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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Great Trinatha Temple of Central Java (1)

The Hindu temple complex at Prambanan is based on a square plan that contains a total of three yards, each of which is surrounded by four walls pierced by four large gates. The outermost walled perimeter, which originally measured about 390m per side, was oriented in the northeast, southwest direction. However, except for its southern gate, not much else of this enclosure has survived down to the present.
The two walled perimeters that surround the remaining two yards to the interior are oriented to the four cardinal points. The second yard's walled perimeter, which measures about 225m per side, surrounds a terraced area that consists of four rows containing 40, 48, 56, and 64 temples, respectively, each with a height of 14m and measuring 6m x 6m at the base, or 224 structures in total. The sixteen temples located at the corners of the rows face two directions; the remaining 208 structures open to only one of the four cardinal directions.
The monument's remaining walled perimeter, which measures 110m x 112m, surrounds an even higher terraced courtyard that supports an additional sixteen shrines. The central yard's three largest temples, which face the cardinal direction east, feature large stone deities of the Trinatha, Vishnu (north), Shiva (centre) and Brahma (south).
The centrally-located Shiva temple has a height of 47m and measures 34m x 34m at its base. The Brahma and Vishnu shrines to the south and north of the Shiva temple are 33m in height and measure 20m x 20m at the base. The inside facing walls of the balustrades that surround the central structures of these three shrines are covered with bas-reliefs that present episodes from Krishna-lila (the Vishnu temple) and Ramayana (the Shiva and Brahma temples).
The Shiva shrine is the only building at Prambanan that has entranceways that open to all four cardinal directions. The doorway that faces the cardinal direction east leads into the shrine's central cella, which contains a deity of standing four-armed Lord Shiva. His two upper hand, hold mala and camara fan. His lower right hand displayed abhaya-mudra and the left one put in his navel level, in jnana-mudra with palm facing up. The remaining three doors lead into three ancillary chambers that contain deities of Agasthiya (south) our Mula-guru, Vinayaka (west) and Durga (north). Guru Agasthiya’s deity was in standing pose. His right hand hold a mala at chest level and his left hand hold a kamandala (water jug with sprout). He has a staff adorned with trident and a camara showed on his left shoulder. The deity form of Sri Vinayaka was unique. He sat with his two palms of his feet joined together. He has four arms. The two upper hands hold an axe and mala, his lower right hand hold his broken tusk and the left one hold a kalasha of nectar. His trunk was dipped in the kalasha, as drinking the nectar. This form of Vinayaka was one of the most unique deities I ever seen. The deity of Mother Durga was depicted in her Mahismardhini form with eight arms, holding various weapons and standing on a buffalo.
Immediately to the east are three auxiliary shrines, each with a single staircase and doorway facing west. The shrine to the immediate east of the Shiva temple, which contains a statue of the sacred bull Nandi, is 25m in height and measures 15m x 15m at the base. The remaining two shrines, which face the Brahma and Vishnu temples, are 22m in height and measure 13m x 13m at the base. These shrines were for Hamsa-vahana of Brahma and Vishnu’s Garuda-vahana.
On the outside-facing walls of the Shiva temple's central cella there are a total of 24 relief panels. Eight of these figures collectively represent a group of Hindu deities called the Lokapalas--the guardians of the eight directions of space.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

