wonderful volcanoes, rice terraces and temples, dramatic ceremonies,
cremations and dances, processions, offerings, carvings,
gamelan music are
spectacular and colourful but pretty much devoid of meaning without
an appreciation of Balinese religion. The vital thing to appreciate
is that there is hardly any division between the religious and
the secular world. God is everywhere and in all things.
Balinese had a religion before Hinduism arrived on her shores.
Many aspects of the old religion are still practised today. The
Balinese share a common ancestry with the Malayo-Polynesians,
who settled the islands of the Pacific several thousands of years
ago. They worshipped many nature gods and ancestors. Their temples
were open rectangular spaces with shrines. The gods were invited
to visit the shrines during ceremonies. Fruit offerings were presented
to the gods. All these are common to the Balinese practice of
religion and suggest its origin.
Balinese believe that the world is divided into opposites, ruwa-bineda.
This philosophical principle is also found in Java: good and bad,
day and night, mountain and sea, the Pandawas and the Korawas
in the Mahabarata stories, right and left, young and old, male
and female, sun and moon and so on.
Balinese view of the world is somewhat reminiscent of Heraclitus,
the Greek philosopher, (c540-c480 BC), who taught that everything
is in a state of flux, strife and turmoil. He also said that conflict
between opposites constituted the universe. These opposites were
somehow the same and were one.
influences have been involved in the Balinese religion, which
is known as Bali Hindu Dharma. The cardinal belief is that the
world lies between two opposing and antagonistic poles. Left to
itself everything would fall into disorder. It takes an outside
influence, namely man, by proper ritual behaviour, to bring order
into the world and counter-act the natural tendency towards disorder.
aim is to achieve a state where the two forces of good and evil
are in balance. This is the purpose of ceremonies, prayers and
offerings: to achieve equilibrium, not only for the person, but
also for the village, Bali and the world. The equilibrium will
be a temporary, however, so the ceremonies must be constantly
Geertz in Images of Power takes a more radical slant and says
that conflict is the fundamental characteristic of life in the
Balinese view of the world. Those that have spiritual power, sakti,
possessed by humans and non-humans, royal and divine, are engaged
in constant competitive combat with one another. The universe
is thus comprised of fluctuating, flowing, shifting forces, which
can sometimes be temporarily commanded by masters of sakti.
this view, temple ceremonies are best understood as procedures
for accessing sakti in order to persuade spiritual beings not
to destroy the vitality and fertility of the congregation and
its lands, to hold off those that cannot be persuaded and to bless
the congregation with the strength to continue to oppose them.
comes from the word for blowing; it is the breath of life. There
are three main beliefs about the soul:
Vedic and Balinese view
is that the soul migrates through bodies by means of reincarnation,
like a game of snakes and ladders. The soul slowly progresses
on its journey. Even Buddha went through countless lives. According
to this view, the soul is separate from the body.
Abrahamic view of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that this
life is where you are tested. If you pass the test, you go to
Paradise or Heaven, but if you fail, you go to Hell. Originally
Judaism did not have much of an idea about the afterlife.
Chinese have all those views plus a view on immortality. Immorality
depended on the body being made immortal. If it was not made
immortal, the soul did not survive. To make it immortal it was
necessary to drink mercury, gold and jade.
is a strong belief in reincarnation. Man's body is the receptacle
for the spirit, Atman. Birth and death are merely the creation
and destruction of the perishable body. Reincarnation, samsara,
occurs when the spirit is reborn in a different body and to achieve
this old body must be completely destroyed. This can only be achieved
someone dies their spirit or soul hovers around their body. Capable
of bothering its old family, the family will want to treat it
right. Ceremonies are required to detach it from the body. There
are pre-cremation ceremonies, then the cremation ceremony, followed
by another ceremony, called Nyekah, by which the released soul
is returned to God. For the details, see the article
entitled Balinese Ceremonies.
reincarnation, according to one view, there are periods in heaven
and hell, the lengths of which depend on the person's karma. A
person can return as a higher or lower caste person or as an animal,
even as a one-celled creature. All depends on the person's karma.
the spirit is eventually freed from all desire, it reaches moksa.
