Thursday, October 1, 2015
Experiences With Hantu Gaharu (沉香鬼片面缘)
It is still a norm when my Malay friends smell fragrance or strange smells in the surrounding, they would attribute it to the presence of supernatural beings, aka ‘ghosts’. Somehow the Chinese also bought in such an idea too.
Tropical Malaysia has many jungle treasures and many locals believe that these natural treasures are watched over by spirits. One of the most precious treasures of Malaysian rainforest is the agarwood or in Malay, ‘gaharu’.
My friend, Uncle Sam has a piece of virgin jungle land near Bukit Mertajam and inside his land; there are a few natural grown agarwood trees. For the people in the agarwood industry, an agarwood plant can only be productive after 10 years at least; and an old agarwood tree can live to over 100 years old. So, natural agarwood trees are very rare and expensive. Knowing this fact, Uncle Sam built a small house in the jungle to guard over his treasures.
I frequently visit Uncle Sam’s jungle house to meditate while Uncle Sam minds his own business. Somewhere during an afternoon in early 2015, while Uncle Sam and I were chatting in his house, we heard a loud bang as if an agarwood tree had fallen struck by lightning. But when we rushed to the source of the sound; nothing was found.
Uncle Sam told me afterwards that it was the working of ‘hantu gaharu’ or the watcher of the agarwood tree. Due to the value of the agarwood raisin, some local villagers would resort to sneak into Uncle Sam’s property to chop down the agarwood tree to seek these agarwood resins. But since these people did not asked the permission of the agarwood spirit by making offerings to the tree watcher, the spirit produced loud noise to warn these unscrupulous folks.
It is also after the fact that Uncle Sam has built a Datuk’s shrine under a huge agarwood tree for the hantu gaharu to stay in, the spirit is happy enough to warn Uncle Sam on upcoming intrusions. A Malay bomoh (witchdoctor) once told Uncle Sam that felt that as if he is watched by a pair of invisible eyes every time he walks passes the Datuk’s shrine. The bomoh also claimed that Uncle Sam’s house has many invisible beings and they caused him to feel unease.
At times, when I was meditating in the house, I heard Uncle Sam calls my name. But when I went to investigate, there was no one in the house. I have also heard sounds of people walking in boots around the house and whispers near my ears when I was alone in the house.
The most inexplicable incident happens during 3am in the witching hour. Uncle Sam left the house to me and went down the hill. I was lying on the floor half slept and I was facing the house main door. To be frank, it was quite difficult to sleep in the jungle with all sort of insect symphonies. Suddenly, the main door opened with a loud bang. A silhouette of a creature entered into the house and seems to search for something. I thought it was Uncle Sam returned from his field trip. So I turned on my torchlight and shine at the shadow. Almost instantly, the shadowy figure was gone but the door remained open. Perhaps I didn’t lock the door properly and the mountain wind can be strong at times.
I told Uncle Sam the incident but he said it was the doing of the agarwood watcher. Incidentally, in old days if anyone who wants to harvest agarwood must first recite the below mantra to chase away the watcher:
“Hei, nenek datuk mamabang gaharu,
Kalau jahu tolong katakana,
Oh Datuk Betala Bumi,
Jin tanah, jembalang tanah,
Berhala besi anak Ruwani,
Si bujant Ruwani,
Si Bujang Bandan,
Aku minta tunjukkan,
Kalau tidak kau tunjukkan,
Kau derhaka kepada Allah,
Sir Allah Sir mangga tangan,
Dat Allah hatiku,
Sipat Allah matakau,
Pergi kau jeput kumbang jantan,
Dalam hati jantung kau.”
Of course, no one recites this mantra any more now days. So, let’s just keep it as a cultural heritage.