Hinduism in Indonesia, also known by its formal Indonesian name Agama Hindu Dharma, refers to Hinduism as practised in Indonesia. It is practised by 93% of the population of Bali, but also in Sumatra, Java (especially by the Tenggerese people on the east), Lombok and Kalimantan. Only about 3% of Indonesian population is officially Hindu. In Java in particular, a substantial number of Muslims follow a non-orthodox, Hindu-influenced form of Islam commonly known as Kejawen/Agama Jawa and Abangan Islam. Partly due to the fact that every Indonesian citizen is required to be a registered member of one of the six acknowledged religious communities (Islam, Christianity [i.e. Protestantism or Catholicism], Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism). Inspired by the Hindu Javanese past, several hundred thousand Javanese converted to Hinduism in the 1960s and 1970s. When the adherents of the ethnic religions Aluk To Dolo (Sa'dan Toraja) and Kaharingan (Ngaju, Luangan) claimed official recognition of their traditions, the Ministry of Religion classified them as Hindu variants in 1968 and 1980. The Parisada Hindu Dharma changed its name to Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia in 1984, in recognition of its national influence spearheaded by Gedong Bagus Oka.
HistoryAt the peak of its influence in the 14th century the last and largest among Hindu Javanese empires, Majapahit, reached far across the Indonesian archipelago. This accomplishment is interpreted in modern nationalist discourses as an early historical beacon of Indonesian unity and nationhood, a nation with Java still at its center.
That the vast majority of contemporary Javanese, and all Indonesians, are now Muslims is the outcome of a process of subsequent Islamization. Like Hinduism before it, Islam first advanced into the archipelago along powerful trade networks, gaining a firm foothold in Java with the rise of early Islamic polities along the northern coast. Hinduism finally lost its status as Java's dominant state religion during the 15th and early 16th century, as the new sultanates expanded and the great Hindu empire Majapahit collapsed. Even then, some smaller Hindu polities persisted; most notably the kingdom of Blambangan in eastern Java, which remained intact until the late 18th century.
General beliefs and practices
Practitioners of Agama Hindu Dharma share many common beliefs, which include:
- A belief in one supreme being called 'Ida Sanghyang Widi Wasa', 'Sang Hyang Tunggal', or 'Sang Hyang Acintya'. God Almighty in the Torajanese culture of Central Sulawesi is known as "Puang Matua" in Aluk to dolo belief.
- A belief that all of the gods are manifestations of this supreme being. This belief is the same as the belief of Smartism, which also holds that the different forms of God, Vishnu, Siva are different aspects of the same Supreme Being. Lord Shiva is also worshipped in other forms such as "Batara Guru" and "Maharaja Dewa" (Mahadeva) are closely identified with the Sun in local forms of Hinduism or Kebatinan, and even in the genie lore of Muslims.
- A belief in the Trimurti, consisting of:
- A belief in all of the other Hindu gods and goddesses (Dewa and Bharata)
One of Hinduism's primary ethical concerns is the concept of ritual purity. Another important distinguishing feature, which traditionally helps maintain ritual purity, is the division of society into the traditional occupational groups, or varna (literally, color) of Hinduism: Brahmins (priests, brahmana in Indonesian), Kshatriya (ruler-warriors, satriya or "Deva" in Indonesian), Vaishya (merchants-farmers, waisya in Indonesian), and Shudra (commoners-servants, sudra in Indonesian). Like Islam and Buddhism, Hinduism was greatly modified when adapted to Indonesian society.
The caste system, although present in form, was never rigidly applied. The epics Mahabharata (Great Battle of the Descendants of Bharata) and Ramayana (The Travels of Rama), became enduring traditions among Indonesian believers, expressed in shadow puppet (wayang) and dance performances.
The Indonesian government has recognized Hinduism as one of the country's five officially sanctioned, monotheistic religions. Partly as a result, followers of various tribal and animistic religions have identified themselves as Hindu in order to avoid harassment or pressure to convert to Islam or Christianity. Furthermore, Indonesian nationalists have laid great stress on the achievements of the Majapahit Empire – a Hindu state – which has helped attract certain Indonesians to Hinduism. These factors have led to a certain resurgence of Hinduism outside of its Balinese stronghold.
