Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Brahma became Allah / Bagaimana 'Brahma' menjadi 'Allah', a Malay-English article on the transformation of god

 

Bagaimana 'Brahma' menjadi 'Allah'/How Brahma became Allah (translated by Pauline Fan)

January 16, 2014 at 1:16pm

TERJEMAHAN: Pauline Fan

Saya ingin melihat perbincangan mengenai konsep ‘tuhan’ lebih daripada ‘aliran idea rentas budaya’ daripada melihatnya dibesar-besarkan secara yang tidak wajar. Kita boleh melihat detik-detik dalam sejarah kesusasteraan di mana penyesuaian kreatif berlaku berkaitan dengan bagaimana konsep Ilahi atau idea dewa itu dimantapkan dalam sesuatu budaya.

Berikut adalah satu petikan daripada kertas, Islamising the Ramayana, yang saya tulis semasa pengajian mahasiswa saya, dalam menganalisis pengaruh Ramayana Valmiki di Asia Tenggara.

Petikan:

Populariti Ramayana dan lain-lain epik Hindu pada masa kedatangan Islam, tanpa dijangka, membawa kebimbangan serius kepada pendakwah Islam pada masa itu. Malah, penulisan agama oleh seorang ulama Islam dari Gujarat, India, yang berkhidmat di istana Sultan Acheh pada awal abad ke-17, mengutuk Hikayat Seri Rama sebagai “tidak sesuai untuk pembaca Islam”.

Tanggapan Sir Richard Winstedt, seorang pengkritik sastera Melayu klasik agak tepat apabila beliau mengatakan bahawa tugas pertama pendakwah Islam adalah untuk menggantikan wira-wira dalam Epik India dengan pahlawan-pahlawan Islam (Ahmad, 1981, ms 110).

Penyebaran Islam begitu pesat sehinggakan agama Hindu yang dipegang oleh penduduk di rantau ini telah dihadkan kepada adat sosial mereka sahaja; yakni, perkahwinan, kelahiran dan upacara pengebumian. Dari semasa ke semasa kepercayaan Hindu telah digantikan dengan adat-adat yang berunsurkan Islam. Seperti yang diceritakan dalam satu lagi epik Melayu klasik, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, berhala-berhala Hindu telah dari semasa ke semasa dimusnahkan. Dengan itu, agama Hindu menjadi sangat lemah.

Keadaan ini dimanifestasikan dalam perkembangan kesusasteraan Melayu, dengan unsur-unsur Hindu yang berasal dari kitab-kitab suci Hindu, misalnya, Ramayana dan Mahabharata yang mengagungkan Vishnu, Siva, Brahma dan dewa-dewi lain telah digantikan dengan konsep Islam yang Maha Esa (Hamid, 1974, ms 77-78).

Untuk mengilustrasikan hal di atas, biarlah saya membandingkan dua petikan epik dalam versi India (seperti yang dikisah oleh William S Buck) dengan sumber  Hikayat Seri Rama versi Shellabear. Petikan-petikan ini mengisahkan Raksasa Raja Ravana menaiki takhta: ketika Ravana dikatakan sedang mengacukan pisau ke leher Seri Rama, Brahma muncul dan berkata, “Berhenti! Minta dari saya satu hajat sekarang! "

‘Hamba gembira yang hamba menyenangkan tuan,” kata Ravana. “Buatkan aku gembira!” kata Brahma. “Kehendak kau adalah dahsyat, terlalu kuat untuk diabaikan; seperti penyakit yang teruk, aku mesti merawatnya. Kesakitan kau membuatkan aku cedera. Mintalah!”  “Bolehkah hamba tidak dapat dibunuh dan tidak dikalahkan oleh dewa-dewa atau sesiapapun dari mana-mana syurga, oleh syaitan neraka atau Asura atau roh-roh setan, atau ular-ular neraka atau Yaksa atau Raksasa.” “Dikurniakan!” Kata Brahma dengan cepat.

