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Untung Suropati

DKI Jakarta - Indonesia
Untung Suropati
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As retold by Samsuni

Untung Suropati is a brave soldier who fights the Dutch colonial government in Nusantara. The story of his legendary struggle has been written in many forms of prose, such as historical prose, novel, and also folktale. How his struggle goes? Find out in the following story.


Long ago, there was a seven year old boy who only Heaven knew his original name. He was a slave from Bali that was found by Captain van Beber, a VOC official, while he was on duty in Makassar, South Sulawesi. Because lacking money, the captain sold the boy to Mur, a military officer who worked in Batavia. Since having the boy with him, Officer Mur’s carrier and wealth climbed up fast. He thought the boy had brought him luck, so he called him Si Untung, the Lucky Boy.

Officer Mur was a widower. He had a beautiful daughter of the same age with Untung. Her name was Suzanne. When he bought the boy, Officer Mur thought that maybe with another kid in the house, Suzanne would not get so lonely anymore. Untung was an amiable boy that shortly after his arrival he already got close to his master’s daughter. They spent time together, in sadness and happiness. Love flourished unhurriedly between them. As they grew up, they had been involved in a romantic relationship at the back of Officer Mur.

At 20, Untung and Suzanne secretly got married. But their togetherness did not last long as the girl’s father found out everything. Officer Mur was angered, inflamed. He expelled his daughter to an isle off Batavia and put the boy in jail. It was when Untung’s hatred towards the Dutch government sparked and got more and more intense as days went by. Behind the railings, he was rounding up followers from fellow prisoners.

Untung had been contriving an escape plan for some time now. That day, he thought it was time to tell his fellows about it.

“Brothers, my fellow countrymen! We have come to a situation where we should no longer be soft to the Dutch. It is time for us to get out and boot them out of our beloved motherland!” shouted Untung.

They were all dumbfounded. For them, such an idea had never crossed their mind. It was nearly a dream.

“Young men! How is that possible? They have guns and we have nothing,” said one of the prisoners.

“No need to worry,” answered Untung. “I will give you guns too. I have savings for that.”

With a hope came up, they all agreed. One by one they got guns and pistols. Finally, the revolt broke out on one night in the jail. Holding weapons on their hands, Untung and his friends ran amuck and smashed the gate. The guards could not handle the tumult so they called for support. As the Dutch military troops joined them, Untung and friends were cornered and forced to run off to the jungle. There, deep inside the woods, they mustered up power to launch another devastating attack on the Dutch.

Untung and friends then began to make problems at night in one place and another. They kept moving until one day reached Banten Sultanate. Untung appeared before the ruler, Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa, and told him about his struggle and that he would appreciate his supports. The sultan consulted him to go to the Sultan of Cirebon.  

“Go to Cirebon and to the sultan. Tell him I send you. You’ll get help from him,” said the sultan.

Untung took off to Cirebon soon. On their way, they bumped into Raden Suropati, a foster child of the Sultan of Cirebon. 

“Who are you?” asked Raden Suropati.

Untung spoke to the young man that he came to see the Sultan of Cirebon for help. Raden Suropati seemed to understand the importance of his coming. He was willing to lead him to the palace.

“Well, in that case, we will take you to the sultan. But first you have to relinquish your weaponry to us,” said Raden Suropati.

They gave up all their weapons. Untung himself handed his guns, but not his patrem. The small dagger was the only thing that he would not give to anyone. Raden Suropati was insulted with the refusal. He wanted the dagger too. Untung’s insistence eventually led to a battle between Untung’s men and the prince’s troop. Untung’s men walked away with a victory. The prince Raden Suropati was killed in Untung’s hand.

The resurgent group continued their walk to Cirebon Royal Palace. Untung told the sultan honestly what happened in the jungle when he and his friends confronted Raden Suropati. The sultan surprisingly did not get insulted as he knew that it was his forster child that was too suspicious and arrogant. He welcomed Untung warmly. He even gave the name “Suropati” to his guest. Since then, the young man’s name became Untung Suropati.

Some time later, the sultan told Untung to go to Mataram and served Sunan Mangkurat II who resided in Kartasura. Untung did everything he was told.

“I will take you as my servant. But you have to prove what you’re worth. Go to Banyumas, let’s see if you can subdue the revolt there,” said Sunan Mangkurat.

Untung Suropati took the challenge. He headed for Banyumas right away and stopped the rebellion in a very short time. Coming back with a success, Untung was appointed army commander of Mataram. At the same time, the Dutch heard about Untung and at once sent their troop to Kartasura.

That day, a Mataram spy rushed in the palace and appeared before Sunan Mangkurat II. “My king, I saw the Dutch heading here. They came fully armed,” reported him.

The king quickly called Untung Suropati. “Handle them. Make sure they don’t get here alive!”

“Right away!” answered Untung Suropati, bowing his body towards the king.

Untung led his soldiers to the far-flung border of Kartasura. The Dutch troop got in but the Mataram army had been waiting for them. They came to blows. Untung got help from Prince Puger, another commander sent by Sunan Mmangkurat II. Prince Puger had in his hand, the royal heirloom kris called Kanjeng Kyai Plered. To deceive the Dutch, he wore the same wardrobe with Untung.  The strategy made Captain Tar, the Dutch commander, confused. He could not tell which of them was Untung Suropati, the fugitive. At long last, Prince Puger could slay Captain Tar. The rest of the troop was exterminated by Untung and his soldiers.

After that, Sunan Mangkurat instructed Untung to go to seize Pasuruan. He accomplished the task successfully again, defeating the duke, Anggajaya. Later on, the king appointed him to take control of Pasuruan. During his time in the office, Untung never stopped encouraging his people to fight the Dutch. It had been many times that the Dutch tried to quell him, all came to nothing.

Meanwhile back in Kartasura, Sultan Amangkurat II just passed away. His death brought in power struggle between Prince Puger and Amangkurat III. To assume the throne, Prince Puger betrayed his kingdom and sided with the Dutch. With such a support, he soon shoved Amangkurat III away. He was later enthroned and bore the title Pakubuwana I. As for Amangkurat III, he fled to Pasuruan and sought shelter from Untung Suropati.

A year later, an ally of the Dutch army, Kartasura, Madura, and Surabaya under the command of Goovert Knole assaulted Pasuruan. A fierce war broke out in Bangil Fortress. In the battle, Pasuruan was crushed. Untung Suropati was severely wounded and eventually died.

It was the end of his struggle, but not the people’s. After his death, his sons and the people continued opposing the Dutch bravely.


Thus ends the historical tale of Untung Suropati. People say, before breathing his last, Untung Suropati said to his men to keep his death in secret. That is probably why no one knows for sure where he is buried. But there is a cave in Mancilan, Pasuruan, East Java, which people believe to be his hideout during the struggle.

Untung Suropati was a true, brave hero. He devotes himself for his country and people, to free them from colonialism. For his service, Untung Suropati receives a posthumous title as hero of Indonesian struggle for independence from the Indonesian government in 1975. His gallantry is what people need in life. In Tunjuk Ajar Melayu (Malay Verses of Guidance), it is said that one must bravely fight for something right and for justice.

Wahai ananda bunda berwasiat (O son, mother has said)

Elok berani dikandung adat (that it is good to be brave)

Membela kebenaran sampai ke lahat (to fight for the right until your grave)

Semoga hidupmu beroleh berkat (may God bless you in your life)


Translation by Reza Daffi

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Comments for "Untung Suropati"

dbee_curly April 29th, 2015

"i would love to share this article in my blOg. Thank you."

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