Subud and the Javanese Mystical Tradition

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Subud is one of hundreds mystical movements (aliran kebatinan) that increased significantly in post-war Indonesia. Along with other movements like Sumarah and Pangestu, Subud has attracted people from the West and is now spread in about eighty countries. Despite the fact that Subud leaders deny any relation to the Javanese mystical tradition, it is one of the tasks of this study to show that the greater part of Subud’s conceptual apparatus is firmly rooted in the cultural history of Java. Under the banner of change and renewal Subud presents a message which, fundamentally, is one of continuity in a society in transition.

In the first part, the author presents an overall picture of the history of Javanese mysticism, particularly the concept of God, the view of man, and the techniques recommended in order to gap the bridge between God and man. In the second part the rise of mystical movements in post-war Java is discussed, along with a presentation of three movements which attracted the West. The following chapters deal with the biography of the founder of Subud, the basic concepts of Subud, and the meaning of the Subud spiritual exercise (latihan kejiwaan). The final part contains an analysis of Subud theory and practice and its relation to the Javanese mystical tradition, as well as a psychological interpretation of the spiritual exercise.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


  • mystical movements, Indonesia, javanese, subud
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCurzon Press
Number of pages262
ISBN (Print)0-7007-0623-2
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)