History of the Singasari Kingdom

General / 09 October 2019

The history of the Singasari Kingdom began only in the 13th century, during which time Singasari was only a village to the east of Gunung Kawi where it was located at the headwaters of the Brantas River in the East Java region. Singasari Kingdom was founded by Ken Arok after he succeeded in defeating the Kediri king named Kertajaya.

History of the Establishment of Singasari
In 1222, the king of Kediri at that time was in dispute with the Brahmins because he asked the Brahmins to worship him as a god. This dispute prompted the Brahmins to ask for protection from Ken Arok, who was the Tumwu regional chief. By Ken Arok, he also saw this request as an opportunity to realize his ideals of freeing Tumapel from the grip of the Kingdom of Kediri.



The story of Singasari Kingdom only began in 1254 when a war broke out near the village of Ganter between the Brahmins who had now joined Ken Arok's army against the troops of the Kediri Kingdom. The great war was won by Ken Arok's army with the killing of Mahesa Wulungan and Kertajaya. The success of the war made Ken Arok change Tumapel status to become a kingdom and lower the status of the Kediri Kingdom to become the Duchy. When Ken Arok became the first king of Tumapel, he gave the title "Sri Rajasa the Amurwabhumi" to himself.

There are several versions of the telling of who founded the Singasari Kingdom. According to Nagarakertagama, the founder of Singasari was named Ranggah Rajasa Sang Girinathaputra who succeeded in defeating Kertajaya. On the other hand, the Mula Malurung Inscription in 1255 stated that the founder of Singasari was Bhatara Shiva. This name is thought to be a posthumous title from Ranggah Rajasa. Meanwhile, Pararaton mentioned that Bhatara Siwa was the nickname of Ken Arok before advancing against the Kingdom of Kediri in war.

Pedigree of Raja Singasari


Singasari Kingdom has a genealogy of the king written in two versions, namely the Pararaton and Nagarakertagama versions. Pararaton wrote his king's genealogy with Ken Arok as the first king, followed by Anusapatai, Tohjaya, Ranggawuni, also known as Wisnuwardhana, and Kertanegara as the last king of Singasari. While Nagarakertagama wrote Rangga Rajasa Sang Grinathaputra as the first king and founder of Singasari, followed by Anusapati, then Wisnuwardhana, and the last king of Kertanegara.

In the Pararaton version, the transfer of power is marked by bloodshed in a vengeful setting. Ken Arok was killed by Anusapati, his own stepdaughter. Anusapati then died at the hands of Tohjaya who was the son of Ken Arok from one of his concubines. Tohjaya himself cannot escape this fate because he died as a result of a rebellion from Anusapati's son, Ranggawuni. The peaceful transfer of power only occurred when Ranggawuni appointed Kertanegara as king. The Nagarakertagama version eliminates all the spilling that occurred between the Singasari kings. This is understandable considering the purpose of making Nagarakertagama as a book of praise for Hayam Wuruk and all the bloody events carried out by Hayam Wuruk's ancestors are labeled as a disgrace.

If the Pararaton version can be trusted, then there is a possibility that the bloody tragedy of the Singasari kingdom began with Ken Arok who seized the position of Akuwu Tumapel from Tunggul Ametung. Ken Arok intends to kill Tunggul Ametung because he is attracted by the beauty of Tunggul Ametung's wife, Ken Dedes. To kill this Ametung Tunggul he asked Mpu Gandring's help to make a kris. Because Ken Arok was unable to resist the desire to immediately propose Ken Dedes, he snatched the imperfect kris from the hands of Mpu Gandring and killed the krismaker. At the last moment, Mpu Gandring issued a curse that the kris would kill Ken Arok for up to seven descendants.

During Wisnuwardhana's reign, Kertanegara was appointed viceroy as his successor. Kertanegara was immediately appointed as king when Wisnuwardana died in 1268. The era of Kertanegara's reign was a golden era in the history of the Kingdom of Singasari because of his enormous dream of uniting the archipelago. His title is Sri Maharajadiraja Sri Kertanegara.

To achieve his dream of uniting the entire archipelago, Kertanegara is assisted by three mahamentri. In addition he also replaced old-fashioned officials with young officials. In the end, he succeeded in uniting all of Java, and he focused his attention on Malay. The sending of his envoy to the Malays, led by Adityawarman, and succeeded in conquering the Malay Kingdom in 1275 was later known as the Pamalayu Expedition. Kertanegara's dream almost came true because he also succeeded in conquering Bali, West Kalimantan and also Maluku. He also managed to establish relations with the king of Campa for the sake of holding back the expansion of the Mongol Dynasty. This was something that would later destroy Singasari because Kertanegara refused to recognize Kubilai Khan as entrusted by injuring the face of Meng Chi, Kubilai Khan's envoy.


The collapse of the Singasari Kingdom


The mistake made by Kertanegara was to injure the face of the Mongol emissary who sparked the great anger of Kubilai Khan. The action taken by Kublai Khan was no less surprising, he sent troops to punish Kertanegara's actions. With the reduction in the number of troops in the Singasari Kingdom due to the Pamalayu expedition, the troops guarding the kingdom had to be sacrificed to dispel Kubilai Khan's troops. Seeing this golden opportunity, Jayakatwang who was the king of Kediri at that time chose to follow Aria Wiraraja's proposal to attack the Singasari kingdom. Sure enough, the two-way attack carried out by Jayakatwang finally managed to penetrate the defense of the Singasari Kingdom and found Kertanegara partying with high-ranking court officials. The killing of Kertanegara and palace officials by Jayakatwang's troops signaled the end of the power of the Singasari kingdom.


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