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Was Pak Subuh a dukun?

Was a Pak Subuh a dukun?

A dukun is, in Java, a traditional healer. There’s nothing wrong or disgraceful about being a dukun. I can remember when I lived as a kid in Cilandak, and I got a sore on my back—I had to spend several days lying face down—Pak Subuh kindly sent over a poultice, consisting of some black mixture of herbs, to help the healing. Whether he made this himself, or ordered it in, I don’t know. Whether it worked or not, I don’t know!

Inez Mahony has written some useful research reports on dukun practice:


According to Mahony, dukun are a normal and accepted part of Javanese society:

Dukun [are] traditionally… sorcerers and curers, predominantly male practitioners of Javanese mysticism from the various subcategories of santri, priyayi and abangan, who practice a variety of dukun specialties yet may be more skilled in a particular area. Literature suggests dukun regularly played a central role as priest, spirit contact and respected elder in the many traditional Javanese rituals and ceremonies and that dukun were generally consulted as curer and helper in alleviating physical, mental and spiritual problems.

Being a dukun is therefore consistent with Pak Subuh’s social origins and social class—priyayi—and his calling: spiritual guide. Continue reading


Subud and Islam

Our Subud literature says that membership in Subud is compatible with any religion. (In making this claim, Subud is not alone among the mystical movements to come out of Java. Pangestu, Sapta Darma and Sumarah also promote themselves as being compatible with all the mainstream religions, to be practiced in conjunction with a religion.[1])

Our Subud literature says that Pak Subuh was a Muslim.

If these statements are correct, then we would expect Subud to flourish in Islamic countries. However, the evidence seems otherwise. Subud is poorly represented in Islamic countries. In Malaysia, it has been declared a “deviant sect” of Islam.[2] In Indonesia, the country of its origin, Subud is classified by anthropologists as a kebatinan movement. Officially, it is registered at the Ministry of Education and Culture as a “faith”, along with movements such as Brahma Kumaris, Ananda Marga, and The Family.[3] Continue reading