Dia mengembalikan kepada Ravana kepala-kepalanya yang terbakar dan menjadikan dia lebih cantik daripada dahulu. Mereka semua bangun, kembali hidup, dan merapikan misai hitam mereka. Brahma memberitahu Vibhishana, “Mintalah” “Biarlah hamba tidak akan melupakan Dharma dalam bahaya atau dalam keseronokan, semasa senang atau semasa terganggu.” Brahma berkata, “Ya, dan engkau akan diabadikan di Bumi dan dibebaskan dari kematian atau dari dilupakan, dan kenyataan aku tidak dapat diterbalikkan” (Buck, 1976, ms 23).

Di sini dalam versi India, Dewa Brahma, pencipta itu, dikisahkan sebagai makhluk yang menghampiri Raja Ravana. Dalam versi Melayu, seorang orang pertengahan menguruskan apa yang dipohon oleh Ravana iaitu untuk dijelmakan Nabi Adam, manusia pertama di Bumi ini.

Dengan berkat dan kuasa Allah (SWT) Nabi Adam telah turun dari syurga untuk satu tempoh masa di bumi. Pada suatu masa dahulu, pada waktu subuh, nabi tersebut sedang berjalan di atas bumi apabila dia bertemu dengan Ravana, yang sedang bertafakur, tergantung terbalik, kaki ke atas. Nabi bertanya:

“Wahai Ravana, mengapakan engkau melakukan seperti ini”? Berapa lamakah engkau dalam keadaan ini?” Ravana menjawab, “Wahai Tuanku Nabi Allah. Saya telah berada dalam keadaan ini selama dua belas tahun.” Adam kemudian berkata, “Wahai Ravana, apakah yang engkau telah merayu kepada Allah (SWT) yang engkau menjadi seperti ini?” Ravana menjawab, “Wahai Tuanku Nabi Allah, jika Tuanku boleh menyampaikan kepada Allah (SWT) supaya dimakbulkan permintaan saya. Saya akan memberitahu apa ia. "

Nabi Adam kemudian berkata, “Wahai Ravana beritahu aku apa itu kehendak engkau” (Shellabear, 1964, ms 3).
Dengan itu, Ravana memberitahu nabi akan hasrat beliau agar Allah (SWT) boleh mengurniakannya empat kerajaan di bumi, di syurga, di neraka dan juga di lautan. Nabi kemudian memberitahu Ravana:

“Dengan itu, pada masa ini juga, engkau berjanjilah, bahawa apabila engkau melakukan kesalahan atau rakyat engkau melakukan kesalahan dan engkau merestukannya, engkau akan menerima kemurkaan Tuhanmu Allah. Jika engkau boleh janjikan ini semua, aku dengan ini memohon Tuhanku Allah hasrat engkau yang hina itu” (Shellabear, 1964, ms 2).

Dari tiga petikan di atas, terdapat beberapa perbezaan yang boleh dipertimbangkan:

(i) Konsep pencipta dalam Ramayana karya Valmiki ini, Brahma, digantikan dengan Nabi Adam sebagai orang yang berjumpa dengan Ravana.

(ii) Brahma, sebagai dewa Penciptaan, seolah-olah mahkluk yang lemah, diancam oleh perlakuan meditasi Ravana itu.

“Buatkan aku gembira!” kata Brahma, “Kehendak kau adalah dahsyat, terlalu kuat untuk diabaikan; seperti penyakit yang teruk, aku mesti merawatnya. Kesakitan kau membuatkan aku cedera. Mintalah!” (Buck, 1976, ms 23).

Dalam Hikayat Seri Rama, Ravana pada peringkat awal dia memperoleh kuasa, terpaksa meminta keizinan Yang Teragung, Allah, untuk memberinya empat kerajaan. Hasrat beliau tidak mungkin dapat disalurkan terus kepada Allah, sebaliknya, Nabi Adam telah diminta untuk mengemukakan hasrat beliau.

