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The Hindu caste system as it is found today in Bali was not firmly implanted until after the conquest by the Famous Gajah Mada. Then Hindu-Javanese rule was definitely established, the island was divided into vassal territories paying tribute to the local princes that were given control. The natives lived under a class system of their own long before that time, however they had their ranks, with a sort of aristocracy that combined government and priesthood.

Hindu Javanese penatration did not reach many of the remote mountain communities, which remained outside the fudal territories. There, even today, live the conservative old-fashioned Balinese, entrenched against the landlords regarding them as intruders. In these villages the Hindu castes are not recognized and the descendants of the primitive aristocracy proudly retain their titles and their authority.. At the top of the long list of native ranks are the pasek and the bandesa, the heads of -the two central institutions of the old-style community: the temple of " origin., " and the assembly hall, ritually belonging to the "right" and "left." I was told that a girl of these castes who marries a man of the Hindu aristocracy is publicly renounced by her family and spiritually " thrown out " of the village. Also held in respect are the blacksmiths, a caste in themselves, pande, the ancient fire-priests who made the magic krisses, symbol of the family's virility. Even Brahmanas, highest among all classes, must use the high language when addressing a pande who has his tools in his bands.


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In the tributary districts the natives coordinated their castes with those of the new nobility, in a great scale of ranks that have now become so muddled through intermarriage that they appear confused even to the Balinese themselves. The original castes still remain as subdivisions of the fourth and lowest of the Hindu castes, the Sudras, who constitute about ninety-three per cent of the population of Bali.

The Hindu-Balinese nobility is divided into the three well known groups: the priests,. Brahmanas (Brahmins of India) ; the ruling royalty, Satrias (Ksatriyas) ; and the military class., Wesias (Vesiya) . They are supposed to originate directly from the gods According to the legends, the Brahmanas sprang out of the mouth of Brahma, the Satria from his arms, and the Wesia from his feet. Perhaps the reason why the common people look upon their nobility with such respect is that they have still an unshaken belief in their divine origin. The true Balinese religion consists mainly in the worship of the family ancestors, with the patriarch founder of the village as the communal god Thus it was easy for the conquerors to establish their own dead kings as ancestral gods, since they, too, descended from canonized kings and holy men who were in turn descendants of the highest divinities. This fitted perfectly with the Balinese idea of rank and with of ancestors. In many legends the great kings and religious teachers of the past were considered as reincarnations of gods, so I was never surprised when a priest or a prince assured me in all seriusness that his family descended from Indra or Wisnu, or some such divine character.

Such is the caste complex of some Balinese that I often found silly boys from Denpasar posing as members of the higher castes when they visited a strange town where they were not know. Some common people say that once they were of a higher caste and that their present state is due to faults committed by their, ancestors. Good behaviour on this earth brings a raising of in the next incarnation, and bad behaviour the opposite; consequently social position in the world of men is the result of behaviour in former lives. Many Wesias claim that their families Satrias lowered in rank while they were ordinary humans such. was the case of the ancestor of the royal families of Badung and Tabanan, the legendary Arya Damar, who was lowered to Wesia. On the other hand, the Balinese insist that the raja Karangasem was a Wesia who had himself elevated to the satria caste after the fall of the k1ungkung dynasty.

The " highest of the high," the Brahmanas, claim descent from the great priest Wau Rau'h, who wandered all over bali in legendary times creating children with women of all classes even the servant women of his wives. These children, the future priests, were. the heads of the various brahmana families some of, which are higher than others, according to their purity of blood on account of the origin of their various mothers. The. brahmanas are further divided into two sects: the Siwa and budha: the descendants of the two famous brothers, the religious ers Mpu' Kuturan and Mpu' Bbarada, who created the the laws for Balinese. A distinction is made between initiated brahmanas, the priests, and the uninitiated.



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