Jump to content

Dang Hyang Nirartha

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dang Hyang Nirartha Statue at Uluwatu Temple

Danghyang Nirartha, also known as Pedanda Shakti Wawu Rauh, was a Shaivite religious figure in Bali and a Hindu traveler, during either the 15th century[1] or 16th century.[2] He was the founder of the Shaivite priesthood in Bali.[3]

He is also called Pedande Sakti Wawu Rauh[4] (the newcomer of Holy Priest); in Lombok he is known as Pangeran Semeru, and in Sumbawa as Prince Sangupati.[5]

Early life[edit]

A representative of elite social milieus,[6] he was a disciple of Syekh Siti Jenar.[7] The latter was a Javanese member of the Wali Sanga in Java who proned a more mystical approach of sufism,[8] called pantheist sufism (union of man and God, wujûdiyah, manunggaling kawulo gusti) - which opposed chariatic sufism such as that of Sunan Kudus.[9]

Travelling to Bali: politics[edit]

Vacant throne, symbol of the supreme god.

Balinese texts define Nirartha as “a poet, intellectual, wonderworker, and advisor to rulers”,[6] a well-travelled innovator or reformer.[10] He was sent by the Javanese royal court of Majapahit to Bali. Balinese oral accounts give his arrival in Bali in 1492, during the reign of King Waturenggong of Gelgel.[11][a] He brings the support of the spiritual world (niskala) - and the sanction of Java's earthly powers - to confirm Dalem Baturenggong's Gelgel kingship over Pasuruan, Blambangan, Puger, Bali, Nusa Penida, Sasak, and Sumbawa. He was to select a local priest who would lead the rajasurya or aswameda ceremony hosted by King Dalem Watu Renggong for the occasion.[13]

Some accounts of the life of Nirartha say that he came into conflict with I Krahdng, sometimes called the king of Lombok. Krafeng Jarannika is reported to have died in about 1700 while resisting Karangasem's rule of Lombok.[2]

A tradition, well known amongst brahmana in Bali, is that wetu telu Islam (a mix of islam and animism) was brought to the Sasaks as the teachings of Nirartha or Dwijèndra, the ancestor of the Balinese brahmana siwa. One of the versions is that Nirartha disguised himself as Pangèran Sangupati in Lombok to found Islam there, and as Tuan Seméru or Suméru in Sumbawa to spread similar teachings there. Another version is that Pangèran Sangupati is a different person from Nirartha and may have been a Sasak pupil of his.[14]

Nirartha's travels in Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa are recounted in a lontara called Dwijendra Tatwa.[15]

Admittedly he was still in Bali and alive in 1537: he penned a colophon attached to a copy of the kakavin Sumanasāntaka, which states that “the copy was completed on 14 July 1537 in Bali, at the sima Kanaka by one whose parab was Nirartha”.[11] One year before that, in 1536, according to the Dwijendratattwa and the Babad Brāhmaṇa he completed a work called Mahiṣa Mĕgat Kūng.[16]

Religious work[edit]

Nirartha was responsible for facilitating a refashioning of Balinese Hinduism. He was an important promoter of the idea of moksha ( freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth) in Indonesia. He founded the Shaivite priesthood that is now ubiquitous in Bali, and is now regarded as the ancestor of all Shaivite pedandas.[3]

He introduced in Balinese Hindu temples the shrine (padmasana) of the empty throne as an altar to the supreme god Acintya[17] or Shiva.[18], as a result of Shaivite reformation movement.[17] The temples on the coasts of Bali were augmented with the padmasana shrines by the dozen during Nirartha's travels.[19]


Bali had been hit with many plagues in the years before. Some myths state that he made the journey from Java to Bali on top of a pumpkin, giving rise to the taboo among some Balinese Brahmins on the consumption of pumpkins.[20] The legend says that Nirartha presented the king with a hair from his head, stating that this would remove the sufferings.[20] This hair was placed in a temple which became a prominent Shaivite pilgrimage spot in Bali.[21]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ Other dates for his arrival in Bali are found, none is certain. We find "around 1489".[12]


  1. ^ Vickers 1987, p. 33.
  2. ^ a b Vickers 1987, p. 38.
  3. ^ a b Pringle 2004, p. 65.
  4. ^ Ardhana 2018, p. 36.
  5. ^ Ardhana 2018, p. 37.
  6. ^ a b Acri 2022, p. 13.
  7. ^ Ardhana, I Ketut (2018). "Syekh Siti Jenar and Danghyang Nirartha: Historical Relation of Islam and Hindu in Java and Bali". In Sarjana, I Putu; Wibawa, I Putu Sastra (eds.). Tolerance and Pluralism in Southeast Asia (PDF) (International Seminar, October 2, 2018). Denpasar: Unhi Press. pp. 32-38 (see p. 32, 35). ISBN 978-602-52255-7-4.
  8. ^ Ardhana 2018, p. 34.
  9. ^ Nubowo 2023, p. 31-32.
  10. ^ Acri 2022, p. 14.
  11. ^ a b Acri, Andrea (2022). "On Mpu Tanakuṅ, Daṅ Hyaṅ Nirartha, and the Authorship of the Bhuvanakośa". Jurnal Manuskrip Nusantara. 13 (1): 1-17 (see p. 12). Retrieved 2024-06-02.
  12. ^ Of Temples and Dragons Archived 2007-10-08 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Wijaya, Nyoman (2014). "Power relations in the practice of Hindu "invented religion" in Bali" (PDF). simdos.unud.ac.id. Cosmopolis Conference, Yogyakarta 20 to 22 June 2014. p. 14. Retrieved 2024-05-27.
  14. ^ Vickers 1987, p. 49.
  15. ^ Putra et al. 2011.
  16. ^ Rubinstein, R. (2000). Beyond the realm of the senses: The Balinese ritual of kekawin composition. Leiden: KITLV Press. p. 73. Cited in Acri 2022, p. 12.
  17. ^ a b Bali and Lombok, p.46-47, 2001, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London ISBN 978-0-7566-2878-9
  18. ^ "Kotamadya Denpasar". bali-paradise.com. Retrieved 2024-05-27. Archived 2021-01-22 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Sekelumit Sejarah dan Cara Sembahyang". balipost.com (in Indonesian). July 8, 2007. Retrieved 2024-05-27. Archived 2007-09-11 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ a b Of Temples and Dragons Archived 2007-10-08 at the Wayback Machine Bali Plus
  21. ^ Rubinstein, Rachelle (2000). "Appendix A. Episodic structure of the Dwijendratattwa". Beyond the Realm of the Senses (Series: Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, vol. 181). Brill. pp. 229–232. ISBN 978-90-67-18133-4.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]