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#919 - October 29, 2002 07:02 PM Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
I just returned from Bali a month ago, a week before the blasts. I was there for three weeks learning about their religion.

Balinese are Hindus and describe themselves as such, not as Agama buddha. They are well aware that their tradtition of Hinduism is different from those in India and elswhere. They are certainly not Vaishnavites, Shaktas or Smartas although they enjoy the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in arts and traditions. They can de described, by default, as a different sect of Saivites and we should redefine Hinduism and Saivism as having another sect, the Balinese Saivite Hindu sect; this being the seventh sect of Saivism.

The people greet each other saying, "Aum Swasti Astu" on meeting, and on leaving they greet" Aum Shanti, shanti, shanti"

Hinduism has been existent there since the 4th century, and by the 8th century, the biggest Hindu temple was being built in Besakih, on the slopes of a volcano. It is a Siva Temple as the Siva shrine is the largest one and in the deepest courtyard. Besakih was being built at the same time Angkor was built in Cambodia and Prambanan was built in Jogjakarta, and the Bujang Valley in Malaysia was already blooming. It was probably a time of the Golden Period of Hinduism in South East asia. I have been to all these temples. In case you are wondering, yes, they are bigger then Madurai, Chidambaram or Rameshwaram. Its a shame that nothing in India matches the Prambanan temple or Angkor Wat. But its Angkor Wat, as well as Angkor Thom that takes your breath away. Forget the pyramids, the taj mahal the great wall, the coliseum and the Maya temples.

Each village has three temples; one to Brahma at the entrance of the village, one to Vishnu in the centre of the village and one to Siva at the end of the village next to the crematorium. Each of these temples has shrines to the other gods; for instance the Brahma temple will have sub shrines for Vishnu and Siva. And there are shrines too for ancestors as well as for the supreme god. They call the supreme god, Ida Sang Hyiang Widi. They describe him as the supreme (my words, as parasiva or nirguna brahman or nirvana). When you ask who is Sang Hyiang Widi, invariably they reply Sang Hyiang Widi is Siva. Mysteriously they say, Siva is both the destroyer as well as the Supreme god. It is this that makes them saivites. On the back wall of the Sang Hyiang Widi shrine, the picture of the supreme god is that of a caricature of a male dancing god with a bull. This confirms their sect and religion.

Every home has a shrine on the outside corner of the courtyard and the people pray 3 times a day; morning noon and evening, with a simple offering of flowers, water, fruits, and biscuits. The prasadam is offered by gently swaying the flowers held in the fingertips over the prasada in the direction of the shrine, just like in our pujas. The worship, chant and prayer is mental and I did not think it appropriate to ask about this in detail. It would be too obtrusive. Every home, every shop, every supermarket, every hotel, govt depts, etc all pray 3 times a day and after prayers the offering basket made of coconut leaves shaped like a tray is placed in front of their home or shop, hotel at the entrance. Such a lovely sight. This alone beats its all.

In the temples they have mass worship/pujas every 2 weeks, following their own calendar. different temples have different worship days. For instance, on the Brahma worship days, the entire village goes to the Brahma temple, and so forth. Of course the most devout go to temple everday or any day. In temples, the peoples offerings is more elaborate and includes chicken or meat. All offerings are prepared in the homes and taken to the temples by the womenfolk on their head. These offerings are handed to the priests who place it in front of the shrine and chants some mantras. It could take 20 minutes.

The head priest is always a brahmin, but the assistant priests could be anyone including ladies. They have the 4 fold caste system and each caste has its own shrine in the major temples. The priests wear a white sarong like a veshti/dhoti and a white bandana headscarf.

Throughout the island there are major temples, a sort of pilgrimage site for all balinese. Its a must-go once a year for all. For instance, besakih temple is thronged by 3 million balinese once a year in a week long festival/holy day. For instance the farmers/sudras have their shrine in Besakih where all the farmers in the island will go and pray, apart from praying at the main shrine. Likewise, there is a shrine for metal workers, and there is a shrine for all, say, taxi drivers. Each occupational group has its own shrine in these major temples, and I guess there also serve as as a guild and trade association as usually once a year after prayers they gather for a meeting to trash out guild rules.

In all prayers, whether in the home shrine or in the temple attire is important. Sarongs for ladies, and sarongs, traditional shirt and a bandana headscarf for men. No entry into the temples without this attire. At the end of prayers, the priest places a pottu on the forehead of the devotees made of rice. And distributes flowers to be placed above both ears for all men and women. I was walking all over Bali for weeks with a red bandana and flowers on both ears.

The brahmin priests learn and chant in Sanskrit but the style is different. It is a dragged form of chanting, probabaly a 4th century version of sanskrit and chanting. For instance, they take about 30 seconds to sing/chant "Aum Namasiwaya". It is very slow and its dragged, much like Sangeetam singing or the singing of Tamil thevarams by temple oduvars. Its probably even more dragged than that. To chant a four line sutra, they probably take about 8 minutes. So much dragging that you cant make sense of it. Obviously several words are ancient sanskrit or pali and no longer in use by us today and this compounds the difficulty in understanding. Their sanskrit and old Balinese script looks like Pali, but I cannot confirm as I am not a linguist.

They cremate their dead next to the Siva temple in the village with days of prayers to Siva. Cremation is a mens only occasion. All the men wear black shirts, black sarongs and black bandanas. The corpse is place in a coffin shaped like a horse and burnt. Not much wood is used, only the wooden horse.

Balinese eat pork and meat. This appears to be a bulwark against Islam. Vegetarianism is unheard of except for the priests, and even then only on certain days. They have their own architecture for homes and temples and its unique and enchanting. Every home and govt building and police station looks like a temple. The temples are concrete based with wooden pagoda like structure; with 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 tiered. In classical Indian style, major pilgrimage temples are located on the mountains, on the foothills of mountains, by the rivers or on the seashore. Temples are decorated with guardian devas and angels at the 4 corners and entrances. These guardians look fierce with lion like heads, large bellies and carrying implements. They demand awe from the visitor to the temple.

There are no murthis ( icons or idols) in any shrine or temple. In the sanctum sanctorum or moolasthanam, it is empty. Nothing there. Offerings and are placed in front of the empty shrine. There is no worship of Ganesha, Muruga, Hanuman, Rama, Garuda, etc. In this respect it is different from Javanese Hinduism as there Ganesha is worshipped.

However, Saraswati is worshipped in all schools and her murthi(icon) can be found in all schools. All lessons in school begins with a prayer to Saraswati. A statue of ganesha can also be found in most schools but I do not know if he is worshipped or is recognised and revered as a guardian diety. Religion is taught in all schools. All radio and TV programs and all govt meetings, police roll calls all begin with Hindu prayers.

Balinese Hinduism is unique because it is the only sect in the world that worships Brahma. Brahma worship disappeared in India almost 1800 years ago. having being absorbed by Saivism and Vaishnavism. This is another indication that Balinese Hinduism is what mainstream Hinduism was in India 2000 years ago before the advent of devotional Saivism and vaishnavism and the acceptance of the itihasas as theology and before the reformation attempts by shankara. Could it be that Hinduism did not murthi worship at this stage?

There is little or no mediation in Balinese Hinduism. There is no monastic orders or sanyasins. There is only chariya and kriya; only karma yoga and bakti yoga. There are no mantra dikshas. But they have all the sacraments from birth to death, like name giving, first feeding, coming of age, etc.

Sukarno's mother was Balinese Hindu royalty. Megawati is part Hindu and she has her ancestral home in Bali. The Balinese speak their own language and its not Indonesian or Javanese. They are fiercely Balinese and fiercely Hindu. The Javanese are afraid of them. They also dont want to water down their religion or traditions in anyway so as to bring it closer to Indian Hinuism.

I have posted this article to Balinese friends of mine for confirmation, and if there are any changes, I will post the amendments.

Here are some sanskrit prayers chanted by brahmin priests in temples to their supreme god Ida Sang Hyiang Widi, and to Siva and to the other gods. Can someone confirm if this is indeed sanskrit or pali, and if all words are known to us?

Om aditysyaparam jyoti,
rakta teja namo'stute,
svetapankaja namo'stute,
bhaskaraya namo' stute,

Om nama deva adhisthanaya,
Sarva vyapi vai sivaya,
padmasana ekaprastisthaya,
Ardhaneresvaryai namo namah

Om anugraha manohara,
Deva devi mahasiddhi,
yajnanga nirmalatmaka,
laksmi siddhisca dirgayuh
nirwighna sukha viddhisca

ayur vrddhir yaso vrddhih,
vrddhih orajna sukha sriyam,
dharma santana vrddhih syat,
santu te sapta-vrddhayah.
Om yavan Merau sthito devah,
yavad Gangga mahitale,
candrarkau gagane yavat,
tavad va vijayi bhavet.
Om dirghayur astu tathastu,
Om avighnam astu tathastu,
Om subham astu tathastu,
Om sukham bhavatu,
Om purnam bhavatu,
Om sreyo bhavatu.
Sapta vrddhir astu.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited October 29, 2002).]

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited October 30, 2002).]

#920 - December 25, 2002 04:07 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
This article was originally poste by Wasu in Bharat Nirbhaya.

Aum Swasthiastu

Here are my Bali impresssions. I have divided into different
sections. Some of the information is already in previous posts.
I'm putting it all here to be complete. Most of this information
came from my guide.

"Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life" aptly describes
Balinese way of life. Hinduism here means the Balinese version of
it, syncretic hindu/native customs. I did not see any Buddhist
influences at all. When I asked my guide, he could not name one
Buddhist aspect/ritual that they follow.

Let's start with caste. The caste structure
(Kshatriya/Brahmin/Vysya/Sudra) is strictly followed in Bali. 90%
the population is Sudra. There are three aspects where the caste
gets reflected. The first one is the temples. Each caste/clan has
their own temple/temples although any body can go to any temple to
pray. More on temples in temples section. The second one is the
language. There are three levels of balinese language: High, Middle
and Low that corresponds to the castes. When addressing the Brahmin
priests, high balinese need to be used. Middle balinese is sort of
the compromise if you don't know the high or if you are not sure of
the other person's caste (which you realize is improbable after
reading the name part). The other way around is to use bahasa
Indonesia since it does not have all these issues. The third one is
the name. Balinese name has four parts: Gender, Caste, Sibling
number, Given name.
Gender: I (pronounced E) for Male and Ni for Female
Caste: Except for sudra, all the other three have caste in their name
Sibling number: Wayan, Made, Nyoman, Ketut for 1, 2, 3, 4
respectively. These are re-cycled for higher numbers
Examples: I Gusti Made Tusan is a second male Vysya kid (Gusti
denotes Vysya), Ni Wayan Sutama is the eldest daughter (No caste in
the name means sudra).

Gods/Temples: Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa is the supreme God, God of
all Gods. Although the supreme god is supposed to be formless,
genderless etc., a dancing male figure represents Sang Hyang. All
the other gods are manifestations of the Sang Hyang.
Brahma represents creation, vishnu preservation and shiva
destruction. The trio are called Aung Ung Mang, the three initials
of this representing AUM (OM). As important as these trio are, more
important to the balinese is the three divisions of the world. The
higher world is inhabited by the gods, the lower world by the demons
and the middle word by the humans. Because we exist in the middle
world, humans have the very important task of keeping the gods and
demons in their place and thereby keeping the balance. This is
extremely important for the balinese and a lot of rituals/customs
are designed to keep the balance. Let's take the custom of clothing
the deities/statues. All of them all covered/wrapped by a black and
white checkered cloth (like the checkered flag). The cloth
represents the good and evil (white and black) occupying their
places perfectly. During the festivals, cock fights are held inside
the temple. These fights satisfy the fresh blood requirements of the
nether world. Also, the devotee offerings include meat. If you have
seen any photos [ ] of
women carrying the offerings to the temple, all the items are
stacked up. At the very bottom of this stack is the meat offering
for the nether world. Apart from the regular Hindu gods, there are a
host of other gods/goddesses representing a lot of things (Devi Sri
for rice etc.)

[Since we are on meats, let me finish up the meat information. The
balinese eat all the different meats (Chicken, duck, pork, beef,
etc.). The priests eat meat too. I am not sure if they eat beef.
But, beef is not allowed inside a temple. I ate at a restaurant that
is adjoining a temple and even they didn't serve beef. Also, only
duck can be offered to a priest. Duck/goose is the balinese
equivalent of swan (picks out good food from dirt), vehicle of
saraswathi, fit enough to be offered to the knowledgeable priest]

Temples: In addition to the regular temples, every
house/establishment in bali has place for a temple. So, there are
actually more temples than houses in bali. The temple in the house
is in the north-east direction and that seems to be consistent with

[Note on directions in bali. Since the gods are in the higher world
and the demons are in the lower world, this concept is taken
literally when it comes to directions. Since the sun won't change
his habits, east and west are fixed. But, North (Kaja) is towards
the mountains are south (Kelod) is towards the sea. There is a
mountain range in the upper middle of Bali. So, below the mountains
the directions are OK. But in the northern part of the island, above
the mountains the north and south get switched]

Typically, all these temples in the houses consist of one more
padmasanas. This link describes the padmasana. [http://www.bali- ]. They got the direction
incorrect, though. Each deity gets his/her own seat. The main one is
for Sang Hyang and more for other gods/ancestors. Once again caste
plays a role here. The padmasanas (called padmasiri) in sudra houses
are plain. No turtles/snakes.
The padmasana architecture is attributed to nirartha.

Nirartha also came up with the three-temple concept for the
villages. Pura puseh (for brahma) in the north, pura desa (for
Vishnu) in the middle and pura dalem (for shiva) in the south. The
crematory/cemetery is next to the shiva temple. There is a cemetery
because of two reasons. You need a good day to cremate as well as
money for all cremation related activities. So, there are lot of "co-
operative cremations". In addition to these temples, there can be
other temples for other lesser gods.

