தென்னாடுடைய சிவனே போற்றி, எந்நாட்டவர்க்கும் இறைவா போற்றி.!!
Praise Shiva the Lord of the Southern land !
Praise Shiva the Lord of all Lands !!
Om Namah Shivay!!
Our religious trip to Bali was confirmed. Flight tickets were reserved for 19-12-2017 and 29-12-2017. A van to drive us around, as well as stay for the first 4 days was arranged in advance. My exhilaration was short-lived though. For, on 28-11 2017,the eyes of the world were on Bali’s erupting Mt.Agung. The island’s airport was closed and officials warned that larger eruptions were possible. News spread of expanded danger zones and forced evacuations. Now, not only Bali’s airport but my mind too was in chaos. Another disturbance was this ominous video from the meteorological department claiming that a vigorous earthquake and tsunami was expected to affect the coastal areas of many Asian countries including India and Indonesia before the end of the year. When this harbinger hit me we were called for a briefing about our trip, by Siva Ganesh Subramaniam, the institutor of Shaivam.org.This is a top ranking site on Shaivism with two radio channels too. After the talk about food, weather and currency etc. our Srinivas Aiya who is adept in all our ‘Thirumurais’, made us sing the song ‘Thappi vaanam dharani kambikki en?’.......The import of this verse from Appar devaram is this: In the event of untoward happenings, earth tremors or even the wrath of a despot, I fear not, for I am protected by the Lord in ‘Thiru Cherai’. I got the above verse even without voicing my fears. Lord Shiva’s plan. From then on, it became my slogan and there was not a trace of fear in me. Lord Shiva made His kindness explicit.
The Blanjong inscription made during the reign of Sri Kesari Warma Deva 913AD, has the word ‘Walidwipa’[ Wali or Bali, dwipa or island] referring to the government area in Bali.
The tenets of faith were brought to Bali from the 14th century Majapahit kingdom. They did not supplant the already existing strong religious beliefs. Hinduism was thus blended with indigenous traditions and beliefs such as animism and ancestor worship. Balinese call their religion ‘Agama Tirta’,or the science of holy water. Actually an interpretation of religious ideas from China, India and Java. All their temple paintings are proof of this. Dhang Hyang Nirartha, also known as Dhang Hyang Dwijendra a hindu pilgrim held a spiritual journey around Bali.Most Dhang Kahyangan temples have a close connection with him.
A Balinese hindu temple is called a ‘Pura’. Puras are designed as an open air place of worship within enclosed walls connected with a series of intricately decorated gates between its compounds.The design, plan and outlay follows the ‘Tri mandala concept’.
1. Nishta mandala-- Usually this space is in the form of an open field or garden and used for religious dance performances or as extra space for use during festivals.
2. Madhya mandala--Here several pavilions are built such as Bale Kul Kul (wooden slit drum tower) Bale Gong (Gamelon pavilion) their musical orchestra and Wantilan (meeting pavilion) temple’s kitchen etc.
3. Uttama mandala--The holiest and most sacred zone within the Pura. This enclosed and typically highest of compounds usually contains a Padmasana, towering lotus throne of the highest God. A multi tiered lower shrine for mount meru and several pavilions such as Bale Pawedan (vedic chanting pavilion), Bale Pepelik (offering pavilion) etc...
The supreme being, is called Hyang Widhi Wasa or all in one God. Manifestations of this one God is not seen but suggested by an empty throne. In Chidambaram, the supreme being manifests as the element ‘space’, similarly we cannot touch,see or feel the Lord in His temples in Bali. There are big paintings though showing the Lord on His white bull, with Devi Parvathi, with Ganesha and in different poses too. Lord Vishnu’s incarnations Rama and Krishna’s life incidents too are very well depicted. Temples found everywhere reflects the spiritual life of the Balinese.
Left Bengaluru on 19th night. Our stopover was in Malaysia. Reached Denpasar city airport at 7.30pm local time. It was raining but our driver, Puttu was already waiting there. He greeted us cheerfully as we settled in a comfortable van. On the way we halted briefly to have our dinner.The place was in natural setting and we dined on a boathouse like table with water running below our feet. A clear juice of herbs, samosas, paneer tikkas and fried rice all tucked in quickly. Reaching our lodge ‘Gana Restaurant’, in Ubud, we hit the bed without wasting time for we had lost sleep in travel the night before.
