|M. Bakri Musa|
Zaid's book is titled Ampun Tuanku: A Brief Guide to Constitutional Government and it was published on 25 June 2012 under his own imprint, ZI Publications. Interestingly, the work is 256 pages long, coinciding with its launch date of 25th June. Is there a numerological significance here?
For a start, 2+5+6 = 13 and 13 symbolizes death and rebirth in the Tarot. The Mayan calendar favors the female 13-moon cycle (women menstruate 13 times a year). But before I get carried away on a tangent, let's quote a section of Bakri Musa's latest blogpost, pointedly headlined "The Sultans' Daulat is a Myth":
As a youngster in 1960 I had secured for myself a commanding view high atop a coconut tree to watch the funeral procession of the first King, Tuanku Abdul Rahman. My smug demonstration of my perched position drew the attention of the village elders below. They were none too pleased and immediately ordered me down. “Sultans have daulat,” they admonished, “you cannot be above them.” Apparently even dead sultans maintained their daulat. I did not dare challenge my elders as to what would happen once the king was buried; then we all would be above him. To put things in perspective, this attribution of special or divine powers to rulers is not unique to Malay culture. The ancient Chinese Emperors too had their Tianming, Mandate from Heaven. That however, was not enough to protect them.
Only days before the Japanese landed, any Malay peasant who perchance made eye contact with his sultan, may Allah have mercy on him for the sultan certainly would not. When the Japanese took over, those rajas had to scramble with the other villagers for what few fish there were in the river and what scarce mushrooms they could scrape in the jungle. Nobody was bothered with or took heed of the daulat thing. So much for it being deeply entrenched in our culture!
To pursue my point, had the Malayan Union succeeded, our sultans today would have been all tanjak (ceremonial weapon) and desta (headgear); they would have as much status and power as the Sultan of Sulu.
Across the Strait of Malacca, hitherto Malay sultans are now reduced to ordinary citizens. They and their society are none the worse for that.
[Read the rest here.]
Thinkers like Zaid Ibrahim and Bakri Musa represent the cutting edge of the evolving Malay psyche. Having broken free from the totem and taboo of their own upbringing - their cultural and social tempurungs, as it were - they are poised to articulate a rational, more enlightened perspective, thus showing the way forward for their less liberated compatriots.
In effect, Zaid's latest book - and Bakri Musa's learned commentary on it - are valiant attempts to demystify what has long been shrouded in quasi-religious or mystical ritualism, in effect, a residual form of superstitious awe surrounding the concept of royalty itself. They are among a handful of well-educated, clear-headed, eloquent writers who have done the unthinkable by sneaking a peek behind the stage curtains and exposing the elaborate machinery installed by wily wizards to reinforce a deeply entrenched tribal belief that God rules on earth through the ancient institution of monarchy.
For that is literally how monarchs came to be revered and even worshiped in every culture you find on earth. It begins with a visionary leader - it could be a wizard or warlord or both - proclaiming that God rules through him (or, more rarely, her). Over time, this sentiment is restated as "I rule on God's behalf." Fast-forward a few generations, and it is reduced to, simply: "I rule!"
What Mahathir accomplished with his constitutional amendments of 1983 and 1993 was to effectively castrate the monarchy in Malaysia, making it essentially a ceremonial institution - purely symbolic and without political clout. To appease the Sultans, they were encouraged to engage in busyness and offered lucrative contracts which they could then farm out to professional contractors - in the process earning fat commissions to support their extravagant lifestyles. Every so often they would be put on public display as living symbols of national unity; but, over time, their roles were further reduced to "defenders of the faith" and, by extension, emblems of tribal supremacy.
From the cosmomythological viewpoint, cold facts and bare figures serve only as a reference, as a navigational tool; they are no substitute for the multidimensional complexity of life itself, and the myriad stories that constitute the life of each nation.
It is akin to proclaiming that the divinity of Jesus is a myth. Those who have been raised in a religious tradition that deifies the personality of Jesus the Christ will, most likely, feel offended, if not threatened.
My own take on the question of royalty - in general terms, without limiting the discussion to the constitutional monarchy in Malaysia - is that it certainly helps to zoom out and view the advent of monarchism in a wider historical and mythological framework.
This doesn't take us very far back in time - at most six or seven thousand years. From the Sumerian creation epic Enuma Elish (meaning, literally, "when the gods walked the earth"), we learn that the first monarchs were actually the hybrid offspring of theogamous affairs between gods and human priestesses. Over time, even goddesses were tempted by the heady appeal of mortal flesh: the goddess Ninsun, consort of Lugalbanda, had a fling with an Adapa (a human high priest) named Kullab - and thus Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, was born two-thirds divine and one-third mortal.