All the major mountains have temples on them and Pura Besakih on the
highest peak on the Island (Mt. Agung) is the holiest. The most
spectacular temples, though, are the sea temples that dot the
coastline of Bali. All these are located on spectacular locations
and each one is supposed to be visible from the other one. All these
temples were established by nirartha in the 16th century. The sunset
is beautiful at Pura Tanah Lot and consequently a big tourist
attraction. Pura Rambut Siwi is close to tanah lot. Rambut means
hair in balinese. According to the local story, Nirartha donated
some of his hair when he came here and it is buried in a box in the
temple. Then, there is Pura Luhur Ulu Watu at the southern end on
island. Luhur means moksha in balinese. This is where Nirartha is
supposed to have attained his nirvana.

Except for besakhi, all the temples are empty except in festival
time. The priest takes the deities (if any) with him and there is
nobody in the temple. As far as entrance goes, you need to wear a
sarong and sash and want to worship to enter the inside of temple.
I prayed in besakhi and ulu watu but could not catch any of the
priest's chantings.

Dances: Dance plays a big role in the bali. I attended three
different performances (Legong, Gabor and kecak). There are a lot
more types and new forms are evolving. Unlike the Indian classical
dances, balinese dances are not static. They experiment with news
forms/ways. All of these perform stories/episodes from
Ramayana/Mahabarata. The awareness of Bhagavad Gita may not be as
high as it is in India, but it is definitely there and it seems to
be getting better. In fact, my guide just signed up for a gita
class. A priest conducts that class by reciting each sanskrit sloka
and then explaining the meaning in balinese.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited December 25, 2002).]

#921 - January 05, 2003 05:17 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Here is a write up about Balinese Hinduism from a Balinese herself. Her name is Dayu Kade and can be contacted at . This young lady was my travel guide during my stay at Bali.

The main religion practised in Bali is a form of Hinduism called Agama Hindu Dharma, a blend of elements from Hinduism and buddhism. Hinduism in Bali is bit same like in India, like Mantra we have the same mantra with India just different how to say ( sing ) it. The main symbol of Balinese Hinduism is the swastila, or wheel of the sun. The main purpose of life is to be released from the wheel of rencarnation. One's lot in one's present life is believed to be result of one's previous lifes or lives.

Religion in Bali varies according to three principles : desa (place), kala (time) and patra (circumtances). Hinduism acknowledges five pillars of faith. They are belief in the one Supreme God (of Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa) ; belief in the soul of as the universal principle of life and conciousness (atma); belief in the fruition of one's deeds (karmapala); belief in the process of the birth and death (samsara); and belief in the ultimate release (moksa).

One of the consequences of the principles of karma and samsara is the existence of the caste system where an individual inherits his status as a result of his or her past life. The four casts in Bali are: the Brahmana, who deal with religion and the holy texts; the Satria or rulers; the Wesia or the merchant and the Sudras. The principle Gods are: Brahma, the God of Creation; Wisnu, the God of Providence; and Siwa, the God of Dissolution. These three move the world through an unending process of birth, balance and destruction.

Balinese rituals are ruled by a complex calender system, a combination of the Indian Saka calender and the Wuku calender. The first day of the saka year however usually in March is the day of Silence and of profound importance throughout Bali.

Temples in Bali are simple walled open yards from which people can communicate directly with their gods and ancestors. Gods and ancestor normally visit their human worshipers or descendants during temple festivals ( odalan ). They reside in miniature houses set in the temple, the pelinggih shrines and alight with effidies of gold, coins or offerings.

During the length of their stay, the Gods and their companions are symbolically bathed, feted, put to bed and entertained with dances and other shows. Meanwhile members of the temple come and go over three or more days, with offerings and to get their share of holy water sprinkled over them and the offerings during the collective prayers. Balinese Hinduism believe that when a person dies, the soul passes into another body where it is in torment because of evil deeds accumulated in its present and past lives. To cleanse the impurty of the soul, rituals are continually performed through out the person's life. The soul will constantly seek to free itself from this cycle of life until it attains enlightenment or moksa.

Dayu Kade

Here is another contribution by I Gede Junidwaja, a member of the The Hindu Dharma Net, also a Balinese, and who is helping me with some translation work. He work as a software computer developer and IT manager at a garment company in Bali. He can be contacted at and

It is he who decreed that each village should have
three temples, one each to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. He further decreed
the prayer formats as well as the ceremonies.


It is Mpu Kuturan (not Nirartha) who designed the social structure of Balinese community about 1000 years ago. He (Mpu Kuturan) also makes Desa Pekraman (the Hindu/Balinese village organization) and Subak (for farming
organization). These organizations are still alive now.

One community can be called Desa Pekraman if only if have three temples (Desa = Brahma, Puseh = Visnu, Dalem = Siva). Mpu Kuturan is a Javanese priest.

Before he came to Bali, here wehave so many sects like in India. He makes simplification and regulation after big congress on religion in ancient Bali history at Samuan Tiga temple. You can find the temple at Ubud Gianyar.

Even he simplified the pujas, and we still can find Surya Puja, Ganesha Puja, Durga Puja, etc. in current Hindu/Bali religion, so we call in Siwa Siddhanta for now.

I thing He give big contribution for horizontal structure of Balinese community. Nirartha come later above 500 years ago. If you come to Balinese temple and you look into North East corner for each temple you will find Padmasana. Padmasana is the abstract
form of Mandra Giri Mountain in Kurma Avatara story.

The most comprehensive of Balinese history
book is written by N.P. Pandit Shartri. The book is Sejarah Bali Dwipa, History of Bali Island. He is an Indian, but he spent almost all his life in Bali. He give big contribution to make "Puja Tri Sandya" so popular in Bali/Indonesia for now. The first part of 'Puja Tri Sandya" is Savitri mantram.

Om Santi Santi Santi Om
I Gede Junidwaja

This is Oka, the webmaster of, and can be contacted at

#922 - June 22, 2003 09:45 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL

women carrying archanas (offerings) and on their way to the temple.

A view of Besakih Temple on a misty afternoon. Notice the many wooden tiered gopurams.

This an image of Ida Sang Hyang Widi or the Supreme God found on the back wall of the largest and innermost gopuram. He is dancing on a bull, has a moustache and four hands weilding implements. The similarity to Siva is striking.

Here is a picture of the brahmin priests at the Tanah Lot temple. Priests wear a white sarong and a white bandana.

This is another image of the Balinese Supreme God, Ida Sang Hyang Widi on top of the garbhagriha. Notice the dancing god.

This is a picture of the Bedegul Temple by the lake.these are two small temples; one is 11-tiered, meaning a major temple for all the gods as well as the god of Bedegul lake and the other is 3-tiered.

The above is another closer view of Besakih Temple, where the many tiered wooden gopurams on cut rock base and foundation are clearly seen.

The gopurams over the moolasthanam is of similar style to the 4th - 9th century Bujang Valley civilisation temples in Kedah, Malaysia, the first Hindu temples in south east asia. Due to their wooden top structure, none has survived intact except for the rock base. Over 200 archeological sites has been discovered in the Bujang valley from the Thai border to mid peninsula, spread over 200 miles.

All pix taken in Sept 2002.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited June 22, 2003).]

#923 - June 23, 2003 08:19 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
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No initiation ceremonies or dikshas excpet when one is becoming a
priest. there are many foreigners living in Bali who have adopted the
Balinese Hindu Religion and culture. Anyone can just walk into the
religion and become a Hindu, but no ceremony that I know of. To enter
a temple, Hindu attire is compulsory.

There are some remnants of Hinduism left in South Central Java, in
the royal Jogjakarta city and its surroundings. Some very new reports
as recent as this month, are saying there is a return to Hinduism
amoung Javanese, and that probably by now therre are more Hindus in
java than in bali. It may be exaggerated to say there are 3 million
Hindus in Java, but safe to assume that there are between 0.5 million
to 1 million Hindus in java. However I know for sure that there are
more Buddhists in the Jogjakarta area than Hindus.Please note that
neither these Hindus nor buddhists are Indians. They are indigeneous
Javanese. Jogjakarta is where buddhist Borodudur and the Saivite
Prambanan Temples are; hence this could be the reason.

In Jogjakarta lives their ancient royal sultanate that has largely a
Hindu culture and traditions and maintains it to this day. This may
be another reason. Sultan Hamenkubuwono of Jogjakarta has been cited as
a potential future president.

Also on every purnima they stage the Ramayana in Jogjakarta for
tourists on a specially built stadium over looking the Prambaban
Temple. This is the grandest ramayana play I have ever seen; 250
musicians and actors. It really thrills you to see Hanuman's army of
100 monkeys marching, dancing and thumping to the beat, all in unison.
Its great to watch this in an open air stadium with the silhouette of
Prambanam in the background, full moon in the sky, 100 musicians and
150 actors.

Although javanese are muslims, they are proud of their Hindu past
unlike the Malaysians. And they proudly maintain their Hindu culture
and tradition together with their muslim worship. We can say that the
majority of Javanese are actually Hindus but worship in islamic ways.
Their underlying belief system is Hindu and above that lies their
islamicness. It is for this reason that many islamic clerics turn to
fundamentalism to rid their society of its Hindu past and traditions,
and are not succeding.

I was surprised to find many Indian businesses in Denpasar, Bali. I
was told that Indians dominated business there till recently when
chinese from the Java moved in. Tatas are constructing a big
condominium cum mall in Bali. It is huge and modern and unlike anything
I have seen in

Indian inspired Indonesian, javanese and balinese music called
Dangdut, is famous all over Indonesia. It is melodies and rhythmic just
like Hindi music and one can dance the merengue, chacha and bangra to
it. Plenty of dance clubs. The latest gyrating female dancer doing what
is called the 'drill' created a furore in their parliament calling for
its ban, as well as dangdut clubs. No chance though.

#924 - October 28, 2003 08:08 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
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In Bali the caste system is still there though its dying just like in
modern India. People freely mix and
intermarry now. There never was an untouchability.

It was also not a hardened system like in India. Here, there is
mobility. Anyone of any of the 4 castes can
become an assistant priest in any temple, large or small, even women.
The chief priest post is reserved for
the brahmins only, but even this is theoretical only; in practise
many temples are officiated by non brahmin
assistant priests, with the chief brahmin priest only officiating on
major festival days.

There are no protests from any quarters as there is no
untouchability, no vegetarianism, no 'touch me not'
attitudes, and not really a hierarchy. Furthermore, tourism has made
the landowners rich, where many set up
small hotels and restaurants, and many others sold their precious
padi fields to 5 star hotel groups and
became instant millionaires. And there are several thousand large
hotels and bed & breakfast hotels.

A few things stand out in comparison with the Indian caste system;
1. there is no untouchability,
2. there is no hierarchy, all castes are equal, therefore no
superiority and inferiority complexes,
3. there is mobility amoung the castes; anyone can become a priest or
4. women and children acquire the caste of the husband,
5. all groups have a caste shrine within the main temple, none higher
or lower,
6. their ancient village judicial system must have been effective as
all caste problems or slights must have
been resolved there immediately.
7. no sacred thread ceremony, so no cause for exclusivity and
8. same samskaras for all, except the rich afford large ceremonies
and feasts for the departed.

I noticed that the priests are really humble souls, who do not speak
much and do not try and stand out in a
crowd. If you see a group of people, you will not know who is the
priest amoung them; but if you observe
long enough you will realise that its the one that is most quiet,
emotionless, humble, motions gently and
walks slowly.

Equality in all things for all Hindus have made their caste system a
success. I have not heard of any Balinese
complaining about their system. We must strive for this.

--- In, Vikram Masson
<vikram_masson@y...> wrote:
> Pathma:
> How would you compare the caste system in Bali to the caste system
in India? There is no untouchability in Bali as far as I'm aware. Do
we hear protests from the Sudras as we do in India?
> Vikram
> Pathmarajah Nagalingam <pathma@s...> wrote:
> --- In, "vpsubramanian"
> <vpsubramanian@y...> wrote:
> > In Java and Sumatra where Varnasrma was not followed, Hinduism
> > folded and they converted rapidly to Islam while where it was
> > practiced namely Bali, Hinduism has survived.
> This assessment is only partly true. There was a caste system in
> too but it was very rudimentary and flexible; they had priests and
> kshatriyas. Once the local chiefs became muslims and challenged the
> established Hindu royal dynasties successfully, the royalty and
> fled to Bali.
> There in Bali the priests 'hardened' the caste system into a
> one, with a whole load of new rules, and perhaps this is one of the
> reasons that Hinduism survived in Bali surrounder by a sea of
> Perhaps the caste system hardened in India due to the muslim
> invasions, a sort of 'defense strategy'.

#925 - October 29, 2003 02:29 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
webmaster Offline

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Here is a news item posted by Vikram Masson in Navyashastra.

Balinese Hinduism on the brink of violent conflict
I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

On the eve of the new year, Balinese Hinduism, the religion adhered
to by more than 90 percent of the tourist island's population, faces
its greatest challenge so far, as the majority of its religious
elite -- layman intellectuals and religious leaders -- are divided
into two opposing camps locked in a bitter struggle over the
fundamental teachings of the religion.

One camp is a loose coalition of various clan-based organizations,
sampradaya (religious schools of thought) groups -- including those
heavily influenced by Indian Hinduism such as Hare Khrisna or
Gandhian philosophy -- and progressive Hindu scholars.

This camp is led by prominent figures like high priest Ida Pedanda
Gede Ketut Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa, I Wayan Sudirta, Putu Wiratha,
Gedong Bagoes Oka, Alit Bagiasna, Dr I Made Titib, Prof. Dr. I Gusti
Ngurah Bagus, Ketut Wiana and Made Kembar Kerepun.

The other camp comprises traditional religious leaders, "mostly
pedanda high priests from the Brahmana caste, and traditional
political figures of the ksatriya caste from various royal houses in

High priest Ida Pedanda Gede Made Gunung, Ida Bagus Wijaya Kusuma, I
Gusti Ngurah Rai Andayana and the nobility of the Ubud Palace are
some of the ardent supporters of this second camp.

The first camp succeed in taking over the executive body of the
Parisadha Hindu Dharma Indonesia Pusat (Indonesian Supreme Hindu
Council), which for years had been largely dominated by the second
camp, in the council's five-day Mahasabha congress held here last

For the first time in history, a layman was appointed chairman of the
executive body, instead of a high priest. Furthermore, with the
appointment of dozens of high priests from different clans, the
council's clerical body was no longer dominated solely by a high
priest of the Brahmana family.

