Dang Hyang Nirartha

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The introduction of the padmasana empty throne as an altar to the Supreme God Acintya, was the result of Shaivite reformation movement led by Dang Hyang Nirartha from the west through Java.[1]

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

Early life[edit]

Nirartha came to Bali in 1537 to become the chief counselor to the Gelgel king Dalem Baturenggong. He had left the royal courts of Blambangan, Java, with his family earlier that year after one of the wives of his patron had fallen into unrequited love with him. 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.[3]

Dang Hyang Nirartha Statue at Uluwatu Temple

After arrival[edit]

After arriving in Bali, he arrived in the court of King Dalem Baturenggong. Bali had been hit with many plagues in the years before, and Nirartha presented the king with a hair from his head, stating that this would remove the sufferings.[3] This hair was placed in a temple which became a prominent Shaivite pilgrimage spot in Bali.


Nirartha was the creator of the padmasana architecture in Balinese Hindu temples. These temples are considered by devotees to be the embodiment of the supreme Shiva.[4] The temples on the coasts of Bali were augmented with the padmasana shrines by the dozen during the travels of Nirartha.[5]

Religious work[edit]

Nirartha was responsible for facilitating a refashioning of Balinese Hinduism. He was an important promoter of the idea of moksha in Indonesia. He founded the Shaivite priesthood that is now ubiquitous in Bali, and is now regarded as the ancestor of all Shaivite Pedandas.[2]


  1. ^ Bali and Lombok, p.46-47, 2001, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London ISBN 978-0-7566-2878-9
  2. ^ a b Pringle, p 65
  3. ^ a b Of Temples and Dragons Archived 2007-10-08 at the Wayback Machine Bali Plus
  4. ^ Kotamadya Denpasar Bali Paradise
  5. ^ (in Indonesian) Sekelumit Sejarah dan Cara Sembahyang Archived 2007-09-11 at the Wayback Machine Bali Post 8 July 2007