Hinduism in Bali

Discussion in 'Asian Forum' started by Aum, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. Aum

    Aum New Member

    Hinduism in Bali
    By : Prof. Dr.I Gusti Putu Phalgunadi, M.A., D.Litt.

    A. Process of Hinduisation of Bali.

    Hindu movement in Bali or Indonesia had been a peaceful one. Traders, Brahmanas and Ksatriyas, all arrived here with separate mission, but one thing was common, they never tried to destroy or uproot the existing local culture. Gradual interaction between the two cultural identities had its impact on the Indonesian people. Various theories have been put forward regarding the Hindu influences in Indonesia.It appears that the first initiative came from the traders who are supposed to have come from the coastal areas of India some time around the beginning of the Christian era. The passage of time witnessed a gradual wave of people coming in. Thus the Hindu traders were responsible for the spread and penetration of Hindu religion and its culture in the Indonesian archipelago. The Hinduisation of Indonesia has been long drawn process which continued for centuries. It progressed through a number of successive waves.

    Religion was one of the most important factors in the spreading of Hindu culture in Bali. The Hindu religion that flourished in Bali or Indonesia was never Vedic religion. It was Brahmanical or Puranic religion. This religion was introduced in Bali directly from India.

    The chief characteristic feature of this religion is its sectarian character. Each sect had one principal

    God, such as Siva, Visnu or Ganesa. It is a strange coincidence that apart from Brahmanic deities and gods such as Siva, Visnu and Ganesa, Buddha also came to be treated as another such deity which was also considered as one

    Each of these sects has many branches. Among all the promise sects which flourished in Bali, Saivite and Sector are the most dominant. These wielded more influence on the whole course of religious development than any other sect. The Hinayana doctrine was gradually replaced by the Mahayana Buddhist faith.

    There is no trace of any religious conflict in Bali or Indonesia since Hinduism was introduced to the people of Indonesia. The Balinese king assumed the rule of supreme guardian of all the religious sects.

    Brahmanical religion (Hinduism) and Mahayana Buddhist faith both attained privileged positions among the kings as well as their subjects.

    1. Saivism

    Saivism, Tantrism and Tantric Buddhism spread far and wide in Indonesia and particularly in Bali, where the worship of Siva in its most concrete and living form is still in vogue. Siva has conceived both in its transcendent (Niskala) and also at the bodily aspect (Sakala). The latter is identified with Sakti, the innermost nature of Siva. The worship of Siva finds earliest references in the Vedas, also in the Upanisads, Agamas, Ithihasa and Puranas.

    Belief in Siva in the form of Pasupati (Pasupata cult) date back to the period of the Varmadeva dynasty in Bali, which ruled Bali around tenth Century A.D. Pasupata denotes the eight aspects (astamurti) of Siva. These eight manifestations of Siva, as mentioned in the Indonesian Brahmanda-Purana as as follows; Rudra, Sarva, Pasupati, Ugra, Asani, Bhava, Mahadeva and Isana, each representing a distinct of God manifested through a visible form.

    2. Vaisnavism.

    Another sect which rose to prominence with the passage of time in Bali was Vaisnavism. It too enjoyed royal
    patronage along with Saivism and Mahayana Buddhism. The available evidences tend to show that during the
    twelfth Century A.D. Vaisnavism was becoming popular in Bali. In this cult Lord Visnu is regarded as the Supreme God. Numerous references linking Lord Visnu with this cult have found in Bali. Most probably Vaisnavism came from Java to Bali in the Kediri period in twelfth Century A.D. particularly during the reign of king Airlangga, who was the son of Gunapriyadharmapatni, the queen of Bali.

    3. Buddhism
    As regard the influence of Buddhism, Chinese records tell us of the prevalence of the cult of Hinayana Buddhism of the Mulasarvastivada school in Bali (Po’li). Even prior to the period described by Chinese records, there are evidences which suggest that the Buddhist faith was a flourishing religion in Bali in
    the fifth Century A.D. The Blanjong inscription mentions that the king sought the protection of the Buddha for the welfare of his country. The Buddhist faith in this period, particularly from the eight Century A.D., had a strong hold on the people of Bali.In that time Buddha was also called by various names such as Jina, Sakyamuni, Sugata, etc.

