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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Centuries ago, to protect Bali from spiritual disturbances – as predicted will come from other part of the world; the accomplished Siddhas and Sages installed the Guardian Deities of all directions on the eight highest points in Bali. Eight peaks of island’s volcanoes and hills became abodes of Lokapalas: Indra, Nairitti, Yama, Agni, Kuvera, Varuna, and Isana. By this way, the island was formed as what they call a Lotus-like Mystical Diagram of The World (Padma-bhuvana-mandala). After the Trideva cult and Nusantara Saiva becomes prominent, these devatas were considered as direct manifestations of Trideva, particularly Siva. So the various names of Siva were mostly use to address them as we found in this Nava-Devata stuti of Balinese high priests.

The Balinese Padmabhuvana-mandala

Purve tu isvaradeva agneyyam tu mahesvarah Daksine bhagavan brahma nairittyam rudra eva ca Pascime tu mahadevo vayavye sankaras tatha Uttare vishnudevata aisanyam sambhur ucyate
Isvara is the Lord of Eastern Direction, Mahesvara of South East, Brahma of South, Rudra of South West, Mahadeva of West, Sankara of North West, Vishnu of North, and Sambhu of North East.

The Supreme Deity of their sects was placed at Madhya, the center, as the source of other eight manifestations. So next we find, madhye padma sivadeva, at the center of this lotus-like mandala of the world (Padma-bhuvana-mandala) is Lord Siva. The Nava-devata-stuti then explained the characteristic of each devata as showed by Their Astram or mystical weapons. The Astrams symbolize The Nava-devatas spiritual potencies.

Isvarapurve vajram tu dhupagneya mahesvara danda brahma daksine ca nairityam rudra moksalam pascime pasa mahadeva vayavyam ankus sankaram gada visnuttare desa aisanyam sambhu trisulam padma madhya sadasiva adhah sivas ca cakras ca

Lord Isvara of Eastern direction with Vajra weapon, Mahesvara with burning dhupam, Brahma with dandam/rod, Rudra with moksalam/pestle, Mahadeva with pasa/rope, Sankaram with ankusa, Vishnu with gada/club, Sambhu with trisula, and at the center is Sadasiva with padma/lotus and cakra/fiery wheel.

Very interesting, the dhyana-sloka of Nava-devata stuti and Asta-maha-bhaya stotram (we’ll discuss it latter) describes Madhya-dese Siva, with traditional attributes of Vishnu-Narayana according to Puranic-Agamic presentation, the padma and cakra. This stuti was chanted by all Balinese Saiva, Bauddha, and Vaishnava high priests. So all the three sects of Bali install “A Certain Deity” to presides at the centre of mandala, with His special characteristic of padma and cakra. Then the Saiva called this Deity “Siva” or Sadasiva.

Table of The Abodes of Maha-bhayas, The Supreme Terror - Destroyer of All Enemies (click for larger view)

Nusantara Tantric sadhana also characterized by continuous chanting (japa) of bija-mantras, matrukas (syllables), and some sounds without meaning (we found the same in many Mahayana Dharanis). So sometimes, even a mantra was chanted to glorify the devata-without mentioning the complete name, only first syllables of it. For example in Nusantara Saiva tradition, they worship Lord Siva in His five features of Sadyojata, Bamadeva, Tatpurusha, Aghora, and Ishana. In Vedic tradition we can find these five forms mentioned in Mahanarayana Upanishad of Yajurveda. There are many dhyana-sloka and mantras for worshipping each of these five forms, but the Balinese texts sometime just says SAM namo namah instead of SAdyojataya namo namah. So, by this way we find formulation of what they called Pancha Brahma Bija: SAM-BAM-TAM-AM-IM. The Nusantara Saivas prefer to chant a unique form of SAM-BAM-TAM-AM-IM NAM-MAM-SIM-VAM-YAM than the common Pancaksara Sivamantra “Om namah sivaya”. But in Nusantara Hindu practices, these Saivite formulas almost lost their sectarian nature in Trinatha cult of Nusantara. BAM and AM become bijas to denote Brahma and Vishnu of the Trinity respectively. The SAM-BAM-TAM-AM-IM NAM-MAM-SIM-VAM-YAM was famous as Dasaksara (Ten Syllables) and hold as highly powerful by all sects of Nusantara Hindu.

