THE COSMOLOGY OF NGAJU DAYAK
Cosmology, which literally means “the science or theory of the universe,” is an integral tool in order to discover the conception of God among the Ngaju Dayak. Cosmology opens a way to reveal the set of ideas and beliefs held by a society concerning the ultimate cause and effect in the outplay of life—and the way societies and individuals ideally can and should interact with those forces in order to optimize this life and life in the “Hereafter”. Therefore we must make a serious attempt to understand the Ngaju Dayak cosmology from the Ngaju Dayak point of view. Consequently, we must discover the Ngaju Dayak indigenous cosmology by using their own resources and paradigms. What is “indigenous cosmology?” In a straightforward manner indigenous refers to anything produced, growing, or living naturally in a particular region or environment.
Schärer divided the Ngaju Dayak cosmos into three parts: the Upperworld, the Middleworld and the Underworld (1963: 11-17). Speaking of the Upper World he wrote “Jata lives in the Underworld (or primeval waters) lying beneath the world of men” (1963: 16). However Schärer was unsure about that division. On one side he said “Jata lives in the Underworld (or primeval waters) lying beneath the world of men” (1963:16), meanwhile elsewhere he said, “Still other ideas are encountered in the Creation Myth. In this, the homes of the two deities are not represented as two territorially separate places (see the beginning of the myth) but are located in the Upperworld…” (1963:17).
Before we go into detailed information about the cosmology of the Ngaju Dayak, I should say, that to avoid misrepresenting the inner meaning of the Ngaju Dayak religion and their indigenous cosmology, in this thesis I prefer to use their own terms and paradigms.
A careful reading of traditional Ngaju Dayak sources. shows that cosmos according to the Ngaju Dayak is divided into two main parts: Lewun Sangiang or the Sangiang World and Lewun Kalunen or the Kalunen World. The Sangiang World is the world of Supernatural Beings and high spirits (Sangiang) which exists beyond the visible sky and the Kalunen World is the world of human kind and lower-ranking spirits is situated under the Sangiang World. It has strong relationship to their concepts about Batang Petak-Batang Langit (The Main Land-The Main Sky). The Batang Petak is the land or the earth where they are living now and the Batang Langit is the land or place, which exists above their land as a place of Supreme Deities and Sangiang people. The Ngaju Dayak also distinguishes two types of Lewun Jata (The Village of Jata): first Lewun Jata in the Sangiang World and the second Lewun Jata in the Kalunen World. Jata Creator and Her descendants live in the Lewun Jata in the Sangiang World (Or. 8887/1:30).