The congress issued several important recommendations, including one
tasking the new council with providing services to all elements of
the Hindu community regardless of sect, caste or school of thought.
Another recommendation was that a bhisama (religious decree) be
issued to put an end to the caste system.

The ousted second camp passionately tried to defend its last bastion;
the provincial Bali Hindu Council. After two months of preparation,
this camp launched a counterstrike by holding the Lokasabha Council
meeting, which was attended by 27 high priests and some 300 laymen
representing Hindu councils in various regencies in Bali.

Heavily guarded by some 200 pecalang traditional guards mobilized by
the Ubud Palace from at least 10 traditional community organizations
in Ubud, the one-day gathering was, in the words of Ida Bagus Wijaya
Kusuma, an effort to put the council back in its original and
intended place.

That was the reason the gathering was held at Gunung Lebah temple in
Campuhan. The temple was built by Rsi Markandya, one of the first
Indian priests who brought Hinduism to Bali. In 1961, the area was a
venue of a historic meeting of Hindu high priests, which gave birth
to the Campuhan Charter, the foundation of modern Balinese Hinduism.

Two days later the Mahasabha Council issued a statement in which it
blatantly refused to acknowledge the existence of the Lokasabha
Council. The latter gave a symmetrical response, stating that the
Mahasabha Council had violated the basic principles and ideals on
which Parisadha was originally built upon.

Hopefully, the struggle will renew and revitalize Balinese Hinduism
religion and tradition so that it might become more mature and able
to cope with the challenges of the modern world.

On the other hand, the souring relations between the two camps, with
each faction trying to negate the other, might lead to self-
destruction; a religious rift perhaps, or worse, a bloody violent
conflict between each camp's grassroot supporters.

This is definitely not a groundless fear, since the Lokasabha Council
has reportedly held a series of meetings with the nobility of various
palaces in Bali, and also with influential traditional institutions,
such as Desa Adat and Banjar. In those meetings the Lokasabha
Council's executives claimed that the council's main concern was the
preservation of Balinese Hinduism; that it also tried to protect the
basic foundation of the island's culture. They also repeatedly warned
the people about those who conspire to destroy the sacred teachings
of Balinese Hinduism.

"We must remain alert since there are groups that want to destroy our
traditions, such as our tradition of sacrificing an animal in the
mecaru ceremony," a Lokasabha Council executive warned in obvious
reference to Hare Khrisna and Gandhian religious groups that
vehemently oppose the custom.

Separately, the Mahasabha Council has staged demonstrations and media

Like any elite-introduced conflict anywhere in the world, the
grassroots usually play an innocent, passive role as bystanders. But
when the elite carelessly drag them into the center of a conflict,
then it is just a matter of time before things get messy,
particularly when everything they hold sacred is at stake.

On the surface it all seems to be a struggle between traditional
conservative and modern progressive Hindus. Yet deeper observation
reveals that it is a complex war for hegemonic superiority over the

From a philosophical point of view, it is a battle between those who
believe that Balinese Hinduism must be rejuvenated, revitalized and
purified through the introduction and popularization of sacred Indian
texts and teachings, against those who believe that any of these
efforts must be based on traditional Balinese Hinduism texts and
teachings, and not on any foreign sources.

Furthermore, it is also a struggle of several sects, such as the
Waisnawa or the Brahma, to reclaim the position they lost some 500
years ago to the Siwa-Siddhanta sect.

But from the sociological perspective it appears to be a fight
between members of the lower caste and members of the upper caste.
The Bujangga Waisnawa clan, the Pasek clan and the Pande clan formed
an alliance in order to fight what they call the hegemonic rule of
the Brahmana clan and the Ksatriya clan.

Each clan enjoyed golden times in ancient Bali, and all claim to be a
direct descendants of influential religious or political figures of
Bali's past. The Bujangga Waisnawa clan claims Rsi Markandya as its
ancestor, Pasek clan prides itself on being descended from Mpu Gni
Jaya, while the Brahmana clan claims the illustrious Danghyang
Nirartha and Danghyang Astapaka as its ancestors. The Ksatriyas claim
to be descendants of the brave warriors and nobility of East Java's
Majapahit Empire.

The only similarity among them is that all of them consider
themselves superior to the others, thus view their own clan or sect
as the rightful spiritual or political ruler of the island.

And since the Indonesian Hindu Council and Bali Hindu Council control
various assets and properties, worth hundreds of billions of rupiah,
one would be justified in asking whether the conflict is also
economically motivated.

Put briefly, on one side are those who consider themselves the
oppressed ones: the Indian school of thought, the Waisnawa and Brahma
sects, the Bujangga Waisnawa, Pasek and Pande clans. On the other
side are those accused of being the oppressor and the hegemonic
authority for the last several hundreds years: the traditional
Balinese school of thought, the Siwa-Siddhanta sect and the Brahmana
and Ksatriya clans.

The open battle between these two sides has been taking place, though
sporadically, since the first half of the 20th century. The last
instance took place in 1999 during the important festival of Panca
Wali Krama at Bali's biggest temple of Besakih. Tradition deemed that
two out of the three officiating high priests came from the Brahmana
clan. The first camp fought vehemently against the tradition. In the
end, equal treatment and equal chance to preside over the ceremony
was given to high priests from each clan, thus ending the domination
of high priests from the Brahmana clan.

Now, the battle apparently has reached a critical stage. Both sides
are refusing to negotiate, and instead are mobilizing grassroot
support. The air is filled with suspicion and insinuation -- a
fertile ground for misunderstanding and violent physical conflict.

Sadly, the battle has put many people and institutions, which have
the ability to mediate in the conflict, in such a difficult situation
that they have virtually been freezed into inaction. Soft-spoken Bali
Governor Dewa Made Beratha, who has both the spiritual legitimacy --
his regular nocturnal sojourns to various temples are widely known
among the Balinese -- and political legitimacy to be a mediator in
the conflict, has stated neutrality.

Furthermore, the local media, including the influential Bali Post,
have been low key in covering the conflict, afraid that the slightest
editorial blunder might spin the conflict into something they cannot
bear to imagine.

Historically speaking, an almost similar situation prevailed in Bali
some 1,000 years ago during the reign of King Udayana, when various
sects competed against each other for hegemonic superiority over the
island. Fortunately, a wise priest of the Mahayana Buddhism sect, Mpu
Rajakertha -- popularly known as Mpu Kuturan --, who was also
Udayana's most trusted advisor, succeed in negotiating a compromise
between the competing sects.

He introduced the idea of Tri Murti, which gave equal position,
respect and adoration to Brahma, Wisnu and Siwa, thus pacify the
followers of each respective deity.

Right now, there is no doubt that Bali desperately needs that kind of

#926 - July 26, 2004 05:21 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Originally posted in NS

Om Swastyastu,

Hindu in Bali before 11th century devided into 9
sectarian : Siva, Brahman, Vaisnava, Pasupata,
Bhairava,Linggayat, Bhagavata, Indra Saura, and
Baudha. Bali in that age were in war between sects. So
the King, Warmadeva and great priest named : Mpu
Kuturan declar unification of sects as what we find in
Bali till this day although Priest are still in three
classifications : Siva, Baudha and Vaisnava. Siva
priest lead Siva worshippers, Baudha priest lead
Baudha worshippers and Vaisnava priest lead Visnu
worshippers. Siva is majority, the Siva Sidantha sect
came in Bali in the 8th age by great Priest : Agastya
from Madya Pradesh, central India. Baudha is a
combination Hindu with Budha, and Vaisnava one sect
came in Bali in the 9th age by great priest :
Markandeya from south India (?).
Daily ritual find in Bali, is no distinction between
those three worshippers. Sampradaya is a new one in
Bali, teaching and learning Veda intensify. Most of
young generation joining these sampradaya i.e : Hare
Krishna, Say Study Group, Gandhi Ashram, etc. The
status quo group (as I said the day before) did not
agree with sampradaya. They think sampradaya make the
Hindu-Bali tradition going down, so they declare the
counter movement as called "Ajeg Bali" means Bali as
Hindu old thinking have to defence to be as usual, or
the other meaning full with caste system, old
tradition etc. They called us as "Indianization
Hindus" group.

Om Sarvam Bhutam manggalam,
Om Santi, santi, santi, Om

Bhagavan Dwija.

#927 - August 02, 2004 10:13 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Om Swastyastu,

So our religion in the past named : GAMA
TIRTHA (gama = agama = religion; tirtha = holy
water)mean a group of people used so many tirtha in
their offering or ritual. Then changed to HINDU-BALI,
mean Hindu that used in Bali. In the Suharto's regime,
we are HINDU-DHARMA; dharma mean religion. By this new
name, all of religion in Indonesia that believe in
Veda are Hindu, i.e : Kejaven (old Hindu in central
Java), Kaharingan (Hindu in Borneo), Baduy (Hindu in
west Java), Karo (Hindu in north Sumatra), etc. We all
joining in a PHDI (Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia).
The PHDI in 2003 declar a clearance about caste,
exspecially diferences between "varna" and "caste".
But there are so many status quo group in Bali (as I
said before) did not agree with this declaration. In
Bali they organized another PHDI as countrary with the
formal one. Surprise that Government do not notice
this case. Indonesia is a non secularism country,
govt take care of religion, but usually only the
majority, that is Islam/Moslem.

Om Santi, santi, santi, Om
Bhagawan Dwija.

#928 - August 05, 2004 02:28 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Originally posted in Navyashastra

Om Swastyastu,

According to Balinese custom the religious scholar
received title from "Nabe" (Gurujee) after passed a
long time education as a priest. So I received this
new name since 6th Nov. 1999. The old name will not
use anymore, mean it was dead. Also my "varna" change,
from "Vaisya" to be "Brahmana". As you know "varna" is
quite different with "caste". I do not agree caste,
but varna is a reality in human life. About 8 million
Hindus in Indonesia (0.04% from total population).
Expecially in Bali around 3 million Hindus, most of
them (60%) old-fashioned (status quo group)agree with
caste, and the rest, 40% refuse it. Outside Bali, all
Hindus are modern one. So totaly around 22,5% Hindus
in Indonesia agree with caste system, and the rest :
77,50% are reformist. PHDI declar a statement fighting caste
system, but it not use in Bali because Bali governor
and other official support by media paper, tv time to
time introduce supporting caste and other
ritual-ceremony regarding old tradition like caste as
in the old century. We just waiting more educationed
young Hindus will realy understand this case.

Om Sarvam Bhutam Manggalam,
Om Santi, santi, santi, Om.

Bhagawan Dwija

#929 - August 06, 2004 03:10 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Originally posted in Navyashastra.

Reply to questions on prieshood and untouchability in Bali.


There are few old literatures that in Bali we called
"Lontar" come from the basic of Hindu literature i.e :
Manava Dharmasastra (Manu Smrti),
Bhagavadgita, Sarasamuscaya, etc. The main lontar is
"Eka Pratama" said about change colour (varna)
to be a Brahmana, after Diksa ceremony. PHDI =
Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (National Hindu
Parisad of Indonesia) give a permit for this case and
offer a sertificate. All of Hindus Priest in Bali have
to pass a PHDI examination before they receipt a
registered sertificate. Beside, other varna : Sudra,
Vaishya, and Kshatrya, no one arrange. So the point
is, in Bali (nowadays) people of any varna can be
Brahmana, if they capable to do their proffesion as

As I said before the "status quo" group in
Bali still can not receive Priest come from other
caste, just from Brahmana caste. But most of people in
Bali do not care of this cases. They chose Priest that
they believe as a good one, whatever their origin.

What do you mean by "untouchables" ? If you mean it
like Brahmana varna have a special right from
government or any like that, the answer is no !
Brahmana varna and so brahmana caste have nothing
special right. Brahmana varna just a leader between
their supporter only, otherwise he can show his/her
activity as a protector of Hindu or he can help people
break their spiritual problem, may be he can reach a
wide followers.

Om Sarvam Bhutam Manggalam,

Bhagawan Dwija

#930 - June 03, 2005 02:08 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Bali: Temples & Traditions

In Bali, religion, temples, festivals and rituals are a part of every person's life a blend of Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma Hindu and pre-Hindu island worship of the elements and nature. Every home has a temple though some family temples are more elaborate than the others, depending on how much money was available.

We found a kinder, gentler Hinduism on the idyllic Indonesian island of Bali. You realise Bali is efficiently tourist friendly when it takes only 10 minutes to get from the airplane at Denpasar Airport into a pre-paid taxi and you are moving along comfortably on a really good road to Puri Santrian hotel at Sanur beach.

The infrastructure works, well oiled by an unobtrusive government. Sanur was a village at one time, now is a center of upscale resorts that encircle the beach. Due to the terrorist inflicted bomb blasts in 2002, tourism hasn't yet got back on its feet to pre-2002 levels, but its getting there.

You will be glad if you go there now, as outstanding 5 star property rooms can be had for as little as $50 in bargain-friendly Bali. We were lucky to be upgraded to an independent cottage at this price, which came with a jungle in its open-air bathroom.

The entire hotel is a wonderful tropical forest, with little temples, pools, Balinese statues and hundreds of green, green trees. The world-renowned Balinese architecture lives up to its reputation, build with it was hot during the day with the sun beating down mercilessly (Bali is just 12 degrees below the equator, temperatures remain at 30- 33 C throughout the year with rains in January and December), but extremely pleasant in the mornings and evenings.

European tourists lounged around on the beach promenade in various unshapes (unlucky me to have the wellheeled but out-of-shape middle aged for company) and picked themselves up only to have another drink or a meal.

The inquisitive culture-vulture tourist in me wanted much more than Beach, Beer and Bums in Bali and set off to explore within a couple of hours. We were lucky, having been well guided by a friend in Jakarta on places that were must see in the oh-too-short 8 days we were there.

The Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma based religiousness of the island (less than 3 million people) comes at you ever so slowly from a languid Balinese angle, and fully envelopes you by the time you have to leave and realize you really don't want to.

The beautiful women are another reason to want to stay, specially when you see paintings of more than 50 years back when modern civilization had not intruded and women stayed bare top no wonder so many overseas folks stayed on.

