dinsdag 20 januari 2015
Dream or Reality (34)
text and image by Hans Smeekes
“Can you tell us something about an experience in Bali which for you as Buddhists was special?” is the question of Tu Kodok, the frog. With this he opens the conversation in the middle of the night, while we are sitting opposite of him and his buddy Tu Tokeh, the gecko.
Like the other nights we, Fifi and I, sitting close to each other on the romantic fourposter have our nocturnal encounter with our two friendly animal friends in front of us on the edge of the window in the magical room of the palace.
“We visited the Buddhist vihara in Denpasar and in Banjar in the north and some Chinese temples but most striking was our visit to the Candi Buddha in Kalibukbuk,” I react.
“How did you know about it, because I never heard of it,” Tu Tokeh jumps in with his high voice and happily waving with his tail.
“By searching on the internet I found the interesting site of www.buleleng.com, with information about a Buddhist ‘candi’ (a kind of ‘stupa’ or temple) which was renovated or rebuilt just a few years before, in the region of Singaraja. As ‘The Young Archaeologists’ we were immediately interested and we asked our always helpful driver to bring us there, that was five years ago.
“The orange red of the new brick of the ‘candi’ was shining in the hot sun and fantastically in contrast with the blue sky, when we arrived, “ Fifi says and continues “and suddenly he was there, this skinny man, softly speaking, carefully seeking for the words, also some in Dutch when he heard of our origin.”
“He introduced himself as Sentanu, when I asked his name, not having a clue who he was and his position. According to his neat appearance in trousers and shirt and educated talking he made the impression of being a teacher, but we did not ask him.
Hearing we are Buddhists and understanding that was the main reason we were visiting the place, he immediately started to tell about the relation between Shiwa and Buddha. Apparently for him a very important issue.
Emphasizing the strong relation between the two. In the old days when the Majapahit was ruling in East Java, they were composed in one religion more or less.
“I heard the king here sometimes say to people, that Hinduism and Buddhism are two branches on the same tree,” Tu Kodok is agreeing with this statement.
“Continuing his story Sentanu told us about the discovery. In 1994 he was digging a well on his property, pointing on the earth where we were standing. He saw bricks under the water and immediately felt that he discovered something very special. He felt he was on another planet, he told us.
He soon reported this to the archaeological department and within a week the experts were there to inspect the ruins. Also they were very impressed and decided to start with the excavations and to rebuild the ‘candi’, in style very simular which can be found round the famous Borobudur on Java. The ruins were also depicted to be from this same period: the 8th century.
The renovation took some years of course and was completed just a few years ago. It was still very fresh looking. We had the impression we were one of the first visitors from outside the village and so it was. So it felt for us as ‘The Young Archaelogists’ as a discovery too.
Having a nice conversation we had soon a good klick with Mister Sentanu. Probably he felt the same and he invited us to come to his house, being not far from the ‘candi’.
It was along the busy road from Singaraja to the west. Specially he wanted us to show the statues of Buddha and Ganesha, which he brought from Java, just a few years ago. Precious statues from the Majapahit period.
So this brings us back again to the Shiwa-Buddha story.
He told us that when he came back in his hands with these so called ‘pratima’ (sacred symbols of the gods or the invisible) he was so surprised to see his whole family and people of Kalibukbuk waiting for him. His wife even already made the necessary offerings and many people went into trance.
Then another dream came up: To build a temple specially for these two statues. When we were there for the first time, he just started, on a big piece of barren land next to the ‘candi’. The temple of Buddha and the temple of Shiwa close together.
This first meeting with Sentanu took place five years ago. Last year we noticed the temple was ready, a very beautiful one, called the Pura Kawitan Leluhur Majapahit. We meditated there with the full moon.
When we arrived in what he called his house, he invited us to take place in one of the old fashioned wooden chairs on the spacy verandah with round simple pillars. For me, but I am not an expert, it looked very colonial in style. On the wall pictures of people from the past. Very prominent above the lightly blue split door was the picture of his grandfather I Gusti Ketut Jlantik in the classic Balinese clothes, who built the house 100 years ago. It looked very royal and so it was.
The house appeared to be a ‘puri’, a palace. And then I understood. This Mister Sentanu was member of the royal family in Singaraja. He started to talk about his numerous royal relatives and we were confused by all the names and suddenly we were involved in another royal family, that of Singaraja, in the the old times called Buleleng.
Inside the building he showed us the picturebooks of his royal ancestors and relatives, the whole place made the impression being a museum by all these attributes from the past, but that’s exactly what he wanted it to be. Another dream of him.
And then he said his full name: Anak Agung Ngurah Sentanu. And the ‘puri’ is called the ‘Puri Adyodya’. Some decades ago used as a backpackers hotel. Mentioned in the famous book of Tony Wheeler ‘South East Asia On A Shoestring’. Rucksacks were everywhere on the place, Bapak Sentanu told us. That is not anymore now of course, but he is planning to give it a new start as a hotel, one room is ready.
Bapak Sentanu is already in the hotel business, by being the owner/manager of the famous ‘Lovina Beach Hotel’. He runs the hotel with his wife and adult children. He inherited it from his uncle Anak Agung Panji Tisna, who was the king of Singaraja for a short while after the war. Panji Tisna is the one who invented the name Lovina and started with the hotel in the fifties. Now it looks like the whole region or village is called Lovina. People say: We go to Lovina, to see the dolphins. But Lovina is not on the map. There are various versions of the meaning.
The most heard is: ‘Love Indonesia’. But we stick to the philosophical meaning which Bapak Sentanu told us, the meaning, which you can expect of a philosopher like Panji Tisna. The Balinese word ‘ina’ or ‘inan’ means mother. So Lovina has to interpreted as love mother, the love of mother earth.”
“This all is already very interesting but we have the impression the most special part is still to come,” Tu Kodok and Tu Tokeh almost simultaneously say.