History and spiritualism of Bali

After the fall of great Bilvatikta, the Hindu Javanese nobilities and Brahmin communities fled to Bali. Bali before was an independent country, with independent rulers, but in the reign of Kritanagara of Singhasari and later Rajasanagara-Gajamada of Bilvatikta, Bali was subdued. Bali has her own ruling dynasties for centuries, apart from Java, though there was a very deep connection between the two islands.
While Tarumanagara was a Hindu kingdom in West Java, there was also one kingdom of Kalinganagara in Central Java. By the name we could guess this was a kingdom built by certain nobilities of Orissa. The kingdom ruled by Maharani named Simha. This kingdom might be shifted to East Java by the growing power of Sailendras and Sanjayas. There in East Java we found inscription about Kanjuruhan Kingdom of Dinaya. Then in the reign of Sri Isvarakesavotsavatunga or Balitung (Raka i Watukura) of Sanjaya, both Central and East Java was came under his control. Probably the Kanjuruhan aristocracies again shifted to the neighbour island of Bali. We found similarities between Kanjuruhan and early kingdom of Bali.
After the growing maritime force of Srivijaya in Sumatra, Bali was also come under their power. And we found the ruling family of Bali has same name as the rulers of Srivijaya i.e. The Varmadevas. The Varmadevas then became the sole rulers of Bali. The Mahayana-Vajrayana Buddhism also introduced to Bali for the first time. So Bali at that time was applying the same religious practices as in Central Java, a religious system similar to Jagannath culture of Kalinga. Vedic in thought but Agamic or Tantric in practice, in the form of Trinatha worship. The form of Saivism at that time was in accordance with Vedic Vaishnavism. They worshipped Lord Siva as direct representation of Supreme God in material world. Because the Vishnu worship at that time has a concept of Niskala-Sakala, similar with Vaikhanasas system today. The Vaikhanasas worships Mula-bheram as Niskala aspect of Narayana and Utsava-bheram as Sakala. Similarly, the Balinese at that time worshipped Lord Narayana as Niskala and Lord Siva as Sakala. So this is very unique faith! Could you imagine Lord Siva considered by them as Sakala aspect of Narayana? Thus worship of Narayana and Siva were not differentiated by them. They worshipped Narayana as Paramatma of Siva and Sun as enunciated in the Atharvaveda Sirah. These tenets were believed as preached by the lineage of the great sage Agasthiya of South, the mula-guru of Nusantara and developed in Dihyang of Central Java, by Siddha-rishis from Agasthiya’s lineage. One of them called Markandeya (might not same person with Markandeya Rishi of Puranas) came to East Java and organized his hermitage in Ravang. From this place he came to Bali and was the origin of Brahmanic communities of ancient Bali, the royal priesthood of the ruling Varmadevas. Till this very day, his descendants called themselves Vaishnava Brahmins and continuing these spiritual thoughts. Their practices and theological concepts remind me so much with the Vaikhanasa Vaishnavas of South India, rather than more widespread Pancaratrika Vaishnavas. Other sects of Saivism, Buddhism, etc. independently practised their teaching and equally patronized by the same Varmadeva kings.
By the invasion of Singhasari under Kritanagara’s troupe, the Kalachakrayana was introduced to Bali. Then came the time of Bilvatikta’s invasion. The Bilvatikta religion of Saiva-buddha-agama also became widespread in Bali. By the coming of the greatest Saiva high priest of Bilvatikta, Dvijendra, after the fall of Javanese Hinduism, this new form of Saivism attained its peak achievement. The Bilvatikta nobilities tried to preserve everything they have in Bali, to save them from Islamic influence. The Balinese faith and spiritual culture at present day was shaped by various form of Vedic and Buddhist thoughts through a long evolutionary process.
Bali and some remote parts of Java still preserved their Hindu belief. Many literatures of Hindu and Buddhist teaching from past centuries were studied by priestly class of Bali and some aristocratic family. But the whole religion of Balinese, as I observed, was practices in two different ways. The Tantric Saiva-buddha-agama of Bilvatikta was limited to Brahminical lineages of more recent Bilvatikta transmigration. As the last Javanese origin peoples of Bali, they mainly became today’s Balinese nobility and religious elite. The practices of Saiva-buddha-agama in its pure form only limited to them. The hereditary Saiva Brahmin high priests and so called hereditary “Buddhist” Brahmins, who practicing Vajrayana and Saivite influenced Tantra, were their leading authorities. In other part we have common people’s religion. Similar with an older form of Kalinga influenced Balinese-Javanese Hinduism. They have priestly orders came from common people, administering the temple affairs, though considered lower than Saiva-buddha ordained high priests, but actually more influential in peoples religious life. The earlier Javanese incomers were the Brahmanic descendant of Markandeya and his follower. They have become inseparable part of Balinese common peoples, stay apart from the Bilvatikta newcomers. Their high priests practicing Tantric Vaishnavism and preserving their own unique literatures. But they have influenced each other so deeply for centuries. Finally just by superficial observation, we could only see a whole unique and distinct form of Balinese Hinduism.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

History and spiritualism of Nusantara (2)

