Mandala Suci
Wenara Wana
  
The Temples

WHY IS THE MONKEY FOREST OF PADANGTEGAL
CONSIDERED TO BE SACRED?


The 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 be sacred.

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).

Other 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.

The 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 spiritual ignorance.

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.

Pura 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.


MORE INFORMATION :
The Main Temple Map
Tri-Hita Karana Doctrine
• The Bathing Temple
• Gods, Goddesses
   and Demons
• The Cemetery and     Cremation Temple
• The Lingga Yoni


They who practice
austerity and faith
in the forest,
The peaceful knower
that live on alms,
Depart passionless
through the door
of the sun,
To where is that
immortal Person,
even the
imperishable Spirit.

From
The Mundaka Upanishad






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