Kidung Sunda is a Middle-Javanese kidung of probable Balinese provenance. In this poem, the story of king Hayam Wuruk of Majapahit who was looking for a bride to be, is narrated. At last he chose the princess of Sunda, a kingdom in West Java. The princess' name is remained undisclosed in this story, however she corresponds to Dyah Pitaloka Citraresmi in Pararaton. Hayam Wuruk's grand vizier Gajah Mada, betrayed his king and rejected this idea. There was a dispute about geopolitical relations between Sunda and Majapahit (i.e. Java). Gajah Mada considered Sunda to be a vassal state of Java. For that reason a great battle took place in Bubat, the port where the Sundanese party landed as they refused to be treated as vassals. There the Majapahit-Javanese army slaughtered the Sundanese. The grieved princess of Sunda committed suicide not long afterwards. This historical story has to be situated somewhere in the 14th century.
A Dutch philologist, Prof. Dr. C.C. Berg, has found several versions of Kidung Sunda. Out of them he has discussed and published two versions:
The former is longer than the latter. It also has better literary merits. That is also the version, which is discussed in this article.
A short summary of the contents of Kidung Sunda is presented below. The summary is divided in different cantos.
Hayam Wuruk, the king of Majapahit, was looking for a bride to be. He sent emissaries throughout Nusantara (Maritime Southeast Asia) to find a suitable bride for him. They all came back with paintings of lovely princesses. But none was able to charm him. Then Hayam Wuruk heard about the beauty of the princess of Sunda. Accordingly, he sent an artist to Sunda and he came back with a painting. At that moment both his uncles: the king of Kahuripan and the king of Daha were in his palace. Both were concerned about the status of Hayam Wuruk who was still unmarried at that time.
Thus the picture of the beautiful princess of Sunda enchanted king Hayam Wuruk. Shortly afterwards, he sent yet another emissary. This time it was an important official, whose name was Madhu, to Sunda to ask for the hand of the princess.
After just six days at sea, Madhu arrived in Sunda. He demanded an audience with the king and told him about the purpose of his journey. The king rejoiced as the most celebrated king of Majapahit was willing to marry his daughter. But the princess herself did not say much.
Soon Madhu journeyed back home to Majapahit and handed over the letter of reply of the king of Sunda to king Hayam Wuruk. Not long afterwards, the Sundanese party departed for Majapahit. They sailed with 200 big vessels and smaller boats also escorted them. The total number of the ships must have been about 2,000. But before the Sundanese royal family entered their vessel, they saw a bad omen. Their vessel was a "nine-decked hybrid Tatar-Javanese junk, which became in common use after Wijaya’s war" (Wijaya was the founder of Majapahit. There was also a failed invasion of Majapahit by a Mongolian armada in 1293. Usually the word Tatar means Mongolian or Chinese in Javanese).
Meanwhile, in Majapahit, they were busy preparing the reception of the Sundanese guests. Ten days later the chief head of the port in Bubat reported that the Sundanese party was already visible. Hayam Wuruk and both his uncle got ready to receive them. But the grand vizier Gajah Mada disapproved. He held the view that a great king of Majapahit should not receive a vassal kingdom such as Sunda in such a manner. Who knows he is an enemy in disguise.
And thus the intention of Hayam Wuruk was not fulfilled. He followed Gajah Mada's advice. The other palace servants and dignitaries were shocked in hearing this. But none dared to resist.
In Bubat, the news about the latest developments in Majapahit already leaked in. The king of Sunda then sent an envoy, consisting of the grand vizier, Anèpakěn, three other dignitaries and some 300 footmen. They went directly to Gajah Mada's residence. There they told him that it appeared as if the king of Majapahit does not accomplish his commitment, accordingly the king of Sunda prepared to sail back home. Then, a hefty discussion followed as Gajah Mada held the view that the Sundanese should act as vassals, just like any other vassals from Nusantara. After both parties exchanged insults, a fight seemed unavoidable. But a royal pundit named Smaranata intervened. The Sundanese envoy went away after they got an assurance that the king of Majapahit will present them a final decision within two days.
