Bali lost one of its most vibrant and colorful defenders with the death of Ibu Gedong Bagoes Oka at the age of 82 on Thursday, November 14, 2002.
Ibu Gedong passed away following a period of prolonged ill-health in Jakarta, where she was being cared for by members of her family.
Born in Karangasem, East Bali, Ibu Gedong was one of the first Balinese women to receive a liberal western education under the Dutch colonial rulers of Indonesia. After undergoig a primary and secondary education in Bali and Yogyakarta, she went on to study at the Christelijke Paedagogische Algemene Academy in Jakarta before earning a Bachelors Degree in English from the Udayana University in Bali in 1963. An educator both by training and inclination, Ibu Gedong, served as the Head of the SMA I High School in Bali from 1956-1964, when she moved to her alma mater where she taught in the English and Medical faculties of Udayana University until 1974.
Married in 1949 to a ranking Balinese government official, I Goesti Bagoes Oka, who preceded her in death, she is survived by six children.
An Ardent Disciple of Gandhi
An early exposure to Christian teachings and western philosophy while studying in Jakarta prompted Ibu Gedong on her life-long quest to discover the universal values of Hinduism. Following a visit to India in 1953 that included a period at the Gandhi Ashram, she dedicated herself to finding ways that Mahatma Gandhi's teachings could be applied to daily life. An activist in Balinese Hindu affairs, Ibu Gedong helped establish the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI) in 1963. She also founded the Bali Canti Sena Foundation in the early 1970's that published a magazine promoting the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and Mahatma Gandi.
Ashram Gandhi Canti Dasa
One of the life works for which Ibu Gedong will be long remembered is the establishment of the Ashram Gandhi Canti Dasa in 1976. In the intervening years the Ashram has influenced countless young Balinese seeking a closer relationship with their religion and the teachings of Ghandi. Student staying at the sea-side center undertook a program of religious study, meditation, and thoughtful discussions on how best to be of service to their local community.
Internationally acknowledged as a devotee of Ghandi's philosophy, Ibu Gedong once served as the Vice-President of the World Council for Religion and Peace, headquartered in New York City, and was the recipient of numerous awards and citations for her many works.
Following the fall of the Suharto regime, Ibu Gedong also served as a member of the Indonesian Parliament (MPR) representing Bali.
Outspoken in her defense of Balinese cultural values, Ibu Gedong opposed a number of changes occurring in Bali. In a period when opposition to the established powers in Indonesia required substantial courage, she vehemently and publicly opposed the building of the Bali Nirwana Beach Resort and Garuda Wisnu Kencana
Ibu Gedong Bagoes Oka remains will lay in state at Puri Kawan in Amlapura, Karangasem until her cremation there scheduled for Tuesday, November 26, 2002.
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