Contemplations at Mengening Temple
Contemplations at Mengening Temple

Is written by Dewi Dian Reich, together with contemplations from Kaprus Jaya and ManButur Suantara.
Photography by DD Reich

Mengening Temple Contemplations. Back in July, we were starting to feel a little exhausted. It seems there was a build up of work and external demands leading up to August. Things just seemed to be a little heavy for a while. The three of us thought it would do some good to get out. Perhaps we can paint outside or just enjoy the fresh air somewhere.

Contemplations at Mengening Temple. Sawidji Gallery Article. Bali Culture

A little somewhat spontaneously we didn’t want to go somewhere too far. Because the weather has been a little dubious. On motorbikes, if it starts to rain too heavily we may have some delays getting back. From our location in Ubud, there were a few places already that we are all familiar with. However there is one Temple that in my years here I had not visited.

Considering how often we visit Gunung Kawi and Tirta Empul Temple. It was surprising that Mengening Temple was a location we overlooked. These three Temples are connected to each other and are located closely to each other. There are simply places when you enter you get a sense of wonder and joy. Mengening Temple is one such place. A sacred water garden.

Contemplations at Mengening Temple. Sawidji Gallery Article. Bali Culture

Mengening Temple Historical Reference


Mengening Temple is located in the district of Tampaksiring in the Gianyar Regency of Bali. It is part of the ancient remains from the reign of King Marakata circa 1022AD. It was actually first discovered by W.F Sutterheim approximately between 1925-1927. However, it was not until 1960 when Bernet Kempers brought much more attention to the site. It was with Kempers’ initiative that with investigation and excavations, the temple was discovered in its complete original condition. Including a Lingga Yoni, sacred to Balinese people, which was placed in the Temple room.

Contemplations at Mengening Temple. Sawidji Gallery Article. Bali Culture
Pura Mengening Tampaksiring Bali.

The Temple grounds on the day of our visit was very quiet. We were fortunate again just as the way it was when we visited Gunung Kawi Temple. There was not many people. The the sound of water and the lush greenery of the ancient trees is an idyllic sanctuary resonating with peace. In the historical breakdown it is mentioned that a Lingga Yoni, an ancient sacred Hindu relic was discovered here. Lingga Yoni are two symbols of male and female, which embodies what Hinduism says to be the Ultimate Truth. Embodying fertility and balance. At Mengening Temple, quietly painting and enjoying the calm of our surrounds. It makes sense that the Lingga Yoni was found here.

Contemplations at Pura Mengening

Visiting Bali you will know the truth of why this island is the Island of a thousand temples. Temples and Holy Places are absolutely everywhere throughout our island. And fairly soon, you will see that water plays a central role in Balinese Spirituality. A theological discussion of Balinese spirituality and practice warrants more than one book. Here we would share some reflections amongst friends. Sharing memories and experiences that are central to growing up as a Balinese. Kaprus and ManButur and I were talking. A little about the ‘Beji and’ its relationship to the ‘Melukat’ ceremony.

Contemplations at Mengening Temple. Sawidji Gallery Article. Bali Culture

Sharing Memories of the Beji

Beji means it is a place for bathing, but in some places, a Beji is sacred. Before a ritual, people go to the water source to cleanse themselves before prayer.There are places for bathing that are for common use and then there are areas for bathing that have a different purpose.

Kaprus Jaya

ManButur commented that what he learned from the culture is that water is the element most important in our lives. Many traditional cultures recognise the significance of water. Holding rituals in honour of water.

When we are talking about the Beji mostly we mean spring water. Where there is a water source is. it is clean and clear, representing purification. From there it becomes a Beji for a sacred ritual of purification. Not every temple has a Beji. But where a temple is that has a water source there is a Beji.

The first time I visited a Beji, it was a spring water source.. there was no temple ,.. in a village.. I was perhaps about 13 years old.. it was quiet .. in that time it was very quiet. It was just known by the local people there,.. but now it is already like a popular place.. for bathing… family recreation and bathing.. just go there with friends.. like to have fun playing with water.. diving.. the water is so clean.. we catch fish there.. at that time I had no understanding or comprehension of the significance of Beji and melukat ceremonies.

~ManButur

Sharing Memories of Melukat

Touching on the subject of the Beji leads us to the Melukat Ceremony. This is a purification of oneself with the intention to increase goodness. A cleansing of body, mind and spirit by way of Holy Water, as believed by the Balinese. There is a small concise article ‘Knowing the Principles of Melukat According to Balinese Culture‘ that is very good read.