In Padma-bhuvana-mandala each of these ten syllables was installed at nine directions. SAM-East, BAM-South, TAM-West, AM-North, NAM-Southeast, MAM-Southwest, SIM-Northwest, VAM-Northeast, IM-YAM-Center. Since Bali was arranged as a three dimensional Padma-bhuvana-mandala, then to absorb this island’s spiritual power we may use these Ten Syllables.

By mystical process of invoking the energies of these nine cardinal devatas one may get the spiritual power to defeat all enemies (physical enemies, sickness, mental disturbances, bad fortune, etc.). Through the medium of fire, water, and mantras one may attains many highly beneficial effects, both materially and spiritually, by absorbing and installing the energies mystically in various parts of his/her body.

Fire is ritualistically present in the form of Homatraya. This is a simplified form of Homayajna or Vedic-Agamic fire sacrifice in the form big dipam (oil lamp). The Homatraya considered as the representative and visible form of Trinatha, The Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. The Trinity then manifest as the nine cardinal devatas as represented by one big dipam at the center and surrounded by eight smaller dipams. One should meditate on this fire as the most powerful fiery divine energy and burns all kind of enemies; spiritual, mental, and material. This is the form of sacred OM with its Ardhacandra/ardhamathra, Nada, and Bindu shining effulgently on a fully blooming lotus, The Heart. Nine devatas were invoked in Their wrathful forms called Maha-bhayas, Highly Terrorizing, creating indescribable fear in all enemies’ heart.

The Basic Homatraya-dipam

Bigger Homatraya-agni-kundam with various offering

Homatraya-agni-kundam shining in the night

Sacred-letter OM

OM (in Balinese alphabet), shining jewel inside the lotus

After “fire meditation”, the aspirant was guided to perform the next step by accepting holy water bath. A protective and benedictory hymns called Maha-bhaya stotra was chanted along this process. This stotra was arranged in the form of what we call dig-bandha-mantra, the shield to protect the aspirant from all directions. The Maha-bhaya-devatas were glorified as Sarva-satru-vinasa, The Supreme Terror who destroys all kind of enemies. The essence of Maha-bhayas then projected into holy water for bathing the aspirant. This was considered as spiritual bath with the anointment of The Maha-bhayas as presented by mantras, their bijaksaras, and flow of holy water. The aspirant meditates on the shower of holy water as the flow of energies, entering through a small mystical door on the top of his head (brahma-randhra) and imbibes his whole body with spiritual power. This part gave the ritual its name, Mandi Weda, a type of abhiseka, ritualistic bathing. Mandi means bathing and Balinese used to call all type of mantras as Weda. So this is a ritual of sacred bathing accompanied by chanting mantra. After this ritual, energies of The Maha-bhayas and Their mystical present has been installed in various bodily parts of the aspirant.

A Balinese couple accepts Mandi Weda from Highpriest

Sunday, September 5, 2010


One special feature of Hindu rituals as based on Vedic and Agamic-Tantric texts were the performance of fire sacrifice called Homam or Havan. The importance of agni (fire) and its presence in every holy rite of the Hindus was describe even in the most ancient Rigvedic texts. Even now, we can easily recognize Hindu as a religion of fire by observing the beauty of Dipaaradhanam in the temples or the pompous celebration of annual Divali.

However today we hardly find any Homam perform by Nusantara Hindus. There is no daily waving of sacred lamp in family shrines. Though Homams profusely mentioned in many ancient sacred texts of palm leaf mostly found in Bali, with their details, benefit, and mantras respectively, but the practice has been already lost for more than 500 years. The most common Dipaaradhanam or Arati ceremony by waving oil lamps or flame of burning camphor as it practices in India, only do by ordained Brahmin high priests (called Sulinggih in Balinese).