The Balinese religion retains an element of simplicity, openness and joy that is truly a joy to experience. The people are happy, smiling, friendly and a sense of peace pervades the island that gives it a unique ambience you realize why it is Bali Paradise.

Once you get over the wonder of experiencing an all enveloping Hindu culture in a island thousands of miles and 8 hours away by flight from Delhi, you also realize the 'Casta' system exists as the iron framework here too and in a purer Vedic form, with just 4 clearly specified (in Sanskrit) and everyone can make out who is where by their names.

Brahmanas rule the roost here too. Locals tried to convince me that movement was possible between castas, but I remain skeptical.

In Bali, religion, temples, festivals and rituals are a part of every person's life a blend of Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma Hindu and pre-Hindu island worship of the elements and nature. Every home has a temple though some family temples are more elaborate than the others, depending on how much money was available and where they stand in the 'casta'.

These temples don't have an idol but an empty throne (which looks like a deity if you look at it carefully) where the offering basket is placed.

Women weave these little 6" by 6" baskets on which they put some rice and food, flowers and an incense stick and one such pretty basket is placed many times a day outside the kitchen, the entrance to the home, in the street leading to the home, the shop, and on the home temple.

Once you are aware of the significance of these offerings, you constantly dodge them on the street and on the restaurants floors so as not to step on a innocent peoples religious sentiments.

We visited many temples, some in the North of Bali where there were fewer tourists and some in the extreme south, which had more Australians per table than Melbourne. The less frequented temples were an amazing experience a temple to the Trimurti with extensive offerings of fruit, flowers and food, and...pigs. Yes, at the feet of a Brahmin priest, as an offering to Brahma.

Elaborate rituals, colorful clothes, giggling women, great architecture... it could well be India. You must wrap a sarong and sash around your waist to enter any temple as a sign of respect to the gods, but you can walk in with your shoes on.

The statues of the gods are amazing, made of stone that weathers so quickly in the island environment that it is difficult to identify what is a millennium old and what is recent.

The temples too are a wonderful combination of Bali construction and Hindu architecture. Flowers of the most brilliant hues are all over (specially the red hibiscus), quite like the clothes of the people on ceremonial occasions.

More than once, I was enveloped in a ceremony of scores of colorfully dressed people walking down in a disciplined manner to the temple replete with offerings and music. Like in India, life in Bali is lived on the streets and religion takes precedence over traffic.

Other amazing experiences were our daily meals at restaurants that offer a variety of food from all over the world; though all me and my family ate was Indonesian and Balinese. For a vegetarian, food on any island is always a challenge but once you figure out what dishes are the right ones you do quite all right.

Vegetables, tofu, tempeh in all kinds of fabulous curries were a staple for me, while the family couldn't stop eating prawns, fish and exotic sea food. Some of these restaurants are simply amazing open as they are to the enioronment, and a treat to sit in as well as eat.

The Café Lotus in the city of Ubud is set around an enormous lotus pond located right in the compound of a temple to Goddess Saraswati, with exquisite lighting, fountains and foliage. Another one managed by an American-Balinese couple on Monkey Forest road ('Vanara Vana Road! was surrounded by a rice field and open to the elements with a lovely lotus pond.

No where did we pay more than the equivalent of Rs 1,000 for the three of us including Australian wine and Bintang beer.

We stayed in Ubud after 4 nights in Sanur Beach, in an amazing garden property called Pertiwi. The name made little sense to me while I was in India, but once I became familiar with the local environment it dawned on me that it was 'Prithvi' ! The whole property is set amidst lush green tropical forest, with statues of shapely goddesses and 'Dwarapalas' sprinkled all over, swimming pools at multiple levels, villas with independent gardens & pools and outstanding rooms. The owner was a Kshatriya and we stayed in his paradise at just $60 a day with breakfast.

It would take scores of pages to describe the sights: cock fights in hidden locations where you find locals passionately betting; Legong and Barong dances based on stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata with amazing costumes; sunrise at Sanur beach and sunset at Pura Tanah Lot; languorous drives through country roads to volcanoes in the North.

And amazing shopping for clothes, stone and wooden sculptures. I got a Buddha crafted from black volcanic rock from North Bali for my collection!

The warmth everyone had for India was amazing. 'You Hindu?' was an oft asked question, and I who in India don't count myself as one nodded yes mutely each time to enable the smiling questioner relate. What stays with me after this visit is the peace and simplicity of a uniquely tolerant culture and people, tied to India through links that go back more than 1000 years when we too practiced a kinder, gentler religion.

Harsh Singh Lohit is MD of TechSpan India Ltd
Economic Times

#931 - June 23, 2005 12:07 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
webmaster Offline

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL

I found in our old-holy book that in the 8th century
one of a great Prabhujee named : Rsi (Shri ?)
Markandeya came from Madya Pradesh (central India),
the Agashtya Ashram, to Indonesia. He stayed at Raung
Montain, East Java and then continued his journey to
one small island east from Java. He teach the people
around about Hindu and made a kind offering in a
spesific ritual. The offering called 'Bali', so the
people who pray to God with some kind offering than
called as Balinese, and the religion is Hindu-Bali;
also the island named 'Bali'. He build a great tample
as a mother tample, called 'Besakih'. He passed away
in the 9th century at a place called 'Sepang'
without remain resist, or 'moksah'.

The 'Bali' consist of leaf, flower, fruit, water,
fire, seed, come from Bhagawadgita IX.26 :

Pattram puspam phalam to yam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhaktyupahrtam
asnami prayatatmanah

By the way, if anyone who knows well this sort
history, expecially about his origin Ashram in Madya
Pradesh, kindly inform me.

Sadaar Pranaam
Bhagawan Dwija

#932 - June 23, 2005 04:04 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
webmaster Offline

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
originally posted in navyashastra.

Dear Bhagavandvija,

What are these holy books called? I heard that some of your shastras are
called siddhanta shastras. What are they about?

Is there a samadhi (semedi) shrine, tomb or monument to Markandeya in Sepang
or in Gunung Raung?



1. The Holy book is : 'Markandeya Tattwa', records about
the mission of Rshi Markandeya to teach Hindu
religion among the Balinese.

2. There are some 'Pura' (temple) build at : Taro (the
first ashram in Bali), another site : Pura at Sepang
and Raung Montain (in Java). The Puras (were) build to homage Rshi

Bhagawan Dwija

> Is the Agastya ashram still working in Indonesia? do
> the Balinese go
> to pilgrimages to places in Java, Sumatra and other
> places?


The Ashram never existed in Indonesia, but the followers
of Rshi Markandeya pilgrimaged around the country,
expecially during the power of Kingdom 'Majapahit' in
the 12th century. They spread to Bali, Sumatra, Java,
Borneo, Sulawesi, and Maluku. After the fall of
Majapahit in the 13 century, Hinduism still exist here
in Bali, although the others changed to moslem.

Nowadays, since 1965 Hindus in Indonesia arise outside
Bali i.e : North Sumatra, Java, North Borneo, and
South Sulawesi. The rising of Hinduism in Indonesia
caused by some Balinese migration, and the activity of
Indonesian Hindu Parisad (PHDI) that well organized.

But in the meantime, Hinduism in Bali rather face to a
danger, if some proselytization done by missionaries
christian and moslem can not be stemmed.

Bhagawan Dwija

#933 - June 24, 2005 01:37 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
If we traced back into the past in accordance with historical data, the development of Hinduism in Bali on the strategic step to establish religious harmonious life seems to have existed since circa the eight century AD. Up to recent times, there are many archeological remains in Bali in the form of sanctum building, inscription and some others that could become evidence of harmony and mutual respect among the different religious devotees.

According to I Gusti Gde Ardana quoting the result of R. Goris’ research (1954) in his book entitled Sejarah Perkembangan Hinduisme di Bali (History of Hinduism Development in Bali), in accordance with the Sukawana inscription number A1 (882 AD), there were three religious figures namely the Monk Siva Kangsita, Sivanirmala and Sivaprajna who founded a hermitage on the Cintamani Hill. Seeing the word Monk and Siva, religious harmonious life is presumed to have existed and even in later development is believed that these religions underwent syncretism into Siva-Buddha as during the period of King Udayana, both religions, Siva and Buddhism, were appointed national religion since the tenth century AD.

In the lontar or palm-leaf manuscripts, Bhuvana Tattva by Maharishi Markandeya is mentioned that the Maharishi Markandeya who practiced Trisakti Paksa came to Bali. Religious aspects he followed along with his disciple consisted of three main Gods namely Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. He first came to the foot of Mount Agung and is known as the founding father of the establishment of Besakih Temple that rises magnificently up to current time. He implanted ‘panca datu’ (five kinds of metal comprising gold, silver, copper, iron and the mixture of the four) in the ground to appeal for welfare. Later, they opened an agricultural land at Taro village, Tegalalang, Gianyar.

In Bali developed some sects that venerated certain deities like Siva-Siddhanta, Pasupata, Bhairava, Vaishnavism, Bodha/Sogata, Brahmana, Rishi, Sora and Ganapatya during the reign of King Udayana up to the fourteenth century AD. To cover the entire sects, King Udayana entrusted the Sage Kuturan to organize the life of religious systems in Bali. In a Pesamuhan or assembly was decided that all sects could coalesce and respect one another. This togetherness was manifested through giving forth Tri Murti (trinity) concept and established three sanctuaries (kahyangan tiga) at every customary village in Bali. Such sanctuaries comprise Pura Desa/Bale Agung (“village temple”), a locus to venerate the Lord Brahma the Creator; Pura Puseh (“temple of origin”), a locus to venerate the Lord Vishnu the Preserver; and Pura Dalem (“temple of the mighty one”), a locus to worship the Lord Siva as Destroyer (the lord leading to afterlife world).

Among them, the most influential up to recent time is Siva-Siddhanta sect that practiced by the Balinese. The fusion of such sects in Bali cannot only be observed from archeological remains and establishment of sanctum at the temples throughout Bali as Penataran Sasih at Pejeng, Pusering Jagat, Goa Gajah et cetera, however, but can also be viewed in terms of religious rite activities. There are several offerings and mantras having function and meaning to commemorate the holy teachings of such sects. In later development until the arrival of Dang Hyang Dwijendra in Bali during the reign of Dalem Waturenggong headquartering in Gelgel, the organization of religious life in Bali has been resolute.

Ketut Sumadi
Contributor of Bali Travel News

#934 - June 25, 2005 01:02 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Indonesian Hinduism

Negotiating Identities - 'Hinduism' in modern Indonesia

Modernity has by now reached all Indonesians in the guise of both
rationalised world religion and Indonesianization. Thus, the old and
rather self-evident reference points of in-dividual and ethnic
identity as well as social solidarity have been challenged by new
constructs and lifestyles. Nowadays, we talk about globalisation
resulting in an intensification of local identities as if it were an
axiom. However, few authors have bothered to describe concrete social
processes, which would examplify and thus help to understand this
seem-ingly paradox axiom. Anthropologist Dr. Martin Ramstedt
investigates the dicourse and discursive practice of 'Indonesian
Hinduism' vis-?is individual, ethnic as well as national and thereby
global interests in a three-year project which entails fieldwork in
different parts of Indonesia and India as well as archive work in the

By Martin Ramstedt

'Hinduism' as it is understood in contemporary Indonesia has in fact
evolved out of a religious reform movement which had started in Bali
around 1917. At that time, Dutch co-lonial rule as well as Islamic
propaganda and Christian missionary work had prompted Bali-nese
intellectuals to redefine Balinese tradition in order to reassert the
status of Balinese religious practices as 'religion' rather than as
rites based on customary ethnic beliefs and to adapt Balinese
customary rules of conduct (called 'adat' by the Dutch) to the demands
of modernity. When Bali was integrated into the Republic of Indonesia
in 1950, the Indonesian Ministry of Religion dominated by
representatives of Islam and Christianity rejected 'Bali-nese
religion' on the grounds of its definition of 'religion'.

According to the Indonesian Ministry of Religion, 'religion' implies a
universal, monotheistic creed based on a holy book which was conceived
by a holy prophet whereas Balinese rites and rituals appeared to be
ethnic and polytheistic in character. Moreover, those practices were
apparently connected to different genealogical traditions and thus to
ancestor worship. In an enhanced process of religious reform, Balinese
intellectuals refor-mulated the central doctrines of 'Bali Hinduism'
by turning to neo-Hinduistic currents of modern India for inspiration.
Complying with the requirements of the Ministry of Religion, they
presented Sanghyang Widhi Wasa as the Balinese equivalent to the 'God'
(Tuhan) of Indonesian Islam and Christianity with the lesser Balinese
deities and deified ancestors cor-responding to the angels of Islam
and Christianity. 'Sanghyang Widhi Wasa' can be translated either as
'Almighty, Divine, and Supreme Ruler of the Universe' or as 'Divine,
Pow-erful Cosmic Law'. Hence, the term in fact accommodates both the
Muslim-Christian as well as the Indian Hindu (sananta dharma) notion
of the Supreme Principle. Furthermore, it was claimed that certain
Hindu texts like the Indian Bhagavad Gita or the Old Javanese
Sarasamuccaya are divine revelations conceived by holy seers and are
therefore equivalent to the Al Quran and the Bible. 'Hinduism' was
finally recognised by the Ministry of Relig-ion in 1959. In 1960, a
kind of religious council called Parisada Dharma Hindu Bali was
established as the official representative of Bali Hinduism. This
council discouraged the Balinese tinge in favour of a much more
Indianised version of official Hinduism and conse-quently changed its
name to Parisada Hindu Dharma in 1964.