“Yes that is completely true, so I tell you now about the amazing final of the story: Two years ago when we were again visiting Singaraja (we always stay in the Lovina Beach Hotel) Bapak Sentanu brought us again to the ‘candi’. He told me to keep my camera ready, when we stopped at the entrance of the ‘candi’, just before sunset. He was already holding one long peace of incense in his hand, just one and lit it.
Never saw this before: The smoke of the incense split in two plumes. Bapak Sentanu spoke with a whispering voice in the direction of the incense, saying: ‘ Very good ... come ... come ... ‘ Blowing and at the same time waving with his hand like he was guiding them, like a conductor of an orchestra.
With great conviction he said softly, looking from us towards the dancing plumes: ‘Shiwa-Buddha.’
Shiwa and Buddha dancing as a couple, the plumes going up and down, to the left and to the right, turning around, then fast then slow, really like dancing together, in great unity.
He was só happy and we with him. A great emotion came upon us.”
Dream or reality?
See on youtube
Magic on Bali: Dancing Incense symbolizing Shiwa and Buddha
Bali: Candi Buddha - searching for the buddhist stupa - in Kalibukbuk
and the 350 (!) other videos (youtube channel: Hans Smeekes)
Dream or Reality (33)
The dreams of Jero Mangku
text and image by Hans Smeekes
Looking at the painting on the wall, completely absorbed by the scenery on it, Fifi and I are silently waiting for our two animal friends to appear for the usual meeting in the night, sitting close together on the romantic bed in the palace.
“What is fascinating you so much about this painting?” Tu Kodok, the frog asks when he in a split second shows up on the edge of the window together with his friend Tu Tokeh, the gecko, seeing us looking at the painting.
“As you can see it shows a small wooden bridge, leading to a temple gate. It reminds us very much of the bridge and the temple we visited so often in the course of the years.
It is in the outskirts of the little village of Tengkulak and the temple is called Pura Gandalangu.
Someone who knows our interest in old temples advised us to go there. It was not easy to find. We had to ask many times. But we arrived there and so we had to cross for the first time this fragile bridge, consisting of five long wooden poles. Our friendly guides from the village told us that it was made of ironwood. Strong wood, as the name already reveals, so there was nothing to fear, but anyway we have to admit we crossed it with sweat on the foreheads, the humidity had also its part in this, trying not to look in the deep ravine beneath us, where a fast-flowing river tried to find its way.”
“And Fifi,” Tu Tokeh asks, “how about you?”
“I had my doubts when I felt the bridge dangerously bending in the middle, but I did it and after that many times,” Fifi answers with a big proud smile.
“A small path,” I take over again, “with high coconut palm trees at each side, was leading to the small temple, at three sides surrounded by ricefields. Soon also the templepriest Jero Mangku Ardana arrived. Black beard and big smile. And he started to explain about this special temple.
Soon he mentioned the name of Pasung Grigis. Until that time we never heard before about him. So it was hard for us to understand why he was mentioned. What was the connection? It took several visits until we understood: this temple was exactly on the spot where before the palace (‘puri’) was of Pasung Grigis. And Pasung Grigis was the ‘patih’ of the last king of Bali as a whole (called Sri Bedahulu Astha Ratna Bumi Banten Sura), settled in Bedulu, which is not far from Tengkulak.
In the temple there are some old carved stone sculptures to be find, including the base of a ‘lingam’, probably from that time. Jero Mangku showed them proudly.
Jero Mangku told us about his dream. About twenty years ago he had some special dreams. In that time the temple was in a bad state. He dreamed that crickets were coming out of the statues. In the second dream he found a special bird in the ricefield and as top of the bill in the third one he found three coloured stones. One red, one white and one black. The colors of Brahma, Shiwa and Wishnu. So he shared his dreams with his family, friends and with the people in the village and they encouraged him to rebuild the temple and gave him money. Because everyone agreed it was a sign.
It was full moon when he told us about this and then when the sunset had taken place we meditated in complete darkness until the full moon came up behind the trees. Very special. It was unbelievable silent. Even the crickets made no sound. Only a bird after an hour and that was the sign the meditation was over.”
“Hans made some films about the temple and its (hi)story and put them on youtube,” Fifi is taking over. “And what do you think, what is the response?”
“Yes what?” Tu Tokeh curiously wants to know.
I give the answer: “Some ‘rich’ Balinese people (I think they have a high position in the army) saw the videos and found them very remarkabele and start to have interest in the temple and the history involved. Specially, I think, because the temple has so much to do with Pasung Grigis. The old general in fact. A collegue in arms.
They had a meeting with Jero Mangku and visited the temple. Jero Mangku saw this people already coming in a dream, he told us.
And they started to offer money to make a great gate just behind the bridge. As a special tribute to Pasung Grigis the gate is guarded by two black dogs. The dogs of Pasung Grigis.
We were very happy when we heard about this. Because we ourselves have not so much money, but to hear that we contributed in this indirect way we felt very satisfied. And Jero Mangku felt the same towards us. Very grateful.
Pointing in the direction of his heart and to our hearts, he said: “Same.”
After that Jero Mangku completed the ‘griya’ (the house of the high priest), next to the temple, because his final goal is to become high priest.
In the meantime also other buildings in the temple were built and last year the big celebration took place. It was called ‘Bagia Pulakerti’. It is really a very big ceremony as they told us. The offering involved is a symbolic seed of peace and happiness. ‘Bagia’ means happy and ‘pula’ means planting. The offering is composed of many smaller offerings which are symbols of the riches of the earth and they are put in the middle of the temple three meters deep in the earth. The goal is to create happiness for the future. It was a pity we were not there at that time. But Jero Mangku told us all the details.
And the people in the temple had to wait for him, because he went just a few days before to the island of Sumba. Accompanied by four other people of the village.
