The ruins of Jago temple offer an interesting look into ancient culture especially for those who are a little more patient with their time. Hidden in the images of these inscriptions & bas reliefs are famous stories from ancient times which were as common to people then as Snow White is to people today. These carefully selected stories tell tales of morality & ethics, ironic for a kingdom with a liking for so much misbehaviour.
Built by Wishnuwardhana, the fourth king of the Singosari empire & grandson of Queen Ken Dedes, a woman whose beauty was so great, it was the reason for all the bloody murders that plagued most of the Singosari dynasty. Her face is believed to have been used to create the precious Prajnaparamita statue, the most famous statue in the National Museum in Jakarta found in almost perfect condition near Singosari. Wishnuwardhana became king after murdering the third king, Tohjaya who had in turn murdered Wishnuwardhana’s father the second king, Anusapati. A murderer who murdered a murderer built this temple to himself to remind other people of the correct way to live life, if only today’s modern jails here had such fine philosophical minds too.
Some of these famous tales that are inscribed onto the walls of Jago temple are Arjuna Wiwaha - a tale of good vs evil & ultimately the reward for our hero Arjuna is 7 beautiful wives, not ugly jungle wives but angels. Appearing on the 3rd tier of Jago temple, ultimately our hero Arjuna convinced one of these lovely angel-women to use her body to flirt with an evil king to gain his trust. We learn that men of ancient times also liked sexy women, this king ultimately reveals his weakness to her after falling for this angel’s charms. As women do, she passed on this info onto our hero who shoots this evil king in the mouth with an arrow killing him, the moral of the story…never trust a ho.
Another story taken from the Hindu Mahabharata epic starting on the 2nd & continuing on the 3rd tier is about a dude named Kunjarakarna who was walking around one day & takes a wrong turn & ends up in of all places, Hell. Here he is told that his best friend Purnawijaya is destined to spend a couple thousand years here in Hell enjoying the local hospitality. Like any good mate he escapes to tell his friend & to avoid thousands of years of torture he must study Buddhism. After Purnawijaya takes this advice he only ends up spending 10 days there, the moral here? Ask for directions next time & avoid accidently going to Hell in the first place.
There are also 14 stories from the Tantri Kamandaka, these are Java animal fables used to represent characters that teach life lessons in wisdom & statecraft, the art of running a kingdom. The Tantri Kamandaka is interesting as it is very similar to the Arabian ‘A Thousand & One Nights’ story. It starts off with a king who orders his minister to find him a bride each night so his subjects can get drunk & have a wedding feast every day. On the last day the kingdom runs out of girls & so the minister’s own daughter, a girl named Tantri gives herself up. On their wedding night in order to avoid drunken horizontal-mumble, she tries to distract the king with these tales which later has a profound effect on the king who vows to change his ways, the moral here… if you have sex with a different woman every night you will probably get AIDS & die.