Rajasa Dynasty

The rulers of Singosari and Majapahit trace their origins back to the mysterious figure of Ken Angrok, who founded the Rajasa dynasty early in the 13th century. According to the Pararaton 1), our main source of literary information about this period, Ken Angrok was born in the Malang region, apparently from the union of his mother, Ken Endok, with the god Brahma 2). Abandoned in a cemetery shortly after his birth, the infant was subsequently adopted by a thief named Lembong, whose questionable talents the child was later to inherit.

As a young man, Ken Angrok became a notorious gambler, running up debts to the point where both his mother and .stepfather were forced into slavery. Such reckless behaviour earned him a great deal of unpopularity in the community, and on more than one occasion Brahma himself had to intervene when he feared for his son's life. Yet, Ken Angrok was destined to become a great king. Signs which indicated him as an incarnation of the god Wishnu were revealed to the Brahmin priest Dang Hyang Lohgawe, who travelled from India in search of the youth. He found him at a gambling table in the village of Taloka. Following the advice of the priest, Ken Angrok accompanied him to Tumapel, where he was placed in the employment of the local ruler, Tunggul Ametung.

Tunggul Ametung had a beautiful young wife named Ken Dedes, the daughter of Mpu Purwa, a renowned Buddhist priest. She had been abducted by the Tumapel ruler while her father was away practicing asceticism in the forest. Returning to find his daughter gone, Mpu Purwa had laid a curse on Tunggul Ametung, swearing that he would meet his end by being stabbed to death by a keris (Javanese double edged dagger). Ken Dedes, on the other hand, was promised a life of happiness and furfilment.

As the gods had willed, Ken Angrok happened to be in the park of Baboji on the day when the ruler of Tumapel and his wife, who was three months pregnant, were passing by. The carriage came to a halt, and as Ken Dedes descended a gentle breeze caused her skirts to part momentarily, allowing the youth a glimpse of the light radiating from between her thighs. Reporting his experience to the priest Lohgawe, Ken Angrok was advised that a woman who displayed such signs possessed enormous power, and whoever took her to wife, regardless of his character or position, would inevitably become a king of kings. On hearing the words of the priest, Ken Angrok resolved to win the hand of Ken Dedes, even if it meant having to kill her husband.

In the village of Lulumbang there lived a renowned metal smith named Mpu Gandring who, it was said, could forge a kens capable of overcoming the strongest magical protection. Since it was known that Tunggul Ametung was a man of great power, a special weapon had to be created in order to destroy him. On hearing Ken Angrok's request, therefore, Mpu Gandring said that he would need a full year in which to perfect the blade. Knowing that Ken Dedes was pregnant, and determined to murder Tunggul Ametung before his wife gave birth to a possible son and heir, Ken Angrok found these conditions unacceptable. Impatiently, he demanded that Mpu Gandring complete the job in five months, and then went on his way.


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