The day started with the complimentary breakfast comprising of Vegetarian sandwiches and fruit juice of our choice. First day, so we went visiting the temples around Ubud. I shall list out every temple we visited with a new paragraph so you can keep track.
# Pura Dalem Agung Monkey Forest Shiva temple. Touristers and sightseeing holidayers are not allowed into the temple, all for good reasons too. Only after confirming that we were pilgrims and making sure we had the proper traditional dress required to enter their temples we were permitted to enter the temple. In this temple people worship God Hyang Widhi in personification as Shiva. The Lord was suggested by an empty throne on a pagoda. A balinese young man who spoke english, introduced us to the procedure to offer prayers at the pura.
All one needs is one lit incense stick and a few flowers. Sitting in a vajrasan position, (those who cannot may sit cross legged.) At first we must clean our hands from the smoke of the incense, then cleanse our face and body. Purify the flowers we bought to worship also with the same smoke. Next we should meditate (dhyanam) with closed eyes and bringing our hands together just at our forehead. First meditate without flowers,then three more times with flowers offering them each time to the lord (but near the incense). Then take a petal or flower offered as prasad and keep on ear (for men) and on hair for women. Last time pray without flower.
We walked around the monkey temple, seeing hundreds of monkeys, some pulling at our clothes or even bags. There were many tourists who allowed the monkeys to sit on them. They played with them and fed them bananas too. The monkeys too posed for them. We are told that there are over 600 monkeys looked after in their natural habitat for research and conservation programs.
Balinese religion stresses on the doctrine of ‘Tri Hita Karana’, which means having a harmonious relationship with other humans, with the environment and with the Supreme God. We saw the holy spring temple in the same precincts. One tank was being filled with water coming from Lord Ganesha’s trunk and two female figurine forms. A very scenic place.
#We then visited the king’s palace. Here the courtyard was being decorated with flower beds and also festoons and tall poles too decorated with fresh palm leaves. We sat there and our Srinivas aiya, started singing devaram and we joined him. Seeing us, the king an unassuming man, may be in his late fifties gave permission for us to go around the palace and provided us tea too. We learnt that the decorations were being made to welcome our Indian Ambassador who was to visit the next day. The king bid one of his men to take us to visit another temple not far off.
#Tjampuhan Pura Gunung Lebah : This is the name of the temple that we came to visit with the king’s permission. Our guide led us through many descending steps. This is indeed big and royally maintained too. All the mandalas had manicured lawns. Many towers in Uttama mandala. On either side of the main pagodas was a life size statue of a man (with piercing eyes) and a woman. Many small (Padma peetas) or throne on the mantap or towers. God is formless. To the left, one huge raised pavilion that is divided into three sections and has big paintings of Gods in gold paint. One tall tower houses the temple bell (Bale KulKul). This temple has historical significance too. It is at the confluence of two rivers near a mountain, and Markandeya worshipped the lord on the banks of the Tjampuhan river.
#The same person directed us to another temple closeby named Pura Dalem Bentuyang. A brisk 10 minute walk took us there. Outside the temple civil work was going on. Temple on a very scenic setting. There was a stream running below and many steps leading to it also. There are many sculptures of mythological characters and creatures too in the sprawling mandalas.
Had lunch at an Indian restaurant. The place was crowded with Indians who had come on a holiday or for their honeymoon.
#Goa Gajah : Goa means Guha ie. cave and Gajah is elephant.
While walking to the temple, there is the Sapta Gangai to our left, that is water flowing from the kalashas (pots) of the seven holy rivers as seven mothers. All the water flowed into a tank. We went there and sprinkled the water from all the seven rivers. After this we entered the cave temple. To the left was a very old statue of Lord Ganesha and to the right three Siva Lingams next to one another. All lingams were adorned with different coloured cloth. We sat and sang songs from ThiruAanaikka before leaving the place.
