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Padmasana : Balinese Holiest Building

Padmasana 1

Padmasana is a shrine to the Hindu people of Bali to worship the Almighty God (Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa). Although Hindu religion in Bali is from India, but the Balinese combined it with the breath of the original Balinese ancient believes. Padmasana is the symbol and image of the macrocosm or universe (Bhuana Agung). This shrine can be found in the Hindu holy building in Bali or outside Bali (Indonesia), even this sacred building is placed in the main shrine.

As with the global issue as local traditions that began to disappear in this digital era, where conditions have turned from sacred to profane. Bali community lives with the era of cultural transformation, from a religious philosophy to the business economy. Now many of the craftsmen who made Padmasana (instantly) that deviate from the basic rules and basic philosophy.

This should make our reflections to move forward. This paper is dedicated to the people who want to explore the basic conception of padmasana, so even if crushed by the modern era but the philosophy remains essentially stored in our memory as a preparation for religious life and the preservation of religion itself.

History of Padmasana

Padmasana as a picture of the universe, from the point of history can be seen in ancient palmleaf scipture Lontar Dwijendra Tattwa mentioning that Padmasana developed by Danghyang Dwijendra, he is also known as or Pedanda Sakti Wawu Rauh, Mpu Kuturan, Danghyang Nirartha.

He came to Bali in the year 1489 AD, during the period of royal administration of Dalem Waturenggong in Gelgel (1460-1550). He came with the aim to improve the religious life in Bali (Sugriwa, 1991). Where before his arrival, Hinduism in Bali has been well developed, because it has been accepted doctrine of the all-Rsi who come to Bali since the 8th century, such as Rsi Markandeya, Danghyang Siddimantra, Danghyang Manik Angkeran, Mpu Jiwaya, Mpu Gnijaya , Mpu Sumeru, Mpu Ghana and Mpu Bharadah.

The Maharsis brings religious sects that developed in Bali and mixed with local beliefs Bali as animism, dynamism, etc. Dwijendra Tattwa further told that when he entered the island of Bali, he is dreaming suck in into a large dragon’s mouth and inside the dragon’s stomach, he saw a lotus flower growing. Unfortunately there is no pollen (sari bunga) inside.

This illustrates that the dragon is a Anantabhoga Dragon is a symbol of the island of Bali. Where Hinduism is well developed, but only to worship deities as a manifestation of Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, not directly to God. This situation is symbolized as a lotus flower that blooms without a pollen (sari bunga).

Because of Danghyang Dwijendra the Balinese people adding pelinggih form (place of worship) into the form of a Padmasana, a perfect symbol to worship God Almighty (Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa) in full conception. Both in terms of the concept of horizontal or vertical.

The development of Padmasana can clarify the physically ambiguities of pelinggih. All in other word can defined as turned from the building to worship many gods become a place to worship one God (Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa). Until now, Padmasana shrine can be found in all temples in Bali as a main building.

Symbols and Meaning

Padmasana comes from the Kawi language (old Javanese languages) of two words namely, Padma means ‘lotus flower’ or ‘center’. Asana means being seated or guidance or advice or orders (Wojowasito, 1977). Padmasana means the place of the red lotus as sthana (place to stay) the holy God Almighty (Titib, 2001; 106).

Based on these two opinions is clear that the lotus flower is a symbol of the seat of God Almighty. Thus analogous to that Padmasana agreed with the meaning of Padmasana is the image of the universe (Macrocosm) which is sthana (a place to stay) of Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (God Almighty).

In Lontar Padma Bhuana, Danghyang Dwijendra stated that Bali as Padma Bhuwana ( “lotus flower” of this planet). Lotus Flower (Padma) used as a symbol of the universe ,sthana (place to stay) of the Almighty God.

Furthermore, in the Lontar Dasa Nama Bunga (palmleaf scipture) write that the lotus flower is the king of all flower (Raja Kesuma) because it is the lotus flower in three natural life, which is roots stuck in the mud, leaves in water, and flowers above the water (air).

Because of his life in this three natural , padma flower is a symbol of Tri Loka-Tri Bhuwana (three dimension of world), sthana (place) God Almighty (Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa). The leaves and flowers of many layers as the symbol of the nine cardinal directions of the universe (Sanga Mandala) (Wiana, 2004:69).

If associated with the position in meditation or yoga, Padmasana position is sitting cross-legged position with both feet folded up, so that looks like a circular position. This may not fit with what we see in general, even at the top padmasana throne was shaped like a rectangular king’s square-shaped seats (singhasana).

This will be answered if we consider of pesimpen or mendem pedagingan ritual. This ritual implanted pancadatu (5 kind of metal) at the base, in the middle or at the top of the Padmasana when the validation of a ritual process turning ordinary building into sacred building in Balinese Hinduism.

It would appear that the contents of pesimpen pedagingan, especially pedagingan on padma-shaped which is made of gold placed on top, on this the throne-shaped chair square. Because of the golden-Padma which is planted, even though located on the top, it was not visible from the outside. By this golden Padma which implanted on the top on the building so called Padmasana.

