Old Sundanese Reading Class

 

Aditia Gunawan, a member of the Dharma project, Ph.D. candidate at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE-PSL) Paris, organized an Old Sundanese reading class by Zoom, entitled in Sundanese Tadarus Sunda Kuno ‘Old Sundanese Reading’. Tadarus is a Sundanese term derived from Arabic, which means a gathering where several people recite in turn something from the Quran or books (by several persons each in turn). Instead of Quran, the recited text is one of the fascinating Old Sundanese texts, Siksa Kandaṅ Karǝsian or The holy precepts from the hermitage milieu (see the description of the oldest manuscript for this text by Aditia Gunawan & Arlo Griffiths here: https://www.manuscript-cultures.uni-hamburg.de/mom/2014_03_mom_e.html).

These readings started since the first lockdown in 2020 was implemented, especially in Europe, bringing together young Sundanese and Javanese scholars who are based in Bandung, Jakarta, Surakarta, Tokyo, and Leiden. There is no English translation of the text, and the previous edition by Atja & Saleh Danasasmita (1981) contains many errors that need to be revised. Now, Aditia is preparing a new edition of this text using the XML editor for online publication in the DHARMA project, with an English translation.

Each participant reads directly from the manuscript to familiarize themselves with the characters before interpretating and comparing the reading with the previous edition. We are enjoying reading this text together, especially when we arrive to the passage below:

aya ta dǝi lamun uraṅ ñǝǝṅ nu ṅavayaṅ, ṅadeṅekǝn nu mantun, nǝmu siksaan ti na carita, ya kaṅkǝn guru paṅguṅ ṅaranna, lamun uraṅ nǝmu siksaan rampes ti nu maca ma, ya kaṅkǝn guru taṅtu ṅaranna

Moreover, if we see people performing a wayang, listen to people narrating epic poems (pantun), finding teachings from stories, these are called “teachers from the stage” (guru paṅguṅ). If we find excellent teachings from our readings, that is called a “teachers from the contents” (guru taṅtu).

This passage gives us a nice context about the reading activity in pre-colonial West Java. From the reading of this kind of literature, there are many things that we can learn about the daily life of Sundanese society around the 15th century.


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