Membawa kepada penyembahan berhala

Di sini, konsep Brahma sebagai Maha Pencipta dan Allah adalah sangat berbeza dengan cara  ketuanan Brahma ini digegarkan oleh perbuatan meditasi Ravana dan dengan itu, Brahma terpaksa mengurniakan apa sahaja yang Raksasa minta untuk menyelamatkan dirinya.

Sebaliknya, Islam tidak mengakui kuasa dan kekuatan Makhluk Mutlak, Allah sebagai jauh berbeza dengan kedudukan yang digambarkan oleh Brahma. Ini membawa kepada satu lagi perbincangan mengenai konsep Allah: orang Hindu membahagikan Tuhan kepada tiga dewa-dewa: (1) Brahma, Yang Mencipta, (2) Vishnu, Yang Memelihara dan (3) Shiva, Yang Memusnahkan.

Ini telah membawa kepada penyembahan berhala dan imej yang dibuat bagi dewa-dewa ini dan kultus ditubuhkan untuk menyembah satu atau lebih dewa-dewa ini (Akhbar, 1983, ms 52). Konsep tuhan dalam Islam adalah bahawa Allah adalah ‘Esa dan tidak boleh dibahagi-bahagikan’.

Dia tidak dilahirkan oleh sesiapa dan tidak melahirkan sesiapa, tidak yang berkongsi KekuasaanNya dan bahawa Dia adalah Pencipta, Penyubur, dan Pengekal keseluruhan alam semesta, dan mempunyai kedaulatan penuh ke atas semua dan segala-galanya dalam alam semesta untuk memusnahkan dan mencipta (Akhbar, 1983, ms 71).
Oleh itu, petikan-petikan dan ulasan-ulasan yang dibentangkan di atas menunjukkan perbezaan dalam konsep Tuhan dalam pengisahan kedua-dua epik; yang asal bersifat Hindu dan diambil daripada Ramayana, manakala Hikayat Seri Rama telah diberikan pengisahan Islam.

(Akhir Petikan)

Maka, bagaimanakah kita sebagai rakyat Malaysia sepatutnya mempertimbangkan kontroversi terkini tentang perkataan ‘Allah’ sementara kita merangka perbincangan tersebut bukan sahaja secara filologi, tetapi juga melalui kajian kemanusiaan, supaya kita semua akan menjadi lebih berbudaya dalam cara kita meneliti evolusi pengetahuan?


FROM THE ORIGINAL

How 'Brahma' became 'Allah'
by Azly Rahman


I'd like to see discussions on the concept of ‘god’ more from a ‘transcultural flow of ideas’ rather than seeing it blown out or proportion. We can look at moments in the history of literature in which creative adaptations happen they pertain to how concept of the Divine or the idea of the deity gets enculturalised.

Below is an excerpt of the paper, Islamising the Ramayana, that I wrote during my undergraduate days, analysing the influence of Valmiki’s Ramayana in Southeast Asia.

Excerpt:

The popularity of Ramayana and other Hindu epics at the time of the arrival of Islam, without suspect, brought major concerns to Islamic preachers at that time. In fact, a religious writing by an Islamic scholar from Gujarat, India who served in the court of the sultan of Acheh in the early part of the 17th century, condemned the Hikayat Seri Rama as “unfit for Muslim readers”.

Sir Richard Winstedt, a critic of the classical Malay literature was not far from being right when he mentioned that the first task of the Islamic preachers was to replace the heroes in Indian epics with Islamic warriors (Ahmad, 1981, pp 110).

The spread of Islam was so very intense that Hinduism held by the people of this region was reduced to their social customs only; marriage, birth and funeral ceremonies. From time to time the Hindu beliefs were replaced by customs characteristic of Islam. As told in another classical Malay epic, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, the Hindu idols were from time to time destroyed. Hence, Hinduism became very weak.