In the meantime, after the king of Sunda received the news, he stated that he was not willing to serve as a vassal. He told his men his decision that it is better to die in the battlefield as a ksatriya (warrior) than to live on, only to be humiliated by the Majapahit Javanese. His men agreed to follow and to defend their king.
After that, the king of Sunda came to his wife and daughter and told them to return home. They refused however and insisted to stay with him.
Everything was ready. The Majapahit Javanese sent a messenger to the Sundanese camp. The conditions were read. They told them to surrender and to submit as vassals. Angrily the Sundanese refused and a war was inevitable.
The Majapahit army consisted of footmen, dignitaries, and the grand vizier Gajah Mada, and finally Hayam Wuruk and both his uncles.
There followed a bitter fight. In the beginning many Majapahit Javanese perished, but in the end the Sundanese bit the dust. Almost all of them were slaughtered. Anèpaken was killed by Gajah Mada while the king of Sunda was killed by the fathers of his children in law: the king of Kahuripan and the king of Daha. Pitar was the only Sundanese officer who survived. He pretended to be dead among the corpses of the perished soldiers. He escaped and went straight to the pavilion of the queen and the princess. There he reported the latest developments. They were depressed and committed suicide. After that the women of the soldiers committed ritual suicide on the corpses of their husbands.
King Hayam Wuruk felt worried after he witnessed the battle. He went to the Sundanese camp, looking for the princess. But she was already dead. He lamented her and wanted to be united with her.
After that a ceremony in remembrance of the deaths was performed. Soon, king Hayam Wuruk himself died in misery. After the funeral rites were performed, his two uncles discussed the whole affair. Both blamed Gajah Mada for the situation. Then they marched to his residence as they wanted to capture and to kill him. In the meantime, Gajah Mada felt that his time was near. So accordingly, he put on his religious attires and began to meditate and to perform yoga. Then he disappeared (moksha) into nothingness in a state of invisibility.
Thereafter the king of Kahuripan and the king of Daha returned home, as they felt that everything in Majapahit reminded them to the sad unpleasant events.
Kidung Sunda has to be considered as a literary work of art and not as a reliable historical chronicle. However the events told in this text might have been based on true factual events.
On the whole, the story narrated in this text, is told in a direct way. It is rather different from other works in the same genre. The narration combines both romantic and dramatic elements in an appealing manner. With lively descriptions and dialogues, the protagonists are brought to life.
Furthermore, the story is logical and real. There are no mentions of impossibilities, exaggerations beyond belief and supernatural things, except for one thing, that is the disappearance of Gajah Mada (his moksha). According to Nugroho, a moksha is a symbolism of death.:208 This does not correspond either to other contemporary historical sources. Usually a Balinese text (kidung) is passed down generation to generation, gradually loses its accuracy and contains more fantastic and amazing things.
It has to be said that the author or narrator has chosen the side of the Sundanese in this narration. Therefore, many things do not correspond to other sources as mentioned earlier briefly.
All manuscripts of Kidung Sunda are of Balinese provenance. However it is not known where this work was composed, either in Java or in Bali. The identity of the author is not known either. Neither is the date of composition known. In the story there are mentions of bedil (gunpowder weapon or firearm), but these do not prove to be a valid criterion to date the text. The Indonesian people already knew the gunpowder weapons relatively early. In the 1293 Mongol invasion of Java, Chinese-Mongol troops used pao (Chinese for cannon) against Kediri forces. Cannons called cetbang already used during the Majapahit conquest (1336-1350).:57
In any case, this poem has to be composed after 1540 as there is a description of the horse of Anepakěn, the Sundanese vizier. His horse is compared to the horse of Rangga Lawe, a well-known character from another Javanese poem; Kidung Rangga Lawe. The latter was composed in 1540.
Islamic influences are already discernible. Kidung Sunda contains some Perso-Arabic loanwords such as kabar (news) and subandar (harbourmaster).
Some fragments of the text will be presented on the following. The text is taken from C.C. Berg's edition (1927). However, the spelling has been somewhat modified to modern usage. Just as in Berg's edition, no distinction between retroflex and dental stops is made. The Sanskrit loanwords are spelt in the Javanese manner.