(cited partially from: Pangarsa, 2007, Towards Nusantara City, Seminar on Knowledge City, USU, November 2007)
bserving its moderate climate, thriving and prosperous lands with abundant resources, it would be not too exorbitant to say that initially -as a host for peoples living in its environment- the nature of Nusantara is a space with extraordinary hospitality. The nature of Nusantara contributes special characters to its people, which is well known as “friendly to visitors, having perceptive way of thinking”, etc.
At a glance, it looks like a “given” character of the people. But people could not present real hospitality without a grateful attitude to whom or to which he believe and considered as the “Supreme Substance”, giving prosperity and saving his life. Having its own system of beliefs, each social group manifests its attitude in traditions that exist in diversity. But it seems that a common view and attitude is conserving nature. Hence, the hospitality of natural environment around them is reciprocated by the same attitude; people cultivate or take advantage of, but not to force the nature to fulfilling their greed.
Universality in Symbolism of Geography
Being “open” in both natural and societal point of views, Southeast Asian or especially Nusantara played a role as a “bridge” and “glue” between India and Arab to China. During the parallel periods of the spreading of Hinduism and Buddhism, cultural and political ruling powers had planted many religion-based spatial conceptions, blended through the processes of acculturations with local religions or system of beliefs. It could be noted that Balinese villages is centralized to Mount Agung in Bali. Mount Semeru, the mounts Dieng, Arjuna, Penanggungan, etc., in Java had also been considered as central of transcendental or spiritual space. The spatial conception is not only locally; Indonesian Hindus still regard the Ganges in India as Holy River. The site and the Temple of Vihara Agung (The Great Vihara) in Trowulan, East Java was selected and established in 1980s due to divine inspiration of Thai Buddhist priests. The regionalism of spatial orientation was also proved by studies on the Chinese diaspora: the mother-land of continental China is a spatial orientation for Chinese descendants abroad.
Although coming lately, an important phenomenon is Islam, which brought about Nusantara a new global orientation. Each prayer and mosques of Islam have spatial orientation to the Kaaba, believed as the “sacred point” in the earth. A study by Gani (2004: 28, 58) showed that among hundreds of countries in relation to the Kaaba, Nusantara has a peculiar position. The region is exactly oriented to the two vertical important elements: The Multazam and the Door of Kaaba. The Multazam is the wall between Hijr Aswad (the sacred stone mounted on the Southeastern corner of the Kaaba) and The Door, which is believed by Muslims as best a place to pray. In brief, Nusantara would be a planar projection of Kaaba central point through the two vertical elements explained above. Explanation should be sought to prove the matter. Nonetheless, it seems that the phenomenon could answer clearly cultural territory of Nusantara and explain Aceh is called “Serambi (Veranda of) Mekkah” and among first islamized Nusantara countries.
What is the lesson derived from the Kaaba? Like the meaning of the Kaaba symbolism itself -determined in the earth as the first dwelling for the first human being Adam- each dwelling would be able to sustain his life and other creatures. Consequently, as the Kaaba that becomes (symbolically) “a place to stop” for all of human beings, each dwelling of Adam’s descendants has a universality. In dynamics and heterogenic world, what is useful value of the Kaaba? It is not too hard to accept that a dwelling, village, city or built environment should not destroy its environment. In other word, the value of harmony or togetherness both in terms of human society and “society” of the nature is a priority in achieving sustainable life for all. Every empiric environment has interrelation with its meta-empiric reality. Every place of built environment in Nusantara would have its spirituality. That is a view as a basis that empiric and meta-empiric balance should be maintained properly both for human and nature. Nusantara is a unity of heterogeneity. Thus, a common or universal platform is required to achieve a living in harmony between the creatures of Allah, Almighty God.
Resource and Market of the North?
The long history of human civilizations since 14th century has been a history of suppression of human being, its nature, and both. After a long colonial period, European and American over-rationalized economic-based development has became a single paradigm and truth of a new capitalistic religion -in which emerges the worldly spirit of “gaining quickly, multiplying outcomes in the shortest time possible and in a most efficient way”. Based on this spirit, science in very exclusive disciplines which sides only to human greed spring. The victim are nature and underprivileged people. Would they be sacrificed in the names of “development of human civilization”, “colonial” or “post-colonial”? This is proper time to leave the Darwinian view of “struggle of life” behind, even though it is late to take such action. Peaceful scientific implementations in the other hand needs no victims at all.
For many centuries, Southeast Asia regions including Nusantara became subjugated territory of the Northern countries (Western Europeans and Northern Americans). Executed in politico-military or physical methods, the first period --say before Second World War-- exploited explored natural resources: minerals, agricultural products, etc. The later period --especially in last four decades-- is the pretense of scientific methods. Undoubtedly, the aim of the second period has been to create markets for advanced technologies of the North, such as in genetics, informatics, robotics, nano-techs, etc. By spreading scientific information, values of truth, good, or beauty is “patterned”. A mislead in interpreting the slogans as “Information-Age”, “Globalization”, “Internationalization”, “Cosmopolitanism” and other names, would trap into the invisible loop hole, that is a scientific-politic-economical dependence to the Northern countries. The tall stacks of debts of Indonesia are undeniable reality. The winners of the game of power are the Northern countries. The disciplines of architecture and planning play a very little part of this big game. A symbolism is required in politics of culture, not only as a simple way to built mental attitude but also to create an applicable proper (read: peaceful) scientific perspective.