#Taman Penateran Sasih : At the entrance to this temple we can see many statues of dwarfs with big teeth,big eyes and holding babies. They are smiling though.On one high pavilion there are many Shiva lingams, Ganesha and some sittars’ statues too. All are clad in red and black cloth. The tower for the main God has one open stone throne. God is formless and there is a Full moon (Sasih) behind Him.
22-12-2017 - Day Two : We went to see the temples to the south of Ubud.
#Pura Dalem Alas Arum Batuan : There is an unmistakable festive spirit in the air. There were many devotees, some were pounding the (portchunnam) powder meant for God’s worship. On one pavilion was the statue of Ammaiappar on vidai and that had me ecstatic. I lit a lamp there. There were very tall soaring bamboo poles elaborately decorated with coconut leaves, rice and colourful flowers everywhere. (We saw these poles in many other temples too.) On the main tower is a mantap that has the painting of Lord Shiva sitting on Nandi in all His grandeur. A huge banner in front of the temple announces the 10 day festivities.
#Pura Dalem Puri Sukawati : This too is a very big temple and many towers or pagodas in uttama mandala. In the mantap over the main tower is the beautiful painting of Goddess Parvathi with hands folded. The shrine includes many pagodas or towers, some are multi tiered all with thatched roofs as everywhere. Though religion is woven into their culture we do not see images and idols of hindu Gods like in India. It is just the overriding power of spiritual forces.
#Pura Erjeruk : This is a Dhang kahyangan, that is one of the temples where Hyang Nirartha worshipped. Feasted our eyes on the lush landscape.It is astounding to see how devoutly the Balinese express their love for God, who is conceptual. All their temples are ripe with mysticism. But of course the divine atmosphere kindles us to pray devoutly too.
#Pura Dalem Menjening : None of us will ever forget our visit to this temple. The priest, a very simple man, went out of his way to explain the importance of the place, urging us to pray and assuring us that our prayers would be heard. This is also a water temple, there were live tortoises in the water here. A tall tower symbolizing mount Meru (Sumeru) is revered and worshipped. After keeping the things required for the pooja, he gave each of us flowers to pray and he recited the ‘Rudram’. He lit the incense, and started reciting the Rudram, as he rang the bell. He went into a self induced trance and went emotional while praying. He was so moved that he choked and had tears in his eyes. He read from the book ‘Surya Sevana’ too. After the pooja he blessed us by sprinkling water on us, giving us water (theertha) to drink and also giving us rice soaked in water to adorn our foreheads and eat a few grains of it. He gave us his card asking us to visit him anytime.
#Pura Blanjing : Huge tree in the temple. There is a Shiva lingam in this temple. In the offering pavilion there are small flowers, leaves, rice,honey,small biscuits,bits of sugar candy etc. all kept in small neatly folded palm leaf boxes. The boxes are so artistically folded, and sometimes left on the ground too. It does not hurt us to leave an offering too. After this we have lunch at a place where Indian food also is available.
#Pura Dalem Sakenan : While entering this temple we saw a long line of schoolchildren numbering more than 150, all dressed in their traditional attire also entering the temple. They all sat in rows quietly. We too took our places behind the headmaster and his wife. The headmaster was curious to know the importance of our festivals especially Deepawali. Our Ganesh Siva was more than glad to answer him. This event was a fortunate stroke of serendipity for, we got to meet the Principal, a woman who got her doctorate in culture. She too was equally glad to meet us. We got to see how children in their young age are guided (over a speaker) to worship the Lord according to their tradition and belief. This shows their deep reverence as well as their effort to keep their heritage intact. The principal blessed us with water (theertha) and rice. She even posed with us for photos. In this temple, all were not allowed into the Uttama mandala. We all could pray from a distance only.But to be a part of such a ceremony was very satisfying.
#Nusa Dua : Nusa means island and Dua is two. There are two temples one on each island. We have to walk on the white sands of the beach to reach the temple. There are many people enjoying the sun and water sports.