After the reign of Raka i Wawa or Sri Vijayalokanathottunga (924 – 929 ce), the center of civilization and great kingdom of Javanese Hindu resettled on East Java by Pu Sindok or Ishanottungadeva, the vansakarta of Ishanavansa. The whole Nusantara came to her unique form of Vedic and Agamic based culture and also got its shape influence by Buddhism. The pure practices of Vaishnavism, Saivism, and Tantric Buddhism only found their place mainly in aristocracy. The common people prefer their more liberal syncretic form. By faith or by blood tie, the Javanese aristocrats and Brahmins were connected to their Vaishnava ancestors of India, so it was rather difficult for them to leave the practices, unlike the common peoples.
Then we came to the end of Ishanavansa during the reign of Kritajaya of Kadiri. Kritajaya was defeated by Rangarajasa, his vassal, a king that came from intermarriage of a native girl with Brahmin. He was vansakarta of the new Rajasa clan and built the kingdom of Singhasari. Thus end the great influence of Vaishnava Rajas from the Varman of Kalimantan and West Java, Sanjayas, and Ishanas. Rangarajasa probably has more inclination toward Saivism or Buddhism rather than Vaishnavism, he called himself Girisha-atmaja (Siva’s Son). Rajasa himself married one Ken Dedes, a daughter of famous Buddhist master, Pu Purva of Panavijen. She was forcibly married by a vassal king of Tumapel, before Rajasa murdered this former husband of her and took her as his consort. This word Girisha also could have same meaning with Sailendra. Was Rajasa actually a descendant of Sailendravansa? Was that mean he wants to resurrect the pure blood of Sailendravansa, once the great rulers of Java? We don’t have any information other than mere speculation. But his greatest descendant, Kritanagara was practicing full-fledged Tantric Buddhism perhaps Kalachakrayana, the same patronized by Sailendra kings.
Previously, Kritanagara tried to follow the politic similar as intermarriage between Pikatan-Pramodavardhani, of Sailendra and Sanjayavansa, for stability of power. Though Kadiri once was defeated by Rajasa, but the descendant of Ishanavansa-Sanjayavansha was continued by king of Kadiri, who now turned to became vassal of Singhasari. So Kritanagara who has no son, got his daughters married to two princes. One was Vijaya from his own Rajasavansa and the other was Ardharaja from Kadiri, son of Jayakathvanga, thus from Ishanavansa. One day Kadiri organized rebellion toward Singhasari and was tried to again occupy the sovereign power of all Java by war. Kritanagara was killed in the palace without knowing anything about Kadiri’s attack. The chronicle of Bilvatikta, Nagarakritagama, describes the king as performing Ganachakra-puja at that time. But that didn’t take a long time for Vijaya, by genius war strategy, to take the throne forever from Jayakathvanga. This was almost a total defeat, which swept away the strategic influence of Ishanavansa from Nusantara. Thus end the prowess of once great dynasty of Vaishnava kings in Indonesia.
Vijaya then removed the capital of Java from Singhasari, his father in law’s citadel, to Trik, where he built the magnificent kingdom of Bilvatikta or Majapahit. This was the beginning of a greatest empire in Nusantara and Suvarnabhumi. Bilvatikta grow as a wonderful unifying force in the South Eastern region of Asia under the reign of Rajasanagara (Hayam Wuruk) and his prime minister, the great Gajamada. As a great nation, Bilvatikta formulate religion of the country. This was a syncretism of Saivism and Tantric Buddhism, called the Saiva-buddha-agama (Agama Siwa Buddha). At the time of her pristine glory and her fall under Islamic force, the Saiva-buddha-agama became national religion of Bilvatikta. The literary work of this religious system was the book of Sutasoma. The saying of this book about unity of Saivism and Buddhism, which also applicable to other differences, became national slogan of The Republic of Indonesia. It was jinatva-sivatva tunggal, bhinneka tunggal ika, tan hana dharma mangrwa. (Buddha and Siva are One. It was different but it was one. There is no duality in dharma). The phrase bhinneka tunggal ika : It was different (bhinna). It was one (tunggal). It was unity in diversity.
So Nusantara was a land of great Vedic kings and Brahmins. She has such a wonderful spiritual legacy. Bali and Java deeply influenced by Veda-dharma, and any local customs, ceremonies, social etiquette, was Hindu by nature and of Vedic origin. She has developed the most refined Vedic way of life and made it became her own culture. Anything non Vedic actually was foreign to her.

Monday, February 23, 2009

History and spiritualism of Nusantara (1)

Vaishnavism in Indonesia was centuries aged. But its pure form only practiced by aristocratic or Brahmin families. The Vedic theological conception, spiritual thoughts, and way of life was deeply rooted in most Indonesians native customs, but the clearly visible form of Vedic civilization or Hinduism today found only in Bali or some parts of Java. Other denominations such as Saivism, Sakta, Ganapatya, Saura, etc also have their existence since the early rising of Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom of Java, Bali, and Sumatra.

The earliest recorded history was about the famous Mulavarman of Kutai in Kalimantan. He donated thousands of cows to agnihotri Brahmins and performed the biggest yajna throughout the history of Nusantara. The Ramayan and also some Sanskrit works, called the present day Kalimantan as Barhina-dvipa, which became Borneo. At the time of Mulavarman, the Indian supposed to include Nusantara as a part of Greater Kalinga. So by Mulavarman’s virtuous performance of grand sacrificial ceremony, his kingdom could be designated as Kalingottamam, the word perhaps changed to present day Kalimantan. According to some historian, the word Vaprakeshwar found in Mulavarman inscriptions has some connection with Lord Siva, and then they concluded that Mulavarman and his subjects were Saivas. But the form of his yajna performance was Vedic. It didn’t seem involve the Agamic or Tantric elements of any sort. The lack of archaeological remains of temple worship from the time of Mulavarman supposed to prove this probability.

Then we have Purnavarman of West Java. He left inscription on stone with image of Vishnupada sculpted on it. His kingdom’s name Tarumanagara reminds us with Lord Vishnu. Taruma is another name of Tulasi, the holy basil, beloved of Vishnu. Some Agamic form of worship and Pauranic styled Vaishnavism gain their glory. After the tremendous growth of Buddhism in Sumatra, Tarumanagara’s influence and Vaishnavism was diminishing. In India, especially at the Southern regions, the growth of Buddhism as public religion rivaled by the increasing growth of Agamic schools of Vaishnavism and Saivism. Buddhism itself became so Tantric in appearance. Kalinga and other South Indian kingdoms such as Pallava and Chola with all these form of Vaishnavism, Saivism, and Buddhism gave their influence to spiritual life of Nusantara.

