Consortium of:

Independence in the Perspective of Indigenous Religion Spirituality

  September 3rd 2020

(Photo Illustration By: Hobi Industri on

On August 13, 2020, the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) held the 14th Forum Kamisan Daring, an online seminar in cooperation with CRCS and other organizations such as Komnas Perempuan, Pusad Paramadina, LIPI, and Satunama. The discussion of the 14th edition of this forum focused on independence in the perspective of indigenous religion spirituality. There were three speakers and one respondent for this online seminar. The first speaker was Noor Sudiyati, an adherent of Hasdo Pusoro. The second speaker was Retno Lastani, an adherent of Kapribaden. The third speaker was Bambang Purnama, an adherent of Sapta Darma. The respondent was Dr. Kunthi Tridewiyanti from Universitas Indonesia and the moderator was Muryana, a lecturer from UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta.

Noor Sudiyati, as the first speaker, explained that independence or freedom is the most essential right for every creature, because every creature has a right to exist and to live. From the perspective of Hasdo Pusoro spirituality, independence or freedom is never selfish. The 75th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence today celebrates the result of a long struggle of many heroes in the past who were willing to sacrifice their life for the freedom of Indonesia. They fought for the betterment of Indonesians’ lives even if it meant their own suffering. Hasdo Pusoro also teaches that freedom is always relational. Sudiyati explained that our freedom is related to the obligations to others which become our rights, and other people freedom related to our obligations which became their rights. Sudiyati shared an example from her daily life as a mother, that her obligations to cook and to take care of the house is a right of her husband and her children. Moreover, Sudiyati argued that independence or freedom starts from the self, with love and compassion. That is why freedom should be followed by ethical consciousness related to judgment about what is appropriate and inappropriate. Religion becomes the primary source for the measurement of the judgment. Furthermore, a person also should be free from negative energy in order to feel freedom. Sudiyati mentioned that today our lives are full of negative energy from negative news, hoaxes, greed and hedonistic lifestyles, as exhibited through social media and its influence on viewers. Another source of this negative energy is rooted in the trappings of thoughts about the past or the future. If a person always caught up in the bad memory of his or her past, the failure in the past or even the imagination of the future and subsequent worry will produce negative energy. Thus, every person should live here and now fully and realize the danger of negative energies to free themselves.

Retno Lastani, an adherent of Kapribaden, explained that to be an adherent of an indigenous religion is a freedom. However, in practice there are many risks related to recognition from the state and discrimination by others which limits the freedom of adherents of indigenous religions. Lastani emphasized that for the perspective of Kapribaden spirituality the essence of freedom is about the relationship with God. God is the source of freedom, who has created people from many elements which is exist in nature, including water, soil, and fire. However, Kapribaden also believe that God created people with a holy spirit from God and this spirit indwells each of us. The holy spirit gives people the ability to control both their desires and intelligence, allowing them to live as a free person. In many cases, intelligence leads people to have ambitions and plans for the future which often makes them live anxious lives justifying any means to achieve their goal, whether or not it results in the sacrifice of others or nature. If desire and lust is out of control, then it may also lead people to fall into immorality. Intelligence and desire are important, but if they are out of control, then they can lead people to negative thoughts attitudes. Thus, this holy spirit from God within people should be strengthened to fulfill its role to control these negative thoughts, allowing for people to live in freedom. 

According to Kapribaden teaching, there are five ways to strengthen the holy spirit called Panca Gaib or Pangubahing Raga (to be a socially good person). The first way to strengthen the spirit is  sabar (patience). Every person should willingly accept all life’s processes patiently, whether they are good or bad, happy or sad. Every person should work hard to achieve a better life and not be in a hurry to make any decisions in life. Second, ngalah, a willingness to make sacrifices for the happiness of others, happiness to see others’ happiness, and sadness to see others’ sadness. Third, narimo, meaning that every person should submit to God and follow God’s will in their life. People should persevere through difficult situations and surrender to God. Fourth, tresno/welas asih, love for others and nature. Fifth, ikhlas, realizing that everything in our life is not ours, nothing lasts forever. People we love can leave us when they die as we also can leave them if we die. Our possessions also do not last forever; we can lose our wealth. Many things, possibilities, feelings come and go in our life, Therefore, we should realize nothing lasts forever and we must accept the changes in life as a reality. Lastani argued that acceptance of these ideals makes our life whole. We may cry behind our pillows, but we should spread smiles and love to the world. Therefore, according to Kapribaden, by practicing all these things people will attain freedom in their lives.

The third speaker, Bambang Purnama, and adherent of Sapta Darma, mentioned that people of Indonesia today should be incredibly grateful that we can enjoy the independence. Indonesian independence, after all, is the result of the struggle, sacrifice, and compassion of our heroes and ancestors. Thus, we also should spread love to others and even to the nature. Purnama argued that in Sapta Darma there are three concepts that can be used in relation to the Indonesian independence. The first is memayu hayuning diri, meaning that every person should improve themselves. The way to improve ourselves is to draw closer to God who is able to fill our lives and hearts with noble and truthful values. These noble and truthful values come from God's truth, not self-righteousness or human truth. If everyone felt right or rumangsa bener there would be no trouble. Through memayu hayuning diri, people become strong, having a pure heart, and love for others. Secondly, we need to humanize humans, starting from ourselves. We should take the attitude that what we do not like done unto us, we should not do unto others. Third, we are social beings and, therefore, we also need memayu hayuning sesama, or care and love for all creatures created by God, whether it is other people, animals, plants, or nature. We need to protect and preserve nature and all creatures in it. The principle is that of mutual cooperation. For example, from our clothes we can see that even our needs are met through cooperation with the natural world.

Lastly, Dr. Kunthi Tridewiyanti, as respondent to all presentations from three speakers, argued that the indigenous religions have interesting spiritual perspectives on independence and freedom, as they begin with the self in relation to God, others, and even nature. The foundation of freedom in indigenous religions’ perspectives like Hasdo Pusoro, Kapribaden, and Sapta Darma is based on gratitude and compassion. Tridewiyanti believes that this if this approach can lead people to true freedom in their lives, then they will be able to fill Indonesian independence celebrations with positive attitude and positive works.