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)