The Sailendra of Sumatra (Srivijaya) and central Java were Tantric-Mahayanic Buddhist. These Sailendra kings supposed to the same Buddhist Sailodbhavas of Kalinga, marginalized by emerging power of Saivite Bhaumakaras. The Sanjayas of Central Java might be descendant of earlier Tarumanagara aristocracy. There was unsaid competition of the two ruling dynasties of Sailendra and Sanjaya, both in spiritual and political ground. The two dynasties were each patronizing Mahayana-Vajrayana Buddhism and South Indian form of Vaishnavism and Saivism. After the marriage between the prince Pikatan of Sanjaya and princess Pramodavardhani of Sailendra, these religions have harmonious relationship. At this period Saivism gain more popularity in people’s religious life. Vaishnavism itself remain as the religion of aristocracy and priestly-class. Then the two find their place in Trinatha worship, a unique faith, Kalinga by nature, similar with Jagannath-dharma of Orissa. At this time, Buddhism was Kalinga-influenced Tantrism or Vajrayana, with its Tara worship at Kalasha temple (Kalasan), Manjushri at Manjushri-griha temple (Sewu), Mahavairochana at Mendut, and Vajradhatu-mandala of world famous Borobudur. Similarly, Hinduism also has same reformed, with its Trinatha worship of Parambrahman Temple (Prambanan), clearly Kalinga in nature and origin. This is the time of Nusantara’s pristine glory.

There’s no time in Nusantara, that non-theistic concept ever seriously accepted. So even Nusantara’s Buddhism hardly showed non-theistic belief of Theravada. The whole spiritual belief of Indonesian at that time was accepting One Supreme Deity, called by different names, comprehended by various theological and philosophical views. This concept only found in Jagannath-dharma of present day Orissa. The religious believes of Indonesian, once again was Kalinga in nature.

The worship of Trinatha as manifested form of Parabrahman found it most perfect form in the cult of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. Here Jagannath representing Vishnu, Balabhadra-Siva, and Subhadra-Brahma. This belief of Subhadra as Brahma in disguised form was described by the devotee-poet of the Lord, Sri Yasobanta das. He has presented in this connection in his Premabhakti Brahma Gita that when Brahma was making out a divine plan to create the universe, Mother Earth, the potential force of Yogamaya Shakti, wished to have divine union with him for the above purpose and accordingly approached Brahma with a fervent appeal on this score. Brahma was dismayed at the appeal of Mother Earth. He curtly turned down her offer. After all, Goddess Earth, being the replica of Yogamaya Shakti, had the status of divine mother in relation to Brahma. How could he accept such an unusual proposal? The very thinking of a phenomenon like the above was a pernicious sin. However Goddess Earth was cross with Brahma for his avowed denial. She cursed Brahma saying "Oh, the creator of the universe! By disagreeing to a sacred divine cause, you have displayed utmost disrespect to the women-class in general. So, as a consequence of your unwanted action, you will descend in the universe in the form of a woman.

Brahma was stupendously flabbergasted, never expecting such a catastrophe to befall him for a rightful action on his part. Lord Vishnu however appeared before him at this stage to say that his appearance on earth is tethered to a divine purpose. Vishnu said, 'in Kali Yuga, when I would appear in the form of Jagannath, you would be worshipped by my side as Subhadra. People won't know that you are Brahma in the form of Subhadra.' This is the secret about the divine appearance of Subhadra as Brahma on the Ratnavedi of the Grand Temple.

The three denominations of Vaishnava, Saiva, and Sakta also found their harmony in this Trimurti form as Jagannath is the Supreme God of Vaishnavas, Balabhadra is of Saiva, and Subhadra is of Sakta. Then the Vajrayana Buddhist, historically originated from Indrabhuti of Sambhala (Sambalpur) in Orissa, considered the Trimurti as their Tri Ratna, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The Jnanasiddhi of Indrabhuti clearly showed that Jagannath is the Original (Adi) Buddha worshipped by Vajrayana sect of Buddhism. This Adi Buddha concept found in Mantrayana-Vajrayana is focused on Jagannath-Buddha. Then the Jagannath-Buddha of Orissan Vajrayana found His way to Nusantara as the cult of Mahavairochana, before it reach China, Korea, and finally Japan. The Mahavairochana-sutra and iconographic treatise of Sarvatathagatasara-samgraha were Orissa in origin. Nusantara highly influenced by this form of Buddhism. The Mahakarunagarbhodbhava-mandala and Vajradhatu-mandala which centred on Jagannath-Buddha-Mahavairochana was manifested as the great Borobudur Temple of Indonesia. The syncretism concept of The Supreme Buddha (Jagannath) and its connection with Trinatha Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, was found for the first time in Central Java. Then this concept further formulated in the period of early East Javanese Kingdom of Ishanavansa in the form of Tutur Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan, a classic Javanese Buddhist catechism.

