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The Kings of Bali
The legend of the Barong
Kesari, king of Koripan, built five great temples
during his lifetime. He was a virtuous man and he when he died
he ascended into heaven, leaving no mortal remains on the earth.
His son Cayaksuna then ruled the people but during his reign a
terrible pestilence came to the land and many young people died.
The king called the people together and they went in a great procession
to the temple that his father had built in honour of the gods
(Besakih, on the slopes of the holy mountain Gunung Agung).
The people prayed and made offerings. Siva’s
wife Giriputri appeared before Cayaksuna and revealed to him that
the people were dying because they had become possessed by a wicked
demon trinity called Sangkalatiga. She requested that offerings
be made at the watering holes throughout the land. He heard her
say in a loud sweet voice . . . ‘let penjors and lamaks
be hung out in decoration. Perhaps by these means Sangkalatiga
may be persuaded to enter into, and become one large demon, who
must be appeased. His name will be Sangkalagedê, and when
he dances in front of peoples houses he must be rewarded’.
So the king made this decree and the people obeyed. When Cayaksuna
lived out his life, his deliverance from earth to heaven was in
the same manner as his father before him.
At this time the king of Kediri, Dharmawangsa, conquered
Bali and sent his sister Mahendradatta, to wed Dharmodayana, ruler
of the conquered land. After her marriage Mahendradatta was known
as Queen Gunapriya. This union produced three fine sons, Erlangga,
Marakata, Anak Wungsu, and a beautiful daughter called Ratna Menggali,
who was much loved by her mother Queen Gunapriya.
Because she was Dharmawangsa’s sister, Gunapriya’s
influence on the kingdom was profound, and this is how the language
and etiquette of Java was introduced to Bali. Erlangga went to
Kediri and married the daughter of King Dharmawangsa and became
as a trusted son to the king. When Erlangga was sixteen years
old Dharmawangsa was assassinated and Erlangga had to flee for
his life. He took refuge in the forest, and his only companions
were two holy men who were brothers. Their names were Mpu Bharada
and Mpu Kuturan. These brothers were gifted with great spiritual
and magical powers. Erlangga remained in the forest for many years
with these holy men. Finally, with the help and advice of these
holy men Erlangga gradually regained his father-in-law’s
kingdom, and ruled it for thirty difficult years.
When King Dharmodayana of Bali took another wife,
he banished his faithful first wife, the ageing Queen Gunapriya,
in favour of the younger more beautiful girl. Gunapriya was incensed
at her husband’s heartless behaviour toward her and appealed
to her powerful son Erlangga for help. Erlangga ignored his mother’s
plea for help because his father had banished her to the forest
with the accusation that Queen Gunapriya was a witch. Because
of this terrible accusation not one man in all the nobility was
brave enough to seek the hand of her beloved daughter Ratna Menggali,
this made Queen Gunapriya very sad.
Then quite unexpectedly King Dharmodayana died and
Gunapriya became a widow, a rangda. Rangda was furious with her
son Erlangga, blaming him for all her misfortune. She made an
oath to destroy him and the kingdom of Kediri; and to do this
she turned to the powers of the black arts. Rangda went with her
pupils to the cemetery and danced and made offerings to Begawiti,
the deity of black magic, to help her destroy Kediri.
The goddess appeared and danced with them and granted
her permission, but she warned Rangda that she must leave the
centre of Kediri untouched. The witches danced at the crossroads
and soon the people fell sick in great numbers throughout the
land. When King Erlangga discovered the cause of the epidemic
he ordered his mother to be destroyed. He gave his soldiers directions
how to find the evil, wicked witch. The soldiers crept into her
house while she was still sleeping and stabbed her in the heart.
Rangda awoke, startled, but unhurt, and she consumed the soldiers
with her great fire.
