BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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THE HIGH PRIESTS AND THE BRAHMANIC
RITUAL

He mumbles inwardly his most sacred prayers and, with apparent physical effort, he leads his soul from his " lower body " into his head, holding a rosary of genitri seeds and raising his hands slowly upwards. This brings him into the complete trance; he trembles all over and, rolling his eyes in ecstasy, he pronounces the prayers " for the world " in a deep, strangely changed voice. Thus the water in the container becomes toya pelukatan, Siwa's water.

Such is the power of concentration of the pedandas during these trances that once, at the preliminary ceremonies for the cremation of the Regent of Buleleng's daughter, a small pavilion caught fire near where the high priest performed the maweda, almost burning, prematurely, the corpse lying in state; the priest went on with his prayer totally unmindful of the wild screams of the women attendants and the rushing relatives, who extinguished the flames.

To become himself again, the priest sprinkles water towards him and " drives back his soul into the stomach." He takes off his ornaments and pins a little bouquet of multi-coloured flowers over his hair knot. This ends the ceremony, and he sprinkles his relatives and neighbours with the remaining holy water.

Despite the secrecy with which the priests surround the knowledge of the Sanskrit mantras, a good many of them nave been studied and translated by Dutch and Javanese scholars, such as De Kat Angelino, R. Ng. Poerbatjaraka, and Dr. R. Goris, and I refer those interested in mantras to their works. Most sacred of all the aphorisms of the pedandas, and as typical as any, is the kuta mantra: " OM, HRAM HRUM SAH, PARAMA-SHIVA-DITYATA NAMAH: Om, hram hrum sah, praise be to the all-high Shiva, the Sun " (Goris)

Religious knowledge is transmitted from father to son or from teacher (guru) to pupil (sisiya) . The priest then becomes his pupil's absolute master and his father; even in case there be no blood relationship between them, marriage with the teacher's daughter would be considered as incest, a most dreadful crime. All Brahmanas are eligible to become pedandas with the exception of lepers, madmen, epileptics, the deformed, and those who have received dishonourable punishments.

The pupil learns Kawi first, the classic language, to study the preparatory texts; is taught the moral principles by which to rule his life, which are, according to De Kat Angelino, the capital sins: crime, greed, hypocrisy, envy and ill temper, morbidness; the five commandments for the outer world: Thou shalt not kill, not steal, be chaste, not be violent, adhere to the principle of passive resistance; and those for the inner self: avoid of impure foods, or anger, remain conscious of the teachings, and be in unison with. the teacher.

Later on, he studies Sanskrit (sloka) and learns the Weda, Eventually he is initiated by his teacher in a most elaborate ceremony, which I know only by hearsay, in which the teacher lead the hands of his pupil with his own hands to perform his first maweda. The pupil makes repeated reverences (sembah) this teacher and to the sun, washes and kisses his teacher's fee±. and receives his priestly credentials, a secret document containing powerful formulas written on a blade of lontar palm. I have been told that the pupil " dies " symbolically during the ceremony and is reborn as a priest, and that his body is then washed and treated exactly like a corpse.

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