This condition manifested itself in the development of the Malay literature, Hindu elements that originated from the Hindu holy scriptures, for instance, the Ramayana and Mahabharata that glorified Vishnu, Siva, Brahma and other gods and goddesses were replaced with Islamic concept of the Supreme being (Hamid, 1974, pp 77-78).

To illustrate the point above, let me compare two passages of the epic in its Indian version (as told by William S Buck) and to the one in Shellabear’s version of the Hikayat Seri Rama. These passages concern the Rakshasha King Ravana’s coming into power: Ravana held the knife to his throat, when Brahma appeared and said, “Stop! Ask me a boon at once!”

“I am glad that I please you,” said Ravana. “Please me!” said Brahma. “Your will is dreadful, too strong to be neglected; like a bad disease, I must treat it. Your pains make me hurt. Ask!” “May I be unslayable and never defeated by the gods or any one from any heaven, by Hell’s devils or Asuras or demon spirits, by underworld serpents or Yakshas or Rakshasas.” “Granted!” said Brahma quickly.

He gave Ravana back his burnt heads better looking than before. They rose, living, and smoothed down his black moustaches. Brahma told Vibhishana, “Ask.” “May I never forget Dharma in peril or in pleasure, in comfort or in distraction.” Brahma said, “Yes, and you will be immortal on Earth and exempt from death or oblivion, and my truth knows no turning” (Buck, 1976, pp 23).

Here in the Indian version, Lord Brahma, the creator is presented as the one approaching King Ravana. In the Malay version, there was a middle man who dealt with what Ravana’s wishing for, the prophet Adam, first man on Earth.

With the blessing and power of Allah (SWT) the prophet Adam was hence descended from heaven for some period of time on earth. Once upon a time, at dawn, the prophet was walking on Earth when he met Ravana, meditating, hanging upside down. The prophet asked:

“O Ravana, why art thou doing as such to thyself? How long has thou been this way?” Ravana replied, “O Gracious prophet of Allah. I have been in this condition for twelve years.” Adam then said, “O Ravana, what is it that thou hath begged from Allah (SWT) that thou hath acted as such?” Ravana answered, “O My Lord Prophet of Allah, if it would be at all possible that thou would asketh Lord Allah’s granting of my wish. I would hence proclaim the nature of it.”

The prophet Adam then said, “O Ravana tell me the nature of the wish of thou” (Shellabear, 1964, pp 3).

Thus, Ravana told the prophet of his wish that Allah grant him four kingdoms on earth, heaven, the underworld and the seas. The prophet then told Ravana:

“Hence, at this moment, thou hath to promise me, that whenth thou doth commit wrongdoings or thou subjects doth doings as such and thou blesseth thee therein and not judge otherwise, thou hath to accept the wrath of thy Lord Allah. Whereas thou agreeth upon this promise. I would hereby asketh upon Lord Allah thou’s humble wishes (Shellabear, 1964, pp 2).

From the three passages quoted above, there are several differences that could be accounted:

(i) The concept of the creator in Valmiki’s Ramayana, Brahma is replaced by that of Prophet Adam as the one who approached Ravana.

(ii) Brahma, as the god of Creation, seems to be portrayed as weak, threatened by Ravana’s meditative acts.

“Please me!” said Brahma, “Your will is dreadful too strong to be neglected; like a bad disease, I must treat it. Your pains make me hurt. Ask!” (Buck, 1976, pp 23).

In Hikayat Seri Rama, Ravana in the beginning of his coming to power, had to ask the utmost consent of the Supreme Being, Allah, to grant him the four kingdoms. His wish could not possibly be channeled directly to Allah, rather, the prophet Adam was asked to present his wish.

Leading to idolatry

Here, the concept of Brahma as the Supreme Creator and Allah is very different in a way that Brahma’s supremacy was shaken by Ravana’s meditative act and hence, Brahma had to grant whatever the Rakshasha was asking for to save himself.

