The Balinese Kingdoms: The History, The Famous Kings, and The Heritage


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Bali, the island of gods and kings. Well, you might have heard the first part of the saying a million times before, as Bali is inhabited by a majority of Hindus, who worship a variety of gods and goddesses, whom they believe act as protectors of the universe.

However, the latter part may not have been as recognizable for you; especially if you haven’t spent some time studying about the historical aspects of the island. True, there are just as many kings in Bali, even today, as there are gods and goddesses.

With the caste system still being in practice in modern Bali (though not as extremely applied as it used to,) the island has long been divided into many small “kingdoms,” all with their own kings. Although not having any power bureaucratically nor administratively, these kingdoms are very much alive, loved, respected, and conserved by their own people.

The royal families’ residents, which are often called “Puri,” are still the main focus and attention to the people in their area, not to mention international attraction when important religious or cultural ceremonies are being held. Royal Balinese weddings and funerals are so beautifully carried out that they become a spectacle of their own, giving the audience amazing shots for their travel documentation.

Aren’t you just intriqued by these small kingdoms? Well, we know we are, so here is an article from CNN Indonesia that we think might be interesting and useful for you.

The Kingdom of Bali is the oldest Hindu-Buddhist kingdom located on the island of Bali. It has a long history and traces of heritage that can still be seen today.

The Balinese kingdom was founded around the 10th century until the early 20th century. When it was founded, the Kingdom of Bali was under the leadership of the Warmadewa Dynasty, a  dynasty that practiced Buddhism. It was not until a few years later when Hinduism began to enter and many of the citizens switched to the new religion.

The center of the Balinese kingdom is located in Bedulu, Gianyar, close to the eastern part of the island of Java. Both have close cultural relations, including the ties to the Isyana Dynasty in East Java.

Since the 10th century, Balinese people have been familiar with the agricultural system which was later developed as a source of economy.

The kings of Bali concentrated the economy from the agricultural sector. Most of the residents work managing rice fields, fields, and plantations.

Apart from agriculture, animal husbandry and hunting were also developed. Several other residents also work to run a gold and silver craft center.

The social life of the Balinese kingdom cannot be separated from the customs that have been ingrained for a long time. Even today, the hereditary culture is still preserved.

Based on the findings of inscriptions from the kings, the customs of the Balinese people are the same as the Ho-Ling (Kalingga) people who are Hindu-Buddhist oriented.

One of the customs in Bali and still applies today is Ngaben. In this procession, every Balinese who is Hindu when he dies, his body is burned to ashes.

Famous Balinese Kings 

The famous Balinese kings mostly come from the Warmadewa Dynasty. Here are some of the names of famous Balinese kings:

  1. Sri Kesari Warmadewa (882-914 AD)
  2. King Udayana (989-1011 AD)
  3. Marakata Pangkaja (1011-1022 AD)
  4. Anak Wungsu (1049-1077 AD)
  5. His Majesty Sri Maharaja Sri Jayasakti (1133-1150 AD)
  6. Sri Astura Ratnabhumibanten (1337-1343 AD)

Traces of the Kingdom of Bali

Nany traces of the heritage of the Kingdom of Bali can still be seen and visited today, including:

  1. Blanjong Inscription

The Blanjong Inscription is a historical relic that contains a message in Balinese language and was made by Sri Kesari Warmadewa. This inscription was found in Sanur Kauh, South Denpasar.

  1. Panglapuan Inscription

The Panglapuan inscription is a relic of the Balinese kingdom which contains messages about royal rulers such as Udayana, Jayapangus and Anak Wungsu.