Devotion Based on the Sincerity of Abdi Dalem Keraton Yogyakarta

The Yogyakarta Palace, as the center of Javanese culture and tradition, is unique in various aspects of life, including in terms of service. One of the important elements that maintain the continuity of tradition and culture in the Yogyakarta Palace is the Abdi Dalem. Abdi Dalem are individuals who devote themselves voluntarily to serve the palace (the king and his family) and obey all the rules in the palace environment selflessly and with full sincerity. However, Abdi Dalem is not an arbitrary person, they have an important role in maintaining the continuity of the palace. In general, Abdi Dalem in the Yoyakarta palace is divided into two parts, namely Abdi Dalem Punakawan and Abdi Dalem Kaprajan. Abdi Dalem Punokawan is Abdi Dalem who comes from the general public, while Abdi Dalem Kaprajan is Abdi Dalem who comes from POLRI, TNI, PNS (Civil Servants). In general, Abdi Dalem Keprajan are people who have retired and then devote their time, knowledge and energy to help the palace voluntarily.

In the midst of the glittering era of modernization, Abdi Dalem of the Yogyakarta Palace remains steadfast in maintaining noble traditions. They are not only the guardians of historical heritage, but also active actors in translating their sincerity into concrete actions for the advancement of society and cultural sustainability. As an integral part of the Yogyakarta Palace, Abdi Dalem not only functions as the guardians of tradition and the custodian of the palace, but also as the spearhead in realizing the values of life based on Javanese philosophy, such as mutual cooperation, simplicity, and honesty and preserving the culture and noble values passed down from generation to generation. Their devotion is not merely out of obligation, but furthermore, it is a tangible manifestation of loyalty and love for the Sultan who has become an inseparable part of Yogyakarta’s history. Their devotion based on sincerity makes them irreplaceable cultural guardians. The sincerity of the Abdi Dalem is not just an attitude, but has become an integral part of their identity and existence in the palace. Through their sincere devotion, Abdi Dalem make a huge contribution in preserving the tradition and culture of the Yogyakarta Palace. They live their lives with discipline and dedication, putting the interests of the palace above their own. This shows that noble values such as loyalty, honesty, and sacrifice are still highly upheld and become a strong foundation in the life of the palace.

The relationship between the Abdi Dalem of the Yogyakarta Palace and the Sultan is not just a conventional relationship between ruler and vassal. It is based on trust, respect and deep emotional attachment. In contrast to power relations in many places, where hierarchy and formality dominate, the relationship between Abdi Dalem and the Sultan of Yogyakarta is emphasized by close proximity and interdependence. Abdi Dalem are not only involved in protocol or administrative tasks, but also in all aspects of palace life, including matters of state, ceremonies and the arts. Their involvement is not only an obligation, but also based on a deep sense of responsibility stemming from an emotional attachment to the continuity and glory of the palace.

The Sultan of Yogyakarta, as the apex of the power structure and cultural heritage, plays a major role in maintaining this relationship. He not only acts as a leader, but also as a listener who values the opinions and input of the Abdi Dalem. This openness reinforces mutually reinforcing emotional attachments, making the Sultan not only an authoritarian figure, but also a respected figure as a spiritual father figure and wise leader. The high emotional attachment between Abdi Dalem and the Sultan of Yogyakarta is reflected in their every step in serving the palace. The trust the Sultan places in Abdi Dalem not only as protectors of tradition, but also as advisors and friends in important decisions, reflects a relationship based on genuine understanding and support.

In this context, Abdi Dalem’s service is not merely a duty, but an inner calling reinforced by a deep love and loyalty to the institution of the palace and Javanese culture as a whole. This emotional connection not only maintains stability in the palace, but also exemplifies high human values in service to others and the preservation of a rich cultural heritage.

Abdi Dalem in the Yogyakarta Palace has a very important role and function in maintaining and preserving Javanese tradition and culture. Their duties are not only limited to ceremonial and domestic aspects, but also cover various fields such as art, culture, spirituality, and palace administration. Abdi Dalem is divided into 2 groups, namely:

  1. Abdi Dalem Punokawan, this group comes from the general public who join the palace out of love for Javanese culture and tradition. They carry out various tasks such as preparing for traditional ceremonies, keeping the palace clean, and supporting the implementation of cultural and artistic activities.
  2. Abdi Dalem Kaprajan, This group consists of retired civil servants, police officers, and soldiers who have experience and expertise in administration and management. They are tasked with assisting in the management of the palace administration, planning activities, and maintaining security and order in the palace environment.

The devotion started by Abdi Dalem with the foundation of sincerity is one of the characteristics and emotional symbols that are still maintained from ancient times. Sincerity is the main value that forms the basis of Abdi Dalem’s devotion. They devote themselves without expecting material rewards. We can see this from the salary they get. Their salaries are not much compared to their duties and functions, because what they are looking for is not about material things, but solely because of their love and sense of responsibility for the preservation of the culture and traditions of the palace. The sincerity in devotion is not without reason. Here are some aspects of Abdi Dalem’s sincerity that are reflected in their daily lives:

  • Loyalty to the palace

Abdi Dalem show great loyalty to the palace and its sultan. They are willing to sacrifice their time, energy and even their personal lives to carry out their duties and responsibilities. This loyalty is not just a form of loyalty, but also a form of love and respect for the palace as a symbol of their culture and identity. They are obedient to the rules set by the palace, following all instructions with discipline and full of responsibility, they will ensure that the activities run smoothly and in accordance with the customs that have been inherited.