Padmasana symbols represent the natural levels Tri Loka (Bhur Loka, Bwah Loka, Swah Loka). This can be seen from Bedawang Nala (big turtle in Hindu mythology) with two dragons (Anantaboga and Basuki). This represents the lower nature or Bhur Loka, Padma bodies including the throne-shaped chair that symbolizes the earth’s atmosphere or Bwah Loka, While not described Swah Loka in the form of buildings, but in a tangible Padma shaped pesimpen pedagingan ritual and in worship that are described with “Om Padmasana Ya Namah” and ” Om Dewa Pratistha Ya Namah“.

In the philosophy of Hinduism, the universe is like unto a “body” of the Ida Hyang Widhi Wasa and known as the great universe (Bhuana Agung). As for the little universe (Bhuana Alit) is the human body with the Atma (human soul) as sovereign. If Sang Hyang Parama Siwa (another name of Ida Sang Hyang Widhi) as the soul of the Bhuana Agung (great universe), then the Sang Hyang Atma Siwa is the soul of Bhuana Alit (little universe). Bhuana alit is a mini form of Bhuana Agung, in the sense Bhuana Agung is similar with Bhuana Alit.

Padmasana 2

The Padmasana Form

Padmasana building forms similar to the temple which was developed with pepalihan (ornaments with highlights of the building elevation). Padmasana not use the roof on this top symbolizes the unity between the Bhuana Agung with Bhuana Alit. The building consists of parts of the foot called Tepas, the body called Batur and the head called Saris.

1. At the foot (base)

there are tangible carving Bedawang Nala (big turtle in Hindu mythology) are wrapped by the Anantaboga Dragon and the Basuki dragon binding between Bedawang Nala and the foundation of the building Padmasana. Then there are also carvings of lotus flowers and karang asti (elephant ornament symbolized power).

2. In The Body (center)

There pepalihan form of decoration, karang goak (crow ornament), karang simbar (leafs ornament), karang asti (elephant ornaments), Garuda (Lord Vishnu ride), a geese and statues of the Astadikapala Gods (guardian 8 cardinal directions) as: Lord Iswara (east), Lord Brahma (South), Lord Mahadewa (west), Lord Vishnu (North), Lord Maheswara (southeast), Lord Rudra (South-West), Lord Sankara (Northwest) and Lord Sambhu (northeast) . These gods carry weapons and with his complete attributes. There is also Padmasana with Lord Vishnu rides Garuda bird carrying Tirta Amrita (the water of life) like Padmasana at Pura Taman Ayun-Mengwi.

3. At the head / sari

Is a throne flanked by Taksaka dragons made of carved sandstone. On the back there in the middle ulon are engraved portrait or Sang Hyang Acintya or Sang Hyang Taya as a symbol of the realization of Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa. This painting illustrates the attitude of the dance of Siva called Shiva Nataraja in creating the universe.

The Function of Padmasana

Padmasana main function is as a place of worship of Almighty God. Holy building to worship God in his function as the soul of the universe (the macrocosm) with all almighty aspects (Dewa Pratistha). So no Padmasana as the worship of ancestral holy spirit (Atman Pratistha). As in Besakih temple (the mother temple of Bali), Padmasana we can see that in lined three-sthana (place) it is Parama Siwa (middle), Sadasiwa (Right) and Sang Hyang Siwa (Left).

Pelinggih Padmasana is sthana (place) symbol niyasa or Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, with various titles, That Sang Hyang Siwa Raditya the manifestations of God as the sun (solar) and Sang Hyang Tri Purusa, the trinity of Siwa, Sada Siwa and Parama Siwa.


According Lontar Wariga Chatur Wisana Sari, Padmasana layout (Pengider Bhuwana) distinguished by typology and based on the form rong (space) and pepalihan (level or undag)

Based on the Layout

Based on the location of Padmasana distinguished by the direction of the wind (Pengider Bhuana) into 9 types, namely:

1. Padma Kencana, in the east (purwa) facing west (pascima).

2. Padmasana, in the south (daksina) facing north (uttara)

3. Padmasari, in the west (pascima) facing east (purwa)

4. Padma Linga, in the North (uttara) facing south (daksina)

5. Padma Sedhana Asta, in the southeast (agneya) facing to the northwest (wayabhya)

6. Padma Noja, in the southwest (nairity) facing northeast (airsaniya)

7. Padma Karo, in the northwest (wayabaya) facing the southeast (agneya)

8. Padma Saji, in the northeast (airsanya) facing to the southwest (nairity).

9. Padma Kurung, in the midst of the temple (middle) facing toward the exit / entry gates (pemedal).

The selection was also based on the location of Padmasana considerations of the temple lay out where the hulu-teben conception. Hulu-teben philosophy arises because human beings is difficult to imagine God, then people think God is like the man himself has a head, body and legs.

Hulu said to be head , as an intermediate body and legs as teben. This concept brings the life skala (real) and niskala (unreal). for example, in order to build temple. The existence of a very sacred part of the so-called Utama Mandala (private space), the less sacred called Madya Mandala (semi-private space) and the part is not sacred called Nista Mandala(public space).

Hulu – Teben uses two references which are:

1.East as hulu, as the sun rises (the sun here is defined as a source of life energy /good connotation) and the west as teben (mean connotation of death).

2. Mount as hulu because of the Balinese considered mountains is a sacred place where the gods lives and the sea as teben (exile), like the water cycle in nature. Because according to the Balinese life would not exist if there is no water.

Padmasana 3


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