So Indonesian Vaishnavism, Saivism, and Buddhism found their way to common people in the form of Trinatha worship, since Vaishnavism hold Narayana as the source of Trinatha, Saivism hold Paramasiva as their source, and Buddhism hold The Adi Buddha. Narayana, Paramasiva, and Adi Buddha are actually one in identity with Lord Jagannath of Orissa. The great temple called Parambrahman (Prambanan) in Central Java was manifesting this theological concept of Nusantara.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Balinese Vedic Heritage (4)

This is The Atharvaveda Sirah

Om suryatidam nirmalam satatam| candramrtvat sakalam| sa sadasiva sa suryam idapyam jagatvam| brahma surya surya prabhavam| mahesvaram mahadevam sambhu sankaras ca sivam sadasivam paramasivam| tava suksmam paramgataya tava sa surya| padmanabha narayana indram suryaprakasam| catur-bhumim asamam asisam krstam sukham sajanam| sthavarajangamam lata vrksa sapraroham mrga prajadhipati| om sivam sarva sakala maranam| nada vindvam bhaskaram omkaram ekaksaram| kalagnika-suryam tryaksara angam panca brahmanam dvyaksaram| narayanaskanda ganapati kumarastri siva surya sa etad atharvaveda sirodhite.

Om this is the eternal illuminating pure sun, the soothing ray emanating moon. The Sun of Sadasiva, the cosmic Brahma sun, the all shining sun, The Great Master (Mahesvara), The Great Lord (Mahadeva), The Self born One (Sambhu), The Attractive One (Sankara), The Auspicious (Siva), The Ever Auspicious (Sadasiva), The Most Auspicious (Paramasiva), The Subtlest One (Suksma), The Sun of highest ultimate goal (paramgata). The Sun of the Lord with lotus-like navel (Padmanabha), sustainer of the whole universe (Narayana), and the King of all kings (Indra). Without parallel in the fourteen worlds, the blissful Lord of saintly persons, humans, animals, trees, vines, and other creatures. The highest Lord of all beings (Prajadhipati). The most auspicious Om, the end of everything, the lustrous nada and bindu of the Single Syllable Om. The fire of the Sun of the time. Embodiment of three syllables, five Brahmas, and two syllables. The Supreme Narayana, Skanda, Ganapati, Kumara, Devi, Siva, and Surya. Thus the head meaning of Atharvaveda has been studied.

Note: This Sirah describing the truths of mystical meditation with Sun as the object, representing Sriman Narayana, The Spiritual Supreme Sun. In one sense, I saw this Sirah as expansion of Brahma-gayatri. I am recommending you to read Srimad Pejavar Swamiji’s (H.H. Sri Vishwesa Tirtha Sripadangalavaru) commentary on Gayatri-mantra and Gayatri-mahima-madhuri of Srimad Mahanidhi Swamiji, for better understanding about this Narayana-Sun concept. This Sirah also has Tantric colour. Mantra meditation takes elaborately by Tantra-sastra. The Balinese Vaishnavism and Saivism focused on older form of Tantric worship. They don’t stress primarily on Deity worships such in common Vaishnava-agama-sastra (Pancaratra or Vaikhanasa), or Saiva-agama-sastra. They have combine form of Tantra path and Vedic path of elaborate sacrificial ritual. For daily worship, they don’t use installed Deities or even salagramam as an object of devotion and meditation, but it was the Sun. They saw their beloved Deity in the sun. Then they invoked the same Deity into Kumbha or Kalasha. The Balinese today have no Deity worship, but they still maintain this Kumbha-puja. Some centuries ago, all the sects of Panchopasana-devata (Surya, Devi, Ganapati, Siva, Vishnu, and also Skanda) was exist in Bali, but after the disappearance of other not so popular sects, these forms of worship only perform by both minor Vaishnavites and Saivites Brahmins who built the majority and was believed has absorbed all kind of other devata’s worships into its fold. This kind of Tantric worship, made Balinese have their own agama, centred on Sun. So for the spiritual need of laymen, a fifteenth century famous Saiva High Priest from Java, called Dvijendra, came to Bali after the fall of Bilvatikta by Islamic forces, and organized the installation of Padmasana Collumn, The Lotus Throne of The Sun, in Balinese temples. This kind of worship also has resemblance with Khamba- worships in Orissa or Pillar-like form of Lord Sudarshana in Puri Jagannath. May be all these practises in Bali were based on the authority of our Atharvaveda Sirah.

Another things that take my concern is the case of aksaras that interpreted differently by me and some other friends. Unfortunately in Bali we have no more authoritative Tika or Bhasya for this Atharvaveda Sirah. My view is a Vaishnavite one. So Ekakshara means Omkara, no doubt. Tryaksara referred to Am-kara, Um-kara, and Ma-kara. Panca-brahma-aksara, in accordance with the previous Sirah means Na-Ra-Ya-Na-Ya. Dvyaksara were Na-Ma. Sri Parasara Bhattar’s Astasloki is recommended reading in this regard. So I understand this Sirah as representing Lord Narayana in His Astaksara-mantra and as Antaryami of the Sun. My Saiva friend agree with my Ekaksara and Tryaksara, silent about Dvyaksara, but different on Panca-brahma. He said they were Na-Ma-Si-Va-Ya, representing the five form of Lord Sadasiva (Tat Purusa, Vamadeva, Sadyojata, Aghorasiva, and Ishana) and then wholly referred to Paramasiva-mantra. Then my Vajrayana Buddhist friend also agrees with my ekaksara and tryaksara. But the Panca-brahma means the mantra of five-dhyani (Vairochana, Amogasiddhi, Aksobhya, Ratnasambhava, and Amitabha). Dvyaksara were Am-Ah, the syllables of Advaya-tattva, The Buddha Divarupa or Mahavairochana, and Advaya-jnana, The Buddha Womb Prajnaparamita. It is interesting to know that from these Sirah came some Tantric thoughts. Then from this Tantric view, we have different forms of Supreme Deity. But the most interesting is, the three lineages of hereditary Brahmins, Vaishnavite, Saivite, and Tantric Buddhist, still exist in Bali today.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Balinese Vedic Heritage (3)

