Sunda Wiwitan: The Purity of the Local Religion and Its Discrimination in Indonesia

Penulis Tamu: Chika Tamsir

Sunda Wiwitan (Foto:

There are only few people knowing the existence of the local believe in Indonesia. Local believes also known as nusantara religion. However, Indonesia only recognizing six religions officially. As what contained on the President’s decree number 1 in 1965 and also regulated in Indonesian constitution number 5 in 1965, explained that Indonesian people embrace the six religions, which are Islam, Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Buddha, and Konghucu. However, those all six religions are imported from the outside Indonesia.

Sunda Wiwitan is one of the local believe that worshiping to the nature and their ancestral spirit. Most of the Sunda Wiwitan believers are the traditional people of Sunda tribe. According to the Sunda Wiwitan believers, Sunda Wiwitan believe has already embraced since the ancient time, long before the Islam and Hindu entered Indonesia.

The Sunda Wiwitan believe was introduced by Sadewa Alibasa Kusuma Wijayaningrat, he also known as name Pangeran Madrais from Cigugur, Kuningan. Pangeran Madrais was arrested and exiled to Merauke by the Dutch colonist in 1901 for accusing heresy.

But in fact, the colonists are actually worry with the expanding influences of Madrais movement in building a resistance against the Dutch colonist through the doctrine of Islam. But at the end, he could free himself and back to Cigugur his hometown, and teach his followers about the importance of loving each other and being independent.

Madrais established a community to bring up and encourage the local people to against the colonists. In order to avoid the colonists suspicion, they created a strategy by delivering the doctrines through Sunda Java script, so that today, Madrais also known as Sunda Java believe, or Sunda Wiwitan.

When Madrais passed away in 1939, his leadership was continued by his Son named Pangeran Tedja Buana Alibasa until 1958. In 1964, there were group of people that slandered the Madrais and all his followers are communist. Eventually the Madrais community splitted into some groups.

The one group was led by Djati Kusumah, he is the son of Raden Tedja Buana from his second wife. Djati Kusumah reminded to all his Sunda Wiwitan followers that their believe is the continuation from Muslim Madrais. When at the beginning Madrais recognized as the founder and propagator of the Sunda Java believe, since the doctrine of Islam which was delivered in Sunda Java script.

In Sunda Wiwitan believe, they called their almighty as Sang Hyang Kersa, or Nu Ngersakuen as the most desirable. Sang Hyang Kersa also called in some names like, Batara Tunggal which means the omnipresent, Batara Jagat means the nature ruler, and Batara Seda Niskala as the unseen. The Sang Hyang Kersa is dwelling in the Buana Nyungcung.

All God in the concept of Hindu (Brahma, Wishnu, Shiwa, Indra, Yama, and etc) is bend over to the Batara Seda Niskala. There are three kind of world in Sunda Wiwitan believe, which are: Buana Nyungcung (the place to reside of Sang Hyang Kersa, which is located at the top), Buana Panca Tengah (the place of human dwelling and others creature, which is located at the middle), Buana Larang (the hell, which is located at the bottom).

We can meet the Sunda Wiwitan followers at the small village lacated in  Cireundeu, Bandung. Ridwan Tajudin the head of the Village mentioned that there are about 354 family living there, 91 of them are the followers of Sunda Wiwitan believe.

There are some life values believed by the Sunda Wiwitan like how to be a human being , and how to be a nation. To be a human being, the adherent must be having an affection to the nature, doing goods in the daily life, and respecting the parents. And to be a nation, the followers must uphold the local culture where they born, so they will not colonize other nation.

The Sunda Wiwitan followers are taught that in order to know their God, as human being they have to know their own self before their God, because they believed that the God itself is exist in every human being.

Unfortunately, the existence of Sunda Wiwitan followers today is quite apprehensive. As mentioned in Indonesian constitution 1945 article 29 explain about the freedom of religion, that the country is guarantee the freedom of every Indonesian people to choose their own religion, and worshiping according to what religion they believe in.

But today, the freedom of religion in Indonesia is now in the lowest point. People are commonly see the freedom of religion is different with the freedom of what to believe in. The Government separated the official and unofficial religion, so that most of the society never know that there are some local believe exist in Indonesia. Just like Sunda Wiwitan, even though the way they worship is actually similar to the other religions, which there are always bunch of goodness and values are taught. Sadly, some people think that Sunda Wiwitan is not a religion but the heresy, even the followers of Sunda Wiwitan are accused as Kafir.

The discrimination that happened to Sunda Wiwitan followers is the proof that this nation still cannot uphold the third Sila of Pancasila which is the unity of Indonesia. It is unfair for the Sunda Wiwitan followers, cause the freedom of religion is owned by each Indonesian people. The common society are still lack of information regarding to existence of the local believes.

The marriage of Sunda Wiwitan followers are not recorded in the Office of Religious Affairs, so they cannot have a certificate of marriage just like others. They are also prosecuted to empty their religion information on their Identity Card. Sometimes they cannot have the same right to get the health access from which is actually provide by the government, even in their own workplace. The worst is their children cannot get the birth certificate as what everyone should have for some sake of administration.

There are a lot of sadness experienced by the followers of Sunda Wiwitan. They are treated unfair by the country and most of other official religion, but it doesn’t trigger their revolt to the government. Even though everybody knew that ancestor of Sunda Wiwitan himself is one of the Indonesian national hero that also fight for the freedom of Indonesia.

The followers are living in patiently, but keep in fight for their own believe. They are all realize that the religion they believe in is teach the goodness just like the other religion. They are all believe that they are never break the Pancasila, and they have the same right accordance to Indonesian constitution article 29 about the freedom of religion and believe.

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