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An Island Most Spiritual

The Hierarchy of Bali's Religious Sites and the Need to Distance the Sacred from the Profane.

(8/22/2011) In order to preserve Bali’s six main temples - Pura Kahyangan Jagat Bali the Hindu High Council (Parisada Hindu Darma -PHDI) issued a set of religious dogmas (Bhisama) addressing the care and protection of religious site.

The PHDI guidelines on temple sanctity issued on January 25, 1994, addressed a number of critical issues, including stipulations that even traditional villages should be at least 5 kilometers distant from a Pura Kahyangan Jagat.

Bali’s main religious temples or Pura Kahyangan Jagat are:

1. Pura Besakih in Karangasem
2. Pura Lempuyang Luhur in Karangasem
3. Pura Goa Lawah in Klungkung.
4. Pura Uluwatu in Badung
5. Pura Batukaru in Tabanan
6. Pura Pusering Jagat (Pura Puser Tasik) in Gianyar

All of which should be surrounded by a “no-build” zone with a protective radius of 5 kilometers (apeneleng agung).

Lesser public temples (Pura Dang Kahyangan) require a protective radius of 3 kilometers (apeneleng alit), while lesser temples (Pura Kahyangan Tiga) have an off-set radius of 2 kilometers (apenimpug or apenyengker).

The proper distance to be maintained when building near holy places in Bali is emblematic of larger themes contained within Bali Hindu beliefs that emphasize the temporary nature of human life and reverence to the three pillars of Tri Hita Karana dictating balance be maintained between man, nature and God.

The Bhisama established in 1994 were later embodied and codified in Bali’s controversial 2009 Zoning Law (RTRW), said by devout Hindus to be absolutely necessary to avoid the pollution and resulting bad vibrations created when acts that are in conflict with religious norms occur in too close proximity to holy temples.

Accommodations built near religious sites are known as Dharmasala or inns for religious pilgrims who are participating in the ceremonial life of a temple. Often in the same complex will be found a Pasraman or centers of education for religious training. Dharmasala and Pasraman can also serve as important sources of income for communities living in areas occupied by holy temples.