  • Selfless devotion

One of the characteristics of Abdi Dalem’s devotion is their sincerity in carrying out their duties without expecting material rewards. They realize that their

duties are part of their sacred devotion to the palace and tradition. Although their duties are often difficult and require a lot of sacrifice, they do so with sincerity. This reflects a spirit of sincere devotion, without seeking personal recognition or reward. This concept has a deep meaning in Javanese culture, where devotion is seen as an inner calling that is carried out on the basis of deep loyalty, love and responsibility towards the palace and society. This selfless devotion shows not only a strong commitment to duty and responsibility, but also a moral commitment to make a positive contribution to the common good. They live their lives with dedication and sacrifice, without seeking recognition or material rewards. This spirit strengthens their integrity as pillars of the palace and Yogyakarta society as a whole.

  • Self-sacrifice

Abdi Dalem often have to sacrifice personal interests in order to carry out their duties. They may have to leave their families, jobs or other personal lives to live in the palace and carry out their assigned duties. Such sacrifices are made with the full realization that they contribute to the continuity of the palace’s traditions and culture. Abdi Dalem often have to sacrifice their time and energy to serve the palace. They do not hesitate to work hard, both day and night, for the continuity and preservation of the palace’s traditions.

  • Sincerity in practicing customs

Abdi Dalem’s sincerity in practicing adat shows a deep and solid commitment to Javanese traditions and cultural values. They do not simply carry out customs as an obligation, but as a form of deep loyalty to the palace and their ancestral heritage. In every action and task they take on, Abdi Dalem always try to carry it out wholeheartedly in accordance with existing norms and customs. They realize that every detail has a significant meaning, and therefore, their sincerity and sincerity are the main keys in carrying out these tasks. Their sincerity is reflected in every step they take in the preparation, organization and execution of the ceremony. They value and maintain the local wisdom values contained in adat, and they strive to ensure that its moral and ethical messages are preserved and respected by future generations. By upholding the sincerity with which adat is practiced, Abdi Dalem not only

safeguard the continuity of culture and tradition, but also strengthen their role as guardians and defenders of the values that have been passed down through the generations. This solidifies their position as a central pillar in the life of the Yogyakarta palace, and demonstrates their commitment to preserving the rich cultural heritage that is valuable to Javanese society as a whole.

  • Awareness and Humility

Despite their important role, Abdi Dalem always display a humble and modest demeanor. They do not seek praise or accolades, but rather carry out their duties with full awareness of their moral and spiritual responsibilities.

The noble service performed by Abdi Dalem has a huge impact on the preservation of culture in Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Sultanate. One of them is the preservation of customary traditions, where through ceremonies and traditional activities that are carried out regularly, Javanese traditions and culture can continue to be preserved and passed on to the next generation. Abdi Dalem acts as the guardian and executor of the tradition, who ensures that each ceremony runs well and in accordance with the applicable rules.

Then the development of arts and culture, Abdi Dalem also contributes to the development of palace arts and culture, such as dance, music, and fine arts. They are involved in training and performing traditional arts, which not only preserve but also develop Javanese cultural arts to remain relevant and in demand by modern society.

In addition to preserving and maintaining the culture in Ngayogyakarta Sultanate, the Abdi Dalem also foster the young generation through various programs and activities. They teach noble values, ethics, and manners that are an integral part of Javanese culture, so that the younger generation can understand and appreciate their cultural heritage.

The devotion of an Abdi Dalem based on sincerity is the main pillar that maintains the preservation of Javanese culture and tradition. Through their dedicated roles and functions, noble values such as sincerity, obedience, sacrifice and humility are kept alive and passed on to the next generation. In my opinion, Abdi Dalem’s dedication is not just the performance of routine tasks, but an inner calling accompanied by sincerity, loyalty and deep responsibility to the palace and Javanese cultural values. They carry out every task with high dedication, prioritizing sincerity in maintaining and preserving traditions and customs that have deep meaning. Their selfless devotion reflects their strong integrity and moral commitment to maintaining the continuity of local culture and identity. In addition to maintaining the formal aspects of palace life, Abdi Dalem are also actively involved in efforts to preserve the values of local wisdom that have been passed down from generation to generation. By paying attention to their participation in the preservation of the palace, we can see how their devotion not only plays a role in preserving history, but also as an example of high human values in Javanese society. Through their sincerity and sacrifice, Abdi Dalem Keraton Yogyakarta not only strengthens their position as important custodians of cultural heritage, but also inspires future generations to appreciate and preserve the values that make up our cultural identity.


Writer: Fithriatus Shalihah (Faculty Of Law Ahmad Dahlan University)