The individual soul (atma) merges with the all-loving, all-forgiving
universal soul of the Creator (Peramatma). Having fused with God,
it loses its identity in Nirvana, the highest state of enlightenment.
Those that attain moksa are said to be able to take their bodies
with them when they die. It is possible to attain moksa during
your life. That is called Jiwa Mukti. Even animals participate
in reincarnation, until they eventually reach Nirvana.
actions, karma, determine whether one will be rewarded or punished.
Doing good works; making offerings, performing sacred dances and
playing music all create good karma.
central theme of Hinduism, which was brought to India by Indo-European
migrants, is that God is everywhere at all times. God is part
of all things. It follows that the essence of a person, his Atman,
and God are one. If this were not so, reincarnation could not
take place. Everything has a soul. A human being could be reborn
as an insect or animal. These beliefs lead to respect for all
is seen today as essentially Indian, being a major part of Hinduism
and Buddhism, but it is also found in the Western tradition. Pythagoras,
who flourished around 532 BC, founded a religion, whose main tenet
was the transmigration of souls. His followers, including Plato,
believed in reincarnation. Pythagoras believed that after death
souls could be reincarnated as plants or animals. He himself had
"already been once a boy and a girl, a bush and a bird and
a leaping journeying fish".
believed, although he could not prove it, that the soul had three
parts, one part was reason and two emotional parts, one domineering
and the other dealing with lower desires and appetites. Only the
part that reasons was immortal. It existed before birth and would
continue to exist after death. What the good man can hope to enjoy
after death is reunification, or at least, communion, with those
incorporeal higher forms of existence that are conventionally
called "the divine."
evolved out of humans. Animals were humans in a previous life
who could not reason well. Also, plants have souls, but they can
only feel, not reason.
also believed that plants and flowers have souls, but not consciousness.
Animals do not have rational souls. He thought that the soul was
part of the biological body and died with the body. He did not
believe in reincarnation.
concept of the Trinity arose early in the history of Hinduism,
namely Brahma, Siwa and Wisnu:
Brahma, the Creator, Wisnu, the Preserver, and Siwa, the god of
destruction and rebirth. Some say they are three manifestations
of the one God and that the name for the one God is Sanghyang
Widi Wasa. There are no statues of "Him". "He"
is defined as the essence common to all the gods. Sang and hyang
indicate the divine, the more than human, while widi, from the
Sanskrit widhi, means order. "He" is neither male nor
female, but in "his" more earthly manifestations is
portrayed as Lingayoni, a unity of masculine and feminine elements.
are other manifestations. Dewi
Sri, the Rice goddess, is very popular and her image is seen
everywhere. Also popular is Saraswati, the goddess of learning,
whose day is a public holiday.
Indonesian independence, there was a debate over whether Indonesia
should become an Islamic or secular state. Domination by an Islamic
majority had long been a concern in Bali. The debate continues,
but, for the time being, has been settled. Indonesia is a secular
placate Islam, it became politically important for the Balinese
to be clearly monotheistic. In the early 1950s it looked like
Bali-Hinduism might not gain official recognition as a "religion"
from the central state because it did not easily meet the Government
criteria: a "holy book", a belief in one God and a prophet,
and international recognition.
the assistance of President Sukarno, Balinese leaders gained recognition
and obtained a separate Bali-Hindu section in the Ministry of
Religious Affairs in 1958. Bali-Hinduism was acknowledged as an
official religion in 1962. Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, created
in 1986, is the religion's central body.
are five officially sanctioned religions in Indonesia and all
Indonesians have to profess one of them. They are Islam, Hinduism,
Buddhism and the two Christian religions, Catholicism and Protestantism.
is a recent move to establish major temples in old Hindu sites
outside Bali. These include Java in 1992 (Pura Mandadagiri Semeru
Agung), North Sulawesi in 1993 (Pura Agung Kayangan Jagat Uttara
Segara) and Central Kalimantan in 1994 (Pura Pitamaha). The people
of Ubud are foremost in their help and advice.
to The Vatican Handbook 2000 and The World Christian Encyclopaedia
there are 1.9 billion professed Christians around the world, 1.45
billion baptized Catholics and 1.2 billion Moslems. There are
811 million Hindus, 360 million Buddhists, 23 million Sikhs and
14 million Jews. There are 768 million non-religious people.
contrast Bali-Hindus number 3 million.