The reason had to do with Pasung Grigis. Because Pasung Grigis went to Sumba after he was defeated by Gajah Mada in the famous struggle some centuries ago, when the Majapahit took over in Bali.
So Jero Mangku had to go there, before the ceremony could be completed. It was part of it. To put everything right.
Also this was foreseen by him in his dreams. Pasung Grigis is almost part of him. And if we understand well Pasung Grigis is in fact his ancestor. This explains the relation.
Anyway, he told us that when he arrived on Sumba, it was like everyone was already expecting him. And he got all the guidance and protection. He arrived at a relief on a stone wall, which can be compared by that of Yeh Pulu. And he brought from there to Bali the symbol of Pasung Grigis, nobody of official institutes did ask anything, also not when he was going into the plane, miraculous.
The relic is now placed in a special ‘gedong’ in the temple.
And a statue is now completed on the corner of the street to Tengkulak (Jalan Pasung Grigis) and the main road between Ubud and Bedulu. It shows Pasung Grigis as a brave warrior with a big ‘keris’ in his raised right hand, ready for the struggle and his black dog at his feet.
“Thank you Hans and Fifi for this remarkable story, the story about the dreams of Jero Mangku, dreams which became reality. But how about us, you think we are real ...?
That remains a question for you, we think and now we have to go, until tomorrow, until our next session,” Tu Kodok utters with his creaky voice, his last words almost unhearable, leaving us behind with the big question, in silence.
Our dream or our reality?
See on youtube: “BALI - Pura Gandalangu (Puri Pasung Grigis) Tengkulak” and the many other videos (youtube channel: Hans Smeekes)
Dream or Reality (32)
From Prince to Priest
text and image by Hans Smeekes
Like most of the other nights in the palace Fifi and I have, sitting close to each other on the big romantic bed in the magical room, a meeting with our dear friends Tu Kodok, the frog and Tu Tokeh, the gecko, both sitting opposite of us on the edge of the window.
“You spent a lot of time in Bali and attended so many ceremonies,” Tu Kodok starts the conversation, ”we are wondering what experience has made the biggest impression on you?”
“I don’t have to think too long about that,” I answer, “specially for me it was the ceremony of a friend becoming high priest, which took place a half year ago.”
“It was our dear friend Ruslan of Ubud Community himself,” I continue, ”who told us about a ceremony for someone becoming high priest. This someone was a friend of him. He asked me if we were interested. I said: ‘Of course, already for some time I am longing to attend such a ceremony.’
So the next day I went in the company of Ruslan to his friend in the Jalan Andong. To my surprise he stopped at the sign of Daya Putih at the right side of the road. Fifi and I visited this place several times.
Kanjeng Madi Kertonegoro is living there and it happens to be that he is also a friend of us. For years we are visiting him and his Balinese wife. Only we did not visit the family for the last two years. He is originally from Java. He teaches a special yoga practice which he brought from Java, called Daya Putih. He is also a writer, published some books and is a very good painter in a realistic style. We bought two of his paintings some years ago.
He welcomed me warmly as good old friends and then told me that it all went very quickly. It was his teacher from Bongkasa, called Guru Nabe, who told him about the ceremony just a few weeks before.
He explained me all the ins and outs of the ceremony, called the ‘munggah bhavati’, as far as he knew. Most important and essential is that his old soul dies and he is being reborn with a new soul after midnight.
For me it was interesting if I could film it. Yes, that was possible, but provided that I stay at a distance.
It should start at seven o’clock in the evening with the welcoming of all the guests. And would last until one or two o’clock in the night. Leaving before midnight he did not recommend because just then at that hour the most essential part should take place. And he would like me to be there, knowing my spiritual background.
I realised this would be for Fifi too much, regarding her physical state.”
“Yes,” Fifi says, “so I stayed at the homestay in Ubud, no problem, I heard from Hans later the whole story when he enthusiastically came back in the night, and I shared his experience in that way.”
The two friends in front of us are listening silently with great attention and gazing at us with bulging eyes.
So I continue: “On the day of the ceremony it was pouring. But it stopped just at seven. Remarkable. It was in Bongkasa, in the ‘griya’ (palace/house) of the high priest Guru Nabe (full name: Ida Pandita Mpu Nabe Siwa Putra Prama Daksa Manuaba). My driver dropped me but could not pick me up again. Because that should be after midnight. And that was exactly the problem because the Balinese believe very strongly that by then the bad spirits are attracted to the place specially because of the dying aspect.
But I did not worry so much, immediately after arriving at the ‘griya’, crowded with people in white - it was white everywhere - I started to inform whether I could go back with someone. Soon I found a very friendly mangku from Blahbatu. With him and his wife I could return.
Of course I was also in the traditional Balinese clothes, also almost white, and soon I had contact with the friendly people. They offered me coffee and food. Then I broke my tooth on a very hard piece of meat. I considered it as an offering and thanked the gods to be able to attend this fantastic happening.
Most striking were the seven high priests in a row in the temple, starting with the preparations. In the meanwhile a wayang puppet player started. Close to the temple in front of a rich decorated wall many VIPs were sitting. There were speeches. I saw Kanjeng Madi in a black jacket (wearing the princely clothes with decorations) sitting on the floor, on one side his brother (also in a black jacket), on the other side his wife.
After a short speech of Kanjeng Madi himself, ending with keeping up the ‘keris’ in the right hand, he undressed himself until he was only dressed in white underwear, as the symbol of not being a prince anymore.
They put a white cloth round his shoulders and led him and his wife in the direction of the temple, where the seven high priests, now with the high hats on and ringing with the bells, were waiting. As fast as I could I went in the direction of the temple too, but entered it from the other side, I discovered this possibility before, so I could film very well the entering in the temple of Kanjeng Madi and his wife. The priests with in the middle Guru Nabe started immediately with sprinkling the holy water in their direction when they came in through the small gate. The narrow space was crowded with people. The gamelan made its fascinating tunes. The air was saturated by the smell of incense and flowers.
