Observing the many ancient temples in Bali many of them are located in places that are difficult to reach. Like for instance; Pasar Aung Temple in the Karangasem area, Lempuyang Temple also in the Karangasem area, Pucak Manik Temple in the Singaraja area and many more but I cannot mention all of them. The location of temples like these are something that has caught my attention and interest. Why is that? Were our ancestors not able to find a more strategically located places at the time of the construction? I think it was not difficult to find land to build temples at in the city as well as in the countryside. So, why did they not want to do that?
In today’s age, the concept is reversed. If anyone wants to build a temple strategic places are looked for in order to get a large roadside within easy access. The funny thing is that temples built by our ancestors, as i mentioned, that are quite difficult to reach are now made easily accessible for everyone. Is such thinking now unarguably correct?
Has steps been taken in accordance and with consideration of the basic concepts of our ancestors thinking when constructing the temple? This is the point that I want to make and to try to see from the perspective of the practice of yoga. At the same time I want there to be comprehension and understanding between us. Yoga is an activity that can improve spirituality and able to lead mankind to find herself (mewali ring sangkanin dumadi). That is the general description of Yoga i use in order to set a limit so that we can take the discussion further.
Therefore, virtuous are the teachings of yoga, our ancestors wanting their offspring to practice yoga on a regular basis, to be able to feel the true happiness of life. But our ancestors also had a basic understanding of human nature and one of them is lazy ( ngekos in Balinese ), the nature of wanting easy ways and other similar properties, but Yoga will change such properties. Thus, here it begins to seem somewhat contradictory, thus, the teachings of yoga were gently packed so that it does not appear at all. This means that those who do yoga do not feel what they’re doing or that it is something very noble and beneficial for his or her life (yoga poses).
Before I will continue on the previous description, the word yoga for the general public (Hindus in Bali), is sacred, even going beyond the ways of purification to the point that a sense of fear to hear the word yoga may arise (considered scary). The development of such thinking was imagined and realized by our ancestors, thus as i mentioned yoga was packaged subtly so that it would be easy to do even to the point of not sensing or realizing one is doing yoga. The point of this yoga is that it can touch the bottom layer of society without distinguishing abilities of the intellect, economic capabilities and other. Thoughts like these became a part of the concept in establishing a temple, the concept of sincere participation (ngayah) at the time of temple anniversaries (pujawali) or during other temple activities. There are many more elaborate applications of yoga in the social life as a Hindu.
We will return to the subject of construction of a temple based on the concept of yoga. As we know there are ancient temples built on mountains tops, on the edges of cliffs, in the oceans, in caves and other places slightly difficult to reach. To be able to clearly understand how the construction of the temple is based on the concept of yoga one should start by outlining the stages of yoga and then adjust to the concept of building the temple as earlier. I will try to outline the stages of yoga in general terms, namely;
• Panca Yama Brata
• Panca Niyama Brata
• Dyana ( semadi / meditation )
Maybe the stages of yoga that I have described are not all that complete, because I want to find the most prominent connection with the construction of temples. Panca Yama Brata and Panca Niyama Brata are emphasized to be done every day in the daily life. Asana , Pranayama and Dyana are not done so often, though should also be done every day . Due to the existence of unclear causes the stages of yoga asana, pranayama and dyana are less diligently performed.
Well now the connection with the construction of where temples are located, as described earlier, it will provide a significant opportunity to perform asanas, pranayama and dyana without us being aware of it. For an example, to be able to pray or participate with sincerity (ngayah) to a temple that is hard to reach it requires adequate physical and mental preparations as well as getting through stages that are not easy.
Now we take the example of going to the Puncak Manik Temple in the Grokgak area of Singaraja. Previously people who want to pray have to be prepared mentally, meaning; be healthy, focused, must not hesitate, simple clothing, enough and appropriate luggage because the journey is going through heavy terrain in an uphill position. On the way through the path of cliffs there are only trees and roots that can be held on to for support. While panting for breath, CO2 swiftly exits as O2 enters us swiftly through our nose, the air exchange would occur between people who are on the temple journey with plants and vegetation that grow in that area. The feeling arise of washing ones lounges clean and the heart feels heavy pumping blood to the point that the chest is pounding.
After the journey upwards have ended in the temple area, still panting for breath, one surely need a break for 10 minutes, then unpack to prepare everything for the purpose of prayer and offerings. After our breath has returned to a state of perfection or balance the chest feels light, the mind becomes light and the feeling of calmness arise. We sit with silent thoughts, and then begin the prayers through the sequence as it should be done. After praying a deep sense of serenity arise, even the stomach begin to feel hungry, "like it or not" the used fruits and cakes from the offerings (lungsuran, offerings that have fulfilled their purpose) are all eaten. In these circumstances everyone who have experienced a journey to a temple similar to the Pucak Manik temple terrain will not realize that he or she has been doing yoga from an early stage to the last stage of Dyana .
The climbing journey described earlier carries the same perfection of asanas with sweat pouring. Breath control while panting for breath is the same with a perfect pranayama. After sitting quiet and praying that is dyana semadi/meditation with similar qualities. So was the great wisdom of our ancestors to train future generations to always be able to carry out yoga, for the formation of a noble moral. In addition, there are other meanings that can be learned. For an example, not any random person can pray directly in the temple. For those who are hesitating will certainly not reach it, those that are sick, pregnant women, children that are still too young, physically disabled etc would have great difficulties to make that journey. They will pray in temples that are more easily accessible by them.
Thus this is my understanding of the construction of the temples that are difficult to reach by the general public when associated with practical yoga application in a subtle way to the point that it almost cannot be perceived by the performer.
The problem now is, most of the temples mentioned before have been given an easy way of access to all groups, even street-vendors make the areas busy now with music in order for their products to sell. The view that appears closer and more accessible is rather getting further away. Those praying did not undergo the process of true and steady yoga. Gambling is closing in on the area and according to my observations while the temple is a place to find purity it changes into a place for entertainment.
I feel, our ancestors are in tears in the great beyond, because we as the beneficiaries are not able to utilize the temples following the steps and goals of our ancestral past. If this continues all the noble legacies of our ancestors will vanish. Oh the next generation, you will not be able to enjoy the perfect Bali as before.
I think there is still a chance to preserve it, if we are equally aware for the sake of our descendants later. Let us not be actively doing things just for enjoyment in the now, but do it for the generations to come.
Maybe there might be a reader who want to ask. So if this is the understanding, it seems there is an element that distinguishes between strong people and weak people to be able to follow yoga? Actually there is nothing to distinguish, unless they themselves distinguish themselves from others. Meaning, those who are sick are definitely different from those who are healthy. Those who really want to worship God, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi, will differ from those that merely come to the temple to show off their clothes, showing off wealth or showing off their body postures. If indeed they feel the same there are no prohibitions to take that sincere journey to the temple and pray. Once they are on that journey to the temple they are automatically doing Yoga.
The conclusion is highly dependent on the seriousness and diligence of us. As a layman, that is my understanding about the construction of temples located in hard to reach places. Do not change or touch them again, that which makes things easy in nature and not educating. Easy to reach carries qualities different from what is hard to reach.
OM, SANTIH, SANTIH, SANTIH, OM
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