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The reason to explore more about the existence of Tantrism in Bali is due to the fact that Bali is famous as a magic island. As the expression of this opinion and respect of Bali many foreign writers and film maker have adopted this very secret of Bali as their subject of art such as “ Leak Bali “, a name of film, means Bali's sorcerer. For Balinese themselves there is a living belief which is quiet difficult to understand, such as one said that when she/he was passing a certain place in the mid of the night he/she saw an imaginary creatures or flashing light or round light moving very slowly than diminishing and disappeared in the darkness, or strange sound which is by no means heard by normal life. Many people said that those would have been an hallucinations, which were formed by our imagination, and sub-consciousness. But the fact was that would it be possible such the same entity of hallucination could happened for more than one person within the same time even in the identical twin. Or, could it happen many times at the same spot of place for more than one persons? Are questions still unanswered. This phenomena is belived that it is not only happened in Bali but at other places in Indonesia and abroad which culture and and believe is totally difference.

It is believed that since the coming of western writers and researcher, there had come also influences to see the phenomenon as a worldly facts which is for our society ( read : Balinese ) are totally not ready with. It can be said, although not absolute, that Balinese are still living in the shadows of myth. That's why foreigner often find an odd when a tour guide or Balinese telling their cultural heritages by their own cultural frame.
As what was written by the general of British colony in Far East, the founder of modern Singapore, that he found Hindu religion was molested by local barbarian like Balinese in his volume “History of Java” This is a fact that such inconsistency and tendency to vary religious practices have mixed up of various conflicting concepts that happened in the history of Balinese culture. If this matter does not get a serious attention by both local government and those who bring the flag of Hindu, and the expert within the Hindu society it could endanger the Balinese in view also the rapid development of communication technology.

One thing can be seen is a serious opposition between traditional Balinese paradigm of life and the newly born lifestyle as an impact of empirical concept. There will be growing conflict between those who is not exclusively living in their group ( in the Banjar/village ) due to the pursue of better living standard. Since religious teaching and customary laws so far can not meet this expectation. Who will win? This should have been the central issue of the Hindu Assembly which seems sleeping, and those who love Bali and it's Hindu spirits. In my opinion this sharpening polarization between these two ways of life should be eased with persistent enlightenment by those who love Bali and Hindu. It is very important to understand myth and fact to help the people increasing their welfare.

One thought in Hindu is concerning the purpose of our life. It is said that the purpose of our life is to attain “Sorga” an imaginary place full of joyfulness, eternity, and enlightenment. In English it may be “Heaven” or “Paradise”. In the course of time one pursue the short-cut to attain the heaven and proposed a thinking that, since the god is eternal and absolute, so he is not active, activity is not absolute since an activity consist of beginning – process – end, so it is not eternal. It was probably the thinker in Hindu faced dead lock, since if the god is not active how about the creation, as has been put forward that god created the world and all it's content. So, the thinker made another theory that since god is not active it must be a power radiating from him. This power is active in all creations. This power is called “Shakti” God Shiva has his shakti called “Durga” and known as “Tara” among the Buddhist. This new concept developed very quickly and extensively. Their holy book is called “Tantrayana” and the follower of this school is called “Shakta” This new school within the Buddhism is called “ Budha Tantra” and within the Hindu is called “ Shiva Bhairava”

Tantrayana Teaching
In the school of Tantrayana the aspect of woman is put on top, even gods are considered having lower position. Other important aspects are the practice of Yoga, magic charms, magic movement of hands, magic figure, secret writing, and creation with secular concept. For those who wants to attain “Sorga” must fulfill their wildest instincts, wildest senses, or whatever one wishes. Probably we can say with our current word “ just enjoy, the Sorga is here!!! “ Most of them have been proved that they practiced what is ethically forbidden and dangerous while for them is the most important practice to be fulfilled. Five most important teachings for them to be persistently practiced are called
5-MA such as :
Madu:drink alcohol as much you like,
Matsya: eat fish as much you wish,
Mamsa: eat meat as much you wish,
Mudra: do as much magic,
Maithuna: do seks as you wish
In their concept it is not the limitation or control of senses that would bring one to “Sorga”, but the fulfillment of senses do bring one to it. It would sound like a protest against the older ways of Hindu and Buddhist to put a severe measures to the senses, such as meditations, fasting, and other self torture to attain the “Sorga/Nirvana” We do not have physical proof when actually this school was started, but a remnants of this practice in Indonesia, especially in Bali until now are preserved well at some places.