I realised I was part of something very special and holy. Tears came up in my eyes. It went on for minutes and minutes, the priests going on with the holy water action. The brother of Kanjeng Madi was holding him, preventing him to fall, it looked like he was in trance or unconscious . His wife was in that state too.
Still in that state the bodies of Kanjeng Madi and his wife were being laid in a high ‘balé’. Covered by a white cloth, on which I could recognize Balinese writing.
People sat themselves on the floor in front of the bed and started singing/praying. In the meantime the topeng performance started. Very loudly. And the ordination ceremony for 50 people to become mangku (assistent priest) was taking place. So many things together. It was a cacophony of sounds.
After two hours Kanjeng Madi and whis wife ‘waked up’. The hair was being combed and priests made Balinese letters with the holy water as ‘ink’ and the precious stone on the ring as ‘pencil’ on many spots of the body. Each spot needed its special letter, it is all written on a paper, which the priest was holding in his other hand. He told me later that by this writing remembering the letters or mantras is more easy. It is written on a blank body. It makes them alive. And surely very alive on that moment was Ida Bhawati Kanjeng Daksa Kertonegoro Panembahan Jawi, because that was his new name, given by his Guru Nabe.
A week later we went to visit Ida Panembahan Jawi in his house. Fifi was joining me and very happy to see him again, specially now being a high priest.
Spontaneously he started to tell about his experience.
‘The water’ he said, ‘it felt like stones, like ice,’ going with his head backwards like he was being hit by something hard.
‘And I was thinking,’ he continued, ‘oh I die, I die ... but then I was relaxed and I open myself ...’
Fifi wanted to know whether his wife had the same experience.
‘She just felt unconcious, she told me later and finally after a long time (lying), opening the eyes, she was wondering: where am I, where is my husband? She did not realise I was at her side, but that was also the case for me: I did not realise she was next to me.
Lying there for two hours I had the experience that sometimes I go out (of my body) and then come back. The first time coming back I felt: why I am here and wanted to move, but that was not possible. And then I felt stiff starting with my legs, then it rised until my neck, also my hands were stiff. I felt my blood slowly moving in my arm and I said to the blood: oh blood when you stop, I am dead, it was a tickling feeling, like many ants walking, I was thinking I might die but at the same time the thought came up: let it happen. And then my spirit was going up (made a gesture like it was leaving from the head) and then it came down again. Many times it went up and down.
Actually when I was out again, I did not want to come back, because it was so nice ... so nice.’
I asked if he could describe it, but he couldn’t. ‘Just nice, nice ...’ he continued.
‘And then it was like someone was pulling me, holding me and then I realised the priest was saying: wake up, wake up. I was shaking a little bit and slowly the stiffness disappeared and I became normal.
You know you pass the line of death. And when I felt the stiffness coming up my body felt sick, very sick. It was like all the sickness was going out. And I could not do anything because my body was stiff, it was scaring, it was like it was covered with cement.
And the blood was going so slow, it was like climbing, going step by step. Very scaring, because I was thinking: when it stops I die ...
And then there was a voice in a strange language, but I could understand the meaning. It was saying: I will kill your thinking, your desire.’
‘Your ego?’ Fifi asked. He did not know.
Later the priest told him this was the purification. So he went through different phases, ending in a kind of surrender. They also told him the people were scared because they noticed not any breathing.
After a short silence he concluded his explanation with: ‘I feel very changed now.’ On which Fifi reacted: ‘You look younger.’
I wanted to know whether he got any explanation beforehand. No he didn’t. The reason is, that it can be different for each individual. ‘They only tell you that in the process you die ...’
At the end of our very interesting conversation with Ida Panembahan Jawi he told us about the many things which are so different in practical life now for him. For instance he is not allowed to paint or to write novels or stories anymore.
‘But yóu can, Hans,’ he said with a big smile, ‘From prince to priest, dream or reality.’
And ... are you two still awake?” Silently Tu Kodok and Tu Tokeh are looking at us.
“We are impressed, what can we say more. Thank you.” And as quickly as they appeared they are vanished.
Dream or reality?
See on youtube: BALI - High Priest Ordination (Munggah Bhavati) of Kanjeng Madi (overall film) and the many other videos (youtube channel: Hans Smeekes)
Dream or Reality (31)
Touched by trance
text and image by Hans Smeekes
“Wow, you two look so heavenly,” is Tu Kodok, the frog’s welcoming phrase to Fifi and me, with his creaky voice, just appearing out of nothing in front of us on the edge of the window next to his friend Tu Tokeh, the gecko, who is sligthly smiling.
Like all the other nights during our stay in the palace we have a meeting with these two animals, while we are sitting on the romantic fourposter, surrounded by art deco artifacts and magical paintings on the walls.
“Yes, you can be right,” is my reaction looking at the same time to Fifi, checking her heavenly face, “because we had a wonderful day.”
“Explain, explain,” is Tu Tokeh’s reaction, enthusiastically jumping with his tail in the air.
“We went to Sanur, because a friend tipped us about the celebration at the Pura Dalem Kedewatan,” I start with the explanation.
“Sanur is famous for the people with magical power and this temple is known for its priests and the colourful ceremonies which take place throughout the year, did you know that?” Tu Kodok reacts.
“Yes we heard many people can go into trance at such an occasion and so it happened.
And we were there just at the right time, because when we arrived the impressive procession was going inside.
A very long row of women in the street carrying tall piles of offerings on the head. All the piles were the same size, the same fruit, everything the same.
First the very small girls, then the bigger girls, then the women, all in the same clothes, in the colours white and yellow. All the kebayas exactly the same.