Weber, the German sociologist, distinguishes traditional religions
from rationalized religions and said that the world religions
evolved from traditional ones, folk cults and folk mythologies.
Traditional religions, of which Bali-Hinduism is one, are closer
to the gods, more concerned with ritual and less concerned with
philosophy. Rationalized religions, and the world religions are
in this category, are more distant and compartmentalized.
religions infuse everyday life. The gods are present everywhere:
rocks, trees, graveyards, road crossings and so on. The rationalized
ones have a more distant concept of the divine, such as Yahweh.
To get closer to the divine Weber identified two methods in the
rationalized religions; obeying commands from holy books, the
prophets, and indications miracles. The other way contact through
religions deal with the problems of life in a piecemeal fashion
- a ceremony will put the disaster right. Rationalized religions
deal with abstract matters in a more or less coherent way.
power in Bali is easily converted to good or bad.
evil spirits, which live on the ground, and receive their offerings
there, are called the Bhutas and Kalas. There are also witches,
Leyaks. They study black magic, are usually married women initiated
by a sorcerer, and get their power through secret rituals in the
graveyard. They have the ability to change shapes. They can appear
as monkeys, goats, pigs, snails, balls of fire and other shapes.
Naturally most Balinese are scared of them. Sometimes they have
a burning desire to eat foetuses, newborn babies and small children.
This becomes the subject matter of paintings. Miscarriages and
stillbirths are routinely blamed on them.
animate or inanimate, can be possessed by a spirit, good and/or
bad, and is worthy of an offering to keep things in balance. So
trees, rocks, practically anything may be presented with offerings.
Invisible spirits or beings are very much alive and part and parcel
of everyday life. Belief in the invisible is, of course, known
in other religions. The Christian Creed begins "I believe
in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth,
of all things visible and invisible
in the English language, we describe Balinese spirits as gods
or demons and thereby imply that they are either consistently
benevolent or malevolent, this falsifies Balinese belief. Every
Balinese god or demon is capable of being helpful and/or harmful.
They are just opposite ends of the same stick.
of the more curious Balinese gods is the God of Thieves, Pelinggih
Sang Hyang Maling. Two temples are dedicated to him: Besikalung
Temple near the Hoo River and Petali Temple in Jatiluwih village.
There are few visitors and no priests. Nobody knows how the god
fits into the Bali Hindu religion or the reason the temples were
built. According to Nengah Bawa Atmaja, a local scholar, the Balinese,
along with many other societies, have the concept of a "social
bandit", a Robin Hood character, and the god may represent
Bali Hindu belief in ancestors is different in nature from Indian
Hinduism's belief. Reincarnation takes place more quickly than
in Indian Hinduism, occurring within a generation or two after
someone dies, they are usually buried, and their spirit resides
in Pura Dalem, the Temple of Death. It can, of course, move from
there if it wishes. It is not until cremation, properly carried
out, that the spirit goes to heaven. It is the most important
duty of the deceased's children to ensure that the cremation ceremony
is indeed carried out and carried out properly.
heaven the spirit will be rewarded or punished according to its
karma, its actions on earth. Reincarnation can then take place
and usually the spirit returns to the same family in the fourth
generation. A female can come back as a male and vice versa. There
are no constraints. Two people may even be reincarnated as one
numerous reincarnations, when it has become pure, the spirit achieves
moksa and fuses with the spirit of and becomes one with God and
deified family ancestors (leluhur) are part of God and can help
the family if they are accorded due respect. The reverse is also
true: they can cause trouble to the family if they are not treated
properly. The Balinese therefore take care to invite them to ceremonies,
make regular offerings to them and maintain their shrines. Ceremonies
are conducted in the best and most pleasing ways possible to entertain
more than four generations back begin to lose their identities.
