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The Journey of The Goddess Durga (India, Java and Bali)

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Item Code: NAK294
Author: Ni Wayan Pasek Ariati
Publisher: International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788177421521
Pages: 315 (23 Color and 31 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.5 inch X 8.5 inch
Weight 1.20 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

Written by a Baliness historian this volume traces the long journey of images of the goddess Durga within India in the 1st millennium Ce and then the long evolution of these images in java and Bali Beginning c.700 CE in the Early Mataram kingdom of ancient Java. In Addition to being a historical study this volume also document the author’s personal journey. Raised in a rural village of Bali, the author experienced images of Durga as an awe-inspiring and terrifying goddess renowned as the patroness of the black arts. During a two-year period of work and study in India (2001-2003) the author was exposed to images of the goddess Durga that depict her as a beautiful warrior goddess who protects the community of her worshippers. This work grows out of the author’s experience of seeking to understand the historical factors that led to the stark contrast of images of Durga that we see when comparing contemporary India and Bali.

Dr. Ariati first traces the development of images of Durga in the “great” and Little” traditions of India, calling attention especially to the evidence of the markandeya Purana for a movement of myths about the goddess from north to south India. She then traces the development of unique” Javanese panthe on”that includes images of Durga as a goddess who presides over the northern direction and pr9otects the kingdom and reigning monarch from danger. Dr. Ariati then draws on the evidence of the Javanese exorcistic text Sudamala and reliefs illustrating this work at Candi tigawangi, a temple constructed c. 1406 CE by a branch of the Majapahit dynasty.Nothing that this is the starting point for depictions of demonic forms of Durga in Java, Dr. Ariati calls attention to the special role played by a male authority figure who exorcizes a demonic form of the goddess Durga and returns her to her benign form as the goddess Uma, or Parvati. Dr. Ariati traces the further development of this exorcistic theme in the Calon rang tale of Bali and images of the “divine witch” Rangda. She concludes her study by drawing parallels between the demonization of female images in myth and ritual and a campaign of disinformation that led to the destruction of Indonesia’s first women’s movement during the tumultuous early years of the New Order government.

The author makes frequent use of texts in the Old Javanese and Balinese languages that enrich her historical study by introducing themes common to Balinese understanding of Durga that she groups in terms of the three roles of goddess in creation (utpatti), preservation (sthiti) and dissolution (Pralina)

About the Author

Dr. Ni Wayan Pasek Ariati is the Academic Director of the SIT Study Abroad Program: Indonesia-Arts, Religion and Social Change. She completed her doctoral studies at Charles Darwin University of the Northern Territory, Australia with a dissertation in history studying changing representations of the goddess Durga between India, Java and Bali. Her work with Javanese and Balinese communities who are the hosts for the SIT Study Abroad Program in Indonesia allows her to develop her research interests at the same time that she is able to introduce North American students to the rich cultural traditions and welcoming society of contemporary Indonesia.

Dr. Ariati has served in the past as a Lecturer in Indonesian language form the SIT Program in Indonesia (1992-1996) and for Charles Darwin University (1996-1999). In summer 1996 she served as the Fulbright lecturer in Indonesian for the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASS) at Arizona State University. Her published articles include "Theodicy in Paradise" (South and Southeast Asia Culture and religion, the SSEASR Journal, Vol III, (June 2009).


The work you have in your hands is a historical study of the development of images of the goddess Durga in a journey that began in India and continued to Java and Bali. It is also the story of my journey and experiences while writing this book, so I will begin with a little bit about my life story. I was born in a farming village in the interior of Bali at the time that Mount Agung erupted, bringing with it famine and food shortages at the same time that political turmoil had become the trigger for the tragedy of the mass executions that took place two years after my birth. When I was a child I was terrified of the goddess Durga, because according to my grandfather, who was a temple priest in the Pura Dalem temple of our village, Durga is the goddess who is worshipped in that temple in a terrifying form as the queen and goddess of all those who practice "left-hand" magic and is called ratuning leyak kabeh, "queen of all black magicians."

The journey of my career began when I graduated from the Department of English at the Faculty of Letters of Udayana University in Denpasar in 1988. Three years later I began teaching Bahasa Indonesia, the Indonesian language, to North American college undergraduates on the SIT Study Abroad Program in Bali, Indonesia. My experience teaching Indonesian language to American students opened up new horizons for me, and was able to learn more about the wider world while working to build cultural bridges between Indonesia and the United States.

