Panji’s Quest is a love story set before the reign of King Kameswara of Kadiri (r. 1135–1185). It is a part of the only original Indonesian stories that have been widely disseminated for centuries and were later combined into the Panji Tales. On October 30, 2017, UNESCO included The Tale of Panji in their “Memory of the World” documentary series.
In Panji’s Quest Panji, crown prince of the kingdom of Janggala and Sekartaji, crown princess of the kingdom of Kadiri, have been engaged since they were youngsters. However, the wedding does not proceed as planned by their parents. One month before the wedding ceremony Panji falls in love with Angreni, the daughter of the prime minister of Janggala.
Panji and Angreni marry. Panji decides he wants only one wife and refuses to marry Sekartaji.
Panji’s father becomes enraged when he hears that Panji has canceled his marriage with Sekartaji. As the king of Janggala, Panji’s father had planned to reunite the kingdoms of Janggala and Kadiri through this marriage.
Faced with the dilemma that Panji’s refusal to marry Sekartaji might ignite a war between the two kingdoms, the Janggala king orders the murder of Angreni and sends Panji to visit his aunt.
When Panji returns from his visit and finds that his wife has been kidnapped, he immediately starts to search for his wife.
When Panji finds his wife’s dead body on a remote beach buried under angsana flowers, his pain is so deep that he goes crazy. He puts his wife’s body on a ship and, with his shipmates, heads out to sea. A storm hits their ship, stranding Panji and his shipmates on a beach at the far eastern end of the island of Java.
With great difficulty, Panji’s shipmates finally persuade him to bury his wife. To help Panji overcome his grief, they suggest to Panji to become a warrior. They advise him to disguise himself. Panji changes his name to Kelana Jayengsari and becomes a well-known warlord.
Word of his fame reaches the ears of Sekartaji’s father, the king of Kadiri who is under the threat of an imminent invasion by King Metaun’s army. King Metaun was scorned because Sekartaji had rejected his proposal of marriage.
When the invasion of Kadiri occurs, Kelana Jayengsari, with his comrades, not only repel the invaders but also kill King Metaun. As his reward, Kelana Jayengsari is given Sekartaji to marry.
The news of Kelana Jayengsari and Sekartaji’s betrothal infuriates the king and lords of Janggala. In their minds, Sekartaji was still engaged to their missing crown prince. Janggala decides to attack Kadiri. But when Janggala’s army arrives at Kadiri’s borders, Kelana Jayengsari meets the generals of Janggala. It becomes immediately clear that Kelana Jayengsari is Panji.
The story ends with the wedding of Panji and Sekartaji. In 1185 CE Panji is crowned king of Kadiri. He rules over the united kingdoms of Kadiri and Janggala and becomes known as King Kameswara.