The advent of Soeharto's 'new order' resulted in an increasing
Indonesianisation of both Hindu Dharma and Parisada Hindu Dharma,
partly due to the fact that every Indonesian citizen was now required
to be a registered member of one of the five acknowledged relig-ious
communities (Islam, Christianity [i.e. Protestantism], Catholicism,
Hinduism and Bud-dhism). Inspired by the glorious Hindu Javanese past
imagined by the Indonesian national-ists, a large number of Javanese
converted to Hinduism in the 1960s and 1970s. When the adherents of
the ethnic religions Aluk To Dolo (Sa'dan Toraja) and Kaharingan
(Ngaju, Luangan) claimed official recognition of their traditions, the
Ministry of Religion classified them as Hindu variants in 1968 and
1980. Due to Hindu missionary work by Balinese and Indians living in
Medan, several members of the Karo in North Sumatra started to embrace
Hinduism in 1977. Having become a truly national representative of
Hinduism, the Parisada Hindu Dharma changed its name to Parisada Hindu
Dharma Indonesia in 1984. The physical Indonesianisation of Hinduism
was paralleled by an ideological Indonesianisation when in 1978 the
Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture introduced the
pancasila-indoctrination program P4. In 1983 the pancasila-philosophy
became the sole philosophical base (asas tunggal) of all recognised
social organisations including the officially acknowl-edged religious

The research project addresses the topic by differentiating between
three predominantly top-down levels of discourses: (1) the hegemonic
discourse of the Indonesian government on religion and culture; (2)
the discourse of the official representatives of Hindu Dharma
Indo-nesia succumbing to the hegemonic governmental discourse by
redefining the Hindu doc-trines in the light of the
pancasila-philosophy; (3) the discourses of the local adherents of
Hindu Dharma Indonesia which partly succumb to and partly try to
influence the previous two levels of discourses in favour of local
interests by redefining and reasserting local tra-dition. Each of the
three levels of discourses as well as the accompanying discursive
prac-tices are analysed in a historical as well as social
psychological perspective. 'Discourse' is defined as 'an
institutionalised way of speaking about certain things which
represents certain interests and which structures the habitus and thus
the perception, emotion, motivation and action of people'. 'Discursive
practice' is understood as 'those institutionalised regulations which
determine the effects of a certain discourse in favour of certain

The hegemonic governmental discourse has been strongly influenced by
the Islamic as well as Christian notion of 'religion'. Moreover, the
governmental priorities of Indonesianisation as well as economic
globalisation intrinsic to the pancasila-philosophy of the 'new order'
have been decisive factors for the cultural and religious policy of
the Indonesian state, re-sulting in the implementation of certain
values which reflect not only the values of the so-called Protestant
work ethic and Japanese bushido, but also the values of the 'Asian
Renais-sance'. Thus, 'Islamic and Christian notions of religion',
'Indonesianisation' and 'economic globalisation' have become
parameters of the official Hindu discourse. The current political and
economical crisis in Indonesia is not likely to change these
parameters. It might even enhance their impact on the ongoing
rationalisation of Hindu Dharma Indonesia. The local discourses of the
Balinese, the modern Hindu-Javanese, the adherents of Hindu-Aluk To
Dolo, the Hindu-Tengger, the adherents of Hindu-Kaharingan and the
Hindu-Karo are not 'equal' in the sense that they are equally
represented by the official representatives of 'Indo-nesian
Hin-duism'. The Balinese discourse dominating the two decisive bodies
within the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (the Paruman Sulinggih and
the Paruman Welaka), the Direktorat Jenderal Agama Hindu-Buddha as
well as the Universitas Hindu Dharma Indone-sia, has most successfully
influenced 'Indonesian Hinduism' to the disadvantage of the vari-ous
other local discourses. The Balinese discourse itself, however, is not
so homogenous as it might appear, since it is the 'battle field' of
various cultural-religious factions, e.g. the pasek-movement, the
Satya Sai Baba movement, the Peradah, the Forum Cendekiawan Hindu
Dharma Indonesia, the Forum Pemerhati Hindu Dharma Indonesia etc.

'Ethnic identity' has been a recurrent concern of the local
discourses. Ethnic' or 'local identity' seems to crystallize in the
local adat. However, the Hindu members of the Sa'dan Toraja, the Karo,
the Tengger or the Ngaju etc. cannot easily claim to be 'guardians' of
their specific ethnic traditions on the grounds that 'Hinduism' is
'more accommodating' than Islam or Christianity since adat is exposed
to rationalisation by 'Indonesian Hinduism', too. Local adat is both
rationalised and defended by adherents of all recognised creeds.
Further-more, the term 'adat' itself is a highly ideologized product
of the Dutch indological as well as the official Indonesian discourse,
despite its primordial connotations.

One, therefore, has to ask why a certain individual - i.e. a Javanese,
a certain member of the Karo, the Tengger, the Toraja, the Ngaju or
the Luangan - embraces Hinduism rather than Islam or Christianity. How
does he or she negotiate his or her various identities to which ends?
Within the general Indonesian discourse 'Hinduism' seems to be
associated with 'backwardness', 'ancestor worship', 'trance', and
'magic'. This has inspired me to formulate the following hypothesis:
members of ethnic traditions on the fringe of the mod-ern Indonesian
state favour either Islam or Christianity when they are socially and
economi-cally ambitious whereas those who defend a 'traditional',
'anti-capitalist' lifestyle convert to Hinduism. Within 'Indonesian
Hinduism' the popularity of the Satya Sai Baba movement or the various
forms of Indian yoga practices seem to hint to a similar and growing
rejection of a rationalised religion and a 'disenchanted world' ruled
on the terms of modern economy.
Dr Martin Ramstedt is a research fellow selected by the ESF Asia
Committee and stationed at the IIAS. He is also affiliated with NIAS.

#935 - December 16, 2005 03:24 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Here is an icon of 'Acintya', the Supreme God in Bali Hinduism, Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa, also simply known as Siva.


Om Swastyastu,

That is the symbol of Hyang Widhi (God) named : 'Acintya' means 'cannot imagine':

1. No face, because it is not a real human,
2. Standing in one leg : the only one and super power,
3. Hands forming a 'deva pratistha' : God is 'sanatana dharma' (the source of truth).

Om Santih, santih, santih
Bhagawan Dwija

#936 - December 20, 2005 12:31 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
There are clear and present indicators. Yes, we Indians have been exogamous. Here's proof. Probably they were early Pallavas. There. At least that has been established! Now we know that Indian affinity for endogamy is a fake notion.


Fwd. Message by Rajita Rajavasishth in IC group. K.
The below paper is also interesting. It clearly shows that culture and
genes travel together with substantial genetic contributions from the
culture bearers. If you look at their data carefully actually upto 19%
of the Bali gene pool appears to have originated in India. K

Hum Biol. 2005 Feb;77(1):93-114.

Balinese Y-chromosome perspective on the peopling of Indonesia: genetic
contributions from pre-neolithic hunter-gatherers, Austronesian
farmers, and Indian traders.

Karafet TM, Lansing JS, Redd AJ, Reznikova S, Watkins JC, Surata SP,
Arthawiguna WA, Mayer L, Bamshad M, Jorde LB, Hammer MF.
Division of Biotechnology, Biosciences West, University of Arizona,
Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.

The island of Bali lies near the center of the southern chain of
islands in the Indonesian archipelago, which served as a stepping-stone for
migrations of hunter-gatherers to Melanesia and Australia and for more recent
migrations of Austronesian farmers from mainland Southeast Asia to the
Pacific. Bali is the only Indonesian island with a population that currently
practices the Hindu religion and preserves various other Indian cultural,
linguistic, and artistic traditions (Lansing 1983). Here, we examine genetic
variation on the Y chromosomes of 551 Balinese men to investigate the relative
contributions of Austronesian farmers and pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherers to the
contemporary Balinese paternal gene pool and to test the hypothesis of recent
paternal gene flow from the Indian subcontinent. Seventy-one Y-chromosome
binary polymorphisms (single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs) and 10
Y-chromosome-linked short tandem repeats (STRs) were genotyped on a sample
of 1,989 Y chromosomes from 20 populations representing Indonesia (including
Bali), southern China, Southeast
Asia, South Asia, the Near East, and Oceania. SNP genotyping revealed 22
Balinese lineages, 3 of which (O-M95, O-M119, and O-M122) account for
nearly 83.7% of Balinese Y chromosomes. Phylogeographic analyses suggest that
all three major Y-chromosome haplogroups migrated to Bali with the arrival of
Austronesian speakers; however, STR diversity patterns associated with these
haplogroups are complex and may be explained by multiple waves of Austronesian
expansion to Indonesia by different routes. Approximately 2.2% of contemporary
Balinese Y chromosomes (i.e., K-M9*, K-M230, and M lineages) may represent the
pre-Neolithic component of the Indonesian paternal gene pool. In contrast, eight other haplogroups (e.g., within H, J, L, and R), making up approximately 12% of the Balinese paternal gene pool, appear to have migrated to Bali from India.

These results indicate that the Austronesian expansion had a profound effect on
the composition of the Balinese paternal gene pool and that cultural
from India to Bali was accompanied by substantial levels of gene flow.

#937 - December 20, 2005 03:56 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
I could share some personal insights here from Malaysia and SIngapore. In our
own generation, these last 50 years, thousands of Indians have married Malays.
Tens of thousands have married Chinese. An estimate would be about 30,000
such marriages in this period. Several thousand, I estimate between 5,000-8,000
chinese infants have been adopted by Indian families since WW2. A few
thousands Indian infants have been adopted by Chinese families. Dont be
surprised to meet Indians who speak only chinese and no tamil or english, and
chinese who speak only tamil. Such things are bound to happen in mixed cultures.

It did before too.

Add to this the estimated 20,000 chinese devotees of Sai Baba alone. Plus tens
of thousands more who follow TM, BK, Guru Maharajji, etc.

The same thing probably happened all over south east asia in the first millenium. Remember, Angkor and Bujang Valley lasted 1,200 years over which there was trade, migrations and settlement. The ancient magnificent temples, 2,200 in Cambodia alone and with 100 new ones discovered each year, could not have been built without artisans from India, the wall sculptures depicting scenes from
the puranas could not have been done without Indian story-tellers, their sanskrit and pali chants could not have been learnt without Indian teachers.

And not a few mind you; there must have been thousands of them. These native
societies did not have such sophisticated engineering and artistic skills or
scripts and mathematics before the advent of the Indians. Their knowledge and
skills arose 'all of a sudden' without previous knowledge and such comparable
works. One look at these citadels anywhere in south east asia will convince you
immediately. Indians were here. These temples equals any in India!

It was Indian and south east asian matrimony that gave rose to these great Hindu civilisations that rivalled India. Note that Madurai like temples arose
here starting in 150 BCE! I doubt India has such ancient large temples of this size except perhaps Somnath then.

Rival is the word. Not anything I'm saying here is a put down on the south east
asians. On the contrary, it was the Khmers and Mojopahit that were the only
nations to defeat the Mongols under Kublai Khan. Such was the vigour of these
civilisations that was born of a matrimony between two great peoples'. [Whereas
the 'endogamous' Indians just collapsed to the Moghuls.]

It was our far sighted ancients mariners who brought about all this. 'Go forth and spread your seeds, and dharma, and build great new civilisations, new races! Let there be glory on all sides, all quarters. Be better than the fatherland.'

We did that.

The same thing was repeated all over south east asia between 100 BCE to 1450 CE. Then it suddenly all stopped.

It would be better to think of Sri Lanka and south east asia as part of Greater India, contiguous to the Chola maritime empire, but excluding Timor Leste, Irian Jaya, Papua, Phillipines and Vietnam. [These areas were not really touched by
Indianisation. But I'm willing to be surprised.]

You will find Indian genes in all of Greater India. The people of Greater India must be counted as Indians, our kin Our understanding of Indian and Hindu must take a less parochial and a more macro view.



[This message has been edited by Pathmarajah (edited December 20, 2005).]

#938 - April 14, 2006 05:18 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Towering Hindu temple reaches new heights in Malang

Hindus living outside the religion's enclave of Bali now have their own reason to be proud -- the tallest temple in Java.

The 11-meter-high temple, built at a cost of Rp 40 million (US$4,324) in Karangpandan village, Pakisaji district, Malang, East Java, was inaugurated Wednesday by Hindu priest Singgih Pandita Panaya Nirmala.

The temple, which has five levels, was built in a month by Tamadi, a sculptor from the East Java city of Blitar.

Tri Budi Wibowo, chairman of the temple's inauguration ceremony committee, said the operation of the new house of worship was warmly received by Hindus in Malang and other cities.

There are two other Hindu temples in East Java: Mandara Giri Temple in Semeru mountain in Lumajang and Mertha Jati Temple in Bale Kambang in South Malang.

"We used to have to go farther away to the Mertha Jati and Mandara Giri temples, but now can pray here," Yanto, who lives nearby, said.
Malang Regent Sujud Syukur and representatives of other religions were scheduled to attend a reception for the inauguration of the temple Wednesday evening. (JP/Wahyoe Boediwardhana)

#939 - May 03, 2006 02:19 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Dear Brothers,

Hindu-Dharma is the name of our religion in Indonesia.
The story began in the 8th century when a great Priest
from Madya Pradesh (India) named Maha Rsi Agasteya
came to Indonesia teach our ancestor about Veda. The
second pilgrim came in the 10th century also from
Uttar Pradesh (India) named Maha Rsi Markandeya. Maha
Rsi Agasteya spread Hindu-Siva religion called
Siva-Siddhanta in Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi
islands. Maha Rsi Markandeya firstly taught
Hindu-Vaisnava in east Java, then move to Bali island.
He is the great Priest acknowledged still this day as a
Vaisnawa sect. In the 11th century five of Maha Rsi
Agasteya pupils came to Bali, teach the
Siva-Siddantha. This is followed by the majority of
Hindus in Bali. But the smart way done by "the five
priests" led by Mpu/Rsi Kuturan, is they combined all
the Hindu-sects in Bali (there are 9 sects at that
day : Siva, Vaisnava, Pasupata, Bhairawa, Brahma,
Buddha, Resi, Sora, Ganapataya) So this is how we are in
Bali, the very specific Hindu (tradition) in the world.

Formally our religion named : Tirtha, Hindu-Bali, and
since the 1970, named : Hindu Dharma.

We are now very anxious about the moslem movement come
from Java :
1. The Bali-blast I and II
2. The New Government act plan concerning pornography
and porno-action. If this plan becomes legal, all of our Devi
statue : Durgha, Sarasvaty, have to destroy. Also some
of our specific dances is prohibited.
3. The great geothermal project around our sacred
temples in Bedugul area.

Please help us.