The Nusantara Hindu practices, especially in Bali, have turned to profuse using of holy water instead of sacred fire. The making, worshiping, and sprinkling of holy water are inseparable part of ALL ceremonies. For them water is the consecrated form of Divinity, mediator for prayers, purifier of the whole world, the very basis of universe, EVERYTHING. Every Hindu family is routinely visiting Brahmin high priests’ seat, their houses, called in Sanskrit term Gria (Griha) as a sign of honor instead of umah –mere common people’s house in Balinese, only for obtaining holy water from them. The high priests, with their Tantric methods of chanting mantras, showing mudras, dedicating various offerings, and visualization in meditative trance, worship the scented water inside the kumbhas (sacred vessels made from 5 kinds of metal - panchalogam) as the Total Form of All Divinities, Sarvadevatasvarupi. Inside the kumbha, the essence of all holy rivers, especially Ganga, was invoked. Prayers glorifying Gangadevi, the Presiding Deity of Holy River, chant continuously by the priest while offering various upacharas such as incense, lamp, flowers, sandalwood paste, and akshatam with the ringing of Ghanta, ceremonial bell. Then the priest meditate to the Supreme God as residing in his heart and projecting Him through “a divine gate” at the top of skull (brahmarandhra) to take His seat in sanctified water. After again worshiping Him with various upacharas, this embodiment of Ganga and all other sacred rivers then mixed with the essence of Supreme Deity. This become essence of Parasiva for the Saivas, the water of indestructible adamantine essence of enlightenment – Vajrodaka for Bauddha, and the Sripada-tirtham – water emanated from Lord Vishnu’s lotus feet for the Vaishnavas. This water has mystical potency to purify the places of worship, the offerings, peoples, and environment. Through the worship of holy water and then bestow it to the people, the priestly order harmoniously maintains its relationship with laymen and keeps the social order and environmental energies in balance.

Interestingly noticed, Ganga is worshipped by all the three sects of Nusantara Hindu priestly order, namely the Saiva, Bauddha, and Vaishnava. Though actually there is no difference in their daily practices but there are some in characteristic of their usage of hereditary obtained mantras. Today they have already united as one single Hindu clergy though in the past their lineages were different. So the Bauddhas are not real Buddhists. They are only Hindu Brahmins who mixed some of their prayers with Tantric Buddhist mantras glorify The Triratna and Paramadibuddha as The Supreme Deity. All of them worship the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, Siva (Isvara or Mahesvara as they preferably call him). But each sect called the Supreme Deity as the source of Trinity manifestations differently. Even the Tuturs (texts of esoteric teachings) of each sect admit it. We can see in this quote from Bauddha’s Tutur Saṅ Hyaṅ Kamahayanikan, “saṅ hyaṅ yogādi paramanairātmya garan ira waneh de saṅ boddha, ananta paramanandana ṅaran ira de saṅ bhairawa, mārggayogādi paramaguhya ṅaran ira de saṅ siddhānta, niṣkalādiparama ṅaran ira de saṅ weṣṇawa (language is Kawi – archaic Javanese), for the Bauddhas the supreme achievement is the Divine Paramanairatmya, the Tantric adepts called It Anantaparamananda, the Siddhantis (refers to followers of Saiva-siddhanta) called It Paramaguhya, and for Vaishnavas It is Paramadiniskala (as refer to niskala niranjana nirvikalpa narayana of Narayana Upanishad).” They don’t post themselves as different religion and rivaling sects but as worshipper of One Single Supreme Deity in different names only, as prefer by their own lineage.

The Pedanda Saiva, Balinese Saiva high priest. His royal dress is characterized by small crystal lingas (sphatikalingam)

These mantras are from Nusantara puja manuscripts, the paddhatis of high priest. The language called Nusantara Sanskrit or Archipelago Sanskrit. Some words already change from the original Sanskrit and sometime do ignore Panini grammar. I shall provide the translation according to how they understood traditionally, not by exactly analyzing word to word.

Saiva mantras for Ganga
gangadevi-maha-punyam soma vamrita-mangalam mangalam siva karyanam siva kumbha mahottamam
This mantra illustrate the Saiva high priest by mystical meditative transformation become identical with Parasiva Himself since The Supreme Deity was meditated as reside in his heart. As the representative of Siva, he prepares the holy water inside his great (mahottama) Siva-kumbha, the vessel of Siva’s essence. This will bestow the world with auspiciousness (mangalam, also sometime synonymous with sivam). This is the holy water of fully meritorious (maha-punyam) Gangadevi , the all auspicious essence of Soma, the elixir of immortality.

ganga harayata dharma pavitram papanasanam sarva vighna vinasan ca vyomakasa prabhavatah
The constitutional nature of Ganga is destroying all sinful reactions, purifying everything, and destroying any hindrance. Her divine potency is shining effulgently in space (akasa) and firmament (vyoman). This refers to the divine source and celestial course of Ganga. The high priest as Siva then prepares holy water inside the kumbha by absorbing the essence of this Ganga-prabhavam in vyomakasa and projecting it toward his kumbha.

brahma visnus ca rudras ca toyas tu toyadehakah amritam sakalam dehi gangadevi namo namah
This mantra glorify Gangadevi as the Trinatha/Trideva, Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra, in liquid form of water. This water is “the body (deha)” enshrined Trideva inside. We ask Gangadevi to bestow immortality (amrita) through her holy water, the very embodiment of Trideva.