Quickly I went in the temple to film the row coming inside through the gate. It was like a white coloured river. So many women. Everyone with such a serenity on the face.
I was touched by this wonderful sight, tears coming out of my eyes.
It was obvious there was some dancing coming up. And I put myself on the ground surrounded by the Balinese people. Everyone chatting and peaceful waiting for what was to come. The beautiful gate forming a nice decorum at the other side of the grass court.
Fifi found a nice place for sitting in the wantilan.
Raindrops were falling. ‘For the blessing,’ I was thinking and when it stopped the dancing started.
First the very small girls, just a few years young and then the bigger girls. All beautifully dressed. Then already several older women from the ‘public’ came up the grass ‘stage’ and were getting in trance.
The topeng (mask dance, done by male ‘actors’) took a long time. I realised the actors wore very holy masks, because I passed the masks already in the temple and saw with which delicacy they were treated.
The topeng was funny, but I could not understand.
And then the dancer with the white mask (Sidakarya) came up and sat himself on a chair. He made enchanting dance movements with his white gloved hands. Not long after that a woman came from behind him, making very slow dance movements, getting into trance, then another woman came up, also getting into trance. More and more followed. The eyes closed, hands grasping in the air. Slow and staccato dancing. When a woman was almost falling, attentive relatives were immediately there to support.
I was ... I was filming. Filming is normally like looking at something. But I was not looking anymore, I was experiencing the whole event, holding carefully the camera on my lap.
I could feel something supernatural was going on, I could feel the holy atmosphere. Suddenly I had a shaking from my head until my feet. So, it was like I also got in a trance. Of course not, but it felt a little bit like that. I was really touched by the moment.
It was a fascinating sight. And I was in the middle of it.
Then they all, supported by caring family members, went inside the inner courtyard. The priests very busy to bless the people with the holy water, to get them out of the trance. And me, I went fairly close to them because I also wanted a blessing since I was shaking, I needed it also.
I went back to Fifi and said ‘Wow!’ Fifi who experienced it from far had nevertheless the same feeling. We shared it.
They told me that probably the women were not just ordinary women. They are the helpers in the temple. And bring there offerings everyday. They have already this connection and these feelings. In a way they belong to the temple.
By watching the trance, I had almost the feeling I was in trance too. I asked later about what is happening with the trance. The trance is in fact a kind of cleansing, re-setting yourself, re-setting your mind. You feel very purified after that, they told me.
I don't know if I was purified but I felt that I was very close to a very special experience.
It was the first time in Bali that I felt there is more than you can see, that there is a God, that there is something supernatural. I never felt in my life that there was something supernatural. I never thought like that. But now, I think, ‘Yeah, maybe it's possible. Why not?’”
“How many women were in a trance?” Tu Tokeh asks.
“Many , it was like the whole temple was in trance, specially the women.
But I think that when one woman starts, then others will follow very easily. Influenced by what they experience. Experiencing the supernatural. If you are sensitive for that. And you are starting to dance. You have to be sensitive for this phenomenon, you have to be open, otherwise it would never happen to people, that is what I think.
I think that the people who watch this, share it in a way.”
“The audience surrounding is expecting,” Tu Kodok remarks.
“They expect it, because they do it maybe for them. My thinking is that they are cleansing the whole temple, including everyone who is attending, because they make contact with the supernatural, with God. It is difficult to describe, in words. Very difficult.”
“And your own experience, what about that?” Tu Tokeh asks.
“Regarding the shaking which I experienced: As a buddhist monk sometimes, when I was playing the big drum I could have the same shaking, followed by the feeling that I had almost no body anymore, that I was one with everything, able to feel the wholeness of everything. And that has happened that day also with the trance, being aware of the wholeness, that I am not separated.”
Tu Kodok: “It's like you are blending.”
“Yes, something like that: Blending. I felt like a drop of water then, taken by the ocean.
On Nusa Penida, one time, I had the same experience, joining the people in the procession. When walking in the procession, with the gamelan orchestra very close to me. I felt like a river going on, that I am not separate from the world, that I am whole with everything.
Touched by trance. Dream or reality?”
See on youtube: “Bali: Many People in Heavy Trance in Pura Dalem Sanur during Temple Festival by Hans & Fifi” and the many other videos (youtube channel: Hans Smeekes)
Dream or Reality (30)
Funny (trance?) dance
text and image by Hans Smeekes
“How was your day today?” Tu Kodok, the frog asks, sitting like the other nights at the window next to his friend Tu Tokeh, the gecko, who just finished his remarkable sound, eleven times, like always, as announcement of our midnight meeting in the palace.
“Today we went to a litlle village in the area of Penebel. A friend lives there and invited us. Specially because today is ‘tilem’ (new moon) and he told us there is a ceremony in the village temple with as ‘highlight’ some ladies going in trance dancing.
‘Good for filming’, he told us, being just as an enthusiastiac filmer like me,” I answered the question about our experience today.
“Nice environment, Penebel,” Tu Tokeh reacts.
“Yes already the trip to this village was nice, passing the many rice paddies,” Fifi remarks.
And I continue sittting next to Fifi on the romantic fourposter: “After we arrived in the one street village, first I went with my friend into the surrounding ricefields, for which we had to go down a slippery path, reason for Fifi not to go with us.
A fantastic landscape unfolded. I told my friend what our driver always is saying in such circumstances: ‘ Good for the eyes.’ And so it was with the scenery of the terraced rice fields above the wild river, with a lot of noise, trying to find its way between the rocks.
It started to rain a little bit and we were singing ‘Singing in the rain’, which we altered almost directly in ‘Singing in the ricefields’.
After a great lunch, offered by the Balinese family, sitting on the veranda, with sight on the real Balinese courtyard, with the chickens, cocks, dogs and an old lady sitting under the ‘lumbung’ (ricebarn), we went down to the temple. In fact the small road went over in the concrete steps down. Our friend was so nice to help Fifi. No Balinese temple gate this time. Just a big tree, near the river, with shrines underneath. At the right a small simple gate where priests were going in and out.