That is because they may already have been reincarnated. Geertz
calls this "genealogical amnesia". Relations five generations
apart call each other by the same kinship term, kumpi, and are
classified as belonging to the same generation. Children that
are five generations apart from their deceased great-grandparents
do not pray to them in the family temple because they have the
same generational rank.
people belong to half a dozen or more temples and will attend
them when there is a ceremony. They pay homage to the gods that
are relevant to them. If a person does not belong to a particular
temple, he will have no real interest in entering.
are no sermons - only a blessing with holy water and simple prayers
and entertainment for the gods and ancestors.
physical and the spiritual
the ancient Greeks, the Balinese do not draw a sharp distinction
between the physical and the spiritual, so a deformed person is
regarded as ritually unclean, mala. The inner life of a person
is reflected in his appearance. Therefore, during important ceremonies,
people who are badly handicapped, for example, by being blind,
lame, or hare-lipped, are not allowed to enter the temple. Menstruating
women are never allowed in temples.
are a feature of many religions and a frequent occurrence in Bali.
Sometimes gods or Barongs
(Balinese mythical spirits that protect villages) visit other
temples whereupon there will be a procession involving many people,
and a gamelan orchestra.
These visits link temples and draw communities together.
temple anniversaries start their celebrations by taking the gods,
their spirits residing in wooden images called Pratimas, to a
holy river or the sea for symbolic cleaning and purification.
is called the holy water religion, Agama Tirta, which indicates
how important holy water is. It is used in every ceremony, in
every ritual. It is poured over every offering, every sacrifice,
every building, every rice paddy and every person. It blesses
are ornate holy
temple creates its own holy water. It signifies that temple, its
god and congregation. It is sacred and the more upstream the spring
from which it comes the more potent it is. The most sacred variety
is so imbued with the essence of the god that it can represent
the god at temples outside his own temple. So, holy water does
not represent the sacred in general but a specific god or social
from the spring is made holy by presenting offerings to the particular
god, who is asked to sanctify it. High priests can also make holy
water and as they do they are infused with and become Siwa.
waters are often mingled, which symbolically tie communities together.
For example, a water temple downstream may have its holy water
augmented by holy water from a more important, upstream water
temple. Or there may be a mingling of holy water between a local
water temple and a village temple. This symbolically connects
communities and demonstrates the hierarchy.
water is collected from upstream temples and brought back, never
the other way round - never does an upstream temple collect water
from a downstream source. The further upstream the source, the
more sacred the water, so major rituals would have local holy
water augmented by distant upstream holy water.
are an act of homage to God and form part of every ceremony. There
are no formal prayers. In the temple prayers are said sitting
on the ground. Men sit cross-legged; women kneel, facing the gods
and the offerings, which will have already been placed in front
of the gods.
priest sprinkles everyone with holy water three times. Each person
has a little basket in which there are placed flowers and a stick
of burning incense.
The incense carries the prayers to God. Prayers are said privately
by holding a flower between the fingers, pressing the palms together
and raising them so that the thumbs touch the forehead. At the
end of each prayer the flower is flicked forward to carry the
prayer. This is repeated three times. This homage to God is called
the act of muspa from puspa meaning flower.
the end of prayers an attendant or priest sprinkles holy water
on the hands of those who have prayed. This is sipped. This is
done three times. The fourth pouring of holy water is rubbed on
the face and hair. Then a few grains of sticky rice are handed
to the people. A few grains are eaten and the rest are pressed
to their Cakra points on the forehead, temples and chest. The
rice serves as a magical protection.
collect their offerings and take them home to eat. Their essence
has already been taken by the gods and enjoyed.
dance and shadow puppet performances, staged to entertain the
gods, who have been invited to the ceremony, usually take place
in the evening.
the articles devoted to these subjects for details: Balinese
Music, Balinese Dances,
and Balinese Shadow Puppet Performances:
article entitled Balinese Dances explains that performances take
place in different sections of the temple. The holiest, purely
for the gods, take place in the inner sanctum. Performances for
two audiences, the gods and humans, are performed in the middle
of a typical temple ceremony
vary from village to village, but the basic scheme is the same.
