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Agama Hindu Dharma

Agama Hindu Dharma is the formal name of Hinduism in Indonesia. It is practised by 93% of the population of Bali, but also in Sumatra, Java (especially by the Tenggerese people on the east), and Kalimantan. Although only about 3% of Indonesian population is officially Hindu, Indonesian beliefs are too complex to classify as belonging to a single world religion. In Java in particular, a substantial number of Muslims follow a non-orthodox, Hindu-influenced form of Islam known as Abangan, while across the archipelago the Hindu legacy, along with the older mystic traditions, influences popular beliefs.

The advent of Soeharto's 'new order' resulted in an increasing Indonesianisation of both Hindu Dharma and Parisada Hindu Dharma, partly due to the fact that every Indonesian citizen was now required to be a registered member of one of the five acknowledged religious communities (Islam, Christianity [i.e. Protestantism or Catholicism], Hinduism and Buddhism). Inspired by the Hindu Javanese past, several hundred thousand Javanese converted to Hinduism in the 1960s and 1970s. When the adherents of the ethnic religions Aluk To Dolo (Sa'dan Toraja) and Kaharingan (Ngaju, Luangan) claimed official recognition of their traditions, the Ministry of Religion classified them as Hindu variants in 1968 and 1980. The Parisada Hindu Dharma changed its name to Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia in 1984, in recognition of its national influence.

Contents

General beliefs and practices
Hinduism in Bali
Javanese Hinduism
Hinduism elsewhere in the archipelago
References

General beliefs and practices

Practitioners of Agama Hindu Dharma share many common beliefs, which include:

  • A belief in one supreme being called 'Ida Sanghyang Widi Wasa', 'Sang Hyang Tunggal', or 'Sang Hyang Cintya'.
  • A belief that all of the gods are manifestations of this supreme being. This belief is same as the belief of Smartism, which also holds that the different forms of God, Vishnu, Siva are different aspects of the same Supreme Being.
  • A belief in the Trimurti, consisting of:
    • Brahma, the creator
    • Wisnu or Vishnu, the preserver
    • Ciwa or Shiva, the destroyer
  • A belief in all of the other Hindu gods and goddesses (Dewa and Bharata)

The sacred texts found in Agama Hindu Dharma are the Vedas. Only two of the Vedas reached Bali in the past, and they are the basis of Balinese Hinduism. Other sources of religious information include the Puranas and the Itihasa (mainly Ramayana and the Mahabharata).

One of Hinduism's primary ethical concerns is the concept of ritual purity. Another important distinguishing feature, which traditionally helps maintain ritual purity, is the division of society into the traditional occupational groups, or varna (literally, color) of Hinduism: Brahmins (priests, brahmana in Indonesian), Kshatriya (ruler-warriors, satriya in Indonesian), Vaishya (merchants-farmers, waisya in Indonesian), and Shudra (commoners-servants, sudra in Indonesian). Like Islam and Buddhism, Hinduism was greatly modified when adapted to Indonesian society.

The caste system, although present in form, was never rigidly applied. The epics Mahabharata (Great Battle of the Descendants of Bharata) and Ramayana (The Travels of Rama), became enduring traditions among Indonesian believers, expressed in shadow puppet (wayang) and dance performances.

The Indonesian government has recognized Hinduism as one of the country's five officially sanctioned, monotheistic religions. Partly as a result, followers of various tribal and animistic religions have identified themselves as Hindu in order to avoid harassment or pressure to convert to Islam or Christianity. Furthermore, Indonesian nationalists have laid great stress on the achievements of the Majapahit Empire a Hindu state which has helped attract certain Indonesians to Hinduism. These factors have led to a certain resurgence of Hinduism outside of its Balinese stronghold.

Hinduism in Bali

Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual, and is less closely preoccupied with scripture, law, and belief than Islam in Indonesia. Balinese Hinduism lacks the traditional Hindu emphasis on cycles of rebirth and reincarnation, but instead is concerned with a myriad of local and ancestral spirits. As with kebatinan, these deities are thought to be capable of harm. Balinese place great emphasis on dramatic and aesthetically satisfying acts of ritual propitiation of these spirits at temple sites scattered throughout villages and in the countryside. Each of these temples has a more or less fixed membership; every Balinese belongs to a temple by virtue of descent, residence, or some mystical revelation of affiliation. Some temples are associated with the family house compound, others are associated with rice fields, and still others with key geographic sites. Ritualized states of self-control (or lack thereof) are a notable feature of religious expression among the people, who for this reason have become famous for their graceful and decorous behavior. One key ceremony at a village temple, for instance, features a special performance of a dance-drama (a battle between the mythical characters Rangda the witch (representing evil) and Barong the lion or dragon (representing good)), in which performers fall into a trance and attempt to stab themselves with sharp knives.

Rituals of the life cycle are also important occasions for religious expression and artistic display. Ceremonies at puberty, marriage, and, most notably, cremation at death provide opportunities for Balinese to communicate their ideas about community, status, and the afterlife. (The tourist industry has not only supported spectacular cremation ceremonies among Balinese of modest means, but also has created a greater demand for them.)

Balinese religion is hierarchically organized, with one small segment of the aristocracy the brahmin, or priestly, class being the most prestigious. A brahmin priest is not affiliated with any temple but acts as a spiritual leader and adviser to individual families in various villages scattered over the island. These priests are consulted when ceremonies requiring holy water are conducted. On other occasions, folk healers or curers may be hired.

Javanese Hinduism

Main article: Hinduism in Java

Both Java and Sumatra were subject to considerable cultural influence from the Indian subcontinent during the first and second millennia of the Common Era. Many Hindu temples were built, including Prambanan near Yogyakarta, which has been designated a World Heritage Site; and Hindu kingdoms flourished, of which the most important was Majapahit.

In the sixth and seventh centuries many maritime kingdoms arose in Sumatra and Java which controlled the waters in the Straits of Malacca and flourished with the increasing sea trade between China and India and beyond. During this time, scholars from India and China visited these kingdoms to translate literary and religious texts.

Majapahit was based in Central Java, from where it ruled a large part of what is now western Indonesia. The remnants of the Majapahit kingdom shifted to Bali during the sixteenth century as Muslim kingdoms in the western part of the island gained influence.

Hinduism has survived in varying degrees and forms on Java; in recent years, conversions to Hinduism have been on the rise, particularly in regions surrounding a major Hindu religious site, such as the Klaten region near the Prambanan temple. Certain ethnic groups, such as the Tenggerese and Osings, are also associated with Hindu religious traditions.

Hinduism elsewhere in the archipelago

Main article: Hinduism in Sulawesi

The Bodha sect of Sasak people on the island of Lombok are non-Muslim; their religion is a fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism with animism; it is considered Buddhist by the government.

Among the non-Bali communities considered to be Hindu by the government are, for example, the Dayak adherents of the Kaharingan religion in Kalimantan Tengah, where government statistics counted Hindus as 15.8 percent of the population as of 1995. Nationally, Hindus represented only around 2 percent of the population in the early 1990s.

Many Manusela and Nuaulu people of Seram follow Naurus, a syncretism of Hinduism with animist and Protestant elements.

Similarly, the Tana Toraja of Sulawesi have identified their animistic religion as Hindu.

The Batak of Sumatra have identified their animist traditions with Hinduism.

See Also

References

This article includes material from the 1995 public domain Library of Congress Country Study on Indonesia.