Hindu Dharma/Agama Hindu is the name of the
religion followed by 95% of the population of Bali. The remaining
5% practice a mixture of faiths : Islam, Catholic, Protestant,
Buddhism, and Kong Hu Cu.
The aim of Hindu Dharma is “ to reach peace of
spirit and harmony in the material life”. In practicing their
faith, Hindu communities try to achieve a spiritual balance of
worship between Tattwa (philosophy), Susila (etiquette/morals),
and Upacara (rituals). These three areas are subdivided into
The Tattwa has five principal beliefs (Panca Srada) :
Brahman The belief in the existence of one almighty God head.
Atman The belief in the soul and the spirit.
Samsara The belief in reincarnation.
Karma Belief in the law of reciprocal actions (one gets back,
eventually, what one gives out).
Moksha The belief in the possibility of unity with the divine (Nirwana).
The susila (etiquette) places emphasis on three major rules for
behavior (Tri Kaya Parisuda) :
- To think good thoughts.
- To talk honestly.
- To do good deeds.
As well three is an important code of Hindu Dharma called Tat Twam
Asi - “ You are as I am;” in other words, “ to feel the
feelings of one’s fellow beings.”
Upacara (ritual) is divided into five areas of holy sacrifice (Panca
Dewa Yadnya - holy rituals for the gods.
Pitra Yadnya - holy rituals for the higher spirits, and “rites
Rsi Yadnya - holy ritual for the holy Hindu prophets (resis).
Manusa Yadnya - ritual for and on behalf of humans (from the baby
in the womb until marriage).
Bhuta Yadnya - sacrifices for neutralizing the negative influences
from the natural and super natural worlds.
Hinduism is a monotheistic religion with one God head, in Bali
called “Ida Sanghyang Widi Wasa,” “ Sang Hyang Tunggal,”
or “Sang Hyang Cintya.” Hinduism is often misunderstood as
being a faith with many gods and goddesses (Dewas and Bhataris).
These other gods are merely realization or manifestations of the
holy rays from the one God. The word Dewa (Deva) comes from the
Sanskrit word Dev, meaning ray.
Bhatara comes from the word Bhar, meaning protector. The Dewas, or
holy manifestations of God which appear most often in Balinese
religion are called the Tri Murti, or the holy Trinity.
Brahma - The creator
Wisnu - The preserver
Ciwa - The destroyer or returner.
In Bali the pedanda, (high priest), selected from the Brahman
caste, officiates at large ceremonies. The pemangku, or village
temple priest, looks after the temple and leads the holy rituals
included in the Panca Yadnya.
The holy books of the Hindu religion are the Vedas, which origined
in the India. Those which reached Bali are the Catur and the Veda
Cirah, which are still used by the priest in carrying out their
religious duties. The religion is taught in other forms as well.
The most popular of these are the Purana, or morality plays, and
the Itihasa, or epic poems, the most well-known being the Ramayana
and the Mahabarata. The many theatre forms-the wayang shadow
puppet plays, the masked drama, the operas and ballets-are also
vehicles of religious teaching.
The beliefs of the Balinese are living force that pervade the
island and reverberate outside it. The island sings of love, the
love that spends an hour making an offering of woven palm leaves
and flashing flowers, the love that finds the time everyday to
think of the “other world”, of giving something to the gods,
of lighting a stick of incense, of sprinkling holy water, of
whispering a mantra as the hands make gentle, sacred movement, of
processions incredible in their spelendour, of offerings amazing
in their intricacy or surprisingly simple in their humility, of
loving work and love bestowed on children a life of love, given
freely to everyone in a smile or a wave as you pass by.
On this island there is a link to enlightenment. The Balinese feel
themselves to be a blessed people, a feeling, continually
reinforced by the wealth of their every-day life and strengthened
by the splendour of their religion. It is almost as if the
Balinese are living as art continually worshipping their muse. To
Nehru, Bali was “the morning of the world,” To the Balinese,
Bali is the only “real” world in the world and the sacred
mountain Gunung Agung is the “navel of the world,” the
umbilical cord form whence the world springs.