    4. Tantrism
    The Indonesian Tantrism has unfortunately remained a neglected branch of study, in spite of the fact that it has a very significant number of texts, mostly on the “Tal-patra” manuscripts. The word “tantra” is derived from the root “tan”, which means to spread, but some writers claim it to be a derivative of the root “tantri” meaning “knowledge” or “origination”. Tantra means “the scripture by which knowledge is spread”. Kulluka Bhatta in his commentary on the Manusamhita has expressly stated that “sruti” admits or twofold classification, namely Vaidika and Tantrika. There are Vaidika Saiva or Vedic Saiva, Vedic Vaisnava and Vedic Sakta. Similarly there are Trantika Saiva or Saivagama or Saiva-tantra and Vaisnavagama and Saktagama.

    Tantra, here, has to be understood in a context which is different from its traditional concept. The Indonesian Trantism is a synthesis of the worship of Sakti (power) and of the five principal gods also known as "pancopasaka” or “pancopasan”. Tantras also denote the “Agama” such as Saivagama, Vaisnavagama,
    Saktagama, Sauragama, Ganapatyagama and Buddhagama. It also describes their respective religious
    practices (acaras) and disciplines (niyamas) and stands for the essential nature of being spiritual and
    gaining power of ascendecy towards “Absolute Fullness and Perfection” (Parambrahma).

    The expression, Tantra and Agama are synonyms. The term Agama is applied to Tantra while Nigama though not exclusively but generally came to denote Veda on the one hand and the Agamas ensure its sanctity like the Vedas on the other.

    The deity worshipped in accordance with Tantrism is often and always adored with offerings, known as “Pancatattva” or “Pancamakara” namely mamsa (meat), matsya (fish), mudra (grain), mada (wine) and what is called in Balinese as “Porosan” (betel leafs, arecanut, lime) as “maithuna”.

    a. Saivagama

    Saivagama in Indonesia is based on the Saiva-shiddhanta philosophy. The Saiva system, in general, is known as Saiva-sasana or Saivagama. The non-dualistic Siva system as prevalent in Indonesia is known as Saiva-shiddanta. Sasana or sastra means teaching as regards rules for discipline. The Indonesian Saiva-sasana, Nana–siddhanta and Vrhaspati-tattva provide us with a descriptive treatise about God. It expounds that there are three distinct forms in which God manifests Himself. The highest and the most abstract among these is the Paramasiva or the non-dual form. Sadasiva and Siva are dualistic-cum-non-dual (advaitaadvaita) and dual (dvaita) respectively. It is only one single God who assumes all these three forms without, at the same time, loosing His essential nature.

    According to Indonesian Saivite literature, all existing “sastra” are divided into five groups which,although believed to have been ultimately propounded by one of Sadasiva’s five faces (pancanana), are created through the mediations of Karanesvara of Panca-brahma who is one of five deities collectively called the “Panca-brahmas” (Five-Brahmas). The five faces of Sadasiva are Sadyojata (the Eastern face), Bamadeva (the Southern face), Tatpurusa (the Western face), Aghora (the Northern face) and Isana (the Middle face). From each of these faces came out Bhutagama, Vamagama, Garudagama, Bhairavagama and Siddhantagama respectively.


    Saiva-Bhairava sect came to Indonesia long before tenth Century A.D. The inscription of Java, dated 1296 A.D. mentions about the priest of Bhairava sect who was following of life of the Bhairavas. And the other inscription, dated 1360 A.D. says that Acarya Sivanatha was professing the sect of the Bhairavas, who worship Lord Siva as Mahabhairava. While the Indonesian Tantu-pangelaran (palm-leaf) mentions that the followers of the Bhairava sect ate the dead body of human being.


    The Saktagamas believe in the Sakti or Power-aspect of the Supreme Being Nirguna which is manifested in the form of Sakti. So the Saktagama too claims a superior position for the Goddess in practice. However She (Bhairava, Durga or Laksmi) is not put above Siva or Visnu.


    Vaisnavism is one of the chief religious sects of the Hindus and the Pancaratra is the oldest surviving Holy Book of the Vaisnava. Among the vast number of Pancaratras, there are also Pancaratragamas, which teach about Vaisnavagama. The Vaisnavagama consider Laksmi – Narayana as the highest embodiment of God.

