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Friday, May 1, 2009

The Sacred Cows

Taro, 30 minutes drive north Ubud, is one of the ancient village in Bali where by you can find sacred white cows sanctuary that are rare to the island; They used to live freely but now surrounded by wire fence.They were believed as sacred properties of The Devatas, and considered as honorable as human Brahmin nobilities. The people of Taro called them by venerable designations Ida Bagus (the handsome one) for the bulls and Ida Ayu for the cows (the beautiful one), the same honorable title to addressed Brahmin's descendants.Even they follewed the same samskara rites as human Brahmin, from birth rite till final rite of burial samadhi (not cremated as common Hindus). Curiously, there weren't any hereditary (human) Brahmin family available at this village of Taro. Another interesting fact I ever heard, that no Brahmin high priest ever dare to preside over any rites in the temple of these sacred cows sanctuary from high platform as usually done in other part of Bali. They choose to sat low, cross legged on the ground.

The people of Taro believes that the sacred cows were actually descendants of Nandishvara or Surabhi-mata, brought originally from India by the great Rishi Markandeya. The mission of Markandeya considered as the first wave of Vedic Brahminical spiritual masters ever came to Bali from Java. Before, he has his Ashram in Di Hyang at central Java, then went further to the eastern part of Java and organizing his new monastery in Ravanga-giri or known today as Gunung Raung.From Ravanga he feel divine urge to brought the Veda Dharma to the neighbor Island of Bali.

The first expedition involved 8000 followers and disciples, but half of them couldn't survived, mysteriously died or fallen ill, by the negative forces of Bali. The sage then decided to return to Java and in deep meditative stage he got instruction from Lord Pasupati to installed special yantra made from five kind of metal on the slope of the highest mountain of Bali called Tohlangkir (now Gunung Agung - Agung means great, the great mountain). In accordance with the divine instruction, the sage came to Bali once again, installed the powerful yantra, and established the first temple of Bali, The Basukihan Temple. Then gradually it grown as today's Besakih temple, The Mother Temple.

Then the sage decided to bring his followers to create a place for living and established new Ashrama or monastery as the base for his preaching work. They came to the considered perfect land, but still a forest of big trees, daru or taro. But the sage could foresee, that the land would give tremendous wealth and very fertile. This place could give us anything we want. So he named it sarvada. So thus came the name Sarvada Taro

Gate to the earthly divine abode of The Great Sage

The samadhi of Sage Markandeya at Taro

The Ashrama of the great Javanese sage Markandeya today became the Pura (temple) Kahyangan Gunung Raung, bring the same name as his previous Ashrama at East Java. The Samadhi and Deity of The sage in the form of Brahmin Hermit still worshiped reverently by the people of Taro, and by other Balinese Hindus as well. Markandeya supposed to belong to Vaishnavite Brahminical order and cow protection was one of the most important tenets in Vaishnavite-Vedic tradition. Markandeya considered as the original Brahmin of Bali. The descendants of this Markandeya Rishi still claimed themselves as Brahmana Vaishnava or Bhujanga, a name which has close relation with Lord Sriman Narayana or Vishnu, Sri Bhujanga-sayana, The Lord Who Lied on Bhujanga (Lord Adisesha, the divine serpent). But here in Taro today, there wasn't Brahmin descendant of the sage anymore, and the sacred white cows were became the actual Brahmins.

18 Maret 2009, The Deity of Markandeya Rishi from his samadhi at Taro was invoked to attend the Pancabali and Sarvadevata-avahana-aradhana (Bhatara Turun Kabeh in Balinese) in Besakih Temple. This rare phenomena of umbrella-like cloud appeared on the peak of Mount Agung. Did the Devatas want to welcome their revered sage, who built a wonderful abode for them at this magnificent temple? (from cellphone camera of one Pujari, Jro Mangku Bhagyartha)


  1. What a nicely designed and inspiring blog site Prabhuji. Nice stories also. I will remember it. All glories to your work! I remember Bali with fondness, I went there one time in 1995 to do a fire yajna for an initiation ceremony my Guru Maharaja, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was doing. Such a beautiful place and beautiful devotees.

    Hari Hari!

  2. Thank you very much for your blessing Prabhuji. I'm servant of the servant of Srila Gurudev Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja. Did you know that time I was there (1995). A dumb 12 years old boy blessed by Srila Gurudev's darshan. Sundarananda Prabhuji took me there. That was my first and last darshan of Srila Gurudev's divine form. That precious moment changed my life forever. Everything came from Srila Gurudev's mercy. He gave Sundarananda Prabhuji and Prem Manjari Mataji to take care of me for this long. Now I'm also humbly ask you to please bless me so I may continue this service for Srila Gurudev.


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