Once again the great witch went into the cemetery
with her pupils and danced their evil; they dug up corpses, cutting
them into pieces, eating their members, drinking the blood; wearing
the entrails as necklaces. Begawiti came to them again and joined
in the bloody banquet, but once again she warned Rangda that she
must be careful. The witches danced again at the crossroads, and
the dreadful epidemic ravaged the land. The vassals of Erlangga
died before they could bury the corpses they carried to the graveyards.
In desperation the king sent for Mpu Bharada, the
holy man from Lemah Tulis, the only living man that could vanquish
the wicked witch. Mpu Bharada planned his campaign very carefully.
He sent his trusted young assistant Bahuta to Rangda to seek permission
to wed her beloved daughter Ratna Menggali. This pleased the old
witch greatly and she quickly gave her consent and blessing.
Bahuta and Ratna enjoyed a passionate honeymoon
and the happy, love-struck girl soon revealed to her husband the
source of her mother’s diabolical power. Ratna Menggali
told her husband that all her mother’s power was contained
in a very small book. Bahuta quietly stole the book away and handed
it to his master to make a copy of it, and then the book was returned
before its disappearance could be notices.
The book was a manual of righteousness and it had
to be read backwards by those that wished to practise the magic
of the left (evil), for those that wished to gain the power of
Begawiti, the deity of black magic. The holy man was then able
to restore life to all those victims of Rangda; all those whose
bodies had not yet decayed.
Armed with this knowledge he accused the witch of
her terrible crimes but she challenged him by setting a huge waringin
tree alight, merely with a glance from her fiery eyes. However,
Mpu Bharada enraged the witch by restoring the tree so she turned
her fire against the holy man. He remained unmoved and killed
her with one of her own mantras. And she died in the monstrous
form that is Rangda. Bharada, in order to absolve her of her great
evil and to allow her to atone, revived her and gave her a human
appearance before he finally destroyed her.
Erlangga was overcome with grief and remorse on
his mother’s death and renounced his kingdom, becoming a
hermit in the forest far from any man’s eyes. The gods appointed
Mpu Kuturan to rule Bali, to bring peace to the land and laws,
so men could live in harmony at last. When Mpu Kuturan became
king he built temples at Goa Lawa, Desar Gelgel, and Puseh Tasik
(at Pejeng), in honour of the gods.
During his reign all robbers and thieves were banished
from the kingdom, his reign was severe because he had to cleanse
the land. The gods rewarded him at the end of his life in the
same manner as the kings before him and when he died he ascended
directly into heaven.
Now before Mpu Kuturan died, Indra, the mighty Lord
of Heaven, assumed human form and came to Padang to visit the
king of Bali. While Indra was there he fell in love with a beautiful
girl from Blahbatuh. Their union produced three sons; all who
became famous patihs in Bedulu. Blessed Indra then resumed his
true form and returned to heaven soon after Mpu Kuturan’s
release from earth.
Bali was again without a ruler.
The god Kacyapa came down from heaven to Gunung
Agung and there he met a maiden called Giridanu, their union produced
a son and they called him Mayadanawa. This child subsequently
became the first king of Bedulu. Mayadanawa was an arrogant and
jealous man who ignored the gods. He forbade his subjects to obey
the commands of Giriputri because he wanted his subjects to worship
him alone. The gods became angry at his impiety and went to mount
Meru to complain to the creator.
Indra was sent at once to destroy the impudent Mayadanawa.
A great battle took place at Petemon. Mayadanawa realised that
he was overpowered and fled to Tampaksiring. Indra’s army
followed Mayadanawa for they were hot and thirsty after the bloody
battle, but the crafty Mayadanawa had poisoned the water; many
drank of the water and died a slow agonising death. Indra soon
realised what was happening so he planted two umbrellas in the
ground and made them into life giving springs. He called these
springs Tirta Selukat and Tirta Empul; whose water’s bring
the dead to life again.
When he saw this Mayadanawa became very frightened
and he fled once again. This time he went to a place called Manukaya,
where he changed his form into that of a hen, for he was trying
to evade the wrath of Indra. As time passed Mayadanawa changed
his form many times trying to avoid retribution from the gods.
