The Info List - Kakawin

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KAKAWIN are long narrative poems composed in Old Javanese , also called "Kawi ", written in verse form with rhythms and metres derived from Sanskrit
literature. Poets used a formalized literary language, rather than the vernacular. Poets composed and performed the poems at the courts of central and east Java kings between the 9th and 16th centuries, and in Bali

Although the poems depict events and characters from Hindu
mythology, the narratives are set in the local landscapes of the islands. They are rich sources of information about courtly society in Java and Bali.


* 1 Structure of a kakawin * 2 List of notable kakawin * 3 See also * 4 References * 5 Further reading


A kakawin stanza consists of four lines. Each line has a set number of syllables per line, set in patterns of long and short syllables based on Sanskrit
rules of prosody . A syllable which contains a long vowel is called guru ( Sanskrit
for "heavy"), while a syllable which contains a short one is called laghu ( Sanskrit
for "light"). The term guru laghu denotes the structure of a line.

For example, each line of the kakawin metre called "Śardūlawikrīdita" consists of 19 syllables. The guru laghu of each line is as follows" ---UU-U-UUU---U--U U. The notation "-" means that the syllable in question is long, while the "U" means that the syllable is short.

As an example, the opening stanza of the Kakawin Arjunawiwaha , which is in the metre Śardūlawikrīdita, is taken: ambĕk sang paramārthapaṇḍita huwus limpad sakêng śūnyatā tan sangkêng wiṣaya prayojñananira lwir sanggrahêng lokika siddhāning yaśawīrya donira sukhāning rāt kininkinira santoṣâhĕlĕtan kĕlir sira sakêng sang hyang Jagatkāraṇa A tentative translation in English: The thought of the one who knows the Highest Knowledge has leapt from the emptiness. It is not because he wishes to fulfill his senses, as if he only wants to have the worldly things. The success of his virtuous and good deeds are his goals. He endeavours for the happiness the world. He is steadfast and just a wayang screen away from the "Mover of the World".

A syllable which contains a long syllable is automatically long (ā, ī, ū, ö, e, o, ai, and au) and thus guru. But on the other hand, a vowel which is followed by two consonants is also long. In addition to that the last syllable of a line may both contain a long or a short syllable. It is an anceps .


* Inscription of Śivagŗha , 856 * Kakawin Ramayana
Kakawin Ramayana
~ 870 * Kakawin Arjunawiwaha , by mpu Kanwa , ~ 1030 * Kakawin Krsnayana * Kakawin Sumanasantaka * Kakawin Smaradhana * Kakawin Bhomakawya * Kakawin Bharatayuddha , by mpu Sedah and mpu Panuluh , 1157 * Kakawin Hariwangsa * Kakawin Gatotkacaśraya * Kakawin Wrtasañcaya * Kakawin Wṛttayana * Kakawin Brahmandapurana * Kakawin Kunjarakarna , by mpu "Dusun" * Kakawin Nagarakṛtâgama / Kakawin Desawarnana, by mpu Prapañca , 1365 * Kakawin Arjunawijaya , by mpu Tantular * Kakawin Sutasoma