Local Wisdom News


The mention of a Hindu island for Bali in the Majapahit era is wrong, as this former Canadian ambassador reveals his findings.

Bali Island is one of the islands in Indonesia that is known for its natural beauty.

In addition, this is the only island inhabited by the majority of Hindus. However, the mention of Bali Island as a Hindu island in the Majapahit era is wrong.

This was conveyed by L.C. Damais, a French philologist.

He corroborated the thesis of Earl Drake, the Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia from 1982-1983, and Agus Sanyoto.

According to him, before Hinduism and Buddhism entered areas in the archipelago, the people had long adhered to animistic beliefs. Therefore, the mention of a Hindu island for Bali in the Majapahit era was wrong, "Damais said in Drake's writing, as reported by nationalgeographic.grid.id on Monday (15/11/2021).

In Bali, which later became Hindu, the people used to be animists, he added.

Earl Drake stated Animism is not recorded as the official religion in the archipelago.

So the adherents of Animism in Bali must choose to embrace Hinduism formally.

In fact, the Balinese themselves have difficulty distinguishing between customs, local beliefs, and Hindu teachings. "In the Utsawa Dharma Gita (interpretation of Hindu scriptures)," said Drake, "Balinese who are known to be religious as Hindus will be inferior to the abilities of people from outside Bali."

But indeed, the Balinese people in the era of Majapahit expansion have shown their own cultural patterns and religious rituals.

"They are used to ancient beliefs and cultures passed down from their ancestors."

"Especially the teachings of animism," added Drake.

Furthermore, it was the role of Majapahit who spread Hindu teachings there.

"The royal family is busy influencing people (local communities) to embrace and believe in Hinduism," Drake added.

In fact, people still find it difficult to adhere to Hindu teachings.

This reality was also written about by Clifford Geertz in his book entitled "Javanese Religion: Abangan, Santri, and Priyayi in Javanese Culture," published in 2014.

Clifford Geertz believes that until the development of Islam, after going through the Hindu and Buddhist phases in the archipelago, the Abangan were still known.

"The Abangan are still thick with animistic beliefs." "Where the teachings of Islam from rural social groups still show animistic patterns in their traditional and religious rituals," he wrote.

If you want to see animistic patterns, they can be seen in the practices of tahlilan, bancakan, and so on.

The end of prehistoric times in Indonesia was marked by the arrival of the Hindu nation and its influence. From the first century AD until approximately 1500, namely with the disappearance of the Majapahit kingdom, it was a period of Hindu influence. With the influence of India, the prehistoric era of Indonesia ended because written information was obtained that included the Indonesian nation in the historical era. Based on the information found in the inscriptions of the 8th century AD, it can be said that the historical period of Ancient Bali covers the period between the 8th century AD and the 14th century AD, with the arrival of Mahapatih Gajah Mada's expedition from Majapahit, which was able to defeat Bali. The name Balidwipa is not a new name, but has existed since ancient times. This can be seen from several inscriptions, including the Blanjong Inscription issued by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 913 AD, which mentions the word "Walidwipa." Similarly, the inscriptions of King Jayapangus, such as the Buwahan D inscription and the Cempaga A inscription, date to 1181 AD.

Among the Balinese kings who left many written statements that also alluded to the description of the government structure at that time were Udayana, Jayapangus, Jayasakti, and Anak Wungsu. In controlling the government, the king is assisted by a central advisory body. In the oldest inscriptions (882–914), this body is referred to as "panglapuan". Since the Udayana era, the Central Advisory Board has been referred to as "pakiran-kiran i jro makabaihan". This body consists of several senapatis, Shiva, and Buddhist priests.

In the inscriptions before King Anak Wungsu, several types of art that existed at that time were mentioned. However, it was only during the time of King Anak Wungsu that we were able to distinguish between the types of art into two major groups, namely, palace art and folk art. The term "palace art" does not mean that art is completely closed to the people. Sometimes this art is shown to the people in the villages, or in other words, the art of the palace is not the monopoly of the kings.

In the field of religion, the influence of prehistoric times, especially from the megalithic era, is still strong. Belief at that time was focused on the worship of ancestral spirits, which was symbolized in the form of a worship building called a pyramid terrace or terraced building. Sometimes, on top of the building, menhirs, namely monolith stone pillars, as symbols of the spirits of their ancestors. In Hindu times, this can be seen in the temple building (meru), which is similar to a staircase with steps. Belief in the gods of the mountains, seas, and others from the pre-Hinduism era is still reflected in people's lives in the post-Hinduism era. It was not known with certainty which religion was practiced in the early days until the reign of King Sri Wijaya Mahadewi.It can only be known from the names of monks who use elements of the name Shiva, for example, the monk Piwakangsita Shiva, the monk Siwanirmala, and the monk Siwaprajna. Based on this, it is possible that the religion that developed at that time was the religion of Shiva. During the reign of King Udayana and his consort, there were two major religious sects embraced by the population, namely Shiva and Buddhism. This information is obtained from the inscriptions which mention the existence of the mpungku Sewasogata.

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