Om ityagre vyavaharet| nama iti pascat| narayanayetyuparistat| om ityekaksaram| nama iti dvi aksare| narayanayeti pancaksarani| etad vai narayanasya-astaksaram padam| yo ha vai narayanasya-astaksaram padam abhyeti| anapabhruvah sarvamayureti| vindate prajapatyam rayasposam gopatyam tato’mrta tvam asnute| etat samaveda sirodhite.

First pronounce Om, then Namo, and finally Narayanaya. Om is the one syllable form, Namo is the two syllables form, and Narayanaya is the five syllables form. This is indeed the eight syllables mantra of Lord Narayana. Whoever goes to this eight syllables mantra of Lord Narayana, will be free from any curse during the whole course of his life. He will reach the status of Prajapati (Lord over beings), accumulating abundant of wealth, ownership over cattle and finally reaches immortality. Thus the head meaning of Samaveda has been studied.

Note: This Sirah presenting Astaksara-mantra or Thirumantram as the conclusion of Samaveda. The mantra was actually the sound representation of the deity. There is no different between Astaksara-mantra and The Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana Himself. One who attained realization on Astaksara-mantra, directly experience the Divine Being of Sriman Narayana Himself. He totally immersed in The Lord’s nama-rupa-guna-lila, His Holy Name, Divine Form, Qualities, and Pastimes. This reminds us with Peyazhvar’s Mundram Thiruvanthadi and also Nammazhvar’s Thiruvaymozhi.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Balinese Vedic Heritages (2)

This is The Yajurveda Sirah

Atha nityo narayanah| brahma narayanah| sivas ca narayanah| sakras ca narayanah| kalas ca narayanah| disas ca narayanah| vidisas ca narayanah| urdhvam ca narayanah| adhas ca narayanah| antar bahis ca narayanah| narayana evedam sarvam| yad bhutam yas ca bhavyam| niskalanko niranjano nirvikalpah nirakhyatah| suddho deva eko narayanah| na dvitiyo’sti kascit| ya evam veda visnureva bhavati| ya etad yajurveda sirodhite||

The eternal Sriman Narayana is Brahma (The Primary), Narayana is Siva (The Auspicious), Narayana is Sakra (The Master), Narayana is the immortal time, Narayana is the four points of compass and the points between. Narayana is zenith and nadir, the interior and exterior. Narayana is this all; what has come into existence and all that will come into existence. The inconceivable One, the unstainable One, the unimpaired One, pure One Supreme Godhead, One without second, The Supreme Lord Narayana. He, who has come to realized this, will come to Vishnu. Thus the head meaning of Yajurveda has been studied.

Note: Here we find mentioned some other devatas’ name. But we have to remember, this Sirah acts as a Vedic conclusion. By conclusive word of deva ekah or na dvitiyah, we know these different names only referred to One Personality. In other word the Sirah was saying, “That Brahma, you called as the supreme, is Narayana. That Siva actually Narayana. That Sakra actually Narayana. Etc.” The Rigveda Sirah considered different personalities, but one of them, that Sriman Narayana, was the Supreme Origin of all. The Yajurveda Sirah only talked about One Single Personality, by addressing Him with various name. Here we also can use the methods of Sri Madhvacharya to solve something seem like ambiguity or contradictive statements of the Vedas. We can understand the words as Niravakasha (have only one meaning) and Savakasha (may interpreted by some meanings base on context). Brahma, Siva, Sakra, etc. could be interpreted in several meanings. viz. the name of demigods; the descriptions of Narayana’s quality; or as various names of Narayana. The second and third meaning was fit in this context by considering the phrase deva ekah narayana na dvitiyah. We called Narayana Brahma, because He is The First Person. We called Him Siva because He is all auspicious, etc. But it doesn’t mean asvatantra (dependent) gods, named Brahma or Siva, etc. was equal or same as Narayana, the Paramasvatantra (The Supremely Independent). In conclusive word, this Sirah meditates on Lord Narayana’s kalyana-guna. Same as what we can find in Bhutattazhvar’s Irandam Thiruvanthadi.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Balinese Vedic Heritages (1)

The Balinese Hindus today didn’t have the complete Samhita of Catur Veda. But some palm-leaf manuscripts we called Catur Veda Sirah, The Head of Four Vedas, was available under some hereditary Brahmin’s custody and government library. The Rik, Yajus, and Sama’s “heads” full of clearly Vaishnavite meaning and established Lord Sriman Narayana’s supremacy above other deities. The Atharva Sirah invokes other divine names such as Siva, Brahma, or even Skanda, Kumara, and Ganapati. But from careful analysis, we also can conclude them finally as glorifying hymns for Lord Sriman Narayana. The different names actually don’t refer to various deities but The Supreme Lord Narayana.

This is the text of Balinese Caturveda Sirah (I have tried my best to read the computer scanned leaves with not so clear ancient Balinese scripts. They used to rewriting the manuscripts for preservation, but if you have bad eyesight and bad knowledge about Sanskrit, then there’s always possibility to missed any part of the writing or lost some words)

Atha puruso ha vai narayano kaumayata prajaha srijeyeti| narayanat prano jayate manaha sarvendriyani ca kham vayur jyotir apah pruthvi visvasya dharani| narayanad brahma jayate| narayanad rudra jayate|narayanad indro jayate| narayanat prajapatih prajayate|narayanad dvadasa-aditya rudra vasavah sarvani chandansi| narayanadeva samutpadyante| narayanat pravartante|narayane praliyante| etad rigveda sirodhite||

Then The Supreme Person Narayana fastened the wish: May I create! From Narayana the life force is created. Narayana created mind, all senses, and also the sky, air, light (or fire), water, earth, and Narayana is the sustainer of everything (or the whole universe). From Narayana Brahma is born. Narayana created Rudra, Indra, and Prajapati. From Narayana the twelve Adityas, eleven Rudras, eight Vasus, and all Vedic metres are born. They originate from Narayana, they act by Narayana’s energy, and they finally dissolve in Narayana. Thus the head meaning of Rigveda has been studied.

Note: In this Sirah, we try to comprehend Sriman Narayana by His unlimited opulence. At beginning the Sirah considered many material forces, then their great presiding deities (the abhimani-devatas). Finally, the supremacy of Lord Narayana was established, by identifying Him as the original cause of everything. Remind us with the aphorism janmadhyasya yatah of Brahmasutra. This thought reminds me with the way of Poygai-azhvar presenting the truths (tattvas) in his Mudal Thiruvanthadi.

Continuing Vedic Heritages of Indonesia

Indonesia once was part of The Greater India or Suvarnabhumi. The Hindus for centuries called her Dvipantara, “the islands between”, perhaps extended from Jambudvipa (modern Indian subcontinent) to Astralaya (Australia in archaic Javanese). The Indonesians, especially Javanese and Balinese Hindus, also use the name Nusantara for this magnificent archipelago, which has same meaning as Dvipantara in Kavi language (a Sanskritized Ancient Javanese language, may be seven out of ten words was Sanskrit).

Indonesia has a long history of Vedic civilization for more than 1500 years (according to archaeological findings). She continued as the greatest Hindu/ Vedic country in Southeast Asia until the fall of the last Hindu Empire of Bilvatikta (Majapahit) and emergences of Islamic kingdom and Sultanates on late 13th century. Today Indonesia is one of the biggest Moslem countries, with the Moslems majority more than 85%. But the deep rooted Vedic practices from centuries weren’t easily ceased and remain as traditional native’s customs scattered here and there throughout Indonesian Archipelago. One of such a condition we can find in Bali, a small island in the centre of Indonesia, where the Hindu-born peoples built the majority. After the fall of Bilvatikta, the Hindu nobilities and brahmanic priests of the said empire were fled and settled in Bali, to protects their Vedic traditions, spiritual practices, and the vast body of ancient Hindu scriptures. In spite of Balinese strong faith for Hinduism and Vedic traditions, there are also many Hindus, both the born and the converted ones, in all over Indonesia, including the major cities of Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Medan, etc. They are always trying very hard to keep their faith on Vedic traditions of their forefathers for centuries, and maintaining their religious practices among Moslems majority, often under mental and sometimes physical pressures from their neighbour and government.

I myself was come from such a family. Like the rest of other Balinese we are Hindus by birth, always protecting our ancestral religion for centuries. Our family lineage trace back to ancient East Javanese kingdom of Ishanavansha, when our ancestor first migrated from South Indian state of Tamilnadu. According to our preserved inscription on bronze plates and palm leaf manuscripts, our first ancestor came to Indonesia as a Brahmin who serves the Kadiri Kingdom for compiling the book of law and propagating Vedic knowledge in the reign of the famous king, Sri Jayabhaya (Sri Maharaja Jayabhaya Varmeshwara Madhusudanavataraanindita Sri Singhaparakramottungadeva). The legend said this Brahmin was an accomplished sadhaka, both in Vaishnavite and Vajrayana practices (that was common in India at that time because of rising influence of Buddhism), even He was called Rishi Vajrasattva. One of his descendants in his lineage was a celibate brahmachari and of course has no wife. The peoples used to call him “Our Venerable Childless Sage”. So how could we become his descendant? He was a mantra-siddha, an accomplished mystic yogi. We believe he was such a powerful sage and still living in subtle realm to this very day. He wasn’t died but simply vanished from mundane vision with his physical form centuries ago to protect his descendants of future time. So he made a certain homa, fire sacrifice, and obtained one cintamani, a wish-fulfilling gem, then by the power of that gem, he got a baby son. This celebrated son came to Bali and initiated into Vedic spiritual practices by the great serpent god Nagaraja Vasuki and married one girl from Balinese noble family. This is the beginning of our Balinese and Javanese family lineages. Do you belief this story? I know its look like too fanciful imagination. But here in Bali everyone, every family has such a legendary origin. So please hold your laugh…

