The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



The deities of the Hindu pantheon are mostly those worshipped in India, the high " Lords " - batara - but in Bali they acquire a decidedly Balinese personality. Centuries of religious penetration did not convince the Balinese that the bataras were their gods; they were too aloof, too aristocratic, to be concerned with human insignificance, and the people continue to appeal to their infinitely more accessible local dewas to give them happiness and prosperity.

The bataras remained remote in the popular mind, regarded rather as deified foreign lords like their princes, and as far as the Balinese are concerned, their functions ended when they created the world with all that it contains. The bataras appear in Balinese literature with such human characteristics and are so susceptible to the passions of ordinary mortals that they become merely mythological figures losing their esoteric significance. Typical is the amusing episode in the Tjatur Yoga in which Batara Guru, the Supreme Teacher, quarrelled with Batara Brahma for the privilege of making men:

" After Siwa had created the insects, Wisnu the trees, Isora the fruits, and Sambu the flowers, Batara Guru discussed with Brahma the creation of human beings to populate the new world. Brahma admitted he did not know how and asked Batara Guru to try first. The latter then made four figures, four men out of red earth, and went into meditation so that they could talk, think, walk, and work. Brahma remarked that if those were human beings, then he could make men, and taking some clay, he proceeded to make a figure that resembled a man.

Batara Guru was annoyed and made the rain, which lasted for three days, destroying the figure Brahma had made. When the rain topped, Brahma tried again, this time baking the figure. On seeing the man of baked clay, Batara Guru boasted he would , at excrement if Brahma could give it life, but Brahma succeeded n making it alive by meditation and demanded that Batara Guru make good his boast. Enraged, Batara Guru took some lay and made images of dogs that became living dogs, and wished that forever after they should walk, whine, bark, and eat excrement."

An average Balinese knows, however vaguely, the names of countless bataras. He is well aware, for instance, that Batara Brahma is the god of fire, that Surya is the Sun, Indra the Lord of I leaven, and Yama that of Hell, Durga the goddess of death. Semara the god of physical love, and so forth,; but unless he has had a certain amount of theological education, to him the Batara Siwa is simply another of the remote high gods, although the highest in rank; a sort of Radja among the bataras.

However, to the learned Brahmanic priests Siwa represent, the abstract idea of divinity that permeates everything - the total of the forces we call God. Siwa is the source of all life, the synthesis of the creative and generative powers in nature. consequently in him are the two sexes in one-the Divine Hermaphrodite (Windu) , symbol of completion, the ultimate perfection. As male Siwa is the mountain, the Gunung Agung, the Lingga, Pasupati, the father of all humanity, all phallic, symbols. He is also the Sun, the Space, and as Batara Guru, the Supreme Teacher, he is the maker of the world. As female he is Uma, mother of all nature, Giri Putri, goddess of the mountains, Dewi Gangga and Dewi Danu, deities of rivers and lakes.

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