Njoman Djelada: Gora Sirikan 1906-1970 (Dijkman 2011)

A talented and devoted writer on Balinese history

picture: the only photograph known of the historian Djelada. Courtesy of nephews I Nyoman Purnama, I Made Purnawan & Djelada's grandson I Nyoman Gede Indrayana.

Life story

Njoman Djelada was born in the year 1906, according to his two nephews I Made Purnawan and I Nyoman Purnama. He was he eldest of four siblings: I Ketut Djeladi (not his twin brother), I Wayan Parwata and I Made Rai Parswa (born 1921). Both Djeladi and Rai Parswa proved gifted writers and historians.

Djelada, who used the pseudonym Gora Sirikan, or sometimes written as Goro Sirikan, married Ni Made Manis, but they never had any children (Balinese 'putung'). Since it is important for Balinese to produce a male heir to the family, Djelada adopted the eldest son to his younger brother Rai Parswa, I Gede Purwa. I Made Rai Parswa, who was to inherit the bulk of Djelada's writings, had another eleven children, amongst whom Purnawan and Purnama.

Djelada was born at the beginning of Dutch colonial rule in Bali. Djelada became a clerk for the Dutch administration in Lombok when he was about twenty years of age, after which he moved back to Bali, and settled in Singaraja, also as a clerk to colonial rule. He then was appointed as Patih to the last Rajah of Gianyar, Anak Agung Gede Agung Anom Putra, also called the Agung Regent.

Djelada is remembered by his nephews as a hard working man, not overtly social and talkative, but a thinker. Ida Bagus Sidemen, himself a writer and historian, knew Gora Sirikan well, and remembers him as a charismatic, brilliant and gifted thinker, full of ideas and always indoors at his typewriter. Djelada did not only have a talent for writing, constructive notions on Balinese history and letters, but also knew discipline and as far as him family can recall, they hardly saw him outside his study, in downtown Gianyar.

Gaguritan Dukuh Suladri

There are two of his books which have attracted the attention of a worldwide (academic) audience. One of them is Kidung Pamancangah, published first by Pustaka Balimas in (Denpasar-Bali) in 1957, and in 2000 a reprint by Pusat Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan Nasional. The second is Gaguritan Dukuh Suladri, published in various episodes from 1957. C. Hooykaas, in his article Books made in Bali (Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 119 (1963), no: 4, Leiden, 371-386), states that this version of the Dukuh Suladri "differs not only in its plot from the one mentioned (...), but it inserts also numerous wise lessons and teachings which the author, knowing Indonesian and probably Dutch, collected in the course of his reading". Indeed, Djelada was fluent in Dutch. The author verified this at his home in Gianyar city (December 2009), where it became evident that in the library, amidst stacks of forgotten, dusty books which lay there mouldering away, eaten by termites, ants and what have you, there were a number of writings and collections of notes taken from Dutch writers as C.C.Berg's De middeljavaansche historische traditie (1927), all in Dutch. Most of the volumes (1-10?) have been privately published by the author, under the name 'Penerbit Njoman Djelada, Gianjar' in 1957. Apart from these (partly) published works, there is a book called Bali, dari Zaman ke Zaman, which has also found its way to the world in various different forms, to be found on the internet.

Sedjarah Bali

Djelada was a prolific writer on Balinese history, lontars, babads, and a variety of other subjects ranging from football to world history. His most famous, unpublished work must be 'Sedjarah Bali', which he wrote in three volumes, each of around 230 pages. Henk Schulte Nordholt, in his article Origin, Descent, and Destruction: text and Context in Balinese Representations ofd the Past (1991) refers to Sedjarah Bali briefly: "Under the pseudonym Gora Sirikan he compiled in the late 1950s or early 1960s the first Sejarah Bali (unpubl., 3 vols.) in the Indonesian language". Djelada finished his first volume (from Prehistory to Gelgel at the time of King Di Madhe) in 1956, the second volume (from the downfall of Gelgel to smaller Balinese kingdoms) was finished in 1965, and the third volume (from 1800 in to Dutch colonial rule) was also finished in 1965. There is doubt on the authenticity of these dates, as volumes two and three consulted by the author seem to be reprints made by I Made Dangin. In spite of the fact that it has never officially been published, there are many copies around in Bali and elsewhere, as a quick look online will show. Especially Djelada's version of the Markandeya's story in connection with the Bali Aga is cited various times on the internet.

His nephews remember that he was writing the last two parts of the Gaguritan Dukuh Suladri. He passed away before the two remaining volumes could be published, at an approximate age of 63 in August 1970 and was cremated three months later.


• Kidung Pamancangah, Pustaka Balimas, Denpasar-Bali, 1957; Pusat Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan Nasional, 2000 (ISBN 9796851229 / 9789796851225 / 979-685-122-9)
• Gaguritan Dukuh Suladri, (various episodes), 1957
• Bali, dari Zaman ke Zaman, unpublished?
• Sedjarah Bali, three volumes, unpublished 1956/65


It is to Gora Sirikan that I dedicate my articles on Nusa Penida: a hard working writer and historian and a charismatic personality, whose talents were not fully appreciated during his lifetime. The author greatly enjoys his Sedjarah Bali and thinks it deserves the attention of an international publishing house.

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