Calon Arang is an evil sorcerer. One day she casts a mysterious plague on the people of Kahuripan Kingdom. Right away, the king of Kahuripan, Sri Baginda Erlangga, commands his ministers and soldiers to capture her, but they fail. What would the king do to stop Calon Arang? Find out in the following story.
Long, long ago in East Java, there was a kingdom called Kahuripan. Abiding the palace was King Sri Baginda Erlangga. That day, Prime Minister Narottama reported to him that so many people were suffering from a mysterious illness. The king commanded Narottama to find out what caused the calamity. As revealed several days later, it was all witchcraft. Calon Arang of Girah village sent the illness to the people through her magic spell. King Erlangga wanted her detained right away.
“Prime Minister Narottama! Ready your special soldiers to bring Calon Arang here!” ordered Sri Baginda Erlangga.
Narottama hit a small gong to call the soldiers. No less than twenty of them amassed in the palace yard not long after. Three commanders were among them: Wangsa Jaya, Pungga Mukti, and Pungga Sasra.
“We’re heading to Girah village, Men. A witch is waiting for us there so make sure you’re ready. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” briefed Narottama.
Narottama led the troop to Girah, where they did not hesitate to destroy an old house which was believed to be Calon Arang’s. The witch did not expect the sudden attack. Badly irritated, Calon Arang told her pupils, Supaya, Guritna, Datyeng, and Pitrah to hit back.
“Give them a lesson,” said Calon Arang.
A brutal fight was inevitable. Knowing his troop was not going to be able to cope with the group of sorcerers, Narottama run into the battlefield to help them. But Calon Arang stopped his step.
“Where are you going, Old Man? I’m here,” challenged the witch.
Narottama unsheathed his sword and cut Calon Arang’s head through. Amazingly, the witch did not die. The head came back to the body again after falling on the ground. Narottama was shaking with horror.
“What a sharp sword you are holding, Old Man. I’m scared. Ha…ha…ha!” said Calon Arang with a cynical laughter.
Narottama run away along with his troop. The witches were too strong for them. Sri Baginda Erlangga realized that he was facing a tough enemy this time. He called Empu Bharada, a hermit known to have a great supernatural power who happened to be Calon Arang’s cousin.
“My King, what service does this kingdom need from this man?” asked Empu Bharada.
“Calon Arang has caused troubles for my people. I have sent the prime minister and a special troop to capture her but they came back defeated. You are my only hope, Empu,” explained the king.
“I will try my best, King,” answered Empu Bharada with a bow.
At home, Empu Bharada called his pupil, Bahula.
“What do we do, Empu? Isn‘t she very powerful?” asked Bahula.
“You are right. But I know she has a weakness and to reveal it we’ll need to read her book of secrets. It’s in her house I suppose. I’m thinking of you going there to steal that book,” answered Empu Bharada.
“Calon Arang has a daughter, Ratna Manggali. You should make her fall for you then marry her. This way you will live in Calon Arang’s house and finally take the book,” said the master.
Bahula was sent to silence. He was thinking of his lover, Wedawati, daughter of Empu Bharada. How her feelings would be if she knew he married another woman.
“We shall not tell Wedawati anything about this,” Empu Bharada interrupted his thought.
So, off Bahula went to Girah village to propose Ratna Manggali. He met Calon Arang and showed her how agreeable of a man he was. Suspecting nothing, the witch accepted his proposal. Several days went on before Bahula married Ratna Manggali. Since then, he lived in Calon Arang’s house. Just as planned, he started his search for the book of secrets immediately.
One night, when everyone in the house was sound asleep, Bahula tiptoed into Calon Arang’s room very carefully. Inside, he found a wooden box in a cupboard. “This must be it,” thought the young man. He took the box and walked back to his room. In the box, there was indeed the old ragged book of secrets.
Early in the morning, Bahula told his wife and mother-in-law that he was going to visit his family in his village. Calon Arang let him go. She did not yet realize what was going on. But she would very soon.
By the time Calon Arang found out that her book was gone and became so angry, Bahula had arrived in Empu Bharada’s place. Covered in sweat, the young man walked in and saw his master.
“Is this the book of secrets, Empu?” asked Bahula while showing the book.
“Yes, that is it. Quick! Calon Arang must have realized it right now,” Empu Bharada took the book to look for the witch’s weakness.
Some time later, Empu Bharada mumbled, “Hmmm… It turns out the only weapon can hurt Calon Arang is kris Weling Putih."
“It’s your kris, isn’t it?” asked Bahula.
“What a coincidence. I shall now carry Weling Putih with me to kill Calon Arang,” said Empu Bharada with a smile.
After that, Empu Bharada and Bahula went to Girah. There, Calon Arang was startled to see her son-in-law with Empu Bharada, who turned out to be her cousin. She understood now, that Bahula was actually Empu Bharada’s pupil.
“Bahula, you’re making trouble with the wrong person. Prepare yourself for my wrath,” said Calon Arang.
“The king has ordered us to stop you. The illness you spread has made his people suffer badly," said Empu Bharada.
“I don’t care about the king! You must suffer for deceiving me!” shouted Calon Arang.
She began to attack Empu Bharada with her magic. In a wink of an eye, Empu Bharada drew kris Weling Putih out to parry it. When he was about to hit back, suddenly Calon Arang looked frightened.
“Weling Putih! Is that Weling Putih you’re holding?” Calon Arang could not believe what she saw. She knew she could not get away with a victory this time.
“Calon Arang, you are my cousin. But you are also my enemy. For what you have done to the people of Kahuripan, I must kill you,” said the old man before thrusting the kris into Calon Arang’s body.
The wicked witch died in the hand of Empu Bharada. After her death, Bahula married Wedawati, his old lover, but remained husband to Ratna Manggali. The mysterious illness had gone away. Kahuripan Kingdom was back peaceful and prosperous.
Calon Arang the Evil Witch falls into the category of exemplary story as it holds morals for the readers. One should not be arrogant, or too self-confident, as it would lead him to looking down others and heartlessness. Calon Arang does not think anyone can defeat her but she turns out wrong. According to Malay values, arrogance is self-destructive. As said in a Malay verse:
Kalau suka membesarkan diri (If you like to brag about yourself)
Saudara menjauh, sahabat pun lari (You’ll have no brothers or friends)
Kalau dipakai sifat sombong (If you breed arrogance)
Alamat perut akan mengembung (Your belly will swell)
Another lesson we can take from the folklore story is that one will have to bear the consequence of his action. Calon Arang is the one who sends the mysterious illness to Kahuripan but in the end, she dies a villain. In a Malay verse, it is said:
Kalau suka berbuat jahat (Whoever does bad things)
Lambat laun ditimpa mudarat (Will later be suffering)
Translation: Reza Daffi
Story is an adaptation of Yulia S. Setiawati. “Calon Arang”, in 366 Cerita Rakyat Nusantara. Yogyakarta: AdiCita Karya Nusa Publisher in cooperation with the Center for Research and Development of Malay Culture (BKPBM), 2008.
Anonymous. “East Java”, http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jawa_Timur. Retrieved on April 29th, 2009.
Tenas Effendy, 1994/1995. “Ejekan” terhadap Orang Melayu Riau dan Pantangan Orang Melayu Riau. Pekanbaru: Bappeda Tingkat I Riau.
----------, 2006. Tunjuk Ajar Melayu. Yogyakarta: Center for Research and Development of Malay Culture in cooperation with AdiCita Karya Nusa Publisher.