Samuan Tiga Temple
written by Dewi Dian Reich 13th December 2021
Our Temples are rich with history, the studied and the ambiguous. It is fascinating and beautiful. The purpose of our ‘Of Stones and Trees’ posts is not to attempt a complete historical record of any place we visit. When we visit special places, it is really just a moment, a heartbeat in the life of an ancient presence. So it is to share this heartbeat moment, a passing interlude. If in the process we can gather some background we certainly will.
Samuan Tiga Location
Samuan Tiga is one of the oldest temples in Bali. Located in a village named Bedulu. Approximately 800 m from the more recognised Goa Gajah Temple. It is about a 20 minutes drive from our gallery. So it is not a distant trip.
There has been a temple on this site for over 1000 years. With more recent additions and improvements as recent as 1917. It was built during the Warmadewa Dynasty, during the same period that the famous and renowned Tirta Empul Temple was built.
An afternoon walk..
We have visited Samuan Tiga on more than one occasion. I find it peaceful. The grounds are beautiful and unique, with many different little paths that will lead to a different scene.
When you arrive and go through the gates, on some level I think most can feel they are walking into history. There are several temples here. Part of the reason it is also visited by many tourists is due to its historical significance. As well as being an exceptional example of old Balinese Temple architecture.
The name Samuan Tiga in the Balinese language means ‘meeting of three’. We have general outline of why this Temple was given its name. though there are many legendary tales associated with the formations of Bali’s older Temples. However what is that is generally accepted as the historical account by most people in the area is that this is a location that was the seat of significant meeting. A meeting that changed Balinese history.
A Little History on Samuan Tiga Temple
According to historical accounts, there were 9 sects in the old Bali period. Amongst these sects there were always many disagreements. To reconcile these differences and reduce the conflict amongst the people King Udayana invited all the religious leaders from Java and Bali to meet for a summit at Pura Penataran. Such conflicts were moderated and successfully resolved by the high royal priest, Mpu Kuturan. In commemoration of this meeting the Temple was then named Samuan Tiga.
What Came About From the Summit
One of the concepts that came about from this meeting according to the historical records is that each kingdom or area should have 3 main temples. Each representing the Mountain, the Village and the Sea. As well as the ‘Tri Murti’ the Hindu trinity of Drama, Vishnu and Siwa.This then follows the reasoning of how the Temple came by its name.
That in itself is really quite incredible. This is actually the location, where a crucial meeting was held and a decision was made that shaped the Balinese cultural practice in the way it is followed until today. It is such a pivotal turning point in Balinese history.
a legendary version..
Other Legendary versions include the tales of an evil King named Mayadenawa who caused havoc in Bali and conflict amongst his people. Due to his evil deeds the Gods Indra, Mahadewa and Pasupati all descended to aid the people and restore balance into the land again. It is the descent of the Three Gods in this version that led to Samuan Tiga’s name.
Whatever history is attributed to the gifting of Samuan Tiga’s Title, my first visit was an ignorant one. For the most part. I looked upon the temple Gates with the same admiration that I feel for the others. Not knowing its historical story, it was still very obvious to me that there is something different about Samuan Tiga.
We found our own treasures there. Our visits had a calm atmosphere. Of reflection. It is still through the eye of the camera that I capture some of my own joy there.
When you walk within its grounds, during this quiet time in Bali, it is as though everything is overrun with Nature..
This beautiful bed of flowers and vines have grown over the old cockfighting arena and it is quite a sight to see.
Photographer’s Note: I have edited this image not to distort, but to highlight the rambling flowers that was scattered like stars on a blanket.
It is actually in the small things that left also a big impression. It is here for the first time since childhood, I saw the flowering ‘Putri Malu’ (Mimosa Pudica). A flower that fascinated as a child, and its name ‘Shy Princess’ in Indonesian makes it very intriguing to a little girl. Seeing the field flowers in Samuan Tiga was what brought my attention to the grasses and flowers that were unnoticed everywhere.
Samuan Tiga in the early morning holds memories, reflections of different times in history. All mixed together in a garden full with life. Some small and quaint and others large and awesome.
Then in contrast to the little unnoticed flowering weeds, were the many Sacred Bunyut trees in the temple grounds. With their sheer size and presence dwarfing everything around them. Their beauty sometimes dark and mysterious.
The symbolism of the Banyan tree is not isolated to Balinese culture. However in Bali the significance of the Sacred Banyan tree, with its deep far reaching roots, symbolises humanity’s potential for perfection. It has been said that Humans, like trees, are mediators between heaven and earth. Inside everyone of us lies an entire cosmos.
Beji is a sacred garden located in the temple area as a place of purification. Apart from being a place of purification for Ida Bethara, Beji is also often used for ‘melukat’ ceremony. A ritual with the purpose of spiritual cleansing of the mind and soul.
It will not be the only time we take a walk in the grounds of Samuan Tiga Temple. Last week our impromptu walk at dusk was a lovely visit to one of our special quiet places. At a quick glance, they are but stones and tress. But upon a closer look they hold all the beauty hidden in between.
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