Normally a temple anniversary, odalan, takes three days. The main
purpose is to invite the gods to the temple. The programme is
or 3 days before
A woman and man go to the temple from each household, she prepares
rice flour and containers, or fries offering cakes in oil and
he cleans the temple grounds and builds offering stands, or
guards the temple at night.
1 day before
The women cook glutinous rice, make it into pyramids or cylinders
and pack it into woven palm-leaves, wrap the uprights of pavilions
and the friezes with coloured cloth, hang flat, carved, hour-glass
figures (salangs), made of punched Chinese coins on either side
of altars and place woven palm lamaks in front of the altars.
Early morning of the first day, the men slaughter a pig, whose
meat will be used for offerings for the demons; the priest takes
out the small Pratimas, figures, which he dresses like small
dolls and adorns with flowers, which are temporary homes for
the gods during the festival, and places them in the place where
the gods assemble. The priest will purify the area with an offering
for the demons, hold up an incense container, and invite the
gods to come down along the ladder made by the incense smoke,
whilst the kulkul drum beats to announce their arrival.
During the day, women will bring tall offerings on their heads.
The priest fans the essence of the offerings to the gods. The
worshippers are purified with holy water from the priest and
then they pray. The offerings are taken home and eaten.
Shortly before sunset, the gods are taken to the river to bathe.
They are accompanied by processional music and singing. They
are then taken back to the temple.
In the evening, ritual dances, music and entertainments follow.
the night of the third and last day, the gods are asked to return
to Mount Agung. The cloths are taken away and the shrines and
temple doors locked.
Four Invisible Brothers or Sisters: Kanda Empat
have four brothers; females have four sisters. They are conceived
and born at the same time. At birth they take up positions inside
the baby's body.
are the amniotic fluid, the uterine blood, the vernix caseosa
(the yellowish waxy substance covering a baby) and the placenta.
Immediately after birth the baby's placenta and umbilical cord
are placed in a coconut and buried outside the door of the baby's
home: as you stand at the door looking out, they are buried on
the right for a boy and on the left for a girl, a large black
rock placed on top and a thorny pandanus bush placed on top for
protection. If the family moves house, the remains are dug up
and reburied at the new house.
four children stay with the child throughout his or her life,
protect the child and adult, and accompany the spirit to heaven
and testify to his or her good karma. But this is conditional
on the Kanda Empat being treated with respect.
the mother feeds the baby, a few drops of milk should be spilt
on the placenta for the four children. The same ceremonies for
a person should be carried out for the four children. If not,
great harm can result. The Kanda Empat can do good or evil, so
they need to be considered and treated well. The theory is that
they represent man's potential.
is knowledge as to how to behave properly, imparted by the founders
of the village, who have since become deified ancestors. It is
from a word of Arabic origin meaning custom, but it means more
than that. It is inextricably connected to religion. These customary
rules are part of the divine order. They evolve and vary from
village to village in minor ways. Every creature or thing, animal,
plant and river, has its own adat.
governs ceremonies of marriage, birth and death, etiquette, inheritance,
methods of agriculture, styles of art, times to plant rice, build
a house and many other things. In short, adat is order, an entire
framework of social action.
foundations of Indian Hinduism and Balinese Hinduism are the same,
but they have evolved and are practised in very different ways.
temples are architecturally quite different, open with no roofs,
so that the gods can descend and visit.
Balinese offerings are very different, often extremely elaborate.
Balinese reincarnation takes place more quickly, often within
a generation or two of cremation.
The Balinese emphasise deification of ancestors.
