According to Javanese mythology, Batara Guru is the god who rules the Triloka (Three Worlds). He is the embodiment of the god Shiva - in Hindu pantheon - which regulates revelations, gifts, and various sciences to the other gods. Batara Guru has Batari Uma as his sakti (primary wife), he has several children, and his wahana (vehicle animal) is a cow named Nandini.
His Appearance in Wayang
In wayang, Batara Guru is the only shadow puppet depicted with the position facing forward, toward humans. This can be seen from the position of his feet while the upper part of his body - in conform with conventional wayang style - was turned to the side.
Batara Guru lives in the part of khayangan (heaven) called Khayangan Jonggringsaloka.When Batara Guru was first came into existence whe was named Manikmaya. He is a triplet and they were created from a heavenly egg by Sang Hyang Tunggal. When this egg was hatched, it was separated into three parts and each part transformed into separate beings. The shell became Batara Antaga, which later will be known as Togog, as the oldest of the triplet; the white part of the egg became Batara Ismaya, which later will be known as Semar, as the middle of the triplet; and the yolk became Batara Manikmaya, which later will be known as Batara Guru, as the youngest of the triplet. Another myth said that Batara Guru/Manikmaya was created from the glittering and shining light by Sang Hyang Tunggal, along with blackish dark colored light from which Batara Ismaya/Semar was formed.
How He Became the King of the Gods
On day Batara Antaga and Batara Ismaya quarrelled about which one of them is the oldest, and therefore the most deserving to rule Khayangan, Sang Hyang Tunggal saw that by coveting the throne of heaven the two older gods were showing ungodly qualities and to make matters worse, their quarelling also caused great catatrophy on the world, so Sang Hyang Tunggal punished them by sending them to the mortal world to help the mortal humans, and eventually assisting the Pandawas (the five demigods in Mahabarata epic saga). Because his two brothers were sent down to the mortal world, Batara Manikmaya was chosen by default to rule khayangan, and he in turn took the regnal name of Batara Guru.
Unfortunately, Batara Guru himself was not flawless. When he became the king of the gods, he felt that he was the ultimate being, the most perfect, and with no defects. When Sang Hyang Tunggal found out about how Batara Guru felt about himself, Sang Hyang Tunggal said - and inadvertently cursed - that Batara Guru will have physical defects in the form of weak legs, striped neck, fanged teeth, and four arms. Batara Guru felt overwhelming regret when he heard his father's words, but he couldn't do anything and so his father's words eventually came to reality:
- One time Batara Guru felt very thirsty. He found a lake and he drank some water from it, not knowing that the lake water was poisonous. When he tasted that there was poison in the water, he then threw the water out from his mouth but since a small amount of the water was already swallowed by him, it made stripes to appear on his neck.
- When he saw the birth of a baby (some says the birth of the Prophet Isa - Jesus Christ) he noticed that a man's leg is useless and weak when they were still a baby, and suddenly his legs became as weak as a the baby's legs.
- When he had a quarrel with his wife - Batari Uma - they both were so angry at each other that they said things that shouldn't have been said. Batara Guru said that Batara Uma was ugly, like a giant, words which instantly changed Batari Uma's appearance from a beautiful goddess into a giant (this is the reason why she changed her name into Batari Durga), while she said that Batara Guru will have fanged teeth, words that also instantly came into reality and since that moment Batara Guru has fanged teeth.
- When Batara Guru saw a human praying while wearing a shirt covering his body but without putting his hands inside the shirt's sleeves, Batara Guru laughed bacause he that the human had four arms. This suddenly made another set of two arms to appear on Batara Guru's body, and so since that moment Batara Guru had four arms.
This is one effort to de-Hinduization puppet of Javanese culture that made Walisongo in an attempt to use puppets as a means of spreading Islam in Java. Another example is the mention of Drona to be Durna (insult), the story of Yudhishthira should mention the phrase shahada before entering heaven, and others.