Balinese Hinduism

Balinese Hindu faith is rooted on Vedic texts, ancient philosophies, and alternative lifestyles, all of which mutually support one another. To that end, Hinduism is not a dogmatic religion but rather the consequence of a spiritual way of life. Hinduism’s traditions, like the religion itself, evolve and change with time.

The introduction of Indian merchants brought Hinduism to Bali. Hinduism was maintained as the primary faith of the Indonesian people via rituals, traditions, and the arts long before Islam was ever a presence in the country. It also introduced religious concepts, myths, and stories, as evident in the many celebrations honoring the dead and the gods of various cultures. Temples in Bali follow the same architectural principles as their Indian counterparts. The Balinese word for “temple” (Pura) refers to a sacred complex that is often encircled by walls. The island is home to over 20,000 temples, each of which is dedicated to a different virtue, region, or other category.

A genuine Balinese Hindu experience is a very personal and spiritual step on the path to self-discovery. The promise of “moksa,” or ultimate fulfillment, is central (becoming one with the universe). Balinese Hinduism has its origins in the unique spiritual traditions of the Nusantara (archipelago) and the enlightenments of saints who have lived on this land for thousands of years before the nation was ever founded.


History of Hinduism as an official religion in Indonesia

Although Indonesia is a predominantly-Muslim nation, with 86% of its inhabitants identifying as Muslim – Hindus throughout Indonesia make up 1.7% of the population. While this may not seem like a significant percentage, 87% of Balinese people identify as Hindu, making them the third largest religious group in Indonesia.

After arriving in Indonesia in the 1st century CE, it merged with local beliefs, most notably Buddhist concepts, to become the Hinduism practiced in modern-day Bali before Islam came to power. Following Indonesia’s independence, there was a period of struggle to bring order to the country’s complex religious landscape. Detailed in the national tenets known as Pancasila (“Panca” meaning five, “Syila” are the principals). The first commandment, “Ketuhanan yang maha esa,” makes it clear that only one God is to be worshiped.

Because it was seen as a sect of Hinduism, Balinese Hinduism was not legally recognized in the nation until recently. It was formerly assumed that the Hinduism practiced in Bali was a synthesis of the Shivaian tradition of Hinduism and the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Holy Water Religion is also known as Shiva Buddhism, Hindu Dharma, the Religion of the Tirthas, and the Religion of the Sacred Waters. The Balinese did not give up though, and after a lengthy road was ultimately acknowledged as one of the official faiths in Indonesia in 1959 by worshipping one God, named the Sang Hyang Widhi, Acintya or Sang Hyang Tunggal.



Impressions of Balinese Hinduism