General Information Of Bali Part II


Considering the huge influence and power of Islam at the time, it is worth pondering why and how Bali still remained strongly Hindu and Buddhist. Batu Renggong, also known as Dewa Agung, means great god, became king in 1550, and this title became hereditary through the succeeding generations of the kingdom of Gelgel, and later Klungkung, until the twentieth century. Bali reached the pinnacle of its Golden Era under the reign of the Batu Renggong, the great god ruler.
Bali's decline started when Batu Renggong's grandson, DI Made bekung, lost Blambangan, Lombok and Sumbawa. DI Made Bekung's chief minister, Gusti Agung Maruti, even tually rebelled and reigned from 1650 till 1686, when he in turn was killed by DI Made Bekung's son, Dewa Agung Jambe, who then moved the court to Klungkung, and named his new palace the Semarapura, Abode of the God of Love.

Agriculture was once Bali's main economic drive but tourism is now the largest income source per capita. The locals still grow rice for personal consumption; however, their main sources of agricultureal income are coconuts for copra and the sale of cattle and pigs. Coffee and tobacco are also sold to wholesalers for export. 

Bali is part of the Republic of Indonesia, and lies only about 8 degrees south of the equator, in the Indian Ocean, to the east of Java and North-West of Australia. Bali is in the Central Indonesia Standard Time zone, and is GMT plus 8 hours. Measuring only 140 km by 80 km (area 5620 sq. km), the island is dominated by a series of towering volcanoes that range its entire width. The tallest is Gunung (Mount) Agung (over 3000m), where the Besakih Temple - revered as the holy "Mother Temple" - is built.

With 4 million people, Bali is a very densely populated island. The population is almost all Indonesian, with the usual small Chinese contingent in the big towns, a sprinkling of Indian merchants, plus a number of more or less permanent visitors amongst the Westerners in Bali. The Balinese, like most Indonesians, speak a local language (bahasa daerah) as their first tongue, but the official national language, Indonesian (locally called Bahasa Indonesia or simply Bahasa, meaning language) is almost universally taught in schools and is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. Originally a lingua franca for most of the region, including present-day Malaysia (and thus closely related to Malay), it was accepted by the Dutch as the de facto language for the colony and declared the official language after independence.

The Balinese are Hindu yet their religion is very difrenet from that of the Indian variety. They do have a caste system, but there are no untouchables and occupation is not governed by caste. In fact, the only thing that reflects the caste system is the language which has three tiers; 95% of all the Balinese are Hindu Dharma, and speak low or everyday Balinese with each other, Middle Balinese is used for talking to strangers, at formal occasions and to people of the higher Ksatria caste, High Balinese is used when talking to the highest class, the Brahmana, or to a pedanda (priest). It may sound complicated, but most of the words at the low and medium levels are the same, whereas High Balinese is a mixture of Middle Balinese and Kawi, the ancient Javanese language.