Monday, January 18, 2016

GUNUNG LEDANG - PRINCESS OF MT. OPHIR


A Malaysian Legend
Legend says that Centuries ago, in a dense forest, high up the mountain in Johore, there lived a maiden. She was the most beautiful woman, anyone had ever seen. No word in any vocabulary, could describe the beauty of this mysterious being.

Far across the ocean, tales of her long flowing hair, flawless complexion, tall slender body, sweet humming lullabies echoing in the valleys, at sunrise and sunset, were conversation topics.

Men came in droves, and waited patiently to catch a glimpse of her. None could lay eyes
on  her, except only a few, who were of pure heart. No one knew who she really was, or where she came from. She was said to be a nymph - the guardian of this mystical forest, who lived high up the mountain. She was named Puteri Gunung Ledang - Princess of  Mount Ophir.

She needed no wealth. Her spiritual wealth was far greater than any material wealth anyone could give. Once a powerful ruler from Malacca sent his entourage, with gifts of gold, jewels, silks, brocades, to seek for her hand in marriage.  She appeared as an old woman, and intercepted them at the foot of the mountain. To make her his wife, the ruler needed to fulfil these 7 utterly impossible requests. 

* To build a golden bridge, and a silver bridge from Mt. Ophir to Malacca
* To deliver a container filled with tears from virgin maidens
* A container of juice squeezed from dried areca nuts
* Seven trays of the hearts of mites
* Seven trays of mosquito hearts
* A cup of the ruler’s blood
* A cup of his son’s blood

Surely, no man on earth could fulfill all these wishes. It was a humiliating rejection to his proposal. Today, many different versions of the tales of the legendary Princess are related in movies, plays and books. Below - my story.

Mystical mountains
Over decades, her presence could be felt everywhere around the mountain. Those who entered with good intent to be close to nature, benefited immensely. They returned as changed beings - mentally and spiritually evolved.  They were inspired with secrets of life, on how to live in harmony with nature. The knowledge was brought down for the purpose of good.

Today, the tradition continues. Aside from Gunung Ledang, other mystical mountains in Malaysia, are sanctuaries for seekers in search of spiritual enhancement, and peace. They come to meditate at different corners of the mountains. Many claim to have benefited physically and mentally.

Strange phenomenon
For decades, visitors to Gunung Ledang vouched that many strange phenomenon did occur, when they were on the mountain. It is an astute perception here, that when the laws of nature are deliberately abused, minor consequences can happen.

Hikers who were lost and separated, in Gunung Ledang, were later found in remote, and isolated parts of the jungle. Some suffered temporary amnesia. When discovered, they were disorientated, and confused.  Positively, many pleasant occurrences were also reported. Some hikers who were lost in the mountain, were mysteriously guided to safety.


Today, thousands across the world, continue to flock around the mountain.  Some left, feeling disappointed that the miracle they expected, did not occur. Non-believers say, that the stories were exaggerated to boost tourism.

Yet, despite scepticism, mystical Gunung Ledang continues to be a favourite destination for tourists, families, and adventure seekers, who desire to be close to Nature.  

Rituals and beliefs
Belief in the unseen, is an integral part of religion and culture. Unexplained phenomenon do occur even though the mind does not perceive.

It is a common belief in Eastern cultures, that when one enters holy places, jungles, or haunted places, respect should be given to the guardians/spiritual occupants of the place. Usually, a salutation is given, to indicate that one enters in peace.

One is expected to behave decently, and not to disturb, or vandalize the environment. When needed to answer the call of nature in isolated places, especially in remote jungles (where public facilities are unavailable), one should ask for permission, and pardon, beforehand, so as not to offend or violate any spiritual law.

Maiden trip to Gunung Ledang
I was fascinated by the place, since childhood.  Having heard many different versions of the tales of the Princess, I had my own impression of how I carved her out to be.  It was only in the 90s that I made my maiden trip to Gunung Ledang.

