Temples based on the concept of Yoga

This forum is our Dharma Wacana and Dharma Tula platform for our English speaking visitors where articles from Ida Pedanda Gede Made Gunung have been translated into English.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:28 pm
Location: Bali

Temples based on the concept of Yoga

Post by Admin » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:09 am

Om Swastiastu,

On observing the many ancient temples in Bali, I notice many of them are located in places that are difficult to reach. For instance, Pasar Aung Temple in the Karangasem area, Lempuyang Temple also in the Karangasem area, Pucak Manik Temple in the Singaraja area and so many more that I cannot mention all of them. The location of temples like these is something that has caught my attention and interest. Why is that? Were our ancestors not able to find more strategically located places at the time of their construction? I think it was not difficult to find land to build temples, either in the city or 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 easy access from a large road. The strange 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? Have 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 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, leading mankind to find itself (mewali ring sangkanin dumadi). I thus use that general description of Yoga, in order to set a limit, so that we can take the discussion further. Therefore, virtuous are the teachings of yoga. Our ancestors wanted 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 of which one of them is laziness (ngekos in Balinese). That nature is to want easy ways and other similar properties, but Yoga will change such properties. Here it begins to seem somewhat contradictory. Thus, the teachings of yoga were gently packed so that it does not appear this way at all. This means that those who do yoga do not feel what they are doing or that it is something noble and beneficial for his/her life (yoga poses). Before I continue with the previous description, the word yoga, for the general public (Hindus in Bali), is sacred. It even goes beyond the ways of purification to a sense of fear to hear the word yoga (considered scary). The development of such thinking was imagined and realized by our ancestors, and 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 intellectual abilities, economic capabilities and other such separations. 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 of a Hindu. Let us return to the subject of the 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 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 them to the concept of building the temple. I will try to outline the stages of yoga in general terms, namely;

• Panca Yama Brata

• Panca Niyama Brata

• Asana

• Pranayama

• Dyana ( semadi / meditation )

The stages of yoga that I have described might not be all that complete, because I want to find only the most prominent connection with the construction of temples. Panca Yama Brata and Panca Niyama Brata are emphasized as needing to be done every day in daily life. Asana, Pranayama and Dyana are not done so often, though they could also be done every day. For unclear reasons, the stages of yoga asana, pranayama and dyana are less diligently performed. Now the connection with the construction of where temples are located, as described earlier, will provide a significant opportunity to perform asanas, pranayama and dyana without us being aware of it. For example, to be able to pray or participate with sincerity (ngayah) at a temple that is hard to reach, it requires adequate physical and mental preparations, as well as going through stages that are not easy. Now take the example of going to the Puncak Manik Temple in the Grokgak area of Singaraja. Previously, people who wanted to pray had to be prepared mentally, meaning to be healthy and focused, should not hesitate, wear simple clothing with adequate and appropriate luggage, because the journey was through heavy terrain in an uphill position. On the path through 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 through our nose. An air exchange would occur, between people who are on the temple journey, with plants and vegetation that grow in that area. The feeling arises of washing one’s lungs clean and the heart feels heavy, pumping blood to the point that the chest is pounding. After the journey upwards has ended in the temple area, still panting for breath, one surely needs a break for 10 minutes. Then one needs to unpack to prepare everything for the purpose of prayer and offerings. After one’s breath has returned to a state of perfection or balance, the chest feels light, the mind becomes light and a feeling of calmness arises. We sit with silent thoughts, and then begin the prayers, following the sequence as it should be done. After praying, a deep sense of serenity arises, even the stomach begins 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 has experienced such 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 off one. Breathe control, while panting for breath, is the same as a perfect pranayama. Sitting quiet and praying has similar qualities to dyana semadi/meditation. The great wisdom of our ancestors was 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 example, not any random person can pray directly in the temple. Those people who hesitate will certainly not reach the temple; those who are sick, pregnant women, children who are still too young, or the physically disabled etc. would have great difficulty 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 those temples (that are difficult to reach by the general public) when associated with a practical yoga application, in such a subtle way, to the point that it almost cannot be perceived by the performer. The problem now is that most of the temples mentioned before have been given an easy way for access to all groups, and 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 children’s lives later. Let us not only be actively doing things just for enjoyment in the now, but also do it for the generations to come. Might there be readers who want to ask - So if this is the understanding, it seems there is an element that distinguishes between strong people and weak people who are 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, wealth or body postures. If indeed they feel the same as others, 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 each 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 are not educational. Easy to reach carries qualities different from that which is hard to reach.

Om, Santih, Santih, Santih, Om

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest