By: Sahiri Loing of Instant Karma
Indonesia has no shortage of heroes. We’ve heard of more “popular” heroes such as Tuanku Imam Bonjol, Sultan Hasanuddin, Thomas Matulessy, and Cut Nyak Dhien; but there are actually many other heroic figures blazing the trails that will eventually lead the way to gain—and preserved—independence from the Dutch colonials.
This year, to coincide with the annual National Hero Day held every 10 November, the Indonesian government awarded 10 figures to the honorific title of National Hero, and one of them is Bali’s own Ida Dewa Agung Jambe.
He was the 11th King of the Klungkung kingdom, and on 28 April 1908, the King and his troops (including his son and daughter-in-law) put up a brave resistance against the Dutch in what is known as perang puputan Klungkung, or Klungkung Puputan War.
The meaning of puputan in Balinese roughly translates to “fight to the death where surrender is never an option.” Alas, their daggers and spears were no match against the modern ammunition of the colonials who came with canons and rifles. The King Ida Dewa caught a bullet in battle.
In a brief interview with his eminence, King Ida Dalem, the revered lineage King of Bali unveils a ray of hope and strategic vision for the generations ahead:
“Today is what we called the angayubagya, or expression of gratitude, for the fact that our predecessor, Ida Dewa Agung Jambe, has been recognized as a national hero by the government and the Indonesian people,” says King Ida Dalem. “We are very proud [of the recognition], which means it will be a heavy task for us to continue his fight.
“He didn’t rule the kingdom very long, only four years from 1904 – 1908, but during that short time he has shown admirable qualities as a king and as a warrior. He was wise and though he is also willing to compromise but he still prioritizes his principles and dignity. He definitely possesses the character of a warrior.”
“In the face of adversity, we pondered, “What did he sacrifice?” His selfless act, though yielding no immediate victory, now stands as a beacon of preservation and courage for the Balinese. It serves as a reminder to steadfastly safeguard our cultural heritage amidst the challenges of modernization – where battles unfold in the realms of social media, technology, and economics.”
A celebration of the King took place last Monday (26/11/2023) at Pendopo Puri Agung Klungkung. Attended by government representatives as well as other royal leaders from other kingdoms in Bali, the title was awarded to the current heir of the Klungkung Kingdom, Ida Dalem Smaraputra.
Besides a few rousing speeches in honour of Ida Dewa Agung Jambe, a notable speaker of the event was Prof. Dr. AA. Bagus Wirawan, SU., who provided historical facts regarding Indonesia’s long journey to claim Independence as well as about the newly minted National Hero.
He said that in the long line of heroes there were strategizers and fighters—and Ida Dewa Agung Jambe fits into the latter category. “The puputan war was driven by the ideology of the noble warrior (Ksatria Mahottama) who fought against colonialism, which in itself was based on the teachings of the epic story of Ramayana and Mahabharata,” said Professor Wirawan.
And a century later, the spirit of the noble warrior lives on for posterity. For Ida Dewa Agung Jambe is now a National Hero.