I6.1. Datuk of Malaysia
© Dr. Eng. Jan Pająk

I6.1. Datuk of Malaysia

The most perfect phenomena, which in my opinion in the best manner possible illustrates the mechanism with the use of which supernatural powers are formed and released, is the worship of so called "Datuk", which until today is commonly practised in Malaysia. This worship is so extraordinary and so educational, that in my opinion for people interested in this subject, by itself it is a sufficient reason to visit Malaysia. Because it is so clear in illustrating what is the mechanism of supernatural powers' formation, I am going to describe it briefly in this subsection. The descriptions that I am providing here, can be supplemented with someone's own observations - if this someone visits Malaysia.
The very beginnings of the worship of Datuk are hidden in old times, when to the areas where presently Malaysia is located, the present "mono-deistic" religions did not arrive yet (means Islam nor Christianity did not arrive yet). In these old times, for local inhabitants of Malaysia the tropical jungle was full of evil spirits and supernatural beings, which only waited to doom someone. Thus, in order to somehow please these hostile powers, local people used to give them offerings and ask them for various favours. But because they had no temples then, their offerings they placed under a selected by them, nearby tree, which usually was distinguishable by something nontypical. They also prayed to this tree. With the elapse of time, their prayers and feelings that they put into them, gave to this tree such supernatural powers, that the free actually was capable of doing supernatural things, and also capable of fulfilling their requests. This very special tree, to which local people were praying, was called then "Datuk". The word "Datuk" in the language of Malays have several meanings. For example it means "grandfather", but also means someone who deserves a special respect - someone being a local equivalent to a knight or a prince in Europe.
Later Chinese arrived to Malaysia. They quickly adopted local worship of Datuk, as it proved to be very practical and providing noticeable results. There were Chinese who added these red mini-temples in front of Datuk trees. Also Chinese with the elapse of time developed their own version of the Datuk, calling it the "Dato Kong". This version in worshipped until today. So now there are two kinds of Datuk in Malaysia, namely Malay one and Chinese one.
For the outsider they look almost the same, although those who know local believes may recognise them from their heads - Malay Datuk wears a characteristic Malay head named "songkok", which is a traditional head dress for Malays. But both versions of Datuk hold the same type of supernatural powers.
At some stage new "mono-deistic" religions arrived also to Malaysia. Their official teachings forbidden to pay respect to these pagan "Datuk". But practical Malaysians soon noticed, that new religions have political powers, but when comes to receiving everyday favours from hostile elements, local "Datuk" are much more effective from these newly arriving overseas gods. Thus locals were accepting officially these new religions, but quietly in everyday matters they were turning to their "Datuk". This situation has lasted until today, means until 2003. If one travels across Malaysia, in completely unexpected and "wild" places he/she may see small, red, miniature temples that stand under trees (means usually a tree stands either behind back walls of these miniature temples, or next to them). These red miniature temples, usually size of a doll house, are structures in which offerings for "Datuk" are placed. In turn "Datuk" themselves usually are trees that stands behind such miniature temples (in special circumstances of the lack of space, a tree "Datuk" may stand at a side wall of such a mini-temple). These miniature temples are very small, in most cased not larger than a typical house for an European dog - after all they are only to prevent offerings for Datuk from being subjected to rain or wind. But the Datuk is the tree, not these temples, or whatever is inside of them. Only in very special circumstances, when a given Datuk is very powerful and worshipped for a long time, these temples may reach the size of a typical European wayside chapel. They always are red in colour. If someone looks inside, usually there is nothing interesting in them. Just a few fruits or some other food intended for offering to this Datuk, and one or two stones looking quite ordinarily. Sometimes can reside in them a blackened from smoke, weather, and age, and covered with dust, figurine of a human-like Datuk. This figurine tries to recreate the appearance of the Datuk from a given tree, as any local managed to observe and to describe him.
In spite of the humble appearance, trees Datuk have a tremendous supernatural power. This power is the greater, the more people pray to a given tree. (The mechanism of giving this power to a tree is explained in subsections JA2.4 and JE3.) Actually noting may happen in the area controlled by such a Datuk, without his approval and agreement. Local people consult their Datuk practically in every matter. Especially if a new building is to be constructed, or an old building is to be removed, or a tree is to be cut down, etc. In Malaysia there are hundreds descriptions of real events, when even large construction sites needed to be suspended or even relocated, because builders failed to assure the benevolence of the local Datuk. Some of these stories are repeated in subsections JA2.4 and I5.4. When this local Datuk is not benevolent, on the construction site practically everything is going wrong. People are falling ill and are plagued by accidents, machines keep breaking down, finished structures of buildings collapse, etc. Even in the very centre of Kuala Lumpur, in the largest local shopping complex called the "Megamall", on the premises of this building there is a small (Indian) temple which needed to be left standing because of such action of the local Datuk. Builders of this Megamall tried to shift the temple, in order to make the room for the construction of the building, but the Datuk refused to agree. Everything started to fall and disintegrate, machines refused to work, while the company which was building the Megamall almost bankrupted. Thus, in order to regain favours of this Datuk, builders promised to upgrade the existing temple and to leave it in its old place. Problems immediately ceased to appear. Today this small (Indian) temple can be seen inside of the Megamall premises, in the area where it stood from the very beginning.
Datuk is an extraordinary phenomenon. It illustrates the manner in which the human prayers to a specific object, such as a Datuk tree, a totem pole, a holly figurine, a holly picture, a relic, etc., gives supernatural powers to that object. A given object of prayers utilises later this power acquired from human prayers, to implement some of wishes of people who pray to it. This in turn brings more people praying to it, as the object proves to them that actually has supernatural powers, in turn this praying generates more power, etc., etc.

=> I7.
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