    III. Vedic Gods and Goddesses in Balinese Hinduism

    The Balinese Hindu worships the different manifestations of Supreme God. Rudra, Surya, Varuna, Brahma, Indra, Vayu, Sri Durga, Daksina, Prthivi, Ganga, Yamuna etc., naturally therefore, are regard as the manifestations of the Supreme deity, the Great Siva, who ultimately is without any form and any attribute and could be represented in the shapeless or invisible form of Paramasiva. According to the Balinese, the Supreme Being is Paramasiva, the Almighty God. The Balinese worship many different manifestations of God. They worship their gods in public temples as well as in their family or clan temples. Prof. H.R. Sarkar correctly says that all known gods of any importance's in the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon of India had heyday in Bali.

  2. Aum

    Aum New Member

    A. Vedic Gods in Balinese Hinduism

    In the Rigveda each hymn is usually directed to one or more deities at a time such as Rudra or Indra. While
    the Atharvaveda is full of rich prayers to a whole series of deities. In the Vedas, Lord Agni or the God of Fire is called also as Brahma. The Hindu in Bali regards and worships him as the God of Fire. They worship him in their kitchens as fire is used to cook food there. Even though, Brahma is also recognized as one of the three members of Trimurti. Usually Brahma is represented as a red colored deity. Similarly Visnu is the God of waters as mentioned in the Vedas. In Bali, Visnu is believed to represent waters and is worshipped as the God of Water. He is also regarded as the third member of the Trimukti according to the Saivites.

    Woship of Siva is reffered to in the Vedas. Various names of Siva, such as Rudra, Pasupati, Sankara, Sambhu, Ganapati etc. occur in the Vedas. In the Rigveda, there are verses, which refer to Rudra, for example ‘Ima Rudraya tapase ‘. In the Atharvaveda there are many collections of hymns, addressed to Siva as the manifestation of Rudra. In the Yajurveda section XVI, Satarudriya, of the Vajasaneya Samhita hundred names of Lord Siva are enumerated. In this section there is a verse which refers to Sambhu, Sankara and Siva.

    Today the Hindu in Bali worship all different form and manifestation of Siva. There are eleven Rudras (ekadasarudras) who are worshipped. According to Balinese, they are believed to be protectors of the eight directions and the zenith, the nadir and the center of Bali (universe). The occasion for the worship of these eleven Rudras come once in every hundred years. The eleven Rudras are Mahadeva, Isvara, Sambhu, Sankara, Rudra, Mahesvara, Sarva, Siva, Sadasiva and Paramasiva.

    B. Vedic Goddesses in Balinese Hinduism

    In the Puranic or brahmanical period in India Goddesses too became an essential part of the Brahmanical or Hindu religion. Of all the religious practices concerned with feminine divinities, it is Saktism and Tantrism which gives the Goddesses a place of Supreme importance. In this tradition female deity such as Durga or Laksmi is accorded the supreme place. She is described as Sakti, the power. Without her the world is lifeless and even Siva, the Greatest Lord (Mahadeva), is merely a lifeless body (sava). In the Laksmi-tantra, it is said that Laksmi is the Sakti of Narayana or Visnu. According to the Hindu belief, prosperity is bestowed on those who seek the grace of Goddesses Sri or Laksmi.

    The term Sri, first used in the Rigveda Khila, signifies that which is beautiful, charming and graceful. The famous Sri-sukta of the Rigveda provides us with the different attributes of the Goddess Sri.The Taittirya Upanisad, Goddess Sri is said to grant her worshipper gold, cattle and food. In the latter Vedic period, the term Sri came to be identified with Laksmi. In the Pancaratra sect of Vaisnava, Sri is addressed as Sri-devi.

    However in Bali, she never loses her distinct identity, as Sri the Goddess of agriculture, fertility and rice. Similar to the status accorded to her in Orissa (East India) and also in Southern India, Goddess Sri is a highly revered deity in Bali. Goddess Sri is never addressed by the name of Laksmi. The Balinesse worship her once a month and the day is usually Friday, when the common folk worship her in their rice-field. Hindus in Bali believe that Sri is Visnu’s consort. The other Vedic Goddesses worship in Bali, are Sarasvati, Prthivi, Yamuna, Daksina etc.

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