Indonesia's Original Religion Edit

Hinduism was the main religion in Indonesia before Islam came to the country through Muslim traders in the 12th and 13th centuries. Hinduism came to Indonesia as early as the 1st century. By
the 4th century, Hindu states had been established on Java. Hinduism spread throughout the rest of Indonesia and reached its peak in the 14th century. Although most of Indonesia was Muslim by the end of the 16th century, Bali remained Hindu. In 1959, the Indonesian government recognized Hinduism as an official religion. Indonesian Hindus practice Dharma Hinduism because of this. It was a major reform movement that lobbied for Hindus’ rights in Bali. This reform helped start a revival of Hinduism in Indonesia.

Spiritual Hot-spot Edit

Balinese Hinduism does emphasizes cycles of rebirth and reincarnation, however, that is not it's focus. Instead it focuses on local and ancestral spirits. The temples are compounds with courtyards and altars. They have walls around the outside, with intricate gates into the compounds. Every Balinese person belongs to a temple based on his descent or residence. Some temples are associated with the family house compound. Priests are not affiliated with specific temples, but act as spiritual advisors to individual families in villages throughout the island. Priests are usually hired for ceremonies with holy water, but otherwise, most Balinese go to dukuns (shaman).

Importance of Self Control and Balence Edit

Important aspects of Balinese Hinduism are ritualized states of self-control. Ceremonies often include dance-dramas, one of which is a battle between the mythical characters Rangda the witch (adharma, or disorder) and Barong the predator (dharma). The performers fall into a trance and try to stab themselves with knives. The main purpose of this ceremony is to restore balance.

Struggles with Islamic Government Edit

Indonesia’s constitution is known as Pancasila. It gives freedom of religion, but requires those religions to be monotheistic. Because of this, Balinese Hindus have reinforced the monotheistic aspect of Hinduism. Hindu monotheists believe in one supreme god, with the other gods just being manifestations of him. In Sanskrit, this god is named Atman, but Indonesians know him as Tunggal or Sanghyang Widi Wasa, which is actually the more common name among modern Balinese. Tunggal holds the same concept as Brahman, and he is the supreme god in Indonesian puppetry (wayang). Tunggal is often associated with the sun god, and in most pictures, there are flames around him. Prayers and offerings are not given directly to Tunggal, but to other manifestations of him. Although most Indonesian Hindus are Balinese, Hinduism can be found in other areas. The Tengger in East Java are also Hindu. The Tengger’s Hinduism is a little different from the Balinese. Their traditions are based on Hindu practices from the Majapahit era. The Manusela also practice Hinduism. They live in the Maluku Islands.