#Pura Bukit Dharma : This is a small temple. There is a Noticeboard at the entrance stating the rules to enter their temples. One will remember our tradition of tying up our hair while praying or that praying in wet clothes is taboo. A list of such rules are displayed on boards in front of many other temples too.
#Pura Bias Tugel : Now, we traversed the other side of the beach. Entering the gate of the temple we saw only big rocks and boulders. Not the usual lawn, because of the beachside. Scenic setting because of the sea all around. This is one of the places Hyang Nirartha preached hinduism. We took many photos before leaving the place.
Our accomodation was very well maintained. We always returned to clean rooms that were airy. We even had a kitchen, where we put our culinary skills to good use. Also the zen like courtyard with an overflowing swimming pool and orchids of varied hues brightening up the garden was, in all, an idyllic setting for unwinding and contemplating on the Lord.
23-12-2017 - Day Three : We visited the temples east of Ubud.
#Pura Dalem Tegaltugu : In this temple there is a big picture of Shivan and Ambal in dancing pose. Ganesha too in the same picture. The other pagodas are also there, and a perfect place for contemplation on Lord Shiva. But for me spiritual ascent through the mind alone seemed a daunting challenge. But undoubtedly ‘Meditation’ is far superior to all religious practices.
#Pura Battu Lepang : This is a small temple on a platform. Small pagodas, probably for the locals around the place.
While travelling in our mitsubishi car to our temples we got to see how clean the city is. Almost every house has a family temple. So many small temples, all with an empty throne above, sometimes with an umbrella too. The courtyard of a balinese house compulsorily has a statue of Lord Ganesha facing the street. This had me bowing at the entrance of every house.
#Pura Dalem Ganda mayu Kahyangan : This was a very big and beautiful temple, but could pray only from the Nishta mandala. A serene silence pervades the whole temple.
#Goa Lawah : One of the Shad Kahyangan temples. This is the famous Bat Cave temple. The temple was crowded with devotees. Many devotees were carrying straw baskets of all sizes and designs on their heads, which had many offerings such as flowers, eatables and some even had eggs in them. There were many rows of devotees sitting and praying. When we neared the cave we saw many, many colonies of bats, all hanging from the roof of the cave. There was a Shiva lingam in this temple too.
#Pura Luhur Silayukti Padang Karangasen : This also is a very big temple. In the verdant lawn near the pagodas were many of the ‘Balinese signature temple item’,an artifact, that is the umbrella (Chattram). Apparently this makes up for the absence of a roof in the temples. There were many white and yellow umbrellas ie. with long stick for the handle.
#Pura Payogan Varunan : Walked a few steps down towards the sea. This small temple overlooks the beautiful and glistening sea. Prayers are offered here to appease the lord of the Waters.
We had a Balinese lunch at Amalapura. Liked the ginseng and lemon juice but maybe I should acquire a taste of their food. We had a lovely view of Mt. Agung from this place through a telescope kept for this purpose.
#Theertha Ganga : At the entrance is a very beautiful and sprawling park with many beautiful fountains, manicured lawns and swimming pools brimming with water. Crossing all this we entered a place that had a natural spring. We sprinkled the water and drank a little too. Then we had to climb about 50 steps all green with moss. There on top of a pagoda is the most beautiful and bright picture of Lord Shiva in Yoga pose. It seems like he is overlooking the entire place from that high point.
#Lempuyang Luhur : A Shad kahyangan temple on a hill. First we walked through the grassy meadows, then as we climbed up the many steps we saw the imposing three towers or gopuras from close. Walking further we reach the summit. It is a breathtaking and spectacular view. The magnificent mountains all green and clouds hovering around them. This very picturesque temple has an equally captivating picture of our Lord all white, sitting on the white bull. An unmistakable aura of silence and piety fills the temple, as in most temples, both conducive for meditation and contemplation.
24-12-2017 - Day Four : travelled towards north of the island.
#Yeh Pulu : The place was wet from the previous night’s rain. The entire place looked like it had been washed clean. It felt so good to tread on the descending steps through waterfalls here and there. Many rushing and gurgling streams and a fresh scent of the earth and foliage. Nearing the temple, on the walls we saw archeological remains to the left, next to which is the statue of a very big Ganesha. Then in the middle Lord’s Padma peeta tower. Not very high though.