It was already crowded with people under the balé on the left side, in front of the tree, mostly women with children, waiting for what was to come. The gamelan orchestra was just arriving. And also Jero Mangku, the most important priest. Our friend introduced us to him. A friendly skinny man, in his forties I think, with a small dark beard, with his inseparable kretek cigarette, because I noticed later he was all the time smoking.
Our friend told us people come from far for his advice. So also now. I saw people coming down with many offerings. One family after the other was going inside the small temple. I saw the female assistent priests, completely in white, going into trance for the answers, for which the people come. After that they got blessed with the holy water.
The local people under the balé were just waiting, they were clearly used to it and were using the time for some chatting, which we did also. Fifi had a good contact with a lady, they could not speak with each other in the same language, but with hands and feet, they had good time.
The ceremony started with the usual rituals of praying and blessing. And then the dancing part started. Here we came for. Our friend told us that these women had no education at all concerning dancing. When he showed them the videos of the dancing, which he made another time, they were very surprised they could do that.
But my thinking is: They are Balinese, even having had no dancing education, they must have it in their blood, in their genes.
I saw at the other side of the wall in the small temple one of the ladies taking out of a box a white mask. It was really starting. I was waiting on the ground before the big tree, which was like a small stage. The people getting excited. And the gamelan made the first tones. The woman was shaking with her head with the mask on, standing for the priest with his kretek cigarette.
Then she came out and indeed made the movements, as far as I can judge, which are appropriate for the dancing. I followed the movements with my camera. And following in this way I got almost in a kind of trance myself. Which is not new for me, I had this before, touched as I am by the dancing. It is like going in another world. So also this afternoon. After ten minutes another older woman took over. Also she stated she cannot dance normally.
She danced without mask, but with a straight face, showing not any emotion.
And then the funny one showed up. Already her mask was funny. She had a lot of interaction with the public. A lot of laughter. I had the impression the people came for this. From a certain moment she was starting making movements as she were a frog. Jumping as a frog on the floor.
“A frog?” our little friend Tu Kodok, jumps up enthusiastically.
“Yes and while jumping she came very close to me, everyone was laughing, it was like she was inviting me to join the dance, doing the same, but I didn’t, doubting it was appropriate. I asked it later to Jero Mangku, in fact it is no problem, so maybe if we come back one time, I might join in.
“Wow, that is remarkable,” Tu Kodok reacts again, “so you want to imitate me, maybe I can learn you next time when we meet, because now we have to go, our time is finished.”
Fifi and I are looking at each other.
Dream or reality?
See on youtube: “Funny Trance Dancing Bendul” and the many other videos by Hans Smeekes
Dream or Reality (29)
The famous cave on Nusa Penida
text and image by Hans Smeekes
“‘Aaaaah, you look really great,’ with this words we were enthusiastically welcomed by the mangku (assistent priest) when we entered the cave.”
“Which cave?” Tu Kodok asks.
Once again we are sitting on our bed in the palace, having a meeting in the night with Tu Kodok, the frog and his friend Tu Tokeh, the gecko.
“The Goa Giri Putri on Nusa Penida, the small magical island, southeast of Bali, we were there for a few days and the visit to the famous cave was one of the highlights,” I answers.
“You dared to make the passage across the sea? Because it is known the Badung Strait can be very tough,” Tu Tokeh reacts worrying.
“Yes, we know that and also the prince warned us about that, but the rainy season (the most difficult period to make the crossing) almost being finished and reassured by the good weather forecast we decided to go. The sea was very calm.”
“It can be very spooky,” Tu Tokeh consists.
“Yes and not only the sea, also the island itself is considered like that, as we understood by the Balinese people,” Fifi says, “our usual driver warned us too and that was the reason he adviced us to go with his friend, born on the island.”
“While driving,” I take over, “along the breathtaking coastline with the Gunung Agung at the other side of the turquoise sea, passing flowering cacti and the white coloured limestone temples, in such a fascinating contrast with the blue sky, he explained us that the main god of Nusa Penida is called Ratu Gede Mecaling, considered as the king of demons. People are afraid of his power. At the same time he is venerated.”
“Typical Bali,” Tu Todok adds, the good and the bad always go together, light and dark. It is about the balance.”
“In fact it was our second visit to the cavetemple,” I continue, “last year I entered from the front, Fifi was not going with me because she considered the small entrance in the rock to difficult for her, it was already a great achievement that she climbed the 131 steep steps to the temple in front of the cave.
The reason that I proposed to visit Goa Giri Putri again, is that we heard afterwards that the cave also could be entered from the backside which is much more easy: not so many steps and the entrance is not a small mouth of 60 centimeters which you can only pass on hands and feet. And moreover: I told Fifi of my great experience inside the cave, because it is majestic and so very female, she must have seen it.
‘You look like the king and queen,’ the priest from behind the iron fence was saying while he was inviting us to come inside, leaving alone the people, sitting on the floor in front of the shrines with Chinese like statues. All his attention was now going to us. So we really felt the king and the queen and the people were looking at us.
‘Have a nice day, Om Swastiastu,’ he said with a big smile showing his shining white teeth, contrasting with his black moustache and small beard, while we were shaking hands. He introduced himself as Mangku Ketut Darma, coordinator of the place, as he called his function. The very enthusiastic Darma invited us to join the ceremony and we got blessed by the holy water.
On my first visit to the impressive cave I had already the feeling to be in the womb. And that was exactly the essence of the explanation by Ketut Darma.
Close to the beautiful statue of the Chinese Goddess Kwan Jin he compared it with being in the belly. From here you are born again and you feel a whole lot better. That’s why people from Bali come to visit the cave. To be born again. He explained it with great enthusiasm. What a man. We already felt better by just talking to him.