Finally Mayadanawa was brought to justice by an arrow to his heart
from Indra’s bow. As his lifeblood gushed out it formed
the river called Petanu, and to this day it is cursed, for no
man or beast may drink from it or use its water.
At last Batara Indra had overcome Mayadanawa but
his plan had always been to make him come to life again; by dividing
him into two parts; male and female, to become the first raja
of Bali. The spirit of Mayadanawa was placed in a coconut flower
on the slopes of Gunung Agung. After the gods had blessed it;
from that flower came two children, a boy named Mesula and a girl
The boy and girl twins loved each other and when
they grew up they married and had children, also twins, and they
continued to rule in Pejeng. These twins also loved each other
and they married and gave birth to more twins, until the seventh
generation of Mesula-Mesuli this continued. At this time the lastborn
male twin rejected his sister because she was black and ugly.
He married instead a pretty dancing girl, and by doing this he
broke the tradition of marriage between the royal line of twins.
This lastborn male twin was endowed with great magical
powers and he liked nothing better than to demonstrate these powers.
His favourite trick was to allow a retainer to cut off his head
and he would replace it without coming to any harm. One day when
this lastborn male twin was performing his usual magic trick;
by allowing his retainer to cut off his head, aduh! His head rolled
down an embankment and fell into the swiftly flowing river and
was swept away. His minister was horrified and in desperation
he cut off the head of pig and quickly placed it on the shoulders
of the king. The king’s name was Tapauling, and from that
day the king lived in a high tower and killed anyone that raised
his or her eyes in his presence. One day, unbeknown to the king,
a small child passed unnoticed in the king’s presence and
raised his eyes and saw the pig-headed king. Word of the pig-headed
king spread like wildfire throughout the land, and from that day
the people called the king Bedaulu, which means; the king who
changed his head.
A legend of Tenganan
It came about that the king’s favourite horse
went missing so the king sent men from whole villages to search
in all directions, but it was to no avail. The king was broken-hearted
because the animal could not be found. Finally, after many days
the men from Tenganan who were searching to the east found the
well-rotted corpse of the horse. The king told them to name their
A spokesman for the men of Tenganan stepped forward
and told the king that they only wanted the land where the horse
had been found. The king thought this was a very modest request
so he instructed one of his officials with a delicate sense of
smell to measure off the land, staring where the horse lay. The
headman of Tenganan accompanied the official of the king, they
walked for many days but no matter how far they went the foul
smell was evident. Tired and exhausted they could walk no further
so they agreed that the land already covered was more than sufficient,
for no matter how far they walked the foul stench followed them.
After the king’s official had departed the clever chief
of Tenganan pulled out a piece of rotted horseflesh, which he
had concealed beneath his clothing. To this day the people of
Tenganan speak of this king and the love he showed for his favourite
Now Bedaulu was a semi-demonic king, with the head
of a pig and the powers of a magician. And he absolutely refused
to acknowledge the supremacy of the Majapahit king, Hayam
Wuruk. Gajah Mada, the Majapahit Prime Minister, was sent
to Bali to subdue the recalcitrant king. Pasung Grigis, the Pejeng
patih, welcomed Gajah Mada but told him that it was impossible
for him to have an audience with Bedaulu. The king gave instructions
that Pasung Grigis should prepare and choose Gajah Mada’s
food, with his own hand. The food that the cunning patih prepared
for Gajah Mada was ferns, dry rice and a jug of cool water.
The water had to be drunk from a special jug with a curved spout.
The patih had chosen food and water, which required the partaker
to turn their face upwards. When the food was set before Gajah
Mada, he at once began to eat, as he was very hungry. This necessitated
him to raise his face upwards, and he immediately saw the
king aloft, in his high pavilion, with the head of a pig!
The king was filled with a great rage that anyone
would dare to look upon his dreadful head, to see his shame, but
he could not according to custom; kill anyone whilst they were
eating. Humiliation and embarrassment so overwhelmed the king,
that it brought forth a great magic fire from within him, which
consumed the king.