Proves of Tantrayana in Bali
A scripture from 10th century of East Java kingdom named Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan is clearly mentioned the teaching of Tantrayana. At the period a king named Dharma Wangsa was on the throne of Mataram kingdom, while in Bali governed his majesty king Udayana Warmadewa. Udayana married the queen from East Java, her majesty Gunaprya Dharmapatni. At least 3 inscriptions carved in bronze plates are found relating to this royal figures. The relation between kingdom in Java and Bali was very closed. It is believed that the stream of thinking and practice also reached Bali with the coming of this queen. We observed a sudden changes in Bali, studying from inscriptions dating starting 998 AD, and edicts of the king showing the following:

  1. Old Balinese language which was absolutely used by inscriptions before 998 AD, now changed into old Javanese language. The use of Javanese week days consist of 210 days a year. This dating system is still used by Balinese until now, that is why every temple in Bali has their ceremony every 210 days,
  2. The introduction of ceremony called Galungan and Kuningan, which is now become the biggest ceremony in Bali
  3. The introduction of famous imaginary figure of “Rangda”, the witch with her frightening faces and long strolling tongue, protruding hanging breast, and spreading hairs, long canines, and others frightening aspects. If you have watched Barong dance you must have known this figure 

The king Udayana and his queen on every end of their inscriptions always mentioned that the edict has been issued by both king and queen. The latest inscription was without the name of the queen and mentioned that the queen had passed away and was buried and enthroned at a place called “Burwan” Linguistic study had succeeded in identifying the place and archaeological excavation was organized. Surprising, the remnants of ancient sculpture and basement was unearthed. After a careful reconstruction it was found that the facts on the field is very logic with the indications on the inscriptions and the supposition that the queen was a faithful follower of Tantrayana. She was symbolized with the sculpture of “Durga” As mentioned above, “Durga” is the shakti (power) of god Shiva. Since she was the strong personalization of Tantrayana follower, than in Bali she was also identified as the master of magician who could almost flip over the strongly rooted Balinese patriarchat system into matriarchat system, but lucky for Balinese men this was not happened outside the palace.
In a village called Pejeng, it was found a big statue with the height of 360 cms and a group of stone sculptures bearing the characters of this school practice. Seeing from the style of the whole carving they show a very closed affinity with those stones sculptures found in East Java from the reign of his majesty King Kertanegara (1268 through 1292 ). The year of 1292 was the raid of Mongol troop under general Chengiz Khan which caused the fall of Singasari kingdom, and the turn of famous Majapahit kingdom. The invasion of Mongolian fleet had benefited a prince that was not agree with the practice of Tantrayana, and he tried to revive old tradition of Hindu and Buddhist.