#Samuan Tiga : This was the royal temple of the Udayana Warmadeva dynasty who ruled in the 10th century. Another common feature in almost all temples is the dragon on either side of the railings of the steps leading to the main entrance. In this temple is one Shiva lingam. The Universal spirit, The one Absolute, Pure consciousness Lord Shiva is absolutely boundless. Hence praying to Him as the formless (Aruvam) seems fitting. It does not limit Him.
#Candi Tebing Tegallinga : If one wants to enjoy a trek in the lap of nature, this is it. The weather was excellent. Nature’s beauty was charming and easy on the eye. There were ever so many streams and rivulets. There was greenery everywhere.After walking through this wonderland like place for over a kilometer, the trekking gets a bit tough. There are no more steps coming down, instead we have to walk on running water,on boulders big and small and on slippery clayey soil too. This was so exciting. At the lowest level, the place became wide and was surrounded by high cliffs, seemed so conducive for meditation. It could be a place where yogis sat in penance.
#Pura Seganing Siki Village : This was another nature trail. Thoroughly enjoyed our expedition through the thick forest area, The tall trees, the scent of the luscious green foliage, the sounds of the water roaring almost 50 feet below, the prop roots of gigantic trees hanging, the rope bridges and wooden plank bridges all of this lifted our mood exponentially. At the end of this trail of over 2 kilometers is one beautiful temple where we offered our prayers.Fresh clean air and all the walking was so refreshing and enlivening.
#Pura Tirta Sudamala : This is a water temple. Many people had come to have bath and offer prayers. There are waterfalls from 9 pipes. After bathing in all we should prostrate in water. Lockers are alloted to keep our belongings. After the bath we went to the temple and offered prayers. The rudram chanting was being played in the speaker. The priest readily gave it to us when asked.
After this we had lunch. Those who want, can drink tender coconut water. The ‘young ones’ as they are called are very big in size and the water is filling as well as nourishing.
#Pura Dhang Kahyangan Griya Shakti Bukit Bangli : Had to climb over 150 steps to reach the temple. The railings on either side had a huge dragon like face but a python like body lying on them.Looked like some festival was celebrated here for all the deities had a new clothes.
#Pura Kehen : There is a huge Shiva lingam covered in cloth, at the entrance, facing the road. We have to climb steps to reach the temple. All Shaktis are housed here. There were many pagodas. Each Shakti in a tower. The statues of different beings and creatures look magical and a few look sinister too.
#Tirtha Empul Tampaksiring : This temple looks like a sprawling park. There are two big rectangular tanks.Water flows from pipes on one side and the tank may be 4 to 5 feet deep.Devotees wade in the water and bathe at all the pipes. Water in the tanks are crystal clear though. Next to this Thirtha is a beautiful temple. We rejoiced seeing an antiquated Shiva Lingam with Avudaiyar and an equally antiquated Nandi emperuman. Lit a lamp here. Here they were chanting (their style) the Rudram to the chiming of the bell. Coming out of the temple we saw 5 natural springs from the ground in a tank. To the west of the temple on a well mowed hillock we could see the presidential palace. I left this temple touched by the overwhelming presence of history.
25-12-2017 - Day Five : Travelled west of the island.
#Pura Griya Sakti Manuaba : This temple too has steps, and dragon on the either side railings. Many pavilions and towers. Lit incense sticks and offerings of flowers in small palm boxes, showed that devotees had already come and offered prayers.
We took in the sights and scenes of the countryside all green with rich vegetation. The panoramic view of the terraced rice fields was one to behold. We learnt that many herbs, spices clover and coffee of good quality are grown here.
#Pura Tirta Dawa Gunung Kawi Sebatu Tegallalang : This temple is beside a holy spring. Many mantapas or towers. One photo looked like Lord Muruga.
#Pusaring Jagat in Banjaar selat was apparently not the shad kahyangan we wanted to visit.