There are four Balinese castes; in India there are 7,000 recognized
castes and sub-castes.
The Balinese caste system operates differently: there are no
Untouchables; employment is not restricted to particular castes
with certain exceptions (high priests, the pedandas, must be
Brahmans and blacksmiths must be members of the Pande title
Balinese Brahmans cannot be rulers.
In Bali there is no idol worship and there are no statues of
gods in the temples.
In Bali the gods are present in the temples only during ceremonies.
The Balinese eat beef (except the high caste priests, the pedandas,
who do not).
Balinese dead do not have to be cremated immediately (except
for priests and members of the royal family).
Balinese cremations are totally different.
variations do not mean that the Balinese religion is not Hindu,
although it does incorporate a large amount of pre-Hindu animism.
In India there are many, many Hindu sects, which practise Hinduism
in different ways. One way of looking at it is that Bali-Hinduism
is a Hindu sect.
is very little contact nowadays with India and there has been
no significant contact for more than a thousand years. There is
a revival of interest amongst Indonesian Hindus living outside
Bali, for example, in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan. There are
numerous contacts between Bali and them. Bali provides them with
a lot of help. Pura Mandara Giri Semeru Agung, the new Balinese
Hindu temple honouring Mount Semeru in Java, was built at the
foot of the mountain with much help from the Royal family and
people of Ubud.
Chinese came to Bali as traders and plantation workers. They were
Confucianists and their influence on Balinese culture remains
profound. It is clearly seen in the use of Chinese
coins, called kepengs, in Balinese offerings, the Barong
dance, the Baris Cina dance and the traditional Balinese opera.
Between the 12th and 16th centuries, the famous Lee family brought
chow chow dogs to Bali, which bred with local dogs, which are
probably responsible for the local Kintamani dogs.
are a number of Chinese temples or klenteng scattered throughout
the island. Chinese temples are found in Blabatuh near Gianyar,
Denpasar, Kuta, Singaraja, Tabanan and Tanjung Benoa.
is Old Javanese, the language of the Hindu kingdoms of Java from
the 8th to the 14th centuries. It became the language of the courts
of Bali, but has not been spoken since the 16th century. Nearly
half the vocabulary derives from Sanskrit, the sacred language
of Hindu philosophy in India. Kawi is used for the epic stories,
shadow puppet performances and poetry.
is regarded as the language of the gods, very powerful, and never
translated. It is only studied by the pedandas, the high priests,
and is the language of prayer.
leaf manuscripts. Characters are inscribed on the leaf and
rubbed with a mixture of lamp soot and oil. Religious writings
are written on lontar books in Kawi. Few survive more than 100
years in Bali's tropical climate. Many have been copied many times
since writing started in the first millennium AD.
many people can read lontars. There are only about four lines
of text on each leaf. The leaves are bound and held together by
string. As they are holy they must be stored above head height.
temple ceremonies passages from the lontars are read in Kawi,
followed by a translation in Balinese, as not many people understand
are currently two opposing camps struggling over the fundamental
teachings of Bali Hinduism. The first camp comprises the traditional
religious leaders, mostly pedanda high priests and traditional
political figures from the Satrias caste. They tend to come from
various royal houses. Prominent members of this camp are the nobility
of the Ubud palace. The other camp comprises a loose coalition
of various clan-based organisations and progressive Hindu scholars.
They are heavily influenced by Indian Hinduism, especially Hare
Krishna, and Ghandian philosophy. Prominent members were the late
Gedong Bagoes Oka and the late Professor Dr I Gusti Ngurah Bagus.
2001 the modern camp, for the first time, succeeded in taking
over the executive of The Parisadha Hindu Dharma Indonesia Pasat
and appointing a layman as chairman, rather than a high priest.
