Hinduism in Indonesia
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Hinduism in Indonesia is practised by 3% of the total population, with 92.29% in Bali and 15.75% in Central Kalimantan as of the 2000 census. Every Indonesian citizen is required to be a registered member of one of the acknowledged religious communities (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism or Confucianism).
- 1 History
- 2 Arrival of Buddhism and Hinduism
- 3 General beliefs and practices
- 4 Hinduism in Bali
- 5 Javanese Hinduism
- 6 Hinduism elsewhere in the archipelago
- 7 Hindu holidays in Indonesia
- 8 Political context
- 9 Social context
- 10 Economic context
- 11 Census 2000
- 12 DBH Survey 2012
- 13 Census of 2010
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
The natives of Indonesian Archipelago practiced indigenous animism and dynamism, beliefs common to the austronesian people. Native Indonesia venerated and revered ancestral spirit; they also believe that some spirits may inhabit certain places such as large trees, stones, forests, mountains, or any sacred place. This unseen spiritual entity that has supernatural power is identified by ancient Javanese and Balinese as "hyang" that can mean either divine or ancestral. In modern Indonesian, "hyang" tends to be associated with God.
Arrival of Buddhism and Hinduism
Hindu influences reached the Indonesian Archipelago as early as first century. There are several theories as to how Hinduism reached Indonesia. The Vaishya idea is that intermarriage occurred between Indian traders/merchants and Indonesian natives. Another theory (Kshatriya) believes that defeated soldiers from India found solace in Indonesia. Third, the Brahmana take a more traditional point of view that missionaries spread Hinduism to the islands. Lastly, the nationalist (Bhumiputra) theory is that Indonesians chose the culture themselves after having traveled to India.[EBSCOhost 1] In 4th century, the kingdom of Kutai in East Kalimantan, Tarumanagara in West Java, and Holing (Kalingga) in Central Java, were among the early Hindu states established in the region. Several notable ancient Indonesian Hindu kingdoms are Mataram, famous for the construction of the majestic Prambanan temple, followed by Kediri and Singhasari. Since then Hinduism along with Buddhism spread across the archipelago and reached the peak of its influence in the 14th century. The last and largest among Hindu-Buddhist Javanese empires, Majapahit, influenced the Indonesian archipelago.
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 Acintya'. God Almighty in the Torajanese culture of Central Sulawesi is known as "Puang Matua" in Aluk to dolo belief.
- A belief that all of the gods are manifestations of this supreme being. This belief is the 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. Lord Shiva is also worshipped in other forms such as "Batara Guru" and "Maharaja Dewa" (Mahadeva) are closely identified with the Sun in local forms of Hinduism or Kebatinan, and even in the genie lore of Muslims.
- A belief in the Trimurti, consisting of:
- A belief in all of the other Hindu gods and goddesses (Hyang, Dewata and Batara-Batari)
The sacred texts found in Agama Hindu Dharma are the Vedas. 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 of Hinduism: Brahmins (priests, brahmana in Indonesian), Kshatriya (ruler-warriors, satriya or "Deva" 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 six officially sanctioned monotheistic religions, along with Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism and Confucianism. However the government do not recognize indigenous tribal belief systems as official religion. As a result, followers of various native animistic religions such as Dayak Kaharingan have identified themselves as Hindu in order to avoid pressure to convert to Islam or Christianity. Several native tribal beliefs such as Sundanese Sunda Wiwitan, Torajan Aluk To Dolo, and Batak Malim — although different than Indian influenced Balinese Hinduism — might sought affiliations with Hinduism in order to survive, while in the same time also tried preserving their distinction to mainstream Indonesian Hinduism dominated by Balinese. 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 hyangs, the local and ancestral spirits. As with kebatinan, these deities are thought to be capable of good or 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.
The Balinese temple is called Pura, and unlike the common towering Indian Hindu Temple with interior space, the Balinese temple is designed as an open air worship place within enclosed walls, connected with series of intricately decorated gates to reach its compounds. 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 (also called banjar in Bali), 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 adharma, something like disorder) and Barong the protective predator (mostly like a lion) (representing dharma), in which performers fall into a trance and attempt to stab themselves with sharp knives. The dramas regularly end apparently undecided, neither side winning, because the primary purpose is to restore balance.
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.)
A 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.
Balinese Hinduism also includes the religious belief of Tabuh Rah, a religious cockfight where a rooster is used in religious custom by allowing him to fight against another rooster in the religious cockfight of the Balinese Hinduism spiritual appeasement exercise of Tabuh Rah, a form of animal sacrifice. The spilling of blood, Tabuh Rah is necessary as purification to appease the evil spirits bhuta and kala, and to insure a good harvest. Ritual fights usually take place outside the temple and follow an ancient and complex ritual as set out in the sacred lontar manuscripts.
