The Significance and Meaning of Nyepi

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The Significance and Meaning of Nyepi

Post by Admin » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:34 pm

Nyepi Day is a golden opportunity for Hindus, or anyone for that matter, to introspect or 'Mulat Sarira'. Knowingly Nyepi is a very sacred day we must therefore avoid actions and behavior that may stain this holy day. So, what should be avoided and what significance does the holy day of Nyepi carry to us?

ANY ACTIVITY, whatever it might be, let it be on this day. Let us introspect and draw ourselves closer to God. Take this opportunity and good day that we are given to get closer to Him.

Ida Pedanda Gede Made Gunung, a hindu high-priest in Bali, said that Ida Sang Hyang Widhi, God, always open opportunities for people to do introspection through other holy days, as with Nyepi. The problem is that people generally are not yet able fully implement the Catur Bratha Penyepian.

Catur Bratha are 4 types of forbearance, refrains or withdrawals which are an obligation for Hindus to do during the seclusion of Nyepi. There are exceptions and also various levels of these refrains which comes back to our own abilities, realizations and devotion. It is not compulsory in a forceful sense but considered an obligation so having this in mind the decision of how we respect or follow through the Catur Bratha comes back to ourselves.

The practice of Catur Bratha during Nyepi is done by 'turning yourself silent'. This is done by significantly curbing our desires and controlling our senses and mind. The meanings of each Brata has both a physical and spiritual meaning, both which should be observed and complement each other during the day of Nyepi.

In the Saka Calender the day begins at 6.00 AM and ends at 6.00 AM the following day, unlike the international calender where the day begins in the middle of the night at 12.00 PM and ends at 12.00 PM the following night.

If one can and follow the Catur Brata Panyepian it should be done for 24 hours from 6.00 AM in the morning of Nyepi until 6.00 AM in the following day, Ngembak Geni.

The Catur Bratha Penyepian are:

1. No Work or Activities (Brata Amati Karya)
No activities is intended so that people won't work but do not mean zero activity. Activities that aren't allowed are those that have to be neutralized by controlling of the mind and do not interfere or counter the other Bratas.

2. No Traveling or Going out (Brata Amati Lelunganan)
No traveling is intended for people to remain silent in the house or compounds. This is to train our minds to not always go and do as we please but always remember self-introspection.

3. No Self-Entertainment (Brata Amati Lelangunan)
No entertainment is intended for people to refrain from carrying out entertaining activities or fun. Entertainment to eliminate boredom will unconsciously make us forget ourselves and plunge us into misery. If capable and able one should also perform fasting.

4. No Fire (Brata Amati Geni)
Do not light a fire during Nyepi Day. Physically this means that we should not light any lamps, use any electricity or light any fires to cook food. Spiritually, the fire carries the meaning of 'Kroda' which is the 'Anger' element of human nature. Brata Amati Geni is symbolized by extinguishing the lights and fires within and without during the holy day of Nyepi. It should be followed throughout the period described above from 6 AM to 6 AM, but there are exceptions for sick people, babies or elderly.

Ancestors in Bali created the concept of Nyepi as a highly flexible answer for the challenges of times. Similarly Guru Wisesa tried to give a sense of comfort and security for Hindus to implement Catur Brata Penyepian by closing entrances to Bali like Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport, the Port of Gilimanuk, Padangbai, etc.. But our appreciation to Nyepi does still need to be improved.

As a response to many people not respecting or following through the Catur Bratha Penyepian Ida Pedanda Gede Made Gunung mentions "Those not respecting the holy day of Nyepi, especially Hindus, in Bali should be embarrassed towards other people, Guru Wisesa and to the ancestors who created this valuable concept of Nyepi. You must be embarrassed of yourselves."

Thus, people should not just interpret the extent of a ceremonial day or festivity, but, really come to the realization to understand, appreciate or explore. In the concept of Siwagama there are different steps to study religion. It begins with excitement, followed comprehension and the last stage of deepened understanding. However, up until this century people are still stuck at the stage of excitement and have not yet proceeded to the following stages. However, so that the excitement won't become excessive there is a need for disc brakes of self-control or silence of the Bhuta properties that exist in us. Bhuta is a nature and behavior that can not achieve peace or happiness.

Catur Brata Penyepian is really a moral or early education to be used as stepping stones for the coming years. In Brata Amati Geni, as mentioned for an example, people should not only refrain from light and fire in the real sense but also be able to extinguish the fire of lust.

Nyepi works as a steady staff for the people to silence the Bhuta properties within. Thus, by doing this we invite the emergence of godly characteristics. If people were to always to invite Bhuta characteristics then lust and insolence would be rampant on this earth. On the other hand, Ida Pedanda Gede Made Gunung urged Hindus to further increase awareness in this global era. We are aware that there is an interdependence of each other. Therefore, we must increase tolerance of religious life, he said. In addition, people are encouraged to further raise awareness and compassion for fellow beings through the meaning and significance of Nyepi.

Catur Brata Penyepian will aside the physical and spiritual benefits to ourselves also directly contribute to the preservation of the environment and ecosystem of Bali which is given one full day of rest from us humans and our many times destructive activities. Let us play with the idea of the whole world doing Catur Brata Penyepian for just one day and imagine the immense benefits of this for our environment. There is also the positive psychological aspect to remove or eliminate boredom in a life of routine tasks for one day.

Let us not miss this opportunity for introspection and withdrawal to enrich ourselves and our surroundings for this one day. For my friends who have to work and cannot perform all of the Catur Brata during the holy day of Nyepi, i wish you success in performing your duty. I wish everyone of you Selamat Hari Raya Nyepi.

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