#Taman Ayun Temple : This was built by a king named Ida Tjokorde Sakti Blambangan.There is a moat all around the Lord’s Uttama mandala.Very big and well maintained lawn and garden. Allowed to see the Uttama mandala from outside only. There are many wooden merus and pagodas. Though open to the elements there is so much serenity and solemnity in the temples.
After enjoying a packed lunch (we did not want to waste time looking for a restaurant) we again crossed the rice terraced fields.
Pura Luhur Batukaru : There were already many pilgrims in the temple. Those who entered just before us, carried big baskets full of varied agricultural produce. We sat to pray. The priest recited the Rudram and mantras, the word ‘Pasupathi’ was repeatedly chanted. The devotees who had brought the produce of their farm as offering, waved their hand over it towards God. Their prayer seemed superior for, they sit in a meditative stance and pray to an intangible God. After blessing us all with theertha prasad ie. holy water and rice, the priest who spoke english, explained that Lord Shiva is The God taking care of the entire island. He explained the ‘Dewata Nawa Sanga’ He said Lord Shiva (Siwa) as the ruler, is in the sacred middle, and around Him in the eight directions, His different names are the guardians of each cardinal point. He asked us to note the picture at the entrance of the temple that picturised this. This diagram was the emblem of the Majapahit empire.
At the centre - Siwa Ruler (Sanggah Tengah meaning sacred middle)
North east - Sambhu-Baisaki
East - Eshwara Alampuya purva
South east - Maheshwara-Goa Lawah
South - Brahma-Uluwatu
South west - Rudra-The Lord on white bull
West - Mahadeva-Batukaru
North west - Sankara-Sangkara
North - Vishnu-Punjha Mangau
I felt so content just being here.
26-12-2017 - Day Six : We took the route south west of the island.
#Pusaring Jagat : This was another typical Balinese temple. My mind is persistently engaged as to why should the Balinese pay so much importance to the bell ( it is wrapped in a silken cloth and rung throughout their prayer recital) and to the incense ? Could it be that both, the sound of the bell and the fragrance of the incense both merge into the unlimited space, ‘Space’ that the formless God is worshipped as?
#Candi Gunung Kawi : This is a place to worship the royal ancestors. We have to walk many steps down. As we walk down the steps, there are many shops on one side. Shops selling colourful Sarongs, many artifacts made of wood, of coconut shells, CD’s, trinkets,toys and many more gift items. We purchased a few rudraksha malas.
#Ulun Danu Beratan : Being a place of tourist attraction, the place is crowded. The lake is swelling with water. Could only see the floating temple from far, for it is open only once in 210 days.
#Pura Siwe Dharma Jati Padang bulia : We had to walk through a rough mud road or rather lane for 10 minutes to reach this temple. We saw two beautiful photos, one of which was of Dakshina Murthy.
#Pura Siwa Bhujangga Waishnawa : The pervading tone in all these temples is the belief that one can be directly connected to god through sitting and contemplating on the divine manifestation within. Most importantly, through meditation it is possible to gain the ‘gnana’ of His all pervasiveness. There is a big photo of Shankara Narayana or Hari ardha swamy.
#Pura Beji : Impressive and very ornate main entrance. We enter through the side gate as is the convention. A well mowed lawn.So much of greenery around. Even the statues and walls are green, as if in harmony with the surroundings.
27-12-2017 - Day Seven : We drove towards the southeast of the island.
#Pura Dhang Kahyangan Rsi : Temple wore a festive look. Many devotees. The orchestra called Bale Gong Gamelan was being played. It was so musical creating an even more divine atmosphere. Music certainly lifts our spirit to realms above. We captured them on video. It is evident that the Balinese lead spartan or simple lives. Religion is very important to them and they perform daily offerings to God. They actively participate in the numerous temple festivals and rituals as well as in temple ceremonies and processions. Agriculture and Wood carving seems to be a main occupation and they dedicate these to the lord.
#Pura Siwe Beraben : Since this temple was closed we had to sit in the madhya mandala and pray.