Both Java and Sumatra were subject to considerable cultural influence from the Indian subcontinent during the first and second millennia of the Common Era. The earliest evidences of Hindu influences in Java can be found in 4th century Tarumanagara inscriptions scattered around modern Jakarta and Bogor. 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.
From the 4th to the 15th century Hindu kingdoms rose and fell: Tarumanagara, Kalingga, Medang, Kediri, Sunda, Singhasari and Majapahit. This era is popularly known as the Javanese Classical Era, during which Hindu-Buddhist literature, art and architecture flourished and were incorporated into local culture under royal patronage. During this time, many Hindu temples were built, including 9th century Prambanan near Yogyakarta, which has been designated a World Heritage Site.
Among these Hindu kingdoms, the most important was Majapahit, the largest and the last significant Hindu kingdom in Indonesian history. Majapahit was based in East Java, from where it ruled a large part of what is now Indonesia. The remnants of the Majapahit kingdom shifted to Bali during the sixteenth century as Muslim kingdoms in the coastal part of Java gained influence.
Hinduism has had significant impact and left an obvious imprint in Javanese art and culture. The wayang puppet performance as well as wayang wong dance and other Javanese classical dances are derived from episodes of Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Although the majority of Javanese now identify as Muslim, these art forms still survive. 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 Osing, are also associated with Hindu religious traditions.
Hinduism elsewhere in the archipelago
Among the non-Balinese 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% of the population as of 1995[update]. Nationally, Hindus represented only around 2% of the population in the early 1990s.
The Batak of Sumatra have identified their animist traditions with Hinduism.
The Tamils of Sumatra and the Indians in Jakarta practice their own form of Hinduism which is similar to the Indian Hinduism, the Indians celebrating Hindu holidays more commonly found in India, such as Deepawali
Hindu holidays in Indonesia
Hari Raya Galungan – Galungan occurs every 210 days and lasts for 10 days. It celebrates the coming of the gods and the ancestral spirits to earth to dwell again in the homes of their descendants. The festivities are characterized by offerings, dances and new clothes. The ancestors must be suitably entertained and welcomed, and prayers and offerings must be made for them. Families whose ancestors have not been cremated yet, but remain buried in the village cemetery, must make offerings at the graves. Kuningan is the last day of the holiday, when the gods and ancestors depart until the next Galungan.
Hari Raya Saraswati – Saraswati is the goddess of learning, science, and literature. She rules the intellectual and creative realm, and is the patron goddess of libraries and schools. Balinese Hindus believe that knowledge is an essential medium to achieve the goal of life as a human being, and so honor her. She is also celebrated because she succeeded in taming the wandering and lustful mind of her consort, Brahma, who was preoccupied with the goddess of material existence, Shatarupa. On this day no one is allowed to read or write, and offerings are made to the lontar (palm-leaf manuscripts), books, and shrines.
Saraswati Day is celebrated every 210-days on Saniscara Umanis Wuku Watugunung and marks the start of the new year according to the Balinese Pawukon calendar. Ceremonies and prayers are held at the temples in family compounds, villages and businesses from morning to noon. Prayers are also held in school or any other learning institution temples. Teachers and students abandon their uniforms for the day in place of bright and colourful ceremony gear, filling the island with color. Children bring fruit and traditional cakes to school for offerings at the temple.
Hari Raya Nyepi – Nyepi is a Hindu Day of Silence or the Hindu New Year in the Balinese Saka calendar. The largest celebrations are held in Bali as well as in Balinese Hindu communities around Indonesia. On New Year's Eve the villages are cleaned, food is cooked for two days and in the evening as much noise is made as possible to scare away the devils. On the following day, Hindus do not leave their homes, cook or engage in any activity. Streets are deserted, and tourists are not allowed to leave hotel complexes.
Nyepi is determined using the Balinese calendar (see below), the eve of Nyepi falling on the night of the new moon whenever it occurs around March/April each year. Therefore, the date for Nyepi changes every year, and there is not a constant number of days difference between each Nyepi as there is for such days as Galungan and Kuningan. To find out when Nyepi falls in a given year, you will need information on the cycles of the moon for that year. Whenever the new moon falls between mid-March and mid-April, that night will be the night of great activity and exorcism island-wide, while the next day will be the day of total peace and quiet, where everything stops for a day.