Then Gajah Mada returned to Java, and he told Hayam
Wuruk what had happened. The king was troubled that the cunning
patih of Pejeng, Pasung Grigis, had not also been destroyed. So
he instructed Gajah Mada to devise a plan to kill the patih, and
another of his enemies from Sumbawa. Gajah Mada pondered on it
for a long time, and he wondered how it might be accomplished.
He knew that the patih of Pejeng desired power, and that he wished
to ingratiate himself with the Majapahit king, that he wished
to be favourably looked on by Hayam Wuruk. So Gajah Mada let it
be known to the cunning patih that Hayam Wuruk had a detested
enemy in Sumbawa. The wily patih immediately launched forth an
army against Sumbawa, and in the ensuing bloody battle, Gajah
Mada made sure that both of the king’s enemies were slain.
And Bali was again without a ruler.
The grateful Majapahit king then gave Bali into
the hands of his trusted prime minister, Gajah Mada. Then Gajah
Mada returned to Bali and he became King of Bedulu, but he had
left his beloved wife Ayu Bebed in Java, for he feared for her
safety in Bali. The king, Hayam Wuruk, fell in love with her,
for she was an extremely beautiful woman. He was determined to
possess her, even though she spurned all of his advances. But
the king was mad with desire, and he overpowered Ayu Bebed and
Poor Ayu Bebed was distraught, so she sent a messenger
to Bali, to tell her husband of the king’s deed. Her message
was in the form of a cloth, with the footprints of elephants
and buffaloes painted on it. Gajah Mada knew at once what
had happened, and he swore vengeance on Hayam Wuruk. By his magical
power he brought hundreds of stone images to life, and he sent
them flying across the sea to Java, to make the king sick.
The king became grievously ill, and the medicine men were sent
for; from the farthest points in the kingdom. The king had heard
of an especially skilled medicine man from Bali, so he requested
Gajah Mada to summons him to the king’s presence. But Gajah
Mada called in an ironsmith, Mpu Gandring, whose kris had
the power to kill at first thrust. Then he conspired with Mpu
Gandring, and he promised the smith that if he succeeded in killing
the king, that all of his descendants in perpetuity would always
have the right to a seven-tiered cremation tower. The smith promised
to do his best, and accompanied Gajah Mada to Java.
When they came before the king, Mpu Gandring said
that he could only treat the king if he was alone, and he requested
that everyone should leave the room. Hayam Wuruk agreed, and all
the servants and women went away. Mpu Gandring then quickly drew
his kris, and stabbed the king to death with one thrust to his
heart. All who were waiting outside heard the king’s
cry, and they came rushing into the room. There was a loud commotion
and much excitement. Gajah Mada was among the people, and he loudly
reproached Mpu Gandring for his terrible deed, lest any suspicion
should fall on him.
A great assembly of officials was held, but even
though they suspected Gajah Mada, they feared him more, and they
were obliged to make him king, for he was the most powerful lord
in all the land.
Gajah Mada had ruled for some years when a priest,
a certain holy man, Mpu Kepakisan, approached him and told
him that the gods had decided to call him to heaven.
Some time later, when Gajah Mada was walking by
the sea-shore, he met a simple fisherman mending his nets.
He asked the fisherman if he would like to be the Majapahit King.
The man shook his head with fright at the very idea of it, but
Gajah Mada by flattery succeeded in persuading him to comply with
his wishes. The only condition that he gave the man was that he
must not touch Ayu Bebed, his beloved wife. When the man’s
face was washed and he was dressed in the king’s clothes,
he looked so exactly like the king that even Ayu Bebed was deceived.
But when she saw him eating she realised that she had been tricked,
and she was very unhappy. Every day the unkingly attributes of
the fisherman became more apparent. As Chief Justice, he
gave foolish verdicts. In one particular case, a man complained
that his neighbour had stolen his cow. ‘Had
he no cow of his own?’
‘Then he shall have one given