The Pedanda Buddha, high priest of Bauddha sect. Characterized by his using of Vajra, the adamantine sceptre of five metals, in his puja.

Bauddha mantras for Ganga
mrityunjayasya devasya yo namany anukirtayet dirghayusam avapnoti sri sangha vijayi bhavet
Here Ganga is glorified as the embodiment of Buddha-dharma. She is the Deity who overcome death (Mrityunjaya, traditionally a name of Lord Siva. It was accepted that Gangadevi also one of Siva’s wife and identical with Him. So may be that was the reason for addressing Her in such way. The Bauddhas are seem prefer to identify Dharma with Mrityunjaya than Siva as personal deity). By glorifying Her name we obtain long-life and victory for the Congregation.

buddha nirmala sivanam dharma sangha parayana sangha sangha yaso purna sri gangadi namo’stu te
Sri Gangadi refers to Ganga and other holy rivers. By saluting them which is the essence of Buddha, pure, and auspicious, the embodiment of Dharma as delivered by Sangha, may the congregation become perfectly pious.

jalanidhi mahasakti sarva siddhi dharma tirtham dharma tirthan mangalan ca sri dharmadi namo’stu te
Again we salute Ganga as embodiment of Dharma. She is the water of Dharma, the most powerful form of water, and bestowal of all perfection.

Vaishnava mantras for Ganga
gangadevi-maha-punyam ganga jalan ca medhini ganga kalasa samyuktam gangadevi namo’stu te
This Mahapunya Ganga is both Jalam and Medhini. The holy water collect in Kalasam/Kumbham, indeed is Gangadevi Herself. We salute Gangadevi!

srigangamahadevi suksma-mrta-sanjivani omkaraksara-bhuvanam padamrita manohara
This mantra illustrates the spiritual aspect of holy water as accepted by Vaishnava high priests. Ganga the great Goddess is subtle and sublime. Bringing life to the death. The very form of Omkara in this world. The mind captivating nectarine ambrosia emanated from Lord Vishnu’s lotus feet.

utpattika surasas ca utpattis tava ghoras ca utpatti sarvahitas ca utpatti va sarva sri-vahinam
This mantra glorify Ganga as the source or beginning (utpatti) of these divine natures: sweet mellows (surasa), awe and reverence (ghora), all happiness and well being (sarvahita), and continuous flow of all opulence (sri-vahinam)

om jnanatirtham mahaganga sagaramalayate narayanadyagaro’pi kumbha tirtham mahanadim
This Kumbha-tirtham is that great Ganga who flows toward the sea. This is the water of perfect knowledge (jnanatirtham) emanated from the tips of Lord Narayana’s lotus feet.

gangadevi-maha-tirtham toyastha toyanirmalam amritas ca mahadevi sarva papa vimuktanam
This is the great holy water of Gangadevi. She abides in this water, free from all defects. The great Goddess blesses us with immortality and releases us from all sinful reactions.

utpatti surya rupena soma va sthiti mangalam avighna traya rupas ca pavitra jnana praline
This is the mantra for worshipping Ganga in Her three fold forms in universal cycle of creation (utpatti), maintenance (sthiti), and dissolution (pralina). She is Surya (the sun), Soma (the moon), and Pavitrajnana, the knowledge of purification for destroying all sinful reactions. We worship Ganga in these three auspicious forms that destroy all hindrance and disturbance.

Common in three sects
om ganga-dvare prayage ca ganga-sagara-sangamam sarvangatam bhur labhate tribhih sthanair visesitam
This mantra is describing how Gangadevi bring auspiciousness to this planet. She manifests in Gangadvara, refers to the place of Ganga’s origin in Himalaya down to holy city of Haridvar, Prayag – the confluent of Ganga, Yamuna, and unvisible Sarasvati, and finally Ganga-sagara, where the river enter ocean at Bay of Bengal. All Her bodies of water bless this earth by divine potency especially in these three places.