In 2001 the SIT Study Abroad Program in Bali/Indonesia was temporarily suspended due to security concerns and my husband and I were transferred to Jaipur, Rajasthan to work for a program in North Indian Arts and Culture that was also conducted by the SIT Study Abroad branch of World Learning, its parent organization. While working in India I was struck almost immediately by the images of the goddess Durga that I encountered there, which were so different from what I knew from my home in Bali. In India Durga is pictured as a Warrior Goddess of great beauty who gives protection to her devotees, while in Java and Bali she is pictured as a demoness who dwells in the graveyard called Gandamayu ("Fragrant Scent of Corpses") and is worshipped in the Pura Dalem along with the god Shiva, known in Bali as Dewa Siwa.

Seeing such an extreme difference between what I knew from my childhood and what I experienced in India gave rise to my resolve to learn more about the factors behind the differences between images of Durga in India and Bali. From that time I began to read widely, conduct informal interview and make personal observations with the aim of understanding how the change had happened. My interest in deepening my knowledge about representations of the goddess Durga took a fortunate turn when I was able to apply for a fellowship to complete a doctoral dissertation in history at Charles Darwin University (CDU) in the Northern Territory of Australia. I was fortunate that my proposal to complete a dissertation on transformations of images of the goddess Durga between India, Java and Bali was accepted. I would like to express my sincere gratitude here to Dr. Christine Doran of the School for Creative Arts and Humanities at CDU, who agreed to be my supervisor and patiently guided me through every step of the process of completing my dissertation.

In late 2006 I was appointed Academic Director of the SIT Study Abroad Program in Indonesia, and so after that had to divide my time between my working duties on the one hand and my field work and meetings with my supervisor on the other. The combination was lucky, however, because I was able to meet many students and scholars from Indonesia, Australia and North America who helped me to broaden my horizons. One scholar whose work influenced my study for the doctorate was that of Saskia Wierenga, who has written an important historical study of the way that members of the Indonesian women's movement were demonized during the tumultuous transition from Old Order to New Order Indonesia.

Saskia Wierenga's work inspired me to look at possible parallels between the fate of the Indonesian Women's Movement of Old Order Indonesia and the extreme change between Indian images of a beautiful warrior goddess and Balinese images of a demoness who lives in the Gandamayu cemetery. In this picture the older image of the Women's Movement is one of an organization that was progressive and popular, whereas in the generations that followed this organization had been marginalized and made a taboo subject through false accusations that they had been the masterminds behind the tragic murder of six of Indonesia's most famous and influential generals in mid-1965.

In January 2012 I was invited to participate in an International Symposium on Conflict and Resolution that was held in Kigali, Rwanda with the sponsorship of World Learning, I learned a great deal at this symposium and concluded that in resolving past conflicts there is nothing more important than discussion and mutual acceptance, whether on the side of those who were responsible for acts of violence or on the side of the victims. I learned from our Rwandan hosts that there is always a way to heal old wounds, even when the past is as difficult as the one experienced in Rwanda in 1974.

My work for SIT Study Abroad and World Learning has allowed me to participate in international seminars, and has convinced me that I should publish my dissertation as a book, even though several chapters discuss matters that are still considered taboo by many people. It is my hope that in the future history will deal truthfully with the past so that we can all life peacefully and create a stronger society.