He mentioned the name of Majapahit. During the Majapahit Empire period on Jawa a fusion took place between Shiwa and Buddha. And later this cult entered Bali. This relation and connection between Shiwa and Buddha is to be experienced here. He told us that he is teaching the people about that. Shiwa is here in the manifestation of Giri Putri. She is Durga, the consort of Shiwa. Giri means mountain and putri means princess or daughter. And Buddha is here in the manifestation of Kwan Jin (here mentioned as Kwam Im), also female and the Bodhisattva of compassion in Chinese Buddhism.
Pointing to her statue on the shrine Darma explained that Kwan Jin helps the people.
There is also a story about the discovering of the cave.
‘A story told by the grandfathers of the grandfathers,’ he said. People were following a cock, who stopped at the small hole/entrance at the other side.
Darma encouraged us to go deeper inside in the cave. For me that was a déjà vu, for Fifi completely new.
I warned Fifi about the slippery floor. Again I felt how wet it was inside. And dark. Only near the shrines or statues there was light.
Again I had the feeling I was in some kind of a cathedral. One of the statues even reminded me of the Holy Mary in Christianity. Probably due to the blue sky fabric, with which she was clothed. So the fusion was universal.
At my first visit after my crawling through the small entrance I was surprised to see such a big hall. Maybe 40 meters wide and 200 meters long.
In the middle of the giant cave, where people in white clothes were praying before a shrine with statues, I went up to reach a side corridor, by climbing barefeet a narrow iron staircase, which was moving with every step I took. But it was worth it and made my pilgrimage complete at that time, because after some meters carefully following the rock with my hands and trying not to fall down on the very slippery floor, I stood in front of the shrine of Hyang Giri Putri.
Now they made a very beautiful staircase of limestone, with carved nagas on the banisters.
Deeply impresssed by the cave we carefully walked back to the entrance, where we said goodbye to the friendly Darma and walk into the light, feeling like being born again. And on the way back by car everyone along the road in front of the small houses was waving to us. Yes we really felt like the king and the queen.”
“And now you are here in the palace, how appropriate,” Tu Tokeh reacts, lightly smiling, while his friend Tu Kodok is making a wink with his big frog eye, “thank you for your story but now we have to go.”
We are looking at each other: Dream or reality?
On youtube you can find the film about the cave:
On youtube you can find the film about the cave:
Bali: The famous cave on Nusa Penida "GOA GIRI PUTRI" (revisited) by Hans & Fifi
Dream or Reality (28)
Tumpek Wayang in the only Dalang temple on Bali
text and image by Hans Smeekes
Like the other nights during our stay in the palace Fifi and I are sitting on our romantic bed waiting for our two animal friends to appear on the edge of the window in front of us.
Tu Tokeh, the gecko does his remarkable tokeh sound eleven times and in one split second they are there.
“How was your day today?” Tu Kodok, the frog immediately asks.
“A little bit exhausting because we made a very long trip to the north of Bali,” I answered, “but it was worth it.”
“Aaah, please tell us what you did there,” Tu Tokeh joins the conversation with his high voice.
“As you probably know today is Tumpek Wayang, considered as the most sacred day, always a saturday, the confluence of important days in the various Balinese week calendars, which only happens once in a Balinese year,” I start to explain, “besides that the day is also linked to Bhatara Kala and Bhatara Rare Kumara, which story is being showed in the wayang play, the reason why we went to the Pura Siwa Manik Dalang in Pemaron (Singaraja). It is being said it is the only Dalang temple on Bali. We visited the small simple temple already last year and then the people told us that if we should have the opportunity we should come back on the day of Tumpek Wayang, which is today.”
“But why you go so far, because there are ceremonies related to this everywhere on Bali?” Tu Kodok reacts.
“Because this temple is, as I said, the only Dalang temple, so very appropriate for this special day. And already from monday the puppeteers are doing their performances culminating in that of today. People come from far to join the performances and rituals, specially the people born on the day of Tumpek Wayang.”
“Because these people are suffering of some kind of problem, we heard? Tu Tokeh asks.
“Yes this is what they told us and maybe you know the story, which is in fact the basis of the performance, the ‘sapuh leger’, done by the Dalang. There are many versions, but I will tell you the one which they told us.”
“Lord Siwa and his consort the Goddess Uma were on a journey at the sea. Lord Siwa was so sexually exited that a drop of semen fell into the water.
The god Baruna took care of it and the result was the birth of a giant with a terrible face. Longing to see his parents the ogre went together with Baruna to the heaven of his father Siwa, who gave him the name of Bhatara Kala. And because Bhatara Kala liked to eat human beings, Siwa gave him the permission only to eat children born on the day of Tumpek Wayang.
Unfortunately later another son of Lord Siwa was born, exactly on the day of Tumpek Wayang, he was called Bhatara Rare Kumara.
Bhatara Kala heard about that and tried to find Bhatara Rare Kumara. But with the help of Lord Siwa Bhatara Rare Kumara managed to get away.
Exhausted by the searching Bhatara Kala sat down next to an offering and he ate it. Not knowing it belonged to a Dalang who needed it to start with his performance.
So the Dalang asked him to throw it up.
After some negotiation they made the deal that Bhatara Kala did not have to throw up the offering if he stopped pursuing children born on the day of Tumpek Wayang.
The essence of the stories is always the same and explains why people born on this day require the ritual as done by the Dalang, because these people can suffer of mental difficulties supposed to be caused by Bhatara Kala.”
“It is the psychological behind it,” Tu Kodok comes to the conclusion.
“So we left already early in the morning for the long trip,” I continue, “and when we arrived at the temple already many people were attending the ceremonies.