Hinduism in Bali
Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual, and is less closely preoccupied with scripture, law, and belief than Islam in Indonesia. Balinese Hinduism lacks the traditional Hindu emphasis on cycles of rebirth and reincarnation, but instead is concerned with a myriad of local and ancestral spirits. As with kebatinan, these deities are thought to be capable of harm. Balinese place great emphasis on dramatic and aesthetically satisfying acts of ritual propitiation of these spirits at temple sites scattered throughout villages and in the countryside. Each of these temples has a more or less fixed membership; every Balinese belongs to a temple by virtue of descent, residence, or some mystical revelation of affiliation. Some temples are associated with the family house compound (also called banjar in Bali), others are associated with rice fields, and still others with key geographic sites. Ritualized states of self-control (or lack thereof) are a notable feature of religious expression among the people, who for this reason have become famous for their graceful and decorous behavior. One key ceremony at a village temple, for instance, features a special performance of a dance-drama (a battle between the mythical characters Rangda the witch (representing evil) and Barong the lion or dragon (representing good)), in which performers fall into a trance and attempt to stab themselves with sharp knives.
Rituals of the life cycle are also important occasions for religious expression and artistic display. Ceremonies at puberty, marriage, and, most notably, cremation at death provide opportunities for Balinese to communicate their ideas about community, status, and the afterlife. (The tourist industry has not only supported spectacular cremation ceremonies among Balinese of modest means, but also has created a greater demand for them.)
A priest is not affiliated with any temple but acts as a spiritual leader and adviser to individual families in various villages scattered over the island. These priests are consulted when ceremonies requiring holy water are conducted. On other occasions, folk healers or curers may be hired.
Both Java and Sumatra were subject to considerable cultural influence from the Indian subcontinent during the first and second millennia of the Common Era. Many Hindu temples were built, including Prambanan near Yogyakarta, which has been designated a World Heritage Site; and Hindu kingdoms flourished, of which the most important was Majapahit.
In the sixth and seventh centuries many maritime kingdoms arose in Sumatra and Java which controlled the waters in the Straits of Malacca and flourished with the increasing sea trade between China and India and beyond. During this time, scholars from India and China visited these kingdoms to translate literary and religious texts.
Majapahit was based in Central Java, from where it ruled a large part of what is now western Indonesia. The remnants of the Majapahit kingdom shifted to Bali during the sixteenth century as Muslim kingdoms in the western part of the island gained influence.
Hinduism has survived in varying degrees and forms on Java; in recent years, conversions to Hinduism have been on the rise, particularly in regions surrounding a major Hindu religious site, such as the Klaten region near the Prambanan temple. Certain ethnic groups, such as the Tenggerese and Osings, are also associated with Hindu religious traditions.
Hinduism elsewhere in the archipelago
The Bodha sect of Sasak people on the island of Lombok are non-Muslim; their religion is a fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism with animism; it is considered Buddhist by the government.
Among the non-Balinese communities considered to be Hindu by the government are, for example, the Dayak adherents of the Kaharingan religion in Kalimantan Tengah, where government statistics counted Hindus as 15.8 % of the population as of 1995[update]. Nationally, Hindus represented only around 2 % of the population in the early 1990s.
Many Manusela and Nuaulu people of Seram follow Naurus, a syncretism of Hinduism with animist and Protestant elements.
Similarly, the Tana Toraja of Sulawesi have identified their animistic religion as Hindu.
The Batak of Sumatra have identified their animist traditions with Hinduism.
The Tamils of Sumatra and the Indians in Jakarta practice their own from of Hinduism, the Indians celebrating Hindu holidays more commonly found in India, such as Deepawali
Hindu holidays in IndonesiaHari Raya Galungan - Galungan occurs every 210 days and lasts for 10 days. It celebrates the coming of the gods and the ancestral spirits to earth to dwell again in the homes of their descendants. The festivities are characterized by offerings, dances and new clothes. The ancestors must be suitably entertained and welcomed, and prayers and offerings must be made for them. Families whose ancestors have not been cremated yet, but remain buried in the village cemetery, must make offerings at the graves. Kuningan is the last day of the holiday, when the gods and ancestors depart until the next Galungan.
Hari Raya Saraswati - Saraswati is the goddess of learning, science, and literature. She rules the intellectual and creative realm, and is the patron goddess of libraries and schools. Balinese Hindus believe that knowledge is an essential medium to achieve the goal of life as a human being, and so honor her. She is also celebrated because she succeeded in taming the wandering and lustful mind of her consort, Brahma, who was preoccupied with the goddess of material existence, Shatarupa. On this day no one is allowed to read or write, and offerings are made to the lontar (palm-leaf manuscripts), books, and shrines.
