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The Trials and Tribulations of a Balinese Love Guru

'Eat Pray Love' Film Frenzy Brings World to Door of Balinese Holy Man Mangku Ketut Liyer.

(9/25/2010) A reporter from Radar Bali was recently compelled to pay two separate visits on the Ubud home of Balinese holy man (Balian) Mangku Ketut Liyer in order to gain an audience with the man who was depicted in the Hollywood film "Eat Pray Love", starring Julia Roberts.

The reporter's first visit to Mangku Liyer's compound which took place at 1:30 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2010, was thwarted by a long line of guests waiting for an audience with the aged balian.

Liyer's third son and personal assistant, Nyoman Latra (58), apologized to the reporter, Sentot Prayogi, and asked him to return two hours later.

Returning at 3:30 pm, Prayogi found even more guests standing in line, waiting for their 30-minute audience with the man who, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, outlined her spiritual path to wisdom and self-understanding.

"What, approximately, do you need to ask so I can answer, as it appears you don't have extra free time today," said Latra who maintains a constant vigil to the side of the aging, elderly holy man.

Latra told the reporter that Mangku Liyer's ability to prophesize and provide traditional treatments was inherited over generations of balians along Liyer's male line of ancestors. Mangku Liyer counts himself as the 9th generation of mystics in his family. He took on his sacred role at about the age of 20 and has been practicing his art for nearly seven decades.

Despite age and failing health, Latra said that his Father is still able to serve approximately 20 guests every day, comprised of Balinese, Indonesian and international "patients." "Most of the guests are foreigners, coming from the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Holland and Russia," added Latra,

Latra confirmed that his Father's visitors have increased dramatically since the release of the best-selling Elisabeth Gilbert book and the Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts. On the busiest days as many as 30 people visit the compound, sometime overwhelming Mangku Liyer with their desire for personal counsel and cures to life's maladies.

"There are also those that come not for treatment or prophecies, but only wishing to see the house where scenes from 'Eat Pray Love' was filmed," said Latra.

Each session with Mangku Liyer costs Rp. 250,000 (US$28). Balinese patients are often treated without charge, bringing only a traditional offering as compensation.

Those who only come to see the location are allowed to make a voluntary donation.

Mangku Liyer's home compound is exceedingly simple, a fact that surprises many visitors. When the actual filming of the Hollywood picture took place, the home was quarantined for six days, off limits to all except the cast and crew of "Eat Pray Love.'

The old healer's family freely admits they are now reaping the windfall of Mangku Liyer's fame. While keeping a watchful eye on his Father who was reading the palm and face lines of a visiting foreigner, Latra lamented : "Now, the big responsibility is on my shoulders, and I must be responsible to the family our sacred knowledge which must be passed on to the next generation now that my Father is old. Thus, I must diligently study from Father, in order that the knowledge and power of the family is passed to the next generation."