By Swami Harshananda
Bālī is the name of one of the islands in Indonesia.
Proliferation of Hindu Culture
The spread of culture in the South East Asian countries like Malaya, Java, Sumatra, Bali and Cambodia must have started as early as the 1st century, if not earlier. A few of the kingdoms were established by the kings from India. Not only the kings but the traders also preceded them. Due to this the religion and culture including the Sanskrit language were expanded.
Geographical Parameters of Bālī
The Bālī island (called Balidvīpa in ancient texts) (also spelt as Bali) which is a part of the present Indonesia and is situated very near the much bigger Java, is still a citadel of religion and culture. Its area is 5623 sq.kms. and the population, 2.1 millions. It is an island full of hills and forests and includes a volcano which sometimes gets active.
Cultural Civilization in Bālī
The people follow religion quite actively. They believe in gods, spirits and other supernatural beings and their influence on human life. Appeasing these through yajñas (sacrifices) is a common feature of their religion. The sacraments of jātakarma, nāmakaraṇa, upanayana and vivāha, to be performed at the time of birth, initiation and marriage are also observed. Worship of God as the family deity is common in all the houses. Animal sacrifices to appease terrible deities like Durgā or certain demons are also common. The few rivers of the island have been named as Sindhu, Gaṅgā and Kāverī though their waters are not considered as sacred. The varna system is very much prevalent and the brāhmaṇa has an important place in all religious activities. Influence of the Sanskrit language is also clearly seen.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore