The Story of Dang Hyang Nirartha

Every single person living in this world must face the ups and downs of life, because without them, life would not be worth living. Each person’s journey is unique and no path is identical, but this is one story in particular that the Balinese find quite thrilling: the journey of Dang Hyang Nirartha. Whether you deem it fiction or fact, we hope you’ll come along for the ride and perhaps even find some value in this story.
It was chaos in Java by the mid 15th century. Founds were happening everywhere and the Islamic expansion had reached almost all areas of Java. Some Javanese Hindus sought refuge in the eastern parts of Java such as Pasuruan, Blambangan, Banyuwangi, Tengger, Bromo, Kelud and Gunung Raung (Semeru). Others traveled as far as Bali, including Dang Hyang Nirartha, a famous Hindu priest who had a bread knowledge of religions. He was a handsome and powerful yet humble priest and not only did he understand the values of Hinduism but he was also familiar with Buddhism and Islam. Along with his wife and seven children, he made the dangerous trek to the island of the gods.
When they were about to cross the sea they faced a difficult dilemma. All they had was a small leaking boat that would in no way be strong enough to hold them all. But with the help of some people who lived by the shore they managed to fix the boat using pumpkin leaves. The priest himself decided to cross the ocean alone using his magical powers. He was able to synchronize his power with that of the universe and managed to cross the sea riding on a pumpkin.
The priest was first to arrive on the island and while waiting for his family to foloow he built a temple called the Purancak Temple. By the time his family arrived, he made a vow that he and his descendants would never again eat pumpkin (to this day most Balinese Hindu priest refuse to eat pumpkin in honor of the vow made by Dang Hyang Nirartha).
In the days to follow they continued their journey to the eastern part of Bali. Along the way they came across an enormous dragon with its mouth wide open. Dang Hyang Nirartha decide not to kill the dragon and instead entered the body of the dragon. The dragon suddenly disappeared and the priest appeared with his body glistening in gold. His family was terrified and ran for their lives. For days Dang Hyang Nirartha tried to locate his family and every single day he believed that he would be able to find them. He finally found his wife and six of his children, but he learned his oldest daughter had died when her soul came to him asking for forgiveness for letting fear overcome her. Not long after learning about the loss of his daughter, the priest lost his wife.
Both his wife and daughter’s souls became the guardian angels of the village where they died and they are honored at the Melanting Temple.
The priest and his six remaining children continued their journey to east Bali. Day after day come across Balinese people who at that time still practiced animism and Dang Hyang Nirartha patiently tried to convert them. He taught them that statues should not be worshipped because there is only one great power in this universe, which is “Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa” or God. The statue itself is only a symbol of God’s will and power.
To avoid any misinterpretation of  Hinduism, Dang Hyang Nirartha created the concept of Padmasana, which has since become the main part of Balinese Temples. Padmasana is a place where the power of God stands strong and is worshiped by Balinese Hindus. Dang Hyang Nirartha was also the one who introduced the use of fire (incense), holy water and fresh flowers as part of the Balinese prayer culture. These materials (fire, water and flower) were believed to be the best tools to help people to channel their souls to the greater power when performing their prayers.
Year after year the priest continued to teach and build temples around the island, including the Rambut Siwi Temple, the Tanah Lot Temple and the Suranadi Temple (in Lombok). Before his life’s journey come to an end, Dang Hyang Nirartha went to a beach in Kerobokan. He decided to bury his tobacco box (it is customary for Balinese Hindu priests to chew tobacco mixed with areca nut and lime and it is believed the the tobacco boxes owned by the priests have powerful energy) and requested that the terrifying spirit who lived there guard it. Since the giant spirit guarded his tobacco box in a grim place, the priest name that place “Peti tenget” (grim box).
Dang Hyang Nirartha then continued his journey south to a village called Pecatu, where he was finally able to reach Moksha (being freed from the karmic suffering of the world) at a location that is now known as the Uluwatu Temple.
Until now, the concepts taught by the priest are still followed by Balinese Hindus. These concepts keep the balance of life in Bali and add richness to the culture of the island. For that, the journey of this priest will always be remembered by Balinese Hindus.