For centuries we heard these words from our father, and his father, and his father…
This is our land my child… the land of our great ancestors. Protected by the loving gaze of our most venerable guardian. The greatest of all sages, Dapunta Hyang Kalashaja, our supreme Guru Agasthiya… and the Vipras…
This is our land my child… our loving mother. Same as our original mother in the land of Aryans. You are born in my family, by my own blood, the same blood as your noble ancestors from centuries ago. Here is our heart, tightly bound to the lotus feet of ancient Vedic Rishis.
Here we saw every river as sacred as Ganges, every mountain as great as Himalaya, every lake as holy as Pushkara, and every forest as glorious as Naimisharanya. This is Dvipantara, with thousand of her islands, the very land of great Kings and Brahmins, illuminated by the sun of Veda-dharma, fertilized by graceful rain of Lord Vishnu’s divine love. Every baby grow up with the story of our victorious Lord Rama and His beloved Hanuman… with protection of our most worshipable Lord Krishna and His dearmost Pandavas of Mahabharata… and with the taste of sweet milk of Puranas
Could you ever think to disgrace her? Could you ever think to leave our dharma? Could you ever think to worship any foreign god or following any foreign prophet? Whenever you could, please remember the greatness of our ancient sages and kings. Please remember how they make you become one of the best of human races. Should you abandon the very hand that gives you life? Should you deny the sources of your circulating blood? Should you pierce their heart?....

So if we do a descendant of Vedic Brahmin, we have to lead a life of real Brahmin. But this brahminical status wasn’t only about jati, mere birth right. We always think brahminical status or any noble position as a facility, a special right. But actually it wasn’t. It was an undeniable responsibility, great responsibility. Here we are, born in noble family lineage. We suppose not to lead an ordinary life, a normal life, or nothing special life without any meaning. We had born to perform our dharma, to protect our dharma, to be highly qualified spiritual being. That’s why I said there is nothing special with me. But we have to try to become special, every of us. This is the life of real nobility, and this is what I learn from Sriman Mahaprabhu Caitanyadeva’s teachings. Without my Mahaprabhu, I’m just unimportant creature. My wealth doesn’t make me special, nor my birth (jati). Without Mahaprabhu I’m just one Indonesian boy bringing only shame to my great ancestors. But now, by Sriman Mahaprabhu’s grace I shall learn to become precious…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adressing You with Love

I'm just a mere ordinary person. Perhaps some of you are same as me. Nothing special. Just living like most people in the world. Nothing special in my birth, life, lineage, social status, or anything else to make someone appear to be unique among the earth's other inhabitants. But you know that there is something in there waiting for us to be special. Something that makes us feels that we are not born here to live with the usual course for some time and died without any meaning. There are things that give value to our lives. Something that I have found.

I think each life should have some meanings. And my normal life becomes meaningful only after the meeting with something very very special. That special thing is Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His teachings. Sriman Mahaprabhu came to this world about five centuries ago. But His tenets still delivered throughout centuries, to the whole world, by an unbreakable chain of succession of spiritual masters, known as Sri Goudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya. Sometimes people also call these teachings as Krishna Consciousness.

And what makes it so special, at least for my own self. What made me follow this path? What do make me willing to at least label myself as a Goudiya devotee? Why do I receive blissfully Sriman Mahaprabhu and His teachings in my life? In this post I shall try to reveal the reasons. That may be regarded as something subjective, it's up to you. At least we can get a glimpse that I think interesting and special in this Goudiya Vaishnavism or Krishna Consciousness.

Krishna Consciousness is Sanatana Dharma. It makes us understand the evolution of consciousness and how rare this precious human birth. With this very valuable human body, we can recognize Krishna Consciousness. With it we can search for God and find God, our true wealth, and takes the blessings of salvation that comes from God to us. Sriman Mahaprabhu teaches that Krishna Consciousness is pure and beautiful divine love, which He brought and established as the dharma or true religion for the world in the form of sankirtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy names of The Lord. He never taught something like everything is god; this mere living creature is god. He does not please our minds by thinking that we are gods. Sriman Mahaprabhu teaches the true message of the Vedas and Gita, how to learn them in the right way so that we can realize our basic position purely as servants of God. With full of humility, once again ... humility ..., we able to see elephants in our eyelid, not busy in blaming our environment. By this spirit of full humility, Sriman Mahaprabhu makes us understand that all things can be achieved by serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna and can make us cry to Him with full of happiness, "This is thy servant!”

This is my personal opinion, not meant to be the authoritative source, even if we find some arguments that come from Vedasastra. This is just an expression of honesty about such a wonderful thing that has changed my life, about something so beautiful and special, which was the reason why I was happy to accept the change in my life.

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