In a conges meeting a recommendation was made that there should
be a religious decree putting an end to the caste system. The
modern group also wants to end animal sacrifices in purification
mecharu ceremonies. The traditional camp is very concerned that
sacred fundamental teachings could be destroyed. They do not want
the introduction of foreign texts.
issues are at stake: the struggle of sects, such as the Waisnawa
or the Brahma, to reclaim the position they lost 500 years ago
to the Siwa-Siddhanta sect and the relationship between the lower
and upper castes.
was a late arrival in Indonesia. One of the earliest surviving
signs is a tombstone found in east Java and carved in about 1082.
is believed to have entered Bali between the 15th and 16th centuries.
Traders from Gujarat in India and the Middle East brought their
religion. Some believe that there may even have been a special
Islamic mission to Bali to spread the word.
is also possible that Balinese kings invited Muslim communities
to Bali. A.A.W. Wirawan, the author of The History of Islam in
Bali says that King Dalem Ketut Ngulesir (1380-1460), who was
king in Gelgel, visited the Majapahit kingdom in Java and brought
back 40 Muslims, who established a Muslim village called Kampung
Islamic kingdom of Demak in Central Java sent an envoy to Dalem
Waturenggong (1460-1550) to teach Islam, but the king and his
subjects refused to convert.
was a further migration of Muslims in the 17th century. Bugis
soldiers and traders from Makassar in South Sulawesi fled to Bali
after having been defeated by the Dutch. They landed in Serangan
in Badung regency and in Loloan in Jembrana in West Bali.
villages are predominately Muslim. They include Kepaon in Denpasar,
Pagayaman in Buleleng regency in North Bali, and Nyuling and Kecicang
in Karangasen in east Bali
first Balinese Christian
1867 a Dutch Reformed Church missionary, Jacob de Vroom and his
associate, Van Eck, appeared in Bali. The mission was not a great
success. In 1875 Van Eck left because he became ill and on 8 June
1881 de Vroom was murdered. Over the 14-year period they succeeded
in converting only one person: Gusti Wayan Karangasen. He was
the first Christian convert and he murdered de Vroom.
surprisingly Karangasen was accepted in his village despite his
conversion to Christianity. However, he had problems at work and
his wife was implicated in a financial crime. He went to Singaraja
to find comfort from de Vroom. De Vroom lived in very comfortable
quarters there and instead of providing comfort gave him a lecture
on the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer. Karangasen was
deeply wounded and disillusioned. Then two of de Vroom's Muslim
servants angered him still further. He murdered de Vroom and was
Dutch authorities excluded missionaries successfully for the next
1929 the Dutch Governor General in Java allowed Tsang Ho Tan,
who was a Chinese representative of the Christian and Missionary
Alliance, to come to Bali to look after Chinese Christians. Many
of them had married Balinese wives. He was not allowed to proselytise
and if he did he would be expelled.
first, it seemed that he had taken note, but he started preaching
and began to attract followers. He was joined in June 1931 by
another Christian missionary Dr J.A. Jaffray, an itinerant minister
with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. They started baptising,
first Chinese and half Balinese and then full blood Balinese.
By the end of 1931 they had 47 converts and more were interested.
Tsang insisted that the new Christians reject their old culture,
which Dr Jaffray denounced as pagan.
1932 another public baptism took place and it caused a sensation
in Bali. The Dutch Resident Officer insisted that they must stop
carrying on aggressive missionary work. The warning went unheeded
and they baptised another 75. They now had 266 converts. Tsang
Ho was ordered to leave Bali in 1933
rejecting their culture the Balinese converts were ostracised
from their villages. They were denied burial places. Their water
supply was cut off. They could not rent land. Their crops were
destroyed. The Hindus believed that the gods were angry at the
infiltration of the new religion. They wanted them to give it
1934 the Dutch Reformed Church in East Java sent Dr Hendrik Kraemer
to Bali to assess matters and the following year they took care
of the new Christians. In 1935 they sent two Javanese ministers
and the Bali Church remained under the pastoral care of East Java
were now three groups of Christians in Bali: one group which remained
loyal to the Christian and Missionary Alliance whose headquarters
were in Makassar, another group centred on the two Javanese ministers
and a third group, who became Roman Catholic, influenced by a
Catholic priest, who had permission to work among Dutch Catholic
soldiers and civil servants in Bali. The two Protestant groups
united in 1938 and became the Union of Balinese Christians.
first Christian community was established in Blimbingsari in 1939
and the first ordained Balinese minister was Made Rungu in 1942.
