Taj al-Salatin (The Crown of Kings)

Taj al-Salatin (The Crown of Kings) was written around 1603 in Aceh by Bukhari al-Jauhari and its objective was to underscore guidelines for just kingship and good governance in tandem with Islamic tradition. It advises kings on the norms of proper and just governance, in literary form. It also places emphasis on the rulers’ role as the servant of God on earth.

This Malay literary classic was written in the Jawi script and takes after the nasihat or ‘mirrors for princes’ genre of Persian literature, and is very much influenced by the latter. The Taj comprises an introduction and four sections divided into 24 chapters. The first section is centred upon self-cognition, cognition of God, the nature of the world, and death. The subsequent chapter discusses the dignity of kings, justice and tyranny. The following chapter deals with officials of the court such as courtiers, messengers, scribes and viziers. The last chapter comprises various topics, including upbringing of children, generosity and kindness, reason, the conditions of royal power, the science of physiognomy, and the relationship between subjects and kings. [1]

The copy in our library is the 1827 translation of P.P. Roorda van Eijsinga, published in Batavia (now modern-day Jakarta) by Lands Drukkerij. The work features its original Jawi text, with a parallel Dutch translation on the opposite page. Much like other Jawi-scripted works, the book is read from right to left.

 

At the end of the chapter on budi and akal is this piece of poetry which essentially is a summary of the chapter’s discussion, espousing the seeking of knowledge – rue those who live without knowledge for it’s the tree of excellence, with knowledge you will be rich and without it you are poor.

Dengar olehmu, hai budiman
Budi itulah sesungguhnya pohon ihsan
Kerana ihsan itu peri budinyalah
Jika lain maka lain jadilah.
Orang yang berbudi itu kayalah
Yang tidak berbudi itu papalah
Jika kau dapat erti alam ini
Dan budi kurang padamu di sini
Sia-sialah jua adamu
Dan sekali pula sia-sia namamu
Jika kamu hendak menjadi kaya
Mintalah budi padamu cahaya
Hai Tuanku, Bukhari faqir yang hina
Pada budi minta selamat senantiasa. [2]

[1] Alatas, S.F. (2018). Anti-Feudal Elements in Classical Malay Political theory: The Taj al-Salatin. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 91(1), 29-39. doi:10.1353/ras.2018.0002.

[2] Taj al-Salatin Bukhari al-Jauhari. (2009). Republika. Retrieved from https://republika.co.id/berita/archive/no-channel/84598/taj-alsalatin-bukhari-aljauhari

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