Around 1,000 years ago, Empu Kuturan, a [Mayahana Buddhist] priest, succeeded in uniting in harmony the [Bali Aga], Hindus, [and Buddhists] on the island of Bali. Without his services in that time, maybe Bali would never have such a very strong culture and traditions today. Empu Kuturan, who came from Kediri, East Java, arrived to Bali during the reign of King Udayana [and Queen Gunapriyadharmapatni] (CE 989-1011). That King then appointed Empu Kuturan as the king’s adviser in religious matters.
Putu Setia, a writer, in his book “Debating Bali” published by PT Pustaka Manikgeni (2002), says, Empu Kuturan was capable of uniting the faith groups or streams in Bali at that time. These faith groups or streams included [Çiwa Siddhanta, Pasupata, Bhairawa, Waisnawa, Buddhist/Sogata, Brahmana, Rsi, Sora, and Ganapatya].
All of these faith groups were united by Empu Kuturan at the temple Pura Samuan Tiga in Bedulu Village, Gianyar, Bali. From that meeting was born the concept of Tri Murti or worship to Hyang Widhi [through Kahyangan Tiga three village temples] with an emphasis on three Istadewata, namely Brahma, Wisnu, and Çiwa. Empu Kuturan’s spirit was able to dampen the narrow religious fanaticism that could lead to conflict if it rose to the surface. This spirit of upholding religious tolerance is relevant with the conditions of this era.
"Indeed, our outstanding ancestors, were far greater than today's figures that are 'so panic-ridden' seeing streams reappear," writes Putu Setia in his book.
Now, the historic event that occurred at the temple Pura Samuan Tiga about 1,000 years ago is commemorated again. That spirit of pluralism and loyalty of worshipping God the Great Unity was celebrated through the presentation of ritual arts, seminars, and exhibitions held during “Sharing Art & Religiosity: 1,000 Years Wisdom of Samuan Tiga” from 14 to 18 April 2011 in the villages of Bedulu and Pejeng, Gianyar, Bali.
Performances of traditional dance, contemporary dance, even poetry were one after another presented in several places that have a close history with Pura Samuan Tiga, namely Pura Penataran Sasih, Pura Goa Gajah, Puri Pejeng, and Dua Likur House of Paintings.
This event was supported by artists from various countries as a symbol of harmony among people in the world with their diverse beliefs and cultures. The dozens of local artists who participated, among others, were from Bali, Solo, Sidoarjo, Yogyakarta and South Sulawesi. While artists from abroad attended, among others, from the United States, Venezuela, and India.
Program coordinator of “Sharing Art & Religiosity”, I Wayan Sudiarta, said, all of the artists who perform attend in an independent way. “This is a form of calling or ngayah to carry the great values of Samuan Tiga’s wisdom," said Sudiarta, on Thursday (14/4).
Another important matter, said Sudiarta, is to reintroduce the figure of Empu Kuturan with his spirit to the current generation. Don’t come to a time when Bali continues to grow rapidly, but forgets the figure that built the cultural foundations on this Island of the Gods.
Then, what is the connection between Samuan Tiga and the arts? Apparently, these artists feel that what was pioneered by Empu Kuturan is very closely related to the arts. Empu Kuturan planted religious values that are more universal, while the artists gave birth to works with a spiritual value.
This meaning was further emphasized by contemporary dancer from Bali, I Gusti Ngurah Sudibya. "This is what we can offer as artists to appreciate and respect rituals that have the fragrance of Hinduism," he said.
In this programme, Sudibya performed a dance titled "LA-HI-MA" originating from an abbreviation of birth, life, and death (lahir, hidup, mati). Directly in front of the Goa Gajah temple cave’s mouth, Sudibya depicted that human life cycle with the medium of mask, on Friday (15/4).
In that dance, Sudibya wanted to remind us that humans have the same life cycle. However, each human being will have a different path after death, and that depends on what has been done throughout life.
A dancer from India, Shreya Singh, also brought dances with spiritual breathing. In the two traditional Indian dances that she performed, Shreya narrated about human being’s communication with the gods.
"The strength for appreciating and respecting others although there are different beliefs is very important. That is the reason why I joined this programme," said Shreya who has danced for 15 years.
According to her, this series of programmes for “Sharing Art & Religiosity” is already proof that this togetherness is beautiful. If possible, this togetherness will not only occur in the world of art, but also happen in society. (Herpin Dewanto)
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Dancer from India, Shreya Singh, performing a dance that narrates of human being’s communication with God in the program “Sharing Art & Religiosity” at Pura Goa Gajah, Bedulu Village, Gianyar Regency, Bali, Friday (15/4).
KOMPAS/Herpin Dewanto Putro
KOMPAS / Art Culture, 2 May 2011. Translated from the Indonesian by D.C. Butler.