In that year 1942 there were 200 Christians, in 1950 there were
500 and in 1960 there were 2,000. In 1965 there were 6,500.
important milestone was reached in 1972 when the Synod in Abianbase
in March 1972 resolved to rid itself of the anti-cultural legacy
of Tsang and accept, or as they put it, contextualise Balinese
culture. This has led to the Bali Church using Balinese art forms
in its architecture and services - paintings, gamelan music, dance,
shadow puppets, and woodcarving. Balinese churches are entered
through a traditional split gate, the candi bentar, and worshippers
face the sacred direction, kaja. As in Balinese temples, there
is an outer court and an inner sanctuary. There are also offerings.
has existed in Indonesia since the arrival of the Portuguese in
the 16th century, but it did not make headway in Bali until the
1930s. The first missionaries arrived in Bali on Easter Day 1936
and shortly thereafter converted a number of people in Tuka, a
village, which is about 10 kilometers north of Denpasar.
year later 72 people from Tuka and another 30 from Gumbrih, a
village in Jembrana, West Bali, were baptized at the Tuka Catholic
Church. The head of the Tuka Church, Father Simon Buis, requested
from the Dutch administration and Bali's Board of Kings and was
granted a plot of land in the lush forest of Pangkung Sente in
Jembrana for his congregation.
September 1940 Father Buis and his followers moved to the forest
and settled in a village, now known as Palasari. At that time
nutmeg plants, locally called pala, surrounded it. Sari means
"essence". 120 kilometers from Denpasar, then it would
be a week long journey, but now, about 3 hours by car.
congregation grew rapidly. Father Buis requested and received
another 200 hectares. First they built schools and a health clinic
and then a permanent church, the Sacred Heart (Hati Kudus) Catholic
Church. It was started in 1954 and finished on 13 December 1958.
Sitting on 36,000 square meters it is a blend of gothic arches
and Balinese styles, designed by Father Ignatius A.M. de Vriese,
who was assisted by two Balinese architects, Ida Bagus Tugur from
Denpasar and I Gusti Nyoman Rai from Dalung, Kuta.
has 10 banjars, three of which are Catholic, seven Hindu and one
Moslem. At present there are about 1,400 Catholics in Palasari,
the largest Catholic community in Bali. The figure would be even
greater if a large number had not gone to Lampung province in
Sumatra and Umaha in Sulawesi as part of the Government's transmigration
with the Protestants, the Catholics have used Hindu paraphernalia,
which has caused some resentment among the Hindu Balinese. They
use penjors and other temple decorations and dress in Balinese
formal costume during Christian festivals and mass.
Hinduism is not a missionary religion. In fact, there have been
instances among the Balinese royal families of openness and tolerance.
They have provided lands and helped build mosques for Moslem communities.
Buleleng regency in North Bali King Ki Gusti Anglurah Panji Sakti
gave the Moslem community a plot of land near Pagyaman village
and even initiated the construction of a grand mosque in Kajanan
village in Singaraja. In Karangasen in east Bali the nobility
provided financial assistance to Moslems wanting to perform the
Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
traditional versus modern debate is an argument of the elite.
The ordinary person is not much concerned with it. For them to
cease to be a Balinese Hindu is to cease to be Balinese. Their
lives are full of ceremonies. During a ceremony, the place of
ritual activity is a stage. The believers are actors, the priests
are directors, their helpers are assistant directors, and the
gods and demons are the invisible but critical audience.
pious Balinese leads a busy and crowded life full of rites and
ceremonies, whose purpose is to cleanse the unclean, reconcile
the irreconcilable, worship, appease, avert danger, obtain nourishment
and secure a happy life after death and a good reincarnation.
It is a full life and very difficult to maintain these days in
cases where a business is being run at the same time.