ManButur had recollections from when he was still a teenager. There was not as many places where one could go for Melukat ceremony. For those who lived far away from a Beji to undertake Melukat ceremony they have to go to their Priest at a ‘Griya’. When he got older, he learned that people would go to Tirta Empul to undertake purification in the Beji there. Which was still far from his home village and not easily accessible at that time.

Contemplations at Mengening Temple. Sawidji Gallery Article. Bali Culture

In the majority a Holy Beji is held in great respect and in times of difficulty it is common for Balinese people to go to Melukat either to Beji or to the sea. They feel revived and purified and clean. In spirit.

ManButur

Contemplations on Purification by Holy Water

Melukat.. without having to know what religion you are as long as you are believing that you are there to cleanse mind, soul and body there.. that there is a power from the Water to purify. Anyone is welcome to undertake this very personal and individual process.

~ManButur

Speaking of the very private and personal nature of this ceremony. Kaprus Jaya reflected on his own experiences and feelings about this ritual.

For me Melukat purification, the water source is also in ourselves. You can follow a ritual but if you do not have the intention completely focused to purify yourself, it is not honest. But if your thoughts are focused and your feelings are peaceful,.. then Nature will respond also with peace and love there. Prayer is there. The qualities of water is cleansing and revitalising. Melukat.. if we cleanse our self awareness,.. this is a process. Easy to do by way of the world only, in spirit it is not such a simple task.

~Kaprus Jaya
Contemplations at Mengening Temple. Sawidji Gallery Article. Melukat Ceremony Bali.

When one enters a temple for this cleansing..there is no demand of obligatory offering. But, a simple canang sari and incense whilst wearing appropriate clothing (sarong and selempot) is more than satisfactory. As an expression of respect and gratitude.

Where there are more tourists, establishing entrance tickets help maintain the area. With reasonable entrance fees. Many locations are still donation based. This is usually in the form of a donation box with the name ‘Dano Punia’ located somewhere on the premises.

Purification Ceremony for Mass Consumption?

Through our contemplations, we realise that even within our lifetime there are many changes. From our childhoods to adulthood, there are changes that are significant. In the way that this ceremony is viewed and how it is treated. One example of this is that there are more Bejis now. Transportation and development makes it easier for everyone to access a Holy Beji and easier to undertake a Melukat ceremony.

To the point, in light of tourism and its impact on traditional culture, even Melukat ceremony has entered commercial platforms. You can see it now in advertisements for holiday packages and tours. It is an inevitability when a traditional society enters an age where its survival is predominantly from a commercial source. Yet it is this blurring of boundaries between spiritual and commercial. Its’ distortion of purpose that we find cause to feel uneasy.

There is the most ironic partnership between spirituality and commercialism. Is it somewhat absurd to view on social media advertisements by priests and priestesses for different packages that are available. Instant purification, complete with a photographer package as well. Anyway each to their own. And this may be just the kind of healing and purification that many are in search of. However, we hope the deeper truth and honest endeavour of purification of a spiritual nature is not forgotten. That this is between yourself and Nature. Without this internal conviction and understanding, perhaps it would be no more than getting wet.

Mengening Temple. A Sacred Water Garden for the Spirit to Rest and be Revitalised.

Our visit to Mengening Temple is wonderful. Like a humble fairy garden tucked away so quiet and still. There are more fountains here than what is generally found in other water temples. There are fountains here with specific purpose.. specific for healing,.. for beauty, for business,.. for purification, etc.

We know that it has a connection to Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi Temple. E xactly what that connection is we don’t know. However, there’s reference that Gunung Kawi was designed by the king as his personal garden sanctuary. Perhaps Mengening Temple was built as a royal sacred water garden sanctuary for meditation and contemplation.

This Temple is over a thousand years old. Its been buried and gone from the world for a very long time. Discovered again just over 50 years ago. Makes me think Nature works in beautiful ways. Whatever it is in the world, when it is time to be in the daylight, it will be in the daylight. For the purpose of our day out together. Mengening Temple rejuvenated and gave us the time to sit in the peaceful shade and reset our priorities. When we are there, we are blessed with serenity. The quiet to contemplate on a few simpler things in life. We are fortunate to live in this time. Not when Mengening Temple is buried and hidden from the world. But when it is lush and flowing again, rich with the cleansing power of its Waters.

Impressions from our day at Mengening Temple Tampaksiring.

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