From far in the small street we heard the Dalang doing his wayang performance with great elan. Coming more close the only thing we could see on the screen was a glimpse of the burning lamp, the puppets were only vague, because of the daylight. So we decided to go behind the screen, passing carefully the friendly people and the high priest who was doing his prayers opposite of the screen at the other side of the covered space next to the temple.
I immediately started filming and did not stop for almost three hours. It was very special being so close to the Dalang, kicking with his foot against the wooden box to strengthen his expressions, escorted by an assistent, who now and then played beautifully on the flute and two enthusiastic gamelan players. One of them was Ketut, who explained us everything last year and with his family lives there and takes care of the temple.
While filming I was one with the mysterious performance, like being in a kind of trance.
When the performance was finished, the puppets were put back with many respect and honour into the box. The Dalang, who for me was like a priest, was keeping the Siwa puppet high in the air and blessed with it the holy water in a big pot and the other attributes of which he was surrounded in the meantime. The screen was rolled up and then there was the sight of two rows of people, in poleng (black and white) cloth, waiting for the special ritual. I was being told to film everything, because this was the most important part.
One by one these people were cleansed by the holy water. The water flowing from a kind of basket above the heads. Three or four assistent priests were engaged in this activity. The shirts and kebayas were completely wet. The holy water was dripping from the heads. All the actions, also with the small cords and so on, which we know so well from other rituals, were followed with caring attention by the family members and the Dalang. The whole atmosphere felt very sacred.
While filming the impressive ritual I felt cleansed myself and I remembered I was born on a saturday also ...”
“Wow this was very interesting, but our time is finished, we have to go,” says Tu Tokeh with a sigh.
Fifi and I are looking at each other: Dream or reality?
facebook and youtube: Hans Smeekes
Dream or Reality (27)
The story of the ngkik - ngkik ngkir
text and image by Hans Smeekes
Tu Tokeh, the gecko makes his sound eleven times. For us the sign he and his friend Tu Kodok will soon appear on the edge of the window in front of us in our dream room in the palace.
And there they are: happily jumping and that also counts for us as we are jumping on the big romantic bed, waiting for a new nice converation with these two animals in the middle of the night.
“Apa kabar?” is Tu Kodok’s first phrase.
“Baik, baik,” is our reaction.
“And you had a good experience today?” Tu Tokeh asks.
“This afternoon we were sitting on the verandah and listened once more to the birds.
Being no specialists on bird sounds, we can distinguish the different sounds, but we don’t know the names of the birds. So already some time ago we started to invent our own bird names.
Our most popular is the ‘jolly bamboo whistler’.
Fifi is often the first one to recognize this bird. But there are more, like the ‘sunshine cempaka jumper’ and the ‘don’t know how to finish screamer’.”
“Very funny, that you do like that,” Tu Tokeh says with his high voice.
“Yes and we have invented more names like for instance the ‘blue sky rapper’,” I continue.
“But there is one which puzzles us the most, because we never see the bird, not even a glimpse of it,” Fifi takes over. “So I started to call the bird the ‘you can hear, but cannot see bird’...”
“Also the sound is remarkable,” Fifi continues, “first there is a flat long tone, then it goes more high and then it goes down and more down. A mourning sound.”
“The prince joined us on the verandah,” I take over from Fifi, “and hearing the specific sound again we asked him about this bird.
He called the bird the ‘ngkik - ngkik ngkir’. And told us that in Bali people tell the story that when this bird is making this sound, the bird is giving birth (coming out from the back) and is dying at the same time and that is the reason the bird is making this sound of sadness.”
“Yes we know this story,” Tu Kodok reacts. “People are sad when they hear this sound.”
“The prince told us when he was a kid and could not sleep, his mother told him stories and this was one of those, which from our part we found remarkable to tell a kid a sad story like that, because then you can possibly not sleep at all anymore.”
“In Bali people like these kind of stories,” Tu Tokeh says.
“The prince left us alone and we stayed sitting quietly on the verandah. And then we heard the sound of the ‘ngkik - ngkik ngkir’ again. Now knowing the name and the story.
I tried to imitate the sound, trying to come in contact with the sad bird. To invite the bird in fact. And then I saw the bird to my surprise. With a remarkable orange belly. Not far on a branch of the tree. Looking at us and then the bird dared to make the jump. The jump to Fifi’s head. In fact the bird landed on the colourful crown on her head. The bird was attracted by the colours or maybe also thinking it was a nest?
That can be, because then the bird is not the only one. On the airport in Amsterdam, passing the passport checkpoint, the man asked Fifi: ‘Where do you go?’
‘To Bali,’ was Fifi’s answer and then he said pointing to the crown on her head, ‘watch out, birds can nestle in it,’ which made us laugh of course, but now this happens.
At first Fifi was frightened a little bit and apparently the bird noticed this.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ it was saying, ‘I just want to tell you something.’
So the ‘ngkik - ngkik ngkir’ started even talking to us. But already having the experience that we can have conversations with you two it was not a very big surprise.
The ‘ngkik - ngkik ngkir told us the bird is belonging to the cuckoo family ...
‘Aaah,’ I reacted immediately and starting to understand ‘in our countries the cuckoo also exists and it is well known that the cuckoo puts its eggs in a nest of another bird.’
‘Yes and this is what we also do here,’ the bird said.
And the bird continued: ‘It is our habit, we cannot do different, it is in our genes. So sorry I am demystifying the story but I had the urge to tell you this.’
Having said this, having made it’s point the ‘ngkik - ngkik ngkir’ flew away, disappearing in the foliage of the trees. Invisable like before.
“It can be that people tell this story on Bali,” Tu Tokeh remarks “because there might be a deeper meaning: Birth and death coming together.”
“Something like dream or reality, two sides of the same, you mean.”
“Yes like us, one moment we are here in front of you and the next moment we are not here anymore, like we have never been here.”
And to emphasize this, our two friends disappear.
Dream or reality?