snake Sacatimuna (Icktimani) which  destroys all our cultivation. Then all  the chiefs waited respectfully on the raja, and informed him that they considered his arrival as a signal piece of good fortune, and would be happy to appoint him raja, but that they were grievously harassed by an immense snake, which destroyed their cultivation, which they wished he would oblige them by destroying, which had resisted all their efforts either to cut or pierce without either being stunned or wounded. 

Sangsapurba assented, and requested them to shew him its den. Then a champion, named Peramas Cumambang, was sent by Sangsapurba with his famous sword Chora Samanda Kian, to perform this service. He went accordingly, and as soon as he approached the place, the snake smelling a man, unfolded his coils. As soon as the champion saw it lying with huge coils like a hillock, the snake saw him, and put itself in motion, when the champion smote it with the sword, and cut it into three parts. 
Then the champion came and informed Sangsapurba, and returned him the sword. He was very glad, and extolled his conduct with many praises, and presented him with a royal dress like a raja's son. In this combat, however, the sword Chora Samanda Kian received one hundred and ninety notches.  

Then all the people of Cuantan appointed Sangsapurba their raja, and he was established raja of Menangcabow, and of  him are descended all the generations of  the rajas of Pagaroyung unto this day.

Written by Tony Boey on 5 Jun 2021


Image of Pagaruyung palace courtesy of Wikipedia. Image of Bukit Siguntang courtesy of Wikipedia. Image of water buffalo courtesy of pixabay. Image of Rajaraja statue courtesy of Wikipedia.

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