Balinese Hinduism

Balinese Hinduism, (Indonesian: Hindu Dharma), is the form of Hinduism practiced by the majority of the population of Bali.

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Hinduism came to Indonesia from India in the fifth century CE. It was gradually replaced by Buddhism, which was the main religion of Sumatra and Java until it in turn was displaced by the coming of Islam from the 14th century CE. However, due to “cultural barriers”, Bali became the only part of Indonesia to remain Hindu.

Key Beliefs

The fundamental principle underlying Hinduism is that there is order in the cosmos, known as dharma. There is also a disordering force, adharma. Hindus seek balance and harmony between these two forces, thus freeing themselves from the never-ending cycle of reincarnation, attaining a state called moksa.

Balinese Hinduism divides the cosmos into three layers. The highest level is heaven, or suarga, the abode of the gods. Next is the world of man, buwah. Below this is hell or bhur, where the demons live and where people's spirits are punished for misdeeds on earth. This tripartite division is mirrored in the human body (head, body and feet) and the shrines found outside Balinese buildings.


As well as the traditional Hindu gods such as Visnu and Brahma, Balinse Hindus worship a range of deities unique to their branch of the religion.[6] The supreme god of Balinese Hinduism is Saang Hyang Widhi Wasa. However, this is a relatively recent addition to the pantheon. The name was originally contrived by Christian missionaries as a Balinese language name for the Christian god to tempt Balinese to convert. It was later adopted by the Balinese to make it clear that their religion had a single supreme god in line with the first principle of the Indonesian state philosophy Pancasila.The empty chair at the top of the padmasana shrine found outside houses and temples is for Saang Hyang Widhi Wasa[8] Other gods include Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice and gods associated with mountains, lakes and the sea.

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