While many Javanese have retained aspects of their indigenous and Hindu traditions through the centuries of Islamic influence, under the banner of 'Javanist religion' (kejawen) or a non-orthodox 'Javanese Islam' (abangan, cf. Geertz 1960), no more than a few isolated communities have consistently upheld Hinduism as the primary mark of their public identity. One of these exceptions are the people of the remote Tengger highlands (Hefner 1985, 1990) in the province of Eastern Java.
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Officially identifying their religion as Hinduism was not a legal possibility for Indonesians until 1962, when it became the fifth state-recognized religion. This recognition was initially sought by Balinese religious organizations and granted for the sake of Bali, where the majority were Hindu. The largest of these organizations, Parisada Hindu Dharma Bali, changed its name to P.H.D. Indonesia (PHDI) in 1964, reflecting subsequent efforts to define Hinduism as a national rather than just a Balinese concern (Ramstedt 1998).
Religious identity became a life and death issue for many Indonesians around the same time as Hinduism gained recognition, in the wake of the violent anti-Communist purge of 1965-66 (Beatty 1999). Persons lacking affiliation with a state recognized-religion tended to be classed as atheists and hence suspected as communists.
Despite the inherent disadvantages of joining a national religious minority, a deep concern for the preservation of their traditional ancestor religions made Hinduism a more palatable option than Islam for several ethnic groups in the outer islands.
In the early seventies, the Toraja people of Sulawesi were the first to realize this opportunity by seeking shelter for their indigenous ancestor religion under the broad umbrella of 'Hinduism', followed by the Karo Batak of Sumatra in 1977 (Bakker 1995).
In central and southern Kalimantan, a large Hindu movement has grown among the local indigenous Dayak population which lead to a mass declaration of 'Hinduism' on this island in 1980. However, this was different to the Javanese case, in that conversions followed a clear ethnic division. Indigenous Dayak were confronted with a mostly Muslim population of government-sponsored (and predominantly Madurese) migrants and officials, and deeply resentful at the dispossession of their land and its natural resources.
Compared to their counterparts among Javanese Hindus, many Dayak leaders were also more deeply concerned about Balinese efforts to standardize Hindu ritual practice nationally; fearing a decline of their own unique 'Hindu Kaharingan' traditions and renewed external domination.
By contrast, most Javanese were slow to consider Hinduism at the time, lacking a distinct organization along ethnic lines and fearing retribution from locally powerful Islamic organizations like the Nahdatul Ulama (NU). The youth wing of the NU had been active in the persecution not only of communists but of 'Javanist' or 'anti-Islamic' elements within Sukarno's Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI) during the early phase of the killings (Hefner 1987). Practitioners of 'Javanist' mystical traditions thus felt compelled to declare themselves Muslims out of a growing concern for their safety.
Under Suharto's Rule
The initial assessment of having to abandon 'Javanist' traditions in order to survive in an imminent Islamic state proved incorrect. President Sukarno's eventual successor, Suharto, adopted a distinctly nonsectarian approach in his so-called 'new order' (orde baru) regime. Old fears resurfaced, however, with Suharto's 'Islamic turn' in the 1990s. Initially a resolute defender of Javanist values, Suharto began to make overtures to Islam at that time, in response to wavering public and military support for his government.
A powerful signal was his authorization and personal support of the new 'Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals' (ICMI), an organization whose members openly promoted the Islamization of Indonesian state and society (Hefner 1997). Concerns grew as ICMI became the dominant civilian faction in the national bureaucracy, and initiated massive programs of Islamic education and mosque-building through the Ministry of Religion (departemen agama), once again targeting Javanist strongholds. Around the same time, there were a series of mob killings by Muslim extremists of people they suspected to have been practising traditional Javanese methods of healing by magical means.
In terms of their political affiliation, many contemporary Javanists and recent converts to Hinduism had been members of the old PNI, and have now joined the new nationalist party of Megawati Sukarnoputri. Informants from among this group portrayed their return to the 'religion of Majapahit' (Hinduism) as a matter of nationalist pride, and displayed a new sense political self-confidence.
A common feature among new Hindu communities in Java is that they tend to rally around recently built temples (pura) or around archaeological temple sites (candi) which are being reclaimed as places of Hindu worship.
The Parisada Hindu Dharma changed its name to Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia in 1984, in recognition of its national influence spearheaded by Gedong Bagus Oka. One of several new Hindu temples in eastern Java is Pura Mandaragiri Sumeru Agung, located on the slope of Mt. Semeru, Java's highest mountain. When the temple was completed in July 1992, with the generous aid of wealthy donors from Bali, only a few local families formally confessed to Hinduism. A pilot study in December 1999 revealed that the local Hindu community now has grown to more than 5000 households.