#Tanah Lot : Temple on the sea. A very unique and inspiring backdrop for a temple. Walked over a kilometer to the seashore. Temple of Shiva, Parvathi and Varunan above a cave, which is an island just a little into the sea. There are steps leading to the temple but none are allowed. We walked in the sea bed enjoying the waves splashing on us to reach the cave. There is a holy spring in the cave. We are blessed with sprinkling of the water and given the water soaked rice to keep on our forehead. The Theertam from the spring is sweet, though it is in the sea.
#Pura Siwa Prabhu Sading Kukuh : An elderly man opened the gate for us. After our prayer ritual we were intrigued to see a carving in stone. The elder, seeing us fascinated, led us to a pavilion on which the same statue is carved beautifully and distinctively in wood.We later learnt that it is The Trimurthi.
28-12-2017 - Day Eight : as well as the last day of our pilgrimage. Drove down south.
#Pura Taman Pule Mas : This is a beautiful temple. One Shiva lingam in the right hand side pavilion and another big Shiva lingam on the throne of another pavilion. A new stone writing on the wall mentions the words ‘Pasupati Purana’. Devotees all sat in a disciplined fashion, and the metaphysical thought rests on the metaphysical Lord. In “ Shiva Geetha” too, Lord Shiva mentions to Sri Rama that meditation is far above all other ways to attain Him. The Balinese follow this to the letter.
#Pura Dalem Ksetra Kemenuh : This temple was in a riot of colour and music that defies all description. Temple celebrations were going on. Over 30 women dressed in their customary yellow and white attire sat in rows. All of them had pinned their hair neatly. Men wore sarongs with belt and head scarves too. In the madhya mandala in the gamelon pavilion little children played on the musical instruments. This orchestra comprises of an ensemble of many instruments played together. There are Gongs, gong chimes, cymbals, drums, bamboo flutes,plucked strings and xylophones of various sizes. Sound is rich with the combination of rhythm, melody and timbre. We stood bewitched, so enchanting was the music. All the more noteworthy because the instruments were all played by children no older than 15 years of age! On entering the Uttama mandala we feasted our eyes on rows and rows of neatly stacked baskets of fruits. Each arrangement, made of wicker baskets had 5 rows one above the other. Each row had one variety of fruit, dragon fruit, mango, apple, pear,grapes etc.,Above the 5th row an artistic weaving arrangement made of palm leaves and flowers forms the crown. All a riot of colour. Every devotee carried this on their head and offered it to the Lord. It was indeed God’s will that we went on this day to behold the piety with which people followed their traditions. In this temple there is a Shiva lingam and next to it is a statue of Ganesha too. Listened to the mesmerising music of the gamelan before exiting the temple. It is true that music can take one to transcendental realms.
Pura Masceti Petitenget Ulun Tanjung : This is a Laxmi temple. To either side of the Laxmi pavilion is the stone figure of a woman having a crop of paddy in her hand on one side, and the figure of a woman having a pot of wealth on the other side. Both necessary for life. The people are so happy to interact with us when told that we are hindus.
Pura Uluwatu : This is a sea temple and regarded as one of the Shad kahyangan and dedicated to Tsang Hyang Widhiwasa in His manifestation as Rudra. Siwa Rudra is the Balinese Hindu Deity of all elements and aspects of life in the universe. It is a rock cliff temple perched on a steep cliff. This cliff juts into the sea. All in all a stunning location overlooking a large water body, that is roaring, shimmering with its waves crashing on the cliff continuously. This happens to be Dwijendra Nirartha’s last abode on earth. (Mukthi Stalam). The temple is regarded as his holy tomb. I was euphoric, to think that Lord Shiva chose this as our final temple to visit in Bali. Just cannot comprehend His immense grace.After our customary prayers the priest blessed us with the holy water and he himself kept the rice on our forehead. He said the words “ Shiva is in our heart”. He became emotional after uttering those words. Such a realized soul! I felt truly blessed seeing him. I recall with reverence the only words he uttered every now and then.
While heading to the airport I felt like, I was leaving a very precious treasure behind. But then, I am also carrying ‘Him’ with me.
I keep visiting Bali albeit in my thoughts.
Om Namah Shivay !!