Saraswati Day is celebrated every 210-days on Saniscara Umanis Wuku Watugunung and marks the start of the new year according to the Balinese Pawukon calendar. Ceremonies and prayers are held at the temples in family compounds, villages and businesses from morning to noon. Prayers are also held in school or any other learning institution temples. Teachers and students abandon their uniforms for the day in place of bright and colourful ceremony gear, filling the island with color. Children bring fruit and traditional cakes to school for offerings at the temple.
Hari Raya Nyepi - Nyepi is a Hindu Day of Silence or the Hindu New Year in the Balinese Saka calendar. The largest celebrations are held in Bali as well as in Balinese Hindu communities around Indonesia. On New Year's Eve the villages are cleaned, food is cooked for two days and in the evening as much noise is made as possible to scare away the devils. On the following day, Hindus do not leave their homes, cook or engage in any activity. Streets are deserted, and tourists are not allowed to leave hotel complexes.
Nyepi is determined using the Balinese calendar (see below), the eve of Nyepi falling on the night of the new moon whenever it occurs around March/April each year. Therefore, the date for Nyepi changes every year, and there is not a constant number of days difference between each Nyepi as there is for such days as Galungan and Kuningan. To find out when Nyepi falls in a given year, you will need information on the cycles of the moon for that year. Whenever the new moon falls between mid-March and mid-April, that night will be the night of great activity and exorcism island-wide, while the next day will be the day of total peace and quiet, where everything stops for a day.
Political contextWhile many Javanese have retained aspects of their indigenous and Hindu traditions through the centuries of Islamic influence, under the banner of 'Javanist religion' (kejawen) or a non-orthodox 'Javanese Islam' (abangan, cf. Geertz 1960), no more than a few isolated communities have consistently upheld Hinduism as the primary mark of their public identity. One of these exceptions are the people of the remote Tengger highlands (Hefner 1985, 1990) in the province of Eastern Java.
Official recognitionOfficially identifying their religion as Hinduism was not a legal possibility for Indonesians until 1962, when it became the fifth state-recognized religion. This recognition was initially sought by Balinese religious organizations and granted for the sake of Bali, where the majority were Hindu. The largest of these organizations, Parisada Hindu Dharma Bali, changed its name to P.H.D. Indonesia (PHDI) in 1964, reflecting subsequent efforts to define Hinduism as a national rather than just a Balinese concern (Ramstedt 1998).
Religious identity became a life and death issue for many Indonesians around the same time as Hinduism gained recognition, in the wake of the violent anti-Communist purge of 1965-66 (Beatty 1999). Persons lacking affiliation with a state recognized-religion tended to be classed as atheists and hence suspected as communists.
Despite the inherent disadvantages of joining a national religious minority, a deep concern for the preservation of their traditional ancestor religions made Hinduism a more palatable option than Islam for several ethnic groups in the outer islands.
In the early seventies, the Toraja people of Sulawesi were the first to realize this opportunity by seeking shelter for their indigenous ancestor religion under the broad umbrella of 'Hinduism', followed by the Karo Batak of Sumatra in 1977 (Bakker 1995).
In central and southern Kalimantan, a large Hindu movement has grown among the local indigenous Dayak population which lead to a mass declaration of 'Hinduism' on this island in 1980. However, this was different to the Javanese case, in that conversions followed a clear ethnic division. Indigenous Dayak were confronted with a mostly Muslim population of government-sponsored (and predominantly Javanese) migrants and officials, and deeply resentful at the dispossession of their land and its natural resources.
Compared to their counterparts among Javanese Hindus, many Dayak leaders were also more deeply concerned about Balinese efforts to standardize Hindu ritual practice nationally; fearing a decline of their own unique 'Hindu Kaharingan' traditions and renewed external domination.
By contrast, most Javanese were slow to consider Hinduism at the time, lacking a distinct organization along ethnic lines and fearing retribution from locally powerful Islamic organizations like the Nahdatul Ulama (NU). The youth wing of the NU had been active in the persecution not only of communists but of 'Javanist' or 'anti-Islamic' elements within Sukarno's Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI) during the early phase of the killings (Hefner 1987). Practitioners of 'Javanist' mystical traditions thus felt compelled to declare themselves Muslims out of a growing concern for their safety.