Similar mass conversions have occurred in the region around Pura Agung Blambangan, another new temple, built on a site with minor archaeological remnants attributed to the kingdom of Blambangan, the last Hindu polity on Java.
A further Hindu movement in the earliest stages of development was observed in the vicinity of the newly completed Pura Pucak Raung (in the Eastern Javanese district of Glenmore), which is mentioned in Balinese literature as the place where the Hindu saint Maharishi Markandeya gathered followers for an expedition to Bali, whereby he is said to have brought Hinduism to the island in the fifth century AD.
An example of resurgence around major archaeological remains of ancient Hindu temple sites was observed in Trowulan near Mojokerto. The site may be the location of the capital of the Hindu empire Majapahit. A local Hindu movement is struggling to gain control of a newly excavated temple building which they wish to see restored as a site of active Hindu worship. The temple is to be dedicated to Gajah Mada, the man attributed with transforming the small Hindu kingdom of Majapahit into an empire.
In Karanganyar region in Central Java, the renovated 14th century Cetho temple on the slope of Mount Lawu has become the center of Javanese Hinduism and gain patronage of Balinese temples and royal houses. A new temple is being built East of Solo (Surakarta) It is a Hindu temple that has miniatures of 50 sacred sites around the world. It is also an active kundalini yoga meditation center teaching the sacred Javanese tradition of sun and water meditation. There are many westerners as well as Javanese joining in.
Although there has been a more pronounced history of resistance to Islamization in East Java, Hindu communities are also expanding in Central Java (Lyon 1980), for example in Klaten, near the ancient Hindu monuments of Prambanan. Today the Prambanan temple stages various annual Hindu ceremonies and festivals such as Galungan and Nyepi.
In West Java, a Hindu temple Pura Parahyangan Agung Jagatkartta was built on the slope of Mount Salak near the historic site of ancient Sunda Kingdom capital, Pakuan Pajajaran in modern Bogor. The temple, dubbed as the largest Balinese Hindu temple ever built outside Bali, was meant as the main temple for the Balinese Hindu population in the Greater Jakarta region. However, because the temple stands in a Sundanese sacred place, and also hosts a shrine dedicated to the famous Sundanese king, Prabu Siliwangi, the site has gain popularity among locals who wish to reconnect their ties with the ancestors.
In Bali, next to natural beauty, the elaborate Hindu festivals, rich culture, colorful art and vivid dances are the main attractions of Balinese tourism. As a result, tourism and hospitality services are flourishing as one of the most important sources of income and generation of Balinese economy. This condition is in contrast with other provinces in Indonesia where the Hindu population is not significant or is absent, which concludes that Balinese Hindu culture and colorful rituals are also contributing to its economy.
According to the 2000 census Hindus consisted 1.79% of the total population (Down from 1.81% in 1990) with 88.05% in Bali (Down from 93.18% in 1990) and 5.89% in Central Kalimantan (Down from 15.75% in 1990,). The decline in Bali is largely attributed to a lower birth rate and immigration of Muslims from Java. In Central Kalimantan there has been progressive settlement of Madurese from Madura. The details are given below:
|Province (2000 Cen)||Hindus||Total||% Hindu|
|Bangka Belitung Islands||76||945,682||0.01%|
|Nusa Tenggara Barat||115,297||3,805,537||3.03%|
|Nusa Tenggara Timur||5,698||3,904,373||0.15%|
DBH Survey 2012
The Hindu organisation Ditjen Bimas Hindu (DBH) carries out periodic surveys through its close connections with Hindu communities throughout Indonesia. In 2012 its own studies found that there are 10,267,724 Hindus in Indonesia. The PHDI (Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia) along with other some other religious minority groups claim that the government undercounts non-Muslims in census recording. The 2010 census recorded the number of Hindus at 4,012,116, some 80% of them residing in the Hindu heartland of Bali.
Census of 2010
According to the 2010 Census, there are a total of 4,012,116 Hindus in Indonesia.
|Province||Total||Hindu||% Hindu 2010||% Hindu 2000||Change|
|Kep. Bangka Belitung||1,223,296||1,040||0.09%||0.01%||0.08%|
|Nusa Tenggara Barat||4,500,212||118,083||2.62%||3.03%||-0.41%|
|Nusa Tenggara Timur||4,683,827||5,210||0.11%||0.15%||-0.04%|
- Balinese mythology (indigenous Bali traditions and religion)
- Hindu Agamas
- List of Hindu temples in Indonesia
- Religion in Indonesia
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- Hinduism in Indonesia
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