WHY IS THE MONKEY FOREST OF PADANGTEGAL
CONSIDERED TO BE SACRED?
Monkey Forest of Padangtegal represents a sacred Balinese Hindu site.
In trying to understand Balinese Hinduism it is important to keep in
mind that Balinese Hinduism is unlike Hinduism practiced in other parts
of the world today. Balinese Hinduism combines aspects of Animism,
Ancestor Worship, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Animism and Ancestor Worship
Some of the first evidence of extensive human inhabitation on Bali dates
back to approximately 2,500 B.C. The religion of the Bali Aga (original
Balinese) centered around both Animism and Ancestor Worship. Ancestor
Worship represents the belief that prosperity is associated with a
relationship that exists between the living and the dead (prosperity is
something that can only be achieved through intense worship and
obtainment of blessings from ancestors). Animism represents the belief
that inanimate objects and other elements of the natural landscape can
possess souls which can help as well as hinder human efforts on Earth.
It remains a mystery as to whether or not the Bali Aga ever inhabited
the site that is now known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal.
Currently, there are only a few remaining Bali Aga villages on Bali and
none of them are located in the vicinity of the Sacred Monkey Forest.
However, today many Balinese believe that ravines and forested areas are
particularly notorious for harboring human and animal spirits. These
beliefs probably originated from the Bali Aga and suggest that the Bali
Aga may have considered sites like the Monkey Forest of Padangtegal to
Hinduism and Buddhism
Around A.D. 500, Hindu and Buddhist priests began arriving on Bali
(having traveled aboard Indian trade ships). In addition, between A.D.
732 and A.D. 1478, Bali was conquered by several Javanese Hindu
kingdoms. An analysis of the Pura Purana (a holy lontar book which is a
historical record for temples) indicates that a temple was built on the
site of the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal during the mid-14th
century. It is possible that this temple was built by the Pejeng Dynasty
(the Pejeng Dynasty was centered on Bali in the vicinity of Ubud and
was conquered by the Majapahit empire in A.D. 1343) or it is possible
that it was built by the Majapahit empire. The Majapahit empire was
based on Java, extended throughout the Indonesian archipelago, and
during the 1400s was attacked and eventually conquered by Islamic
military forces. Today, most Balinese claim to be descendants of
Majapahit nobility that exiled from Java to Bali (Majapahit nobility
exiled to Bali until A.D. 1478).
than the Pura Purana, unfortunately there is very little data
indicating when structures were historically built within the Sacred
Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. It is possible that there have been a
number of temples and shrines within the Sacred Monkey Forest that were
destroyed. In addition, the existing temple structures contain a large
number of historical renovations. Tourists are often surprised to learn
that many structures within the Sacred Monkey Forest which appear to be
very old, are in reality only several years old. Wenara Wana staff
members do not replace temple structures to confuse or trick tourists.
Structures are usually replaced because the soft volcanic rock, which
has historically been utilized in temple construction, tends to rapidly
deteriorate in Bali's tropical climate. Also, temples are maintained and
utilized for important religious ceremonies.
fundamental doctrine of Hinduism involves the concept of reincarnation
or transferability of the soul. All living things are believed to be
able to take part in reincarnation. After death, how an individual is
reincarnated, in terms of body or form, is determined by a social caste
system representing steps on a universal ladder and whether or not the
individual behaved 'badly' or 'well'. Today, there are 3 primary
Balinese Hindu castes (Brahmans or Priests, Kshatriya or Nobles, and
Sudra or Commoners). The Balinese caste system further divides the
Brahman into the Saiwite Brahman (Brahmana-Siwa) and Buddhist Mahayana
Brahmana (Brahmana-Buddha). The Balinese Hindu caste system is not
nearly as rigid as its Indian counterpart. One reason for this is that
Sudra (lower caste Balinese ) outnumber higher caste Balinese by nearly
10 to 1.
Buddhism was founded by Gautama (the Buddha), in northeastern India,
around 560 B.C. Like Hinduism, the fundamental doctrine of Buddhism
involves reincarnation. However, Gautama founded Buddhism primarily as a
protest to the Indian caste system. Gautama taught his followers that
humans can be liberated from the ceaseless cycle of reincarnation, by
abandoning desires that create misery in the world and by removing
Pura Puseh, Pura Desa, and Pura Dalem
Today, most Balinese villages have 3 major pura (temple) sites. Pura
Puseh (temples of origin) tend to be located towards the kaja (upstream)
end of villages, are associated with the God Wisnu, and are dedicated
to remembering the founders of villages. Dewa Wisnu is also known as
'the sustainer of life' because he has the ability to incarnate as an
avatar (God-Man), move freely between the heaven of the Gods and the
Earth of humans, and he often appears to save the world by realigning it
to the divine.
Desa (village temples) tend to be located in the middle of villages,
are associated with the God Brahma, and are places where community
councils meet to pray and govern. Dewa Brahma is also known as 'the
creator' because he is a reflection of the creative consciousness upon
which both artistic creativity (which is a very important part of
Balinese villages) and creation itself are founded.
Pura Dalem (temples of the dead) tend to be located towards the kelod
(downstream) end of villages, are associated with the God Siwa, and have
graveyards. Dewa Siwa is also known as 'the destroyer' because his
spiritual function is to destroy negativity in the world. Dewa Siwa
prepares dead people for reincarnation by judging whether or not a
person's karma (actions) have been bad or good. Dewa Siwa destroys
negativity by punishing people who behaved badly. The Sacred Monkey
Forest is the location of Padangtegal's Pura Dalem.
They who practice
austerity and faith
The peaceful knower
that live on alms,
through the door
of the sun,
To where is
The Mundaka Upanishad