A Balinese Folktale: Protector of Tenganan
Once upon a time there was a man named I Tundung. Because he was very poor, he had no place to live. He wandered from one place to another. As for food, he depended upon the mercy of the people in the neighborhood.
One day after having walked for some time he arrived at a village called Tenganan. He was starving since he had not eaten anything from early morning. He walked slowly until he arrived at a house. The house belonged to the village’s chief, Jero Pasek Tenganan. He then asked: Who are you and where do you come from?” I Tundung answered: “My name is I Tundung, I have no place to live. I move from one place to another and get my food from the people.”
Jero Pasek Tenganan was moved by what the man said. He then provided him with some food and drink after having eaten the food I Tundung then said: “Jero Pasek, if you do not mind starting from now on I would like to serve you.” Without giving much thought Jero Pasek accepted the offer. “All right Tundung, you can stay in my house.” From then on I Tundung served Jero Pasek. He was very diligent and honest. This pleased Jero Pasek so much.
One day, Jero Pasek summoned I Tundung. “Tundung, I am very pleased with what you have shown. You are very diligent. I want you to farm the land at the East Hill. Now the land is neglected. Nobody is there to farm it.” I Tundung listened attentively to what Jero Pasek said. As he wanted to have work to do, he then said: “All right, Jero Pasek, I will do my best.”
Soon I Tundung moved to the land at East Hill. There he built himself a hut. He toiled the land for the crops. In the end his hard work was fruitful. The crops were abundant. Jero Pasek was munch impressed by I Tundung’s effort. But, alas, a disaster then crept. The yields of the crops were stolen. This had made Jero Pasek disappointed. “Tundung, there have been thefts lately. You might have become frustated because of these.” I Tundung responded: “Please forgive me, Jero Pasek. I do not want to leave the job you have trusted to me just because of the thefts.” I Tundung kept watch day and and night, but he could not stop the thefts. Jero Pasek was in despair and I Tundung knew about it. He felt ashamed of himself.
Once day at night I Tundung went to offer his prayers at a shrine, called Naga Sandung, which is located is the middle of the land. He made a request to the gods for protection. He then heard a voice from the sky. “Tundung, my son, your wish is granted on one condition. You have to be transformed into a black snake”. In his mind I Tundung said that he would do whatever the gods wished as long as he could serve Jero Pasek. Soon he could feel his neck and body become longer and turned into a big black snake.
As usual Jero Pasek visited I Tundung at Bukit Kangin. When he arrived at the hut he could not see I Tundung there. He looked for him everywhere but is what useless. I Tundung seemed to have disappeared. Jero Pasek then went into the shrine. There he was welcomed by a huge black snake. “Jero pasek Tenganan, I am I Tundung who has changed into a snake. I fell ashamed because I am not able to stop the thefts. From now on I am going to guard your property more effectively. Nobody will dare to steal the crops.” Jero Pasek responded: “Tundung, you are really a faithful servant. I have no doubts in your faith. Please forgive me.”
From that very day I Tundung and his descendants have kept guard on the farming land in Tenganan. No more thefts took place. The snake are now known as Lalipi Selem Bukit [ The Hill Black Snake ] which the people in Tenganan and its surroundings believe that the snake still live in the bushes of the villages.