Even so, what constitutes "divinity" remains unanswered. The word "divine" has its etymology in the Old French (12th century) word devin and perhaps the older Latin term divus - and its origins can be traced to the earlier Sanskrit (1700 BCE) deva (male) and devi (female) - meaning deity. However, in the Buddhist teachings, a deva is defined as "one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being."
|Jesus and Krishna (courtesy of Arjuna Zbycho)|
Most esoteric teachings hint at the distinct possibility that as humans evolve spiritually, they gain access to a vaster range of frequencies. As each soul attains self-mastery. it becomes reintegrated with multidimensional aspects of itself, ultimately attaining to Wholeness (or Holiness). Such Master Souls are said to occasionally volunteer their services in dense, benighted zones wherein they may be perceived as devas and devis offering inspiration and guidance from a safe distance - or else they may opt to physically incarnate as mortals, bravely and voluntarily taking on the trials and tribulations of fleshly existence.
Arrogance and, ultimately, contempt for the Great Unwashed inevitably sets in - and even the best of intentions will not insulate us from spiritual entropy - turning dark from despair and succumbing to destructive tendencies. Hence the Fallen Angel metaphor which can be applied to anyone of noble birth who gets ensnared by the density and dimness of the manifest world, and becomes feral, turning predator instead of liberator, tormentor instead of mentor.
Tennyson's classic poem, The Lotos-Eaters, graphically describes a major occupational hazard of adventurism and the empire-building impulse. In Australia this phenomenon is known as "going troppo"... succumbing to the tropical heat and behaving erratically, even self-destructively. One easily gives in to spiritual lassitude and decadence - and this is more or less what happened to the remote descendants of the original Anunnaki bloodlines - those with claim to a bigger proportion of superhuman DNA, inherited from the Sky Gods.
Iskandar Zulkarnain). Who knows if this is true, but Alexander himself was the offspring of the Macedonian King Philip II and his fourth wife Olympias. His birth was preceded by omens, suggesting that his true father was Zeus, the supreme Olympian god.
My contention is simply this: enlightenment, illumination, nobility, divinity are words that describe software upgrades.
In the very early stages of planetary colonization, the extraterrestrial bloodlines took great pains to maintain genetic purity - and that's why incest was prescribed among those of exalted genealogy. Among ancient Egyptian royals, brother-sister marriages were common; and in more than one instance, mothers were known to marry their own sons, giving rise to the vulgar expression "motherfucker"). Only much later did incest become proscribed, when the "divine" gene pool got too diluted, resulting in too many deformities.
In effect, the genetic offspring of an aristocratic marriage will not always inherit the desired traits; often, especially among overly incestuous bloodlines, a dramatic degeneracy occurs. The child of a peasant, if exposed to uplifting influences - say, he or she hears an inspiring story retold by an itinerant troubadour at a tender age - can mutate unpredictably and lay claim to an entirely unexpected destiny, that of a cult hero, perhaps.
In other words, ideas are akin to free-floating cultural memes - and anyone who happens to be paying attention can download these ideas and experience a radical software upgrade. This is completely borne out by the paradigm-shifting discoveries of the late great mathematician, Benoit Mandelbrot - who presented the world with fractal geometry, which in turn led to cutting-edge speculation about the holographic nature of all reality.
What this ultimately means is: the traditional notion of hierarchy is entirely illusory. No single entity can legitimately claim to be superior or inferior to any other entity. Each entity is simultaneously unique and universal - just as no two snowflakes or sets of fingerprints are identical.
Indeed, every single one of us is an integral component of the whole in an electromagnetic spectrum of infinite possibilities. The caste system, for instance, was unfairly favorable to an elite Brahmin priesthood - and it was purely in their own self-interest that they conspired to propagate this erroneous view of reality down the generations, effectively exploiting and enslaving billions.
The true Master is master only of himself or herself - not of other sovereign entities. When this definition of Master is reinstated within our everyday consciousness, the concept of Slavery will be limited to the domain of electrical engineering, wherein the master-slave configuration applies only to current regulation.
Bakri Musa concludes his essay with this bold declaration:
"In a democracy, daulat (sovereignty) resides with the people, not the rajas. Our constitution is clear on that point, as Zaid repeatedly reminds us. We must constantly defend this principle lest it be eroded."
I am in wholehearted agreement, even though we approach the subject from wildly different perspectives.
M. BAKRI MUSA: THE SULTANS' DAULAT IS A MYTH (PART 2)
BOOK REVIEW: ZAID IBRAHIM'S AMPUN TUANKU
[First posted 30 August 2012. Reposted 29 November 2014 & 25 June 2015]