On the other hand, Islam does not see the power and might of the Supreme Being, Allah as anywhere in the position of that portrayed by Brahma. This leads to another discussion of the conception of God: the Hindus divided God into three deities: (1) Brahma, the Creator, (2) Vishnu, the Preserver and (3) Shiva, the Destroyer.

This led to idolatry and images being made out of these dieties and cults formed to worship one or the other of these gods (Akhbar, 1983, pp 52). The concept of god in Islam is such that Allah is ‘Unit and Indivisible’.

He is born of none and has given birth to none, there is no sharer in His authority and that He is the Creator, Nourisher, and Sustainer of all universes, and has full sovereignty over them and everything in them for destroying and recreating (Akhbar, 1983, pp 71).

Therefore, the passages and commentaries presented above showed the difference in the conception of God in the treatment of both epics; the original being very Hindu and the derivative of the Ramayana, whilst the Hikayat Seri Rama was given an Islamic treatment.

End of Excerpt

How, then, should we Malaysians look at the current controversy on the word ‘Allah’ as we frame the discussions not only philologically, but also through the study of humanities, so that we will be all the more cultured in the way we look at the evolution of knowledge?



FROM THE BOOK

3 comments:

rpremkumar2u said...

A deep and illustrative article regarding the conceptual acceptance and understanding of the Creator. I would suggest that allegorical approach to the subject matter may help to understand the seemingly trilogy that some schools of religious thought espouse. If we were to substitute Adam with the term "Reasoning", it would shed the matter in a new light. In this context when applying reasoning, it may be necessary not to confine it within narrow walls of logical interpretation. Ratiocination is appropriate when balancing the argument with substituting "Eve" with the word "feeling"; evoking a certain pathos in which warm emotions occur. Indeed the metaphorical adage : "Why bring into cold realms of speech, warm sentiments best guarded by the wordless heart" is subject to a balancing act where raw logic is tempered desirably with emphatic emotion. One cannot treat allegory with literal treatment. In other words we effect our IQ with EQ. Instead of blaming a slithery creature, we could draw inference that it is our own serpentine coiled energy with the fruit synonymous with the muladhar chakra. And then pieces begin to fall in rhythm as the facts unfurl.

Seava said...

Brahma have declared Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated how the universe was created including the presiding deities.

The concept of Trinity in Hinduism is true but limited to a different dimension(place and time).

Due to vast vedic knowledge one can't pick one part of statement and derive conclusion.

In nutshell Krsna is the Primeval Lord and the other presiding deities are his different departmental heads to manage His Assets.

Wonderful Soul said...

Your interpretation and research into Hindu philosophy is shallow and fundamentally wrong. The words Maha comes from Sanskrit and Esa comes essentially from Eshwar (Sanskrit too). Hinduism does not believe in many God's, God is only ONE and HE is Brahman (Muslims call him RAHMAN. Bramha, Vishnu & Shiva are forms that God takes. GOD takes billions, trillions of forms, you included. Let me illustrate, there is air everywhere, when you build a house, there is air trapped into the shape of your house. From outside your house looks different from mine because of the shell that is built looks different but would you say the air in your house is different from the air in mine? Tear down the houses and tell me which part of the air belongs to you and which part of the air belongs to me. AIR (formless) is indivisible yet divisible by the construct of the house (form). You have a body (form) which is different from my body (form) that is what you see but that is an illusion, yet you and I breathe the exact same air, can you claim that this air belongs to you and that to me? That is how silly your whole article is. When you die and when I die, we will both become as much a part of the same air (formless)by shedding of the body (form) the same way when the houses are torn. You are fooled into thinking your body is real, yet when you die, you cannot take this body with you nor anything you own, not even your own name never mind any name of God that you lay claim to. You are a FORM of the FORMLESS as much as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, you are the divided version of the FORMLESS god !!!

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