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Balinese Hinduism – Beliefs, Gods and Practices

Balinese Hinduism

In today’s article we would like to introduce you Balinese Hinduism. Hinduism is the world’s third most popular religion (after Christianity and Islam) and the oldest in the world. The Balinese form of Hinduism differs from the practice o Hinduism in India. It incorporates other religious beliefs such as animism, the cult of ancestors and Buddhism. If you would like to discover more about Balinese Hinduism, make sure to check out the information below!

Unlike Christianity, Judaism or Islam, there is not a single book that states the rules and principles of Hinduism. The foundation of Hinduism is found in several sources, such as some very old hymns (the Vedas), a group of text that comment on the Vedas (the Upanishadas), a set of religious texts about the legends of the deities (the Puranas), as well as two great epics (the Hindu equivalent of Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”): the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

Balinese Hinduism – Key concepts of Hinduism:

1. Reincarnation: every living thing gets reborn after its death.
2. Karma: your attitude in this life will have consequences in terms of what you are reincarnated into your next life.
3. Dharma: the moral order of the world (constant balance between good and evil, gods and demons, the world of gods and the world of humans). A person’s dharma is the act of maintaining the balance in the world through his or her karma.
There are a multitude of gods in Bali bud some are more important than the others. It’s interesting to know some details about them, because they are worshipped in temples across Bali. Each god is distinctive in terms of the number of arms, heads and vehicles used.

Balinese Hinduism – Hindu Gods in Bali

Brahma – the Creator (born out of a lotus from the navel of Wisnu) is generally seen with four arms and four faces (pointing in the cardinal directions). His mount is a goose or a swan.

Siwa – the Destroyer has three eyes, sometimes ten arms and rides a bull called Nandini. He is often represented in his dance of destruction. He is also symbolized by the linga (an oval shaped stone that represents his privates).

Wisnu – the Preserver is the most important god of the Hindu trinity in Bali. He is carried by the Garuda (half-man, half-eagle, the king of birds). His mission is to maintain the balance of the world. His wife is Lakshmi but she comes in many forms. One is Sri, the goddess of rice and Durga, the goddess of death and magic. You will encounter two of his ten human incarnations in the temples: Krishna, Arjuna’s advisor in the Mahabrharata and Rama, the hero of the Ramayana.

Beyond the trinity of the Hindu gods, the Balinese also honor native gods such as, Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice and wife of Wisnu and Saraswati, wife of Brahma, the goddess of knowledge. Balinese also worship the supreme god, Surya, the sun god.

Based on: “Leap&Hop Bali” by Isabelle Demenge

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