Bhagawan Dwija

#940 - May 04, 2006 11:38 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, is never short of visitors.

Cultural diversity
Indonesia may be an Islamic state, but it is the ancient Buddhist and Hindu monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan in Yogyakarta that continue to pull in visitors from abroad
The tip of the most active volcano in Indonesia _ Merapi mountain _ is visible from the top of Borobudur Temple, one of the seven wonders of the world and the biggest Buddhist monument anywhere.

The 2,968-metre-high mountain is south of central Java and overlooks the royal ancient city of Yogyakarta or Jogja. The palace there was built by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I in 1755 and stretches north-south parallel to the volcano.

Local people believe that Jogja is safe from volcanic eruptions because of the palace. Since the middle of last month, Merapi has been spewing gas and ash and the government has issued several alerts warning people to be prepared for evacuation.

''Merapi witnesses small eruptions every three years,'' said Cahyo Triono, our tour guide. The last one was in 2003 so it's only natural that it would come good again this year.

Some of the biggest eruptions were recorded in 1006, 1786, 1822, 1872 and 1930. The outburst in 1006 destroyed the existing Hindu kingdom and caused extensive damage to Borobudur and other landmarks including the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, the Prambanan.

Unesco and the Indonesian government spent US$25 million restoring Borobudur from 1973-1983, to which Thailand also made a contribution.

Borobudur is a World Heritage site. The name means the ''mountain of accumulation of merits of the ten states of Bodhisattava''.

It was built by Javanese rulers of the Sailendra dynasty. Construction began around 775 AD and was completed 60 years later. With two million blocks of volcanic stones, the nine-terraced temple built in pyramidal style has a giant stupa on top. It stands 45 metres above ground and is 123 metres in length. Its three circular platforms house 72 smaller stupas each of which contain a statue of Buddha.

''There is a belief that if you can touch the ring finger of the first Buddha image after climbing from the eastern gate and make a wish, it will come true,'' said our guide. There were many visitors standing in line trying to do just the same, but without success as the statue was out of reach.

Triono said the shape of the bells resemble an inverted rice bowl with a stick symbolising that there is no success without suffering.

Walking the lower terrace, I was amazed to see sculpted walls in bas-relief depicting the life and teaching of Buddha, as opposed to episodes from the Hindu epic Ramayana that's normally the case at most historical landmarks in Indonesia.

Arranged wall to wall, they would stretch six kilometres, the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world.

Mahayana Buddhism reached Java in fifth century, 100 years after Hinduism took roots there. Before that local people believed in spirits. Both religions co-existed side by side for hundreds of years and Borobudur and Prambanan are a testament to that religous harmony. However, 80 percent of Javanese today are Muslim.

King Balitung Maha Samba built the Prambanan or the ''Temple of the Slender Virgin'' in the middle of ninth century, after Buddhism had firmly established itself in Borobudur. Its height is 47 metres and it has three main temples in the middle or the courtyard dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Each shrine faces a smaller one that houses their respective vehicles. Surrounding the courtyard were 224 temples built by villagers that were subsequently destroyed by earthquakes and volcanic ash and lava. At present only the main temples and two of the 224 smaller ones survive. They were repaired in 1994 and restored to their former glory.

''After the major volcanic eruption in the 11th century, both Hinduism and Buddhism pilgrims thought that Jogja was no longer the holy island,'' said our guide.

Buddhism moved to East Java while Hinduism moved to Bali where it has been the accepted religion since the seventh century. As a result around 90 percent of the people in Bali today follow Hinduism. Only seven percent are Muslim and the rest Buddhist and Christian.

As early as the 12th century, Muslim merchants began settling in Indonesia and Islam quickly took hold in the country. Although the general perception of foreigners is that Indonesia is an Islamic country, most Indonesians disagree.
In Indonesia there are four major religions: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, both Catholics and Protestants. ''Important dates in the calendar of every religion are national holidays,'' said Dionnisius Elvan Swasono, third secretary at the Indonesian embassy in Bangkok who accompanied us on this trip.

Those who believe in Hinduism mostly are in Bali, while Christians are the majority in north Papua and Sulawesi, and Buddhists make up the bulk in south Sumatra, he explained, emphasising that despite their different cultures and religious backgrounds they have always had a healthy respect for each other.

Apart from religions and historical places, Yogyakarta also has a well known Ramayana troupe comprising 250 dancers who perform in open-air theatres not far from Prambanan Temple. The entire epic is played over four nights, but if you are short on time even a night's performance is worth attending. The same ensemble is also known to have performed in Thailand.

That said, Yogyakarta also boasts of some pristine beaches in its southern part, vast paddy fields and beautiful natural scenery

#941 - May 18, 2006 09:24 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Om Swastyastu,

We, the Balinese-Hindu (also all Indonesian-Hindu),
since 1952 have arranged that all people with Hindu beliefs
can be a Priest. No more only the Brahmana can be
such a Priest.

Om Santih, santih, santih, Om
Bhagawan Dwija

All qualified Hindus can become priests: TN
Tuesday, 16 May , 2006, 16:30

Chennai: Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday decided to pass an order
allowing people belonging to all Hindu communities with the required training
and qualification to become archakas (priests) in Hindu temples.

The cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi took the decision
based on the verdict given by the Supreme Court in 2002. The decision was
taken after analysing the opinion of the state legal department and receiving
that of the advocate general on the issue, an official release said in Chennai.

At present only the Brahmin community members are eligible to become

The government order would pave the way to fulfill the last wish of eminent
social reformist and the founder of Dravidar Kazhagam, Periyar E V
Ramasamy, the release added.

Periyar wished that people belonging to all the Hindu communities should be
allowed to become archakas in Hindu temples.
A government order was
passed in 1972 allowing all communities to become archakas, when
Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister.

However, it was stayed by the Supreme Court, following an appeal against
the implementation of the law. The non-implementation of the order was
described as 'a thorn in Periyar's heart' as he passed away without seeing
his last wish fulfilled.

Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani has welcomed the decision of DMK
government and said the party would celebrate the decision as a grand
festival. "Today was a revolutionary day in Tamil Nadu's history and Tamils all
over the world were appreciating the decision of the state government", he

#942 - May 21, 2006 03:51 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Om Swastyastu,

Yes, from the book of Manavadharmasastra I read that Sankha-likhita in the year 300-100 BC had said there are four books-law for each age (yuga):

1. Manu dharmasastra for Krta-Yuga
2. Gautama dharmasastra for Treta Yuga
3. Samkha-likhita dharmasastra for Dvapara Yuga
4. Parasara dharmasastra for Kali Yuga

This mean that some law arranged in Krta-yuga like Manu dharmasastra is uncivilised for other yuga, such as nowadays, the Kali-yuga (age of Kali). But it does not mean all of the law in Manu uncivilised.

In Indonesia, where most of inhabitants were Hindu's (in the age 12 - 13 CE) the great Kingdom Majapahit, created national law from the mixed four dharmasastras above.

In Bali, till 1950 we used this "Majapahit-Law" as the only law conducted by Priest as judge in a court called "Raad-Kertha". But since 1951 the old law changed by the Indonesian-law.

Om Santih, santih, santih, Om
Bhagawan Dwija

#943 - August 30, 2006 02:26 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Hindu Influence in Malaya its Shaman Animistic Practices

Shaman, Saiva and Sufi
A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic


The typical civilised Indonesian peoples, Malays and Javanese, are variants of a Proto-Malay race with Indian, Arab and other foreign admixtures. In that Proto-Malay race, whatever else may be its components, there is a Mongoloid strain.

Already at the beginning of the Christian era Indian religions, the caste system and government by rajahs had been introduced into Java and into Sumatra, whence most of the Malays of the Peninsula came, and Indian influence spread in a less degree throughout the Archipelago even as far as the Philippines. The old Malay kingdom of Palembang in Sumatra introduced Mahayana Buddhism into Java and had a vague suzerainty over the Malay Peninsula for several centuries, until in the thirteenth the modern Siamese gained control in the north and Islam a permanent hold in the south. A Buddhist inscription from Province Wellesley opposite Penang (in the southern Indian style of writing found In West Java) dates back to 400 A.D. But in Malaya, as in Java, the religion of Siva retained a footing until the advent of Islam.

It is uncertain, too, if the primitive Malays, like the people of Madagascar and Celebes, believed in four gods of the air in charge of the quarters of the globe. In Bali Indian influence gave these gods Hindu names, and three are still worshipped there as forms of Siva. One Peninsular charm speaks of "the four children of Siva who live at the corners of the world." A Perak charm describes Berangga Kala as the spirit of the West, Sang Begor as the spirit of the East, Sang Degor as the spirit of the North, and Sang Rangga Gempita as the spirit of the South.

Batara Guru or Divine Teacher is the Malay name for Siva. And it is not surprising to find that on accepting the Hindu deities into their spirit-world Malays paid great homage to Siva under his sinister aspect of Kala the destroyer of life. Anyhow, here are the white spirit of the sun and the black spirit of the moon identified with manifestations of Siva. The spirit of the tides is often associated with the spirits of the sun and moon, and, again, the Malay expressly identifies him with Siva and makes Kala the dread god of the sea.

Furthermore, in Malay mythology there is a Spectre Huntsman, whom magicians identify with Siva. This Spectre Huntsman is even known by the various Malay appellations of the Divine Teacher such as "Raja of land-folk," "Raja of Ghosts," and "Gaffer Long Claws." Now Siva, of course, was the Rudra of Vedic times. And it has been pointed out how in Rudra are found the same characteristics that distinguish the German Wodan (or Odin), namely those of a storm-god followed by hosts of spirits, a leader of lost souls, identified both in Malay and German legend with the Spectre Huntsman. The association by Malays of the Spectre Huntsman with Siva clearly corroborates the relationship between Rudra and Wodan and lends colour to the theory of an Indo-Germanic storm-god, the common source of the Indian and Teutonic myths.

The identification of Siva with Gaffer Long Claws finds a parallel among the Bhils, Kols and Gonds of India, who also confound him with a chthonic tiger-god. And like those tribesmen the Malay appears sometimes to confuse Siva with Arjuna, calling that demigod the earth spirit and king of the sea.

Last phase of all, Siva becomes father and king of the jinn imported with Islam. Even his white bull Nandi is yoked to the service of the new religion. According to early Hindu mythology Brahma, or according to later belief Vishnu, took the form of a boar and raised the earth out of the waters. Other stories current in India make an elephant or a bull the support of the earth. Muslim cosmogony definitely places the earth on a bull with forty horns having seven thousand branches, a beast whose body stretches from east to west. So the Kelantan magician invokes "the father and chief of all jinn practising austerity in the stall of the black bull who supports and fans and shakes the world." The idea that the king of the jinn is the father of seven children may be connected with the Muslim notion of seven earths.

The wife of Siva is known to Malays as Mahadewi "the great goddess," as Kumari "the Damsel," and above all, as Sri, goddess of rice-fields. As Sri she may be said to have taken the place of "Mother Earth," just as her divine spouse represented "Father Sky." As Kumari she is supposed in the north of the Peninsula to have been made by Gaffer Mahsiku out of a bit of eaglewood. (In Patani a name for the earth spirit is Siriku.) The goddess married her creator. But the legend adds that she had one daughter by the god (deva) of the moon and one by the god of the sun, a remarkable preservation of the Malay myth that the Divine Teacher under different manifestations lived in both those luminaries. The same tradition adds that Kumari is invoked against lock-jaw and dumbness, because she made her eldest daughter live on a hill as an ascetic with her mouth wide open till it grew into a cave which Hanuman entered!

The Malay magician often vaunts that "the sword of Vishnu is before his face" to protect him. And with Siva, Brahma, Kala and Sri, this god presides over the five divisions of the old-world diviner's day. Brahma is known as Berma Sakti, but hardly enters into Malay magic. In Kelantan, Krishna is said to be entreated to cure snake-bites and the stings of scorpions and centipedes. Ganesha, under the name of Gana, is little more than a village godling.

#944 - September 04, 2006 12:34 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Pictures of Lord Ganesha in East Asia

#945 - September 07, 2006 09:08 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
chimera Offline
Junior Member

Registered: September 07, 2006
Posts: 8
Loc: Australia
It is most interesting that Bali retains the ancient Brahma temples. Before the British invasion, 3 men sailed by ship to Bundjalung in east Australia from Ngareenbeil. "Negara" is the state system of Malaysia and Bali. The men were Mamoon, Ya Birrein and Birrung. "Mamoon" is a Skt./Hindi/Bengali name meaning :"maternal uncle". They landed at Angourie :"to wait", as in Champa Skt.ang "number, respect", and Java ang- "time,system". ("Angkor"?). The village near Angourie is Ngari "the sea" (overseas?), and ngara means "play, ceremony". At the head of the river is Coombadjha, a sacred site on a mountain top and now a national park because of its beauty.("Cambodia"?).
The strong god is Mahhji, and Mahaji is a title of Shiva in Thailand, and a form of Mahadeva in Maharashtra. Baiame is the creator, painted on a rock with very long arms like Indra and with 2 boomerangs making 4 'hands' like Brahma. In language, Sanskrit "jadiman"=Java"jatim"=Bundjalung "jadami".
On that basis, Skt."bahman"Brahma=Bundjalung "bahami" similar to Baiame.
Bunjil was a father figure, and is painted in a style very different from Aboriginal tradition, with a bindi dot on the forehead and a cloth on the left shoulder, in a shrine-cave about 800 kms. south. Bundjalung appears to have about 10% Skt.words, (not Pali). Gamilari and Gambaingiri countries next to Bundjalung have many Indic words, including "ngalinga / ngalingguurr" a sacred word, medicine man.(naga linga?). "Bung" means an elder, as in Indonesia "bung" ("Bung Karno" Pres. Soekarno).
Could you comment on "Mahaji" and nagalinga in medicine?
The 3 brothers are at various sites, such as:
The Angkor dynasty fled to Java Bali after Thai invasion, and possibly Brahmins from there settled in Australia.

#946 - September 07, 2006 12:25 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Hi Chimera,

Welcome to the forum. Sorry I dont have any info on Mahaji or nagalinga, except that it is my surname.