A chronicle written much later time, during Majapahit period mentions that king Kertanegara had succeeded in annexing Bali with Java and captured their ruler. Although the fact that during that period also appeared the documents issued by Balinese king. This raises an assumption that during that time in Bali were existed 2 separate kingdoms, or the power of king Kertanegara in Bali just short lived. The problem is that this chronicle does not mention the name of king under custody. If we take a close look on the monument at Kebo Edan temple in Pejeng village near the city of Gianyar, at a glance we have the impression that everything is frightening. Big statue is standing on human corps. It's accessories are made of human skulls, mimic showing wilderness, uncivilized, ruthlessness creature. Another 2 sculptures also showing the same characteristics with cup of blood in hand. It is said that in Tantrayana feast they drink the blood of their enemies. This is very closely related with the magic practices. Even today in Bali people believe that if a human being practices this black magic she/he can not make the difference between corps and meat, human or animal. This myth is often told by grand father or grandmother to the children to prevent them going out in the night or walking at open places during the mid of the day. It is strongly believed that during certain day of Balinese calendar this black magic practitioner will be on their stage. In this time we are forbidden to walk or passing a certain places such as the gate, center of cross road, border of the village and others. One thing is become a public opinion among Balinese that one who practice magic can transform his/her body into any entity such as monkey, pig, a piece of cloth, or whatever she wants. Later was rumor among the villagers once can transform into motor bike or a sedan or a truck. One of may fellow student ever told me, that he had a friend always back home late from his roaming time by motor bike. Between his village and the neighboring village where he normally killing his time with colleagues was passing an empty space and on one corner of the road was a big tree with group of shrubs. Here was put an altar for every one passes the road to put offerings. One day when he back home around 9 pm, just closed to that place he was stopped by a pretty woman. Unrealizing the situation he stoped and approaching the lady gently and directly offering the service of giving her a lift. The lady just come up to the back of him, and he run over a slippery hot mixed road, only the light of motor bike broke the darkness. In his head his thinking started to work out, where should this lady be brought and will not waste the time. His hand started to move and tried to touch the lady, but what a surprise, the lady wasn't at the back still. His hand only touched the air. Abruptly he powered the motor bike running at full speed with trembling body and foots, and arrived home chilly directly go to bad and locked the door. According to his mother he had been in bed for 2 days and did not want to open the door. This kind of story has been to many I heard.

Local people gave the temple with frightening sculptures as temple of Siwa Bherawa. The pronunciation is very closed with Shiva Bhairawa, a Hindu sect that was practicing Tantrayana teaching. The type of these sculptures were also found near Malang City East Java on a temple called Singasari, and in Central and North Sumatera. So, it was a spread of almost 2500 kms distance.
Based on archaeological research the remnant of this practices have not been found after 13th century. The reason it could be the practices are actually in contrary to the human heart and ethic, this type of feast could only be done by those who had power so common people could not participate in this crazy feast. That is why this sect got no sympathy from the society, and was short lived. Some subtle aspects of this practice is still can be seen in Bali until now, those are the black magic as mentioned above, within the performance art such as Calon Arang drama with it's famous witch “ Rangda”. Rangda is also performed in Barong dance. Priests ( Pedanda ) in Bali during conducting a ceremony using hand-gestures or hand special movements called “ mudra “, a ritual using blood, killing animals called tawur or caru.

If we could give the people the understanding about this phenomenon in term of more empirical way of thinking, I believe that the accomplishment of the religious practices and inclusivity of Balinese society could be step by step solved, and the biggest problem of living with religion by blind emotion which is very dangerous for living in multiple ethnic could be avoided.

  • Goris, R. 1948 Sejarah Bali Kuno, Singaraja
  • Hasting,James 1954 Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics vol XII, Charles Schrive's Son, New York
  • Hooykaas,Jacoba 1959 A Yantra of Speech,Magic in Balinese Folklore and Religion, disalin dari TLV
  • Zaman Hindu, Jakarta, PT Pembangunan
  • Pandit,Shastri, N.D 1966 Sejarah Bali Dwipa, Jilid I, Denpasar, Bhuwana Saraswati
  • Prapanca,1953 Negarakertagama ( terjemahan oleh Slamet Mulyana), Penerbit Siliwangi, Jakarta
  • Radhakhrisnan, 1958 Inddian Philosophy vol II New York, The Macmillan Comp.
  • Surasmi, I Gst., Ayu 1969 Perkembangan Tantrisme di Indonesia, Faksas, Universitas Udayana, Denpasar
  • Surasmi, I Gst. Ayu 1977 Tinjauan Arkeologis Pura Kebo Edan, Faksas, Universitas Udayana, Denpasar
  • Wiryo Suparto, Sucipto 1957 Sejarah Kebudayaan, Penerbit Indira, Jakarta.
August, 1985
I Made Terima

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Leak witch craft known in Bali
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