...The holy places of Ganga glorified in Nusantara Hindu's sacred hymne

papo’ham papa-karmaham papatma papa-sambhavah trahi mam pundarikaksah sa bahyabhyantara sucih
This mantra is chanted everyday by Nusantara Hindus in their daily prayer. This is purification mantra where the devotees express their impure condition with humility and ask Lord Vishnu, The Lotus Eyed One – Pundarikaksha, to purify their self from sin of mortal body externally and internally. “I’m full of sin, I’m act in sin, I’m the sin itself, and was born in sin. Please protect me Lotus Eyed Lord. Purify me from all sins both outward and inward.”

asucir va sucir vapi sarva kama gato’pi va cintayed deva isanam sa bahyabhyantara sucih
This is another version especially chanted by the Saiva priest. Holy or not holy, in all types of desire, just by remembering Lord Isana, we’ll be purified externally and internally. All desire or sarvakama here refers to the ritual we are going to perform.

The high priest used to bath the person by chanting this benedictory verse.
om bhur bhuvah svah svaha ye tirtha mahapavitraya namah tirtha tirtha ye nityam suddha lara suddha rogha suddha klesa suddha mala suddha pataka suddha vighna suddha papa nir upadrava om jalanidhi mahasakti hum phat

This is the great holy water purifier of the three worlds. Salute It! By accepting this tirtham may you be freed forever from all types of disturbance. Washed away all sadness, all sickness, all negative traits, all impurity, all sins, all disturbances, all inauspiciousness, no defect ever touch you.
OM the most powerful collection of water HUM PHAT

Bathing in holy water bestowed by the high priest is one of the most powerful purification rituals and highly demanded by Nusantara Hindus. This is called Pelukatan Agung in Balinese, an elaborate form of Prayascitta or atonement. They belief this act of faith will erase their spiritual discrepancy or even bring material success and good health by purify the negative energy from the gross and subtle body, thus releasing the soul from the burden of the effects of bad karmas. By first invoking Gangadevi and other holy rivers, worshiping her, and then taking bath in the sanctified water, the Nusantara Hindus belief this is as equal as directly bathing in those holy rivers of India. By this ritual, the ancient spiritual connection of Nusantara and India, built from thousands of years ago by our ancestors, was maintained nicely.

The grand Pelukatan Agung performs by more than one high priest considered as more potent and supremely beneficial. The sacred texts called it Pelukatan Agung Mahottama. The greater one, which involving invocation of Gangadevi and her worship was called GANGAPRATISTHA. This is the ritual of manifesting Ganga with all holy rivers and tirthams in water vessels to purify the mass. In this ceremony the essence of all purifying agents, headed by Gangadevi, were considered as directly present. Such a ceremony for centuries was never performed again in Nusantara. But this year on the last 29 August an Acharya of Balinese Hindu high priest, Ida Pedanda Gede Nabe Bang Buruwan Manuaba, revived this ancient grand ceremony once again. This took place at the shore of Bali eastern coast, in a vast courtyard of a temple called Bindu Sagara. By help of four other high priests, he gave ritual purification bath to more than 1000 people with gallons of holy water. The water was ceremoniously mixed with the real Ganga, Yamuna, and Prayag’s water directly brought from India, and then consecrated further by the high priests. With full regalia, the Kumbha contained Ganga, Yamuna, and Prayag’s water was decorated, worshipped, and brought to parade shaded by royal umbrella, before it was mixed with gallons of scented water. First the people were bathed in water from the confluence of local river with ocean as representative of Ganga – Samudra Sangamam. Second bath was in scented water representing Prayag. The last was directly from high priests’ own kumbhas as the embodiment of holy waters flowing through Gangotri – Haridvar.

A Balinese Hindu Acharya and High Priest
Ida Pedanda Gede Nabe Bang Buruwan Manuaba
The pioneer in reviving Gangapratistha ceremony in Indonesia

The revered Acharya also have an idea to perform even greater ceremony in the future. It will involve 108 high priests and priestesses of different sects. This also should be an international event by inviting Hindu high priests from abroad, as many as possible. The Acharya welcomes participation of all our Bhattars, Vaidikars, Smarthas, Sivacharyars and Swamis from all over the world to come to Bali on that day and join in mass prayer worshipping Gangadevi and all tirthams, and also preparing the holy water for the people. This will be the making of “the most powerful holy water” and also grandest display of Hindu’s richness of spiritual culture in Indonesia. By the success of the first Gangapratistha after almost extinct for centuries, he was determined enough to organize this grand Nusantara Hindu Mela for the next year. I hope all of us could participate in this event and the history will note the Reemerging of Hindu Dharma in Indonesia.

The Headpriest and priestess entering meditation before invoking Gangadevi and all tirthams

Ida Pedanda Gede Nabe Bang Buruwan Manuaba giving holy water bath at Gangapratistha ceremony



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