Under Suharto's RuleThe initial assessment of having to abandon 'Javanist' traditions in order to survive in an imminent Islamic state proved incorrect. President Sukarno's eventual successor, Suharto, adopted a distinctly nonsectarian approach in his so-called 'new order' (orde baru) regime. Old fears resurfaced, however, with Suharto's 'Islamic turn' in the 1990s. Initially a resolute defender of Javanist values, Suharto began to make overtures to Islam at that time, in response to wavering public and military support for his government.
A powerful signal was his authorization and personal support of the new 'Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals' (ICMI), an organization whose members openly promoted the Islamization of Indonesian state and society (Hefner 1997). Concerns grew as ICMI became the dominant civilian faction in the national bureaucracy, and initiated massive programs of Islamic education and mosque-building through the Ministry of Religion (departemen agama), once again targeting Javanist strongholds. Around the same time, there were a series of mob killings by Muslim extremists of people they suspected to have been practicing traditional Javanese methods of healing by magical means.
In terms of their political affiliation, many contemporary Javanists and recent converts to Hinduism had been members of the old PNI, and have now joined the new nationalist party of Megawati Sukarnoputri. Informants from among this group portrayed their return to the 'religion of Majapahit' (Hinduism) as a matter of nationalist pride, and displayed a new sense political self-confidence.
In a Social ContextA common feature among new Hindu communities in Java is that they tend to rally around recently built temples (pura) or around archaeological temple sites (candi) which are being reclaimed as places of Hindu worship.
One of several new Hindu temples in eastern Java is Pura Mandaragiri Sumeru Agung, located on the slope of Mt. Semeru, Java's highest mountain. When the temple was completed in July 1992, with the generous aid of wealthy donors from Bali, only a few local families formally confessed to Hinduism. A pilot study in December 1999 revealed that the local Hindu community now has grown to more than 5000 households.
Similar mass conversions have occurred in the region around Pura Agung Blambangan, another new temple, built on a site with minor archaeological remnants attributed to the kingdom of Blambangan, the last Hindu polity on Java.
A further important site is Pura Loka Moksa Jayabaya (in the village of Menang near Kediri), where the Hindu king and prophet Jayabaya is said to have achieved spiritual liberation (moksa).
A further Hindu movement in the earliest stages of development was observed in the vicinity of the newly completed Pura Pucak Raung (in the Eastern Javanese district of Glenmore), which is mentioned in Balinese literature as the place where the Hindu saint Maharishi Markandeya gathered followers for an expedition to Bali, whereby he is said to have brought Hinduism to the island in the fifth century AD.
An example of resurgence around major archaeological remains of ancient Hindu temple sites was observed in Trowulan near Mojokerto. The site may be the location of the capital of the legendary Hindu empire Majapahit. A local Hindu movement is struggling to gain control of a newly excavated temple building which they wish to see restored as a site of active Hindu worship. The temple is to be dedicated to Gajah Mada, the man attributed with transforming the small Hindu kingdom of Majapahit into an empire.
A new temple is being built East of Solo (Surakarta) It is a Hindu temple that has miniatures of 50 sacred sites around the world. It is also an active kundalini yoga meditation centre teaching the sacred javanese tradition of sun and water meditation. There are many westerners as well as javanese joining in.
Although there has been a more pronounced history of resistance to Islamization in East Java, Hindu communities are also expanding in Central Java (Lyon 1980), for example in Klaten, near the ancient Hindu monuments of Prambanan.
In an Economic Context
Census 2000According to the 2000 census Hindus consisted 1.79% of the total population(Down from 1.81% in 1990) with 88.05% in Bali (Down from 93.18% in 1990) and 5.89% in Central Kalimantan (Down from 15.75% in 1990,). The decline in Bali is largely attributed to a lower birth rate and immigration of Muslims from Java. In Central Kalimantan there has been progressive settlement of Madurese from Madura although this somewhat halted following communal violence in 2001.The details are given below:
It should be noted that the Indonesian government had previously classified the approximately 600,000 Tenggerese of East Java as Buddhists, even though the core of their religious practice is Hindu.
As of 2008, The Ministry of Religious Affairs estimates that there are around 10 million Hindus in the country.
- Hinduism in Indonesia
- Hindu Council UK: "Great Expectations: Hindu Revival Movements in Java and other parts of Indonesia" by Thomas Reuter
- Agnihoma.org Hindu Resources and Community in Indonesia
- The Hinduization of Indonesia Reconsidered - The Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 1. (Nov., 1951), pp. 17-30.
- International Religious Freedom Report 2006