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The Legend of the Chained Stones, Temasik was Attacked by Todaks

Riau - Indonesia
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The name Singapore is historically from Temasik. The word “Temasik” is taken from ancient Javanese that means “look alike an ocean”, while it means “marshy forest” in the Malay language. Singapore was firstly named as Temasik because it lies on the edge of an ocean which was inhabited by Bumiputera fishermen (they were Malayans). A legend tells that those Bumiputera fishermen once lived a conducive, peaceful, and prosperous life. A cruel and proud King later ruled the country, and everything changed since his imperial: people lived in turmoil and sufferings. A monstrous disaster attacked the country one day, and the King was believed to be the reason. The country was attacked by the terribly wild todaks. Many people died tragically, especially those who settled around the edge of the ocean. It was told that a child, Kabil, appeared to save Temasik. This story is known by people in Singapore as the Legend of the Chained Stones: Temasik was attacked by  Todaks.


Centuries ago, there was a land named Temasik ruled by The Majesty Seri Maharaja, a King who was well known for his proud and cruelty. The King sentenced an Islamic scholar from Pasai, who was also a trader, to death one day. The scholar, Tun Jana Khatib, was in fact not guilty. He unintentionally took a glace at the Queen one day, and this put the King into great anger. The King couldn‘t stand himself to punish the man who dared to look at his beautiful queen. For this reason, the King commanded the guards to arrest Tun Jana Khatib and sentenced him to death.

Tun Jana had his chance to say his final words before his death and he said to the villagers. “Bear in mind my words all of you. I am willing to take this punishment though I don‘t deserve it. But the King will never be free for what he has done. I swear that he will pay for his cruelty. A great disaster will attack this land”. A Keris was pushed to his chest as he finished his words, then the death came and picked him up. Something happened unexpectedly when his body was taken to the grave yard. The dead body suddenly disappeared and a lightning attacked the land. A very loud bang was heard and the surrounding people ran to where the scholar lost his life. All of the people became in a great fear when they witnessed the blood spot of him turned to stone.

The mystical phenomenon started series of disaster that later attacked the land. Temasik was suddenly attacked by thousand of todaks. These fishes with long sharp mouth attacked the villagers wildly. People ran for their lives. However, many of them were not able to avoid the wild attackers: many lost their lives. The King heard what happened to his people who lived at the edge of the ocean and commanded his crews to prepare an elephant for him that he went to check the situation. He was astonished to see the dead bodies everywhere. He ordered all of the living ones to stand together in line to stand against the fishes. Nothing could stop the fishes and they were wilder day by day. More and more people were hurt every day. Cries of pain were everywhere around the land.

People suffered because of the attacks, yet not even a single one dared to leave the land without the King‘s permission. People held the pain and firmly stood in line in against with the wild todaks. The cruel King saw the sufferings of his people, yet he ignored them. He even secretly planned to leave the land and save his life. When the king prepared himself to hide, a todak suddenly attacked him. He tried hard to avoid the attack but failed to do so. The fish wildly attacked him. The king was so frightened and nervously shouted, “Help! Help me. A fish attacks me!” Everybody kept standing and no one responded to help the King.

A kid came to the King amidst the panic situation. “It will be just in vain to try to hold back the todaks with such an attempt”, said the kid. Surprised by the sudden voice the King responded angrily, ”Hey kid. Who are you? Where do you come from that you dare to tell me what to do?”       

The child responded the King politely,” Your Majesty, my name is Kabil. I am from Bintan Penaungan”, he explained. “I grew up in the edge of the ocean that I know well the todaks. Todaks cannot be fought by asking people to stand firmly in line, but by using the banana trunks. If you don‘t mind my king, please command the people to fence Temasik with banana trunks” he continued.

 “The banana trunks? Why? What for?” asked the King in confusion. “The banana trunks can stick the fishes‘ mouths. That is the chance when people can kill the todaks”, Kabil responded the King. Without thinking anymore, the King ordered his people, “I command all of you to search for banana trunks as many as possible and bring them here. Use the banana trunks to fence the land!” All of the people directly moved and did as the King ordered. They took the banana trunks to the beach and stood them to make the fence. The fishes attacked the banana trunks indeed, but they are struck on them. The people didn‘t waste the chance so they killed the todaks and later cooked them for meals. Everyone was very happy as they successfully conquered the todaks. A quatrain was later composed to show how happy the people were that they could be free from the deadly attackers:

Temasik dilanggar Todak
Todak melanggar batang pisang
Orang tua berperangai budak
Seperti air ditarik sungsang

The leaders of the country responded the situation differently though. They were worried and afraid that the little child, Kabil, would take over Temasik. Feeling threatened, they came to the King saying, “Your Majesty, we have to do something to get rid of Kabil. Isn‘t it possible that the kid has planned to take over this land?” proposed one of them. “That‘s true Your Majesty. He could beat the todaks though he is still very young. Can you think what the kid might be able to do when he is older?” added another one. “I agree, but you have to keep in mind that Kabil is a very smart child. We should put him away from this land otherwise he might find the way back. So I propose to put him in a steel cage and surround the cage with chains made of steel, and then drown it to the ocean”, commanded the King to all of them.

In the next day, Kabil was caught and put in a steel cage. The cage was locked and chains made of steel were tightly tied to it. It was then put on a boat, and the King was also on it accompanied by several guards. Then they got off at the Segantang Lada island where Kabil was later drowned into the ocean. “We have arrived at the Segantang Lada Your Majesty” reported his guard. “Put the kid into the water!” commanded the King. Before the cage was drowned into the water, Kabil asked the King, “Is this the way you pay me for what I‘ve done to you My King? Why should you put me to death in my early age Your Majesty? I don‘t want to die” sobbed Kabil.

The King didn‘t do anything to respond the poor child. He continued to order the guards to immediately put the cage into the water. “Plop… plop….” sounded the water when the cage where Kabil was inside fell into it. Poor Kabil finally died, after saving the Temasik and the people.

People to the present time believe that the wave sounds sadly to commemorate the death of Kabil. They see the wild wave as his struggle. The sailors usually try to avoid the area, around the Sambu Ocean for its big and wild wave. The remaining of the legend of the chained stone lies from the Sumbu Island to Batam in Riau, Indonesia. (MA/trj/7/01-08)


  • Legenda Batu Rantai: Temasik Dilanda Todak. Yogyakarta: the Center for the Improvement of Malayan Cultures in association with the AdiCita Karya Nusa, 2005.
  • http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temasek
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