i Introduction: Yatra and Jatra 1
ii My Jatra 4
iii My Yatra 5
i A Rationale for Studying the Transformations of Images of the Goddess Durga 2
ii Review of the Literature 22
iii Methodology and Sources 30
iv Outline of Chapters 34
i Indus Valley Civilization: Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa (C.3000-1500 BCE) 42
ii The Indo-Aryan Civilization 48
iii The Origin of the Mother Goddess 51
iv Resurrection of the Mother Goddess in the Vedic Tradition 52
v Post-Vedic Goddesses in the Epic and Puranic Literature 54
vi The Markandeya Purana 59
vii The Devi Mahatmya, the Glorification of the Goddess 63
viii An Overview of the Devi Mahatmya 65
ix The Myth of the Durga Mahisasura-mardini, the Slayer of the Buffalo Demon 67
x A summary of the Myth of Durga Mahisasura-mardini, based on Cantos Two and Three of the Devi Mahatmya 68
xi Conography of Durga Mahisasura-mardini 72
xii Analysis and Interpretation 73
xiii Conclusions 76
i The Beginnings of Hinduism in the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago 81
ii The Beginnings of Shaivism in Java: The Canggal Inscription (732 CE) 86
iii The Candi Prambanan Complex as a Source of Data on Early Javanese Hinduism 88
iv The Pantheon of Candi Shiva of Prambanan and other Shaivite Shrines 90
v The Image of Durga Mahisasura-mardini in the North Cella 91
vi The Role of the goddess Durga in the Central Javanese Inscriptions 94
vii The Shift of Political Power from Central Java to East Java 97
viii Tantric Influence in East Java: Defining and Classifying Tantrism 99
ix The Position of the Goddess Durga during the East Javanese Period 104
x The Terep Inscription (1032 CE) of King Airlangga 105
xi The Camundi Inscription (1292 CE) of Kertanegara 106
xii The Petak and Trilokyapuri Inscriptions of 1486 CE 111
xiii The Transitional Portrayal of the Goddess Durga in Kakawin Works: the Ghatotkacasraya, Sumanasantaka and Sutasoma 112
xiv The Kakawin Ghatotkacasraya 113
xv The Kakawin Sumanasantaka 116
xvi The Kakawin Sutasoma 117
xvii Conclusions 119
i Introduction: Textual and Visual Reflections of Majapahit Religious and Political Concerns 120
ii Historical Background: East Java in the Fourteenth Century 125
iii The Link between the Sraddha rites for Rajapatni and the Sudamala Story 127
iv The Tale of Sudamala in Literary and Visual Representation 128
v Discussion of the Reliefs of the Sudamala tale at Candi Tigawangi 134
vi The Sraddha rites of Rajapatni and the demonic form of Durga in the Sudamala Reliefs of Candi Tigawangi 136
vii The Transformation of Ra Nini and the Role of Bhatara Guru 140
viii Conclusions 144
i Historical Background: Bali before the Inscriptional Record 150
ii Historical Background: Bali during the early inscriptional period 151
iii Javanese influences on Bali 152
iv The Influence of the Javanese Kadiri dynasty (1042-1222 CE) 152
v The Subjugation of Bali by King Kertanegara of Singhasari in 1284 CE 158
vi The Conquest of Bali by the Majapahit dynasty in 1343 CE 164
vii The Goddess Durga in Bali: Mythological and Literary Perspectives 170
viii Mythological Background: Definition and Application 176
ix Conclusions 180
i The Role of the Goddess Durga in Creation (utpatti) 181
ii The Role of Durga as the Progenitor of the World 184
iii The Role of Durga as Progenitor of the Resi, Shaivite and Buddhist Sages 187
iv The Role of Durga in Inflicting and Curing Diseases 193
v The Goddess Durga as a Protector and a Preserver of Life (Sthiti) 197
vi The Goddess Durga as a Protector of Sima Lands and a Granter of Victory 200
vii The Goddess as a Preserver of Life and as the Patron of Black and White Magic Practictioners 205
viii Mantras to the Goddess: Definition and Applications 206
ix Magical Drawings (Rerajahan) used as Amulets 207
x Narratives of Healing and Protection in the Usada Manuscripts 208
xi Conclusions 213
i The Goddess Durga as a destroyer described in the form of mantras 215
ii The Goddess Durga as a destroyer described in geguritan poetry 219
iii The Goddess Durga as a destroyer described in prose works 227
iv The Goddess Durga as a destroyer narrated in the wayang theatre 238
v Conclusions 244
vii Mythic Transformation of an Indic Goddess: Durga in India, Java and BaIi 246
viii Historical Background of Gerwani 248
ix The Membership of Gerwani 251
x The Account of a Gerwani leader 251
xi Gestapu (Gerakan September Tiga Puluh): the "30th of September Movement" 253
xii Key Actors of the "Abortive Coup" of 30 September 1965 256
xiii The Goddess Durga and Gerwani 259
xiv Negative Images of Female Warriors: Durga and Gerwani 262
xv The Demonization of images of women: Durga and Gerwani 265
xvi The Dance of Destruction: What was the Tari Harum Bunga? 268
xvii The Exorcism of Durga and the domestication of women in the New Order regime 275
xviii Conclusions: Can the deconstruction of New Order mythologies lead to the empowerment of Indonesian women outside the domestic realm 278
  INDEX 296
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