Did you say Bundjalung is in East Australia? Where exactly is it?


#947 - September 08, 2006 08:51 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
chimera Offline
Junior Member

Registered: September 07, 2006
Posts: 8
Loc: Australia
Hi Pathma,
Bundjalung is the country between Brisbane, Tenterfield and Grafton, in the NSW and Queensland state border region. This is about 300km. north-south and about 200km.east-west.
"Bangalow" means the piccabeen palm-tree, and palm branches are used in Bali for Shiva "bungalow" shrines. This may relate to shalaBHANJikas of Durga in bangla shrines, like Bengali thatched huts. "Budar budarum" means to tell the ancient stories, sacred objects.
North of Brisbane is the town of Buderim, meaning "sandalwood tree", which connects with Buddha. At Coombadjha is "Dhan Dahra" stream, which may be Sanskrit "gift. fast stream"? The sacred place on a mountain top has a field of tree-ferns among high trees, near to a deep circular cavern where a stream drops down and out to the river. It is a typical creation-place of the Kurea ancestor snake. On the west is Gamilari country which reaches from Goondiwindi ("whistling snake") in Queensland to west of Sydney."Gamilari" means "gamil ("no"). ari ("having"). This may relate to Champa "cam" meaning to prohibit, limit, and Cambodian "cam" result of action (karma?). Gamilari "kumil" man's grave, is seen in Java "kamil" man's spirit at grave, and "kamal" perfect man.
There are Sikhs who recently arrived in Bundjalung who have a "warum" temple, near Bundjalung "arrawarra" meeting place.
Indian people here comment on the Indic nature of Bundjalung street-sign names, and the Indian appearance of the B. people.
It is a terrible thing to see the contrast of
Indian influence with the brutality of past British murders (which Sikhs also experienced in India).

#948 - September 08, 2006 11:08 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang

Read my post in the thread "International Hindu Communities' on Brahma worship in Thailand.

You might like it.


#949 - December 28, 2006 05:41 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
chimera Offline
Junior Member

Registered: September 07, 2006
Posts: 8
Loc: Australia
A previous post mentioned Maluka as an area of Hindu influence. Australian Aboriginals travelled there on Maluka fishing boats at least 400 years ago, and "ruppiah" was the word for "money" in north Australia. The east Australian creator is named Baiame, and a word for a Brahmin in India was "bahman", from "vahu mana" meaning "good mind", and thus the E. word "human". Is "bahman" used in Indonesia?

#950 - March 21, 2007 03:57 PM Re: Balinese Hinduism
Pathmarajah Offline

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Malay Words

What is the commonalty amongst these words negara, dewan, bahasa, pustaka, negeri, agama, puasa, neraka, syurga, sastera, bendera, merdeka, sempurna, , permaisuri, surya, ishwara, wira, perdana waja, satria, asama, mahameru, malaya, erti, upaya, kuasa, tenaga, berita, angkasa, wisma, putra, putri, sri, kedah, punya,, isteri, suami, sengsera, sejerhana, rahasia, laksmana, pusat, sutra, manusia, maha, cahaya, keris and about 400 more?

Answer: they are Sanskrit and Tamil and largely higher civilizational concepts and words in the Malay language.

#951 - April 01, 2007 11:38 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Hindu Revival in Indonesia


The resurgence of Hinduism in Indonesia is occurring in all parts of the country. In the early seventies, the Toraja people of Sulawesi were the first to be identified under the umbrella of 'Hinduism', followed by the Karo Batak of Sumatra in 1977 and the Ngaju Dayak of Kalimantan in 1980.

The growth of Hinduism has been driven also by the famous Javanese prophesies of Sabdapalon and Jayabaya.

Many recent converts to Hinduism had been members of the families of Sukarno's PNI, and now support Megawati Sukarnoputri. This return to the 'religion of Majapahit' (Hinduism) is a matter of nationalist pride.

The majority of Balinese consider themselves descendants of noble warriors from the Hindu Javanese empire Majapahit who conquered Bali in the 14th century. A growing number of Balinese are conducting pilgrimages to Hindu temples in Java, most of which have been built in places identified as sacred sites in traditional Balinese texts (often written in Old-Javanese language). Balinese have been heavily involved in the construction and ritual maintenance of these new Hindu temples in Java. They further dominate organizations representing Hinduism at a national level. Finally, many Javanese Hindu priests have been trained in Bali.

The Javanese Hindu revival movement is in many ways unique, and its recent expansion may surprise a casual observer. Java is often viewed as the headquarters of Islam within the world's most populous Muslim nation. On its own, however, this superficial image fails to do justice to the immensely complex and varied cultural history of this island; a history that continues to exert a profound influence on contemporary Javanese society.

A glance at one of the many ancient monuments scattered across its landscape would suffice to remind one of a very different Java, where a succession of smaller and larger Hindu kingdoms flourished for more than a millennium, producing a unique and dynamic mixture of Indic and indigenous Austronesian culture.

At the peak of its influence in the 14th century the last and largest among Hindu Javanese empires, Majapahit, reached far across the Indonesian archipelago. This accomplishment is interpreted in modern nationalist discourses as an early historical beacon of Indonesian unity and nationhood, a nation with Java still at its center.

That the vast majority of contemporary Javanese and Indonesians are now Muslims is the outcome of a process of subsequent Islamization. Like Hinduism before it, Islam first advanced into the archipelago along powerful trade networks, gaining a firm foothold in Java with the rise of early Islamic polities along the northern coast. Hinduism finally lost its status as Java's dominant state religion during the 15th and early 16th century, as the new sultanates expanded and the great Hindu empire Majapahit collapsed. Even then, some smaller Hindu polities persisted; most notably the kingdom of Blambangan in eastern Java, which remained intact until the late 18th century.

Islam met with a different kind of resistance at a popular and cultural level. While the majority of Javanese did become 'Muslims', following the example of their rulers, for many among them this was a change in name only. Earlier indigenous Javanese and Hindu traditions were retained by the rural population and even within the immediate sphere of the royal courts, especially in a context of ritual practice. In this sense, the victory of Islam has remained incomplete until today.
In a Political Context

While many Javanese have retained aspects of their indigenous and Hindu traditions through the centuries of Islamic influence, under the banner of 'Javanist religion' (kejawen) or a non-orthodox 'Javanese Islam' (abangan, cf. Geertz 1960), no more than a few isolated communities have consistently upheld Hinduism as the primary mark of their public identity. One of these exceptions are the people of the remote Tengger highlands (Hefner 1985, 1990) in the province of Eastern Java.

In an unpublished report in 1999, the National Indonesian Bureau of Statistics tacitly admits that nearly 100,000 Javanese have officially converted or 'reconverted' from Islam to Hinduism over the last two decades.

At the same time, the East Javanese branch of the government Hindu organization, PHDI, in an annual report claims the 'Hindu congregation' (umat hindu) of this province to have grown by 76,000 souls in this year alone.

However, there are problems in estimating the real number of Hindus which may be bigger. The rate of conversion accelerated dramatically during and after the collapse of former President Suharto's authoritarian regime in 1998. Despite their local minority status the total number of Hindus in Java now exceeds that of Hindus in Bali.

Official Recognition

Officially identifying their religion as Hinduism was not a legal possibility for Indonesians until 1962, when it became the fifth state-recognized religion. This recognition was initially sought by Balinese religious organizations and granted for the sake of Bali, where the majority were Hindu. The largest of these organizations, Parisada Hindu Dharma Bali, changed its name to P.H.D. Indonesia (PHDI) in 1964, reflecting subsequent efforts to define Hinduism as a national rather than just a Balinese affair (Ramstedt 1998).

Religious identity became a life and death issue for many Indonesians around the same time as Hinduism gained recognition, namely in the wake of the violent anti-Communist purge of 1965-66 (Beatty 1999). Persons lacking affiliation with a state recognized-religion tended to be classed as atheists and hence as communist suspects.

Despite the inherent disadvantages of joining a national religious minority, a deep concern for the preservation of their traditional ancestor religions made Hinduism a more palatable option than Islam for several ethnic groups in the outer islands.

In the early seventies, the Toraja people of Sulawesi were the first to realize this opportunity by seeking shelter for their indigenous ancestor religion under the broad umbrella of 'Hinduism', followed by the Karo Batak of Sumatra in 1977 (Bakker 1995).

In central and southern Kalimantan, a large Hindu movement has grown among the local indigenous Dayak population which lead to a mass declaration of 'Hinduism' on this island in 1980. However, this was different to the Javanese case, in that conversions followed a clear ethnic division. Indigenous Dayak were confronted with a mostly Muslim population of government-sponsored (and predominantly Javanese) migrants and officials, and deeply resentful at the dispossession of their land and its natural resources.

Compared to their counterparts among Javanese Hindus, many Dayak leaders were also more deeply concerned about Balinese efforts to standardize Hindu ritual practice nationally; fearing a decline of their own unique 'Hindu Kaharingan' traditions and renewed external domination.

By contrast, most Javanese were slow to consider Hinduism at the time, lacking a distinct organization along ethnic lines and fearing retribution from locally powerful Islamic organizations like the Nahdatul Ulama (NU). The youth wing of the NU had been active in the persecution not only of communists but of 'Javanist' or 'anti-Islamic' elements within Sukarno's Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI) during the early phase of the killings (Hefner 1987). Practitioners of 'Javanist' mystical traditions thus felt compelled to declare themselves Muslims out of a growing concern for their safety.
Under Suharto's Rule

The initial assessment of having to abandon 'Javanist' traditions in order to survive in an imminent Islamic state proved incorrect. President Sukarno's eventual successor, Suharto, adopted a distinctly nonsectarian approach in his so-called 'new order' (orde baru) regime. Old fears resurfaced, however, with Suharto's 'Islamic turn' in the 1990s. Initially a resolute defender of Javanist values, Suharto began to make overtures to Islam at that time, in response to wavering public and military support for his government.

A powerful signal was his authorization and personal support of the new 'Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals' (ICMI), an organization whose members openly promoted the Islamization of Indonesian state and society (Hefner 1997). Concerns grew as ICMI became the dominant civilian faction in the national bureaucracy, and initiated massive programs of Islamic education and mosque-building through the Ministry of Religion (departemen agama), once again targeting Javanist strongholds. Around the same time, there were a series of mob killings by Muslim extremists of people they suspected to have been practicing traditional Javanese methods of healing by magical means.

In terms of their political affiliation, many contemporary Javanists and recent converts to Hinduism had been members of the old PNI, and have now joined the new nationalist party of Megawati Sukarnoputri. Informants from among this group portrayed their return to the 'religion of Majapahit' (Hinduism) as a matter of nationalist pride, and displayed a new sense political self-confidence.

Political trends aside, however, the choice between Islam and Hinduism is often a highly personal matter. Many converts reported that other members of their families have remained 'Muslims', out of conviction or in the hope that they will be free to maintain their Javanist traditions in one way or another.

In a Social Context

A common feature among new Hindu communities in Java is that they tend to rally around recently built temples (pura) or around archaeological temple sites (candi) which are being reclaimed as places of Hindu worship.

One of several new Hindu temples in eastern Java is Pura Mandaragiri Sumeru Agung, located on the slope of Mt Sumeru, Java's highest mountain. When the temple was completed in July 1992, with the generous aid of wealthy donors from Bali, only a few local families formally confessed to Hinduism. A pilot study in December 1999 revealed that the local Hindu community now has grown to more than 5000 households.

Similar mass conversions have occurred in the region around Pura Agung Blambangan, another new temple, built on a site with minor archaeological remnants attributed to the kingdom of Blambangan, the last Hindu polity on Java.

A further important site is Pura Loka Moksa Jayabaya (in the village of Menang near Kediri), where the Hindu king and prophet Jayabaya is said to have achieved spiritual liberation (moksa).

A further Hindu movement in the earliest stages of development was observed in the vicinity of the newly completed Pura Pucak Raung (in the Eastern Javanese district of Glenmore), which is mentioned in Balinese literature as the place where the Hindu saint Maharishi Markandeya gathered followers for an expedition to Bali, whereby he is said to have brought Hinduism to the island in the fifth century AD.

An example of resurgence around major archaeological remains of ancient Hindu temple sites was observed in Trowulan near Mojokerto. The site may be the location of the capital of the legendary Hindu empire Majapahit. A local Hindu movement is struggling to gain control of a newly excavated temple building which they wish to see restored as a site of active Hindu worship. The temple is to be dedicated to Gajah Mada, the man attributed with transforming the small Hindu kingdom of Majapahit into an empire.

Although there has been a more pronounced history of resistance to Islamization in East Java, Hindu communities are also expanding in Central Java (Lyon 1980), for example in Klaten, near the ancient Hindu monuments of Prambanan.

In an Economic Context

Taking Pura Sumeru as an example, it is also important to note that major Hindu temples can bring a new prosperity to local populations. Apart from employment in the building, expansion, and repair of the temple itself, a steady stream of Balinese pilgrims to this now nationally recognized temple has led to the growth of a sizeable service industry. Ready-made offerings, accommodation, and meals are provided in an ever-lengthening row of shops and hotels along the main road leading to Pura Sumeru. At times of major ritual activity tens of thousands of visitors arrive each day. Pilgrims' often generous cash donations to the temple also find their way into the local economy.

Pondering with some envy on the secret to the economic success of their Balinese neighbors, several local informants concluded that "Hindu culture may be more conducive to the development of an international tourism industry than is Islam". Economic considerations also come into play insofar as members of this and other Hindu revival movements tend to cooperate in a variety of other ways, including private business ventures which are unrelated to their joint religious practices as such.
As a Utopian Movement

Followers and opponents alike explain the sudden rise of a Hindu revival movement in Java by referring to the well-known prophecies of Sabdapalon and Jayabaya.

Sabdapalon is said to have been a priest and an adviser to Brawijaya V, the last ruler of the Hindu empire Majapahit. He is also said to have cursed his king upon the conversion of the latter to Islam in 1478. Sabdapalon then promised to return, after 500 years and at a time of widespread political corruption and natural disasters, to sweep Islam from the island and restore Hindu-Javanese religion and civilization.

