He was a loyal advisor of Duryudana, a prominent figure is Hastinapura. Until his death in Baratayuda, he remained loyal to his masters who had given him a honorable court position and abundant material wealth. Sometimes he had a different opinion with Duryudana but in order to be able to keep his facilities, he had to bow to Duryudana’s instruction.
In the pedalangan (wayang performance) he was named Pendita Durna, because he was a Pandito/saint, Resi, Begawan. As an ex-student of Rama Bergawa, Pendita Durna was also an expert of martial art and war strategy. Together with Patih Sengkuni, they were smart negotiators of Hastinapura. (See. Mahabarata and Baratayuda)
Bambang Kumbayana, his name as a youth, was the son of Resi Bharadwaja, a prominent Resi/priest from Atasangin. Kumbayana declined to marry a girl as arranged by his father. The girl was also a daughter of a Begawan/Resi.
He said that he wished to marry a goddess. His father was very angry and he was expelled from home. Kumbayana went to Pancala Kingdom, he heard that his friend Sucitra became the king of Pancala with new name Prabu Drupada. To reach Pancala, he had to cross an ocean. How could he cross it? In despair he murmered: " some one who help me to cross the ocean, if a female, should be my wife, if a male should be my brother". A female flying horse descended from the sky. She agreed to cross him to the other site of the ocean. Kumbayana was shocked to see a female horse. He admitted his mistake, he just said a female not a female human-being.
It was probably a destiny, what could he do. On the back of the horse, he was crossing the ocean. Kumbayana was attracted by the horse. In the sky they made love. They arrived in the other site of the ocean, in the territory of Pancala. All of a sudden, the horse gave birth to a boy, a normal human-being with foot of a horse.
Kumbayana named his son Aswatama. He wanted to continue his journey to Pancala but the horse wished to follow him. He expelled the horse rudely, saying did not want to see her anymore. The horse changed her form as a beautiful woman, she was a goddess, Dewi Wilutama.
She said cooly that it was a destiny that they had to be separated. Kumbayana begged her to live with him. She only replied "take care" and she vanished. Kumbayana, holding his baby, walked to the palace of Pancala. Entering the palace, he was feeling free the search his friend who was the king of Pancala. He shouted by calling his child name: ‘Sucitra, Sucitra’. Gandamana, the powerful big prime minister was upset to see an unpolite peasant in the palace. Kumbayana was beaten black and blue. His nose and right hand were fractured. He had lost his handsome face. Luckily, the king saw the incident.
He stopped the beating right away. Gandamana was punished due to his reckless action. Kumbayana was given a piece of land, known as the padepokan/retreat of Sokalima. Kumbayana changed his name to Durna. The stories of Durna in wayang performance among other were:
He failed to marry Srikandi
He failed to marry Rukmini. She was ‘stolen’ by Narayana (Kresna) before the wedding.
Palgunadi was a better archer that Arjuna (Palguna). Durna trickily killed Palgunadi. Palgunadi revenged in Baratayuda, he transformed into Drestajumena. Durna was killed by Drestajumena (See. The Kingdom of Pancala; Palguna-Palgunadi)
He had a dirty idea to eliminate Semar before Baratayuda. He believed that without Semar, Pandawa could be defeated easily.
Durna advised Bima to seek the holy water Perwitasari for purification. After a long battle with various obstacles, Bima met Dewa Ruci, his true Guru (Guru sejati). (see. Figures in Wayang, Bima)
Suryo S. Negoro