Tri Hita Karana: Living in Perfect Harmony

Ketut Suardana

For The Bali Times

He who does not in this world,

Help to turn the wheel thus set in motion,

Is evil in his nature, sensual in his delight

Then he, O Partha (Arjuna) lives in vain

Bhagavad-Gita III-16

This quote from the Vedas suggests that sacrifice is the give-and-take between deities and humanity. This is the essence of Tri Hita Karana, where human beings have a relationship with God’s other creations on earth and the cosmos. It is how people maintain harmony and balance between God, humanity and nature. The spirit of Tri Hita Karana gives us inspiration on how to solve environmental and social problems.

Tri Hita Karana is an ancient Balinese concept that in Sanskrit means the three causes of happiness: Tri is three; Hita means happiness; and Karana means causes. Essentially, Tri Hita Karana is a philosophy that focuses on the importance of maintaining harmony in this world. It sums up the three fundamental relationships in life that really matter: the relationship between man and God, dedication to each other and the relationship between man and the environment.

The implementation of the Tri Hita Karana concept in real life:

“By this, ye foster the Gods and let the Gods foster you, thus fostering each other.

You shall attain the supreme God.” – Bhagavad Gita III-II

There are four types of temples where Balinese worship their ancestors and God. Through devotion to God, the strength and quality of human relationships will increase. This is seen in the system of worship. The Balinese, by way of devotion through worship, help to preserve the harmony in their social structure, as well as in their own families. Spirituality is the basis of Balinese daily life.

1.    Kawitan/Clan temple – where ancestors are worshipped.

2.    Tri Murit temple – where people worship Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

3.    Swaguna temple – where people of different professions worship. These professions include farmers, traders, doctors, craftspersons, etc. This temple, if situated in a forest, is called Alas temple or Forest temple, where people worship the deity of the plantation, Sangkara.

4.    Public temple called Pura Jagad Nata – where anyone can worship.

“If I should cease to work, these worlds would fall in ruin and I should be that Creator of disordered life and destroy these people.” – Bhagavad Gita III-24

God works to maintain the Universe and never expects anything in return. The Universe has been created for our prosperity. Balinese, through Desa Pakaraman (the social and religious organization), collectively carry out rituals or offerings (Banten) on auspicious days.

The concept of Banten is a visualization in offerings that represents the relationship of human devotion to God; harmonious relationship of give-and-take between people; and the relationship between man and the environment – and this reflects in love, charity and devotion.

The offerings become a symbol of ourselves, the Universe and God.

Our ancestors built Sad Kahyangan (six temples) to develop and preserve the Sad Krtih (six wisdoms). According to the Lontar Kusuma Dewa Sad Kahyangin, they are:

Besakih Temple, Lempuyang Temple, Uluwatu Temple, Goa Lawah Temple, Baturkaru Luhur Temple and Pusering Jagat Temple.

The Balinese pray at these temples to increase their Sad Krtih. According to the Purana Bali Book, they are:

Atma Krtih – to conserve and purify the soul from Tri Guna through the cremation ceremony. This is also to protect and conserve the area where the cremation is performed.

Samudra Krtih – to guard and conserve the sea through religious ceremonies. The Balinese carry out rituals to worship the sea and the ashes from a cremation are thrown into the sea as a symbol of purification of the soul.

Wana Krtih – to preserve the forest by worshipping at the Alas temple.

Danu Krtih – to conserve water resources like springs, lakes and rivers through offerings which are thrown into the water. Balinese in the Subak (the irrigation system) are normally responsible for this ceremony.

Jagat Krtih – to preserve social harmony through spiritual beliefs and devotion to God; interrelationships based on dedication and devotion; and people and nature. This is called Tri Hita Karana. Jagat Krtih guarantees that people will succeed in their various professions according to their skills, talents, knowledge and experience.

Jana Krtih – the perfect spiritual human being. However, to arrive at this stage, one needs to follow the Five Krtihs:

-     Atma Krtih builds the spirituality on an individual.

-     Samudra Krtih, Wana Krtih, Danu Krtih build a conducive physical environment.

-     Jagat Krtih builds harmony among people.

If you live in peace and harmony with the world around you, you will discover great joy in your life.

Damai di bumi, damai di hati, damai di langit.

Peace on earth, peace in your heart, peace in the sky.

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