The drive from my home in Kuala Lumpur was long, and weary. Finally, from afar, Gunung Ledang came into view.  It stood majestically before my eyes, and I was proud to be born in this country, well-known for its beauty, and mysticism.

In anticipation that something miraculous would happen, I entered the jungle for the first time. Whilst taking the strides, consciously uttering my prayers and salutation.

Every second, my eyes observed little details of the surroundings, which I happily captured on video. I wondered when, and how those huge protruding rocks were elevated, high up on the ground above me. The pebbles in the river, the weird looking branches, the creeping plants, and gigantic roots, were amazingly unique. I was enthralled, and felt truly blessed to be close to Nature. I sat down on the wooden bench, at the tended part of the jungle, and in meditation, softly recited my prayers.

It was daytime. I wasn’t at all expecting anything magical to happen. I did not join the rest of my family, as I wanted to be alone. It was a weekday. The peace and quiet, flora and fauna, rippling water from the brook, were all soothing to the nerves, especially with no human voice around. When it began to drizzle, the jungle aroma that permeates the surroundings, was incredibly refreshing.

I decided to remain on the hard, uncomfortable bench, and waited for the rest to return. We spent an enjoyable day there, and returned in the evening. Even though, none of the anticipated phenomenon occurred, I felt physically and mentally rejuvenated, just being in the jungle, close to nature. To me, that was enough magic!

Thereon, several trips took place. Many guests from abroad, were occasionally entertained by our unique style of Malaysian hospitality. The first venue on the itinerary would be Gunung Ledang. Every visitor was intrigued by the experience of being in this amazing forest.

Strange phenomenon
This time, our guests were close friends from England. They had never been in a tropical forest, and were really excited to explore. We decided to stay overnight at the nearby chalets, so that they could spend more time hiking. I’ve never been up the mountain myself, merely contented just lingering around at the foot of the mountain. Therefore, I really don’t have any personal story to relate, except what happened to one of my guests, during our last trip to Gunung Ledang, in the year 2000.   

Like in many Eastern homes, mysticism is not strange in my family. I am extremely familiar with the pros and cons, when one tramples or invades certain forbidden territories, especially after sunset. There are consequences. Of course I did not relate any of the fables, or reported incidents, to my guests. I presumed that they would not believe.

To the skeptics, these strange stories are far-fetched. Today, producers of documentaries, and movies, are focusing more on topics of the supernatural, psychic phenomenon, etc. I see this as an awakening, that a 3rd eye is opening, when the minds begin to perceive, for many. The magic of life itself, is slowly unfolding!

Now back to my story. Dusk was approaching, and the place was getting darker. I politely encouraged everyone to shower so that we could proceed with an early dinner. Our friend’s son decided not to shower, but insisted on refreshing himself in the nearby river. To my apprehension, he immersed himself in the running water, and obviously enjoyed being alone. I quickly ushered everyone to be ready for dinner. He lingered on until his mother returned, and harshly told him to step out of the river, as everyone was hungry. He joined us much later, around 9 pm, and seemed refreshed

The next morning, everyone was at the restaurant for breakfast, except him. His mother returned to the chalet to check on him, and found him asleep, shivering. He complained of pain and blocked ears. accompanied by continuous rippling sounds in both ears, These were affecting his hearing. We rushed back to Kuala Lumpur, to see an ear specialist. He was given some medication even though the doctor confirmed that his ears, throat and lungs were clear.

After three days of not having any logical explanation to his problems, I reluctantly told the tales of Gunung Ledang. He then revealed that, not only his ears were affected, but each time he closed his eyes, it was as though he was continuously floating in water, and at times, drowning. This, he did not tell the doctor.

To my utter surprise, our guests actually believed in the strange phenomenon that happened in Gunung Ledang. The morning after, he was miraculously cured!

Prologue
Could this be pure coincidence? Was he in a wrong place at a wrong time, or was he disrespectful? Was it the admission of belief, that cured him? Could the experience be a magical gift to carry home? Yes strange, but very explainable, only if you believe!

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