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Monday, May 11, 2009

Gods in The Island of Gods (3)

Now let me take an example from my own experience. We have an ancestral house and by my Balinese lineage we are became part of nobilities and family of landlords. One of our ancestors was once a high official in King’s court of older time. So he built a house on 3 acres of land (of course there’re more open space and courtyard). When the Bhumi-puja was performed, a powerful yantra installed at the centre of the land. Upon it then they built an altar to place the “former proprietor of the land”. Yes, of course he wasn’t a human. In Vedic tradition we also believe that a powerful Raksasa was created by Lord Brahma to preside over any building or other property. He is the Vastupurusha. Lord Brahma gave him authority to bring prosperity and protection to human who don’t forget to invoke and please him when they build place for living or other kind of building on earth. But he also has been given power to create calamities to the irresponsible family, who build house without ask permission from Mother Earth; invoke him, and other Devatas. The Balinese treat Vastupurusha as one of the Bhataras, the personification and representative of Bhumidevi. Because we also believe him as a former proprietor of the land, we build an altar and small house-like structure from stone for him. Our family called him “Our Revered Elder Sir.” (Jro Gde Lingsir in Balinese).

Typical shrine for the Vastudevata. His white and black colored cloth indicating his ability to discriminate the negative or positive energies that want to entering his area .

There’s an interesting story about “Our Elder”. My late grandmother was a very busy woman. In Bali the housewife manage the financial matter of the family. So she always has many guests, the people who work on our land property, rice field, horticulture, etc. She has to listen to all their report, accept the products of the land, and also spend money for further cultivation. My late grandfather, the head of family as other Balinese traditional husbands, responsible to represent his family in social and legal matters. As she became so busy, sometimes she forgets where she left her stuff, usually the keys of the house. After all tiring efforts to look for them seem failed; she will go to the place of “Our Elder” and ask him for help.
Just a few minutes latter, the keys will be found at my grandmother’s box of betel nut (she used to chew pans). My grandmother was also a merchant. So sometimes she didn’t cook at all and let her family eat outside. But “Our Elder” will come, in the form of high, stout, good-looking middle age man with traditional dress and told her to cook immediately. “What will you offer to our family shrine, Mother?” he said.

We also know other “lesser” Bhataras of our house. One who acts as guardian to our front courtyard, the guardian of our family shrine, and the guardians of our other buildings for rent, and the most attractive among them, a mysterious beautiful lady, a Yakshini that guard the eastern part of the courtyard. I thought all of them were subordinate to “Our Elder Sir”. The lady once came to my grandma’s dream when we’re going to reconstruct all the family shrines. She asked a small shrine without roof. “Simply make a throne-like structure for me, just fit to my rank among them. If you willing then add a small lotus pond for me, since I fond of them” So that’s why we have one different building for our dear “supernatural relatives” there, with feminine appearance. The higher ranked Bhataras are worship at family shrine on northeast corner of the house.

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