Some of the first new Hindu temples built in Java were indeed completed around 1978, for example Pura Blambangan in the regency of Banyuwangi. As the prophesies foretold, Mt Sumeru erupted around the same time. All this is taken as evidence of the accuracy of Sabdapalon's predictions.

Islamic opponents of the Hindu movements accept the prophesies, at least in principle, though their interpretations differ. Some attribute the Hindu conversions to a temporary weakness within Islam itself, laying blame on the materialism of modern life, on an associated decline of Islamic values, or on the persistent lack of orthodoxy among practitioners of 'Javanese Islam' (Soewarno 1981). In their opinion, the 'return of Sabdapalon' is meant to test Islam and to propel its followers toward a much needed revitalization and purification of their faith.

A further prophesy, well-known throughout Java and Indonesia, is the Ramalan Jayabaya. A recent publication on these prophesies by Soesetro & Arief (1999) has become a national best seller. The predictions of Jayabaya are also discussed frequently in daily newspapers. These ancient prophesies, indeed, are very much a part of a current public debate on the ideal shape of a new and genuinely democratic Indonesia.

The historical personage Sri Mapanji Jayabaya reigned over the kingdom of Kediri in East Java from 1135 to 1157 AD (Buchari 1968:19). He is known for his efforts to reunify Java after a split had occurred with the death of his predecessor Airlangga, for his just and prosperous rule, and for his dedication to the welfare of the common people. Reputed to have been an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, Jayabaya is also the archetypal image of the 'just king' (ratu adil) who is reborn during the dark age of reversal (jaman edan) at the end of each cosmic cycle to restore social justice, order, and harmony in the world.

Many believe that the time for the arrival of a new ratu adil is near (as the prophesies put it, "when iron wagons drive without horses and ships sail through the sky [i.e. cars and airplanes]"), and that he will come to rescue and reunite Indonesia after an acute crisis, ushering in the dawn of a new golden age. These apocalyptic and utopian expectations evoke the notion of a revolving cosmic cycle, of a glorious past declining into a present state of moral decay, where the ideal order of things is momentarily inverted, only to be restored again in a future that is in effect a return to the past.

Hindu Javanese emphasize with pride that their ancestors Sabdapalon and Jayabaya represent a golden pre-Islamic age. Islamic opponents, in turn, claim that Jayabaya was in fact a Muslim and that Sabdapalon had only resisted conversion because what he was confronted with at the time was but a muddled and impure version of Islam (Soewarno 1981). Nevertheless, Muslim and Hindu interpreters agree that this is the time of reckoning, of major political reform if not a revolution. They also tend to agree that a truly democratic system of government may only be realized with the help of a leader of the highest moral caliber, thus blending modern notions of democracy with traditional notions of charismatic leadership.

That the prophesies of Jayabaya are of profound significance to Indonesians of very different persuasion and from all walks of life is illustrated by the secret visits (once before he was nominated as a presidential candidate and again before his election) of President Abdurahman Wahid (then head of the NU) to the ancestral origin temple of Raja Jayabaya in Bali, the remote mountain sanctuary Pura Pucak Penulisan.

After a solitary nocturnal devotion at this ancient Hindu temple, as local priests said that Gus Dur (the president's popular nickname) spoke with them at length about Jayabaya's prophesies and the imminent arrival of a new ratu adil.

Opponents of Gus Dur have prefered to identify his government with another passage in the prophesies, which refer to "a king whose [interim] rule shall last no longer than the life span of a maize plant".

Sabdapalon was a priest and adviser to Brawijaya V, the last ruler of the Hindu empire Majapahit in Java. No archeological or history recorded his name. He was mentioned in Darmagandhul, a javanese spiritual story. He was also said to have cursed his king upon the conversion of the latter to Islam in 1478. Sabdapalon then promised to return, after 500 years and at a time of widespread political corruption and natural disasters, to sweep Islam from the island and restore Hindu-Javanese religion and civilization.Some of the first new Hindu temples built in Java were indeed completedaround 1978, for example Pura Blambangan in the regency of Banyuwangi.As the prophesies foretold, Mt. Semeru erupted around the same time. All this is taken as evidence of the accuracy of Sabdapalon's predictions.





Jayabaya's Prophesy

#952 - April 27, 2007 10:36 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Prambanan (also known as Lorojonggrang Temple)

Brief Description
Build around the middle of the ninth century, the great temple of Loro Jonggrang at Prambanan, near Yogyakarta, is arguably Central Java's greatest architectural achievment. While not so large as the famous Borobudur, Prambanan displays an elegance and majesty which is surely unsurpassed anywhere in South East Asia

Built in the 10th century, this is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Rising above the centre of the last of these concentric squares are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them.

Prambanan, named after the village, is the biggest temple complex in Java. There are 224 temples in the complex; three of them, the main temples are Brahma Temple in the north, Vishnu Temple in the south, and the biggest among the three which lies between Brahma and Vishnu temples is Shiva Temple (47 meters high).

Siva as a Linga on Peetham

Click on each of the images to see more pictures.

#953 - October 16, 2008 11:33 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Hinduism throbbing high in South East Asia

By Ratnadeep Banerji

Agama Hindu Dharma is the variant of Hinduism as practised in Indonesia. It upholds the sanctity of the Vedas as its supreme scripture though only two of the Vedas were ever able to reach Bali. Other scriptures include the Puranas and the Itihasa (mainly comprising the Ramayana and the Mahabharata).

Agama Hindu Dharma believes in one Supreme Being and that all the gods like Brahma as the creator, Vishnu as the preserver and Shiva as the destroyer are manifestations of this Supreme Being. Lord Shiva is worshipped under different forms such as Batara Guru and Maharaja Dewa and often closely related with the Sun in Kebatinan that is the local form of Hinduism and even in the genie lore of Muslims.

"Religion is the manifestation of divinity already present in man” as Swami Vivekananda put it succinctly. And quite so, Hinduism with its tenet, ‘Truth is One’ has burgeoned and blossomed in pluralistic societies with aplomb panache. Proselytizing has ever since been disdained upon. But yet, the latent charisma has permeated into alien lands percolating into varied ethnic strata. Southeast Asian archipelago stands testimony to the affable nature of Hinduism, be it Malayasia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, or the Philippines notwithstanding the prevailing state religion, Hinduism is alongside revered and practised. In the south-east Asia, Hinduism has made forays into its culture in multifarious realms, be it language and script or art and architecture.

This saga of transmigration of Hinduism erupted in around 200 BC when traders from India, in particular Magadha and Tamil kingdoms fared the sea to reach Dwipantara or Jawa Dweepa on the islands of Java and Sumatra. Champa civilisation in southern parts of Central Vietnam, Funan and Khmer Empire in Cambodia, the Srivijayan kingdom in Sumatra, the Singhsari kingdom and the Majapahit kingdom based in Java, Bali and the Phillipine archipelago have all put up a resilient scintillating tapestry of pervasive Hinduism.

Indonesia—Java, Bali, Sumatra, Malaya, Kalimantan (major part of erstwhile Borneo), Lombok, down the ages Hinduism has held a major sway over Bali, Java and Sumatra as well as in Lombok and Kalimantan in realms of religion and culture. Sanskrit was highly esteemed throughout. During the sixth and seventh centuries while the trade interactions was on the rise several scholars from India visited these kingdoms to translate literary and religious texts.

Agama Hindu Dharma is the variant of Hinduism as practised in Indonesia. It upholds the sanctity of the Vedas as its supreme scripture though only two of the Vedas were ever able to reach Bali. Other scriptures include the Puranas and the Itihasa (mainly comprising the Ramayana and the Mahabharata). Agama Hindu Dharma believes in one Supreme Being and that all the gods like Brahma as the creator, Vishnu as the preserver and Shiva as the destroyer are manifestations of this Supreme Being. Lord Shiva is worshipped under different forms such as Batara Guru and Maharaja Dewa and often closely related with the Sun in Kebatinan that is the local form of Hinduism and even in the genie lore of Muslims. The caste system, the Varnas of Hinduism though adopted but was not impinged upon the Indonesian society. The Brahmins became the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas became the Satriyas or Devas, Vaishyas became the waisyas and the Shudras became the sudras.

In Bali as much as 93 per cent of the total population follows Agama Hindu Dharma though taken overall among the Indonesian population, only about 3 per cent is Hindu. In fact, Indonesian beliefs are inexorably interlinked that it turns ambiguous to classify any one religion as a distinctive religion.

Majapahit stood an Indianised kingdom based in eastern Java during 1293 to 1500. It marked the last of the major Hindu empires of the Malay Archipelago. Majapahit hegemony prevailed over Java. Garuda was prevalent in several temples including Prambanan temple complex initially erected during Mataram era. The well-known statue of King Airlangga has Vishnu riding Garuda. During Airlangga’s reign, Mpu Kanwa composed the Arjuna Wiwaha text, an adaptation culled from the Mahabharata. Sanskrit language was held in high esteem. Several Hindu kingdoms flourished in the region with Majapahit being the most prominent. In the sixteenth century when the Muslim kingdoms became powerful, Java was substantially converted to Islam (except the eastern part) the remnants of Majapahit shifted to Bali.

The deified statue of King Airlangga embodies Vishnu mounting Garuda, found in Java.

In Java, Islam crept in but it ran rough shod at popular and cultural level. Despite the majority of Javanese becoming Muslims kowtowing their rulers, they remained Hindus in their heart. Existing indigenous Javanese and Hindu traditions remained with the rural population and even the royal courts carried on the ritual practices. Even now, substantial number of Muslims follow a non-orthodox form, Islam Kharma that is influenced by Hinduism.

Hindu-animist fusion emerged in several Javanese communities and remained preserved. The Osings of East Java have great similarities to that of Bali. Despite the Buddhist affiliation by the Government, Tenggerese religion has elements of Hinduism as they worship the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Badui besides having their own religion bear several Hindu traits.

The statue of Harihara, with twin combination of Shiva and Vishnu

The Prambanan temple complex has an effulgent grandeur on account of its stupendous architecture. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva flanked by Vishnu and Brahma on either side. In the front of these temples are smaller temples, dedicated to the vahanas (mounts) of these Gods. There are other shrines as well, dedicated to Durga, Rishi Agastya and his son Lord Ganesha. The balustrades of these main shrines have bas-relief that depicts exquisite bas-relief portraying legends from the Ramayana. Quite sadly, the temple stands damaged after the earthquake of 2006.

The three main shrines of the trinity in Prambanan temple complex—a UNESCO World heritage site

Rishi Markandeya spread Buddhism to Bali in the fifth century AD. Balinese Hinduism lacks the traditional Hindu make over putting lesser emphasis on scriptures, laws and beliefs. Instead art and rituals take the lead. Beliefs in concepts of rebirth and reincarnation take a backstage but a myriad of local and ancestral spirits are revered. Balinese Hinduism lay great emphasis on dramatic and aesthetically gratifying acts of ritual propitiation to appease spirits at temples widely scattered all around.

The Mother Temple of Besakih belongs to Angma Hindu Dharma, a significant temple in Bali

Hindu holidays in Bali
Hari Raya Saraswati is a Hindu holiday in Bali devoted to Goddess Saraswati. The Balinese year is of 210 days and Saraswati Day marks the New Year, according to Balinese Pawukon calendar. Balinese Hindus celebrate the day to commemorate her success in taming the wandering and lustful mind of her consort, Brahma who was preoccupied with the goddess of material existence, Shatarupa. Interestingly, on this day no one is allowed to read and write and offerings are made to the lontar (palm-leaf scripts), books and shrines. Elaborate prayers and celebrations on a huge scale mark the occasion.

Hari Raya Nyepi is a Hindu day of Silence and marks the Hindu New Year in the Balinese Saka calendar. It is the largest celebration held in Bali as well as in Balinese

Hindu communities around Indonesia
Hari Raya Galungan is celebrated to mark the incarnation of gods and the ancestral spirits to earth to dwell again.

Sumatra and Malaya (present Malaysia)
The last prince of Srivijayan kingdom of Sumatra after loosing to Majapahits converted to Islam in 1414 to seek alliance with the Portuguese. Hinduism finds itself in the local customs adats and in norms of customary law and conflict resolution. The Bataks of Sumatra have identified their animist traditions with Hinduism.

Hinduism was rife in Malaysia till the 15th century when Islamisation started. Traces of Hindu influence remain in the Malay language, literature and art. During the 19th and 20th centuries Indian settlers thronged the rubber plantations and Hinduism went along with them. Shaivite tradition is in vogue. But Hinduism remains in a sordid state with widespread persecution and temple demolitions.

The statue of Hindu deity Murugan, stands at 42.7m at the Batu Caves in Malaysia. It was built in 1891.

Erstwhile Borneo (presently Kalimantan, East Malaysia, Brunei) and Sulawesi

Hinduism in Sulawesi is a rather recent phenomenon. It was by Balinese migrants to the islands in 1963. In 1977, the Trojas of the island converted to Hinduism en masse. To desist from conversions by Christian missionaries who tried to woo them, the Trojas took to Hinduism to preserve their faith and practice of animist nature. However, their practices are unlike Balinese Hinduism or Indian Hinduism.

The Dayak adherents of the Kaharingan religion (officially put under Hinduism) in Kalimantan Tengah account for 15.8 per cent of population as of 1995. They resemble Balinese Hindus.

Hinduism exists in some nondescript islands of Indonesia

In the Lombok Island, the Bodha sect of the Sasak people practise a religion that is admixture of Hinduism and Buddhism with animism though the government has officially sanctioned it as Buddhism. Several of Manusela and Nuaulu people of Seram follow Naurus, a syncretism of Hinduism with animist and protestant elements.

(To be continued)

(The author is a freelance writer with varied interests, reachable at

#954 - February 12, 2010 11:09 AM Re: Balinese Hinduism
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Siwaratri (a la Balinese)

Tonight, on the seventh month’s fourteenth day of waxing moon, Balinese will celebrate the Siwaratri or the Night of Siwa. This holy day is devoted to God Siwa, the destroyer. Balinese believes that on this day, God Siwa, the destroyer meditate for the welfare of the world, and the God Siwa will bestow a pardon for all sin to someone if he accompany the God Siwa in his meditation by observing some self restriction and meditate on the night of Siwaratri.


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