The Origin of Balinese Dinasty

Bali has been for long time under the power of Hindu kingdoms of Java. It is around the tenth century that we found trace of the first knowledgeable Balinese royal dynasty.

In 991 a union between a Balinese king and a Javanese princess gave birth to a child called Erlangga. After having grown up in Bali he has been sent to Java to marry with a Javanese princess and become the vassal of his father in law, Dharmawangsa, who was ruling a large kingdom. After the death of Dharmawangsa (murdered) Erlangga was crowned and avoided the collapse of the kingdom (hoped by many).

During the thirty years of his reign he succeeded in bringing the kingdom to even higher glory, establishing a strong relationship with Bali, ruled by his brother. Suddenly, like in the Hindu tales, Erlangga decided to leave the throne and to start a life as an hermit, leaving poorly and following the teachings of his mentor, Mpu Bharada. The kingdom then collapsed quickly, mostly by a terrible epidemic of cholera created by the witch called Rangda, queen of the black magic world, and believed to be the mythical mother of Erlangga. This amazing destiny hanged Erlangga in the highest position of Balinese heroes.

During next years Bali became independent from its big neighbor Java until 1284 when Kertanegara the ruler of the Singosari kingdom (located next to nowadays Malang, in East-Java) launched an attack against Bali. Fortunately the Kingdom of Singosari collapsed 7 years later, under the pressure of the fast growing Madjapahit kingdom, and Bali gained again its freedom.

But the Madjapahit kingdom finally grow so big that Bali had to become one of its belongings… Gadja Mada, the general of the army of the Madjapahit kingdom ruled by Radjasanegara, was sent to Bali to convince Dalem Bedaulu, the king of Pedjeng (located next to nowadays Ubud) to surrender, but Dalem Bedaulu, considered to be a half demoniac creature, refused to accept the supremacy of Majapahit. Gadja Mada did win the war anyway and the empire of Majapahit almost ruled all of the nowadays Indonesia.

But any empire has an end and Majapahit could not escape this rule. Local revolts among the archipelago, civil wars, and political complots within the kingdom, did put its strength at risk. The Muslim merchants, from India, Arabia and China, slowly but surely started to make their way into Java and converted many people. Slowly, peacefully, in the beginning, but then surely, with the power of the sword, later… Many Hindu kings converted to Islam to save their position (they became “sultans” or “sunans”) and those who did rebel against the Muslims had to escape to Bali. It is said that the Majapahit empire ended in 1478.

The last Hindu king of Java, Brawijaya V, chose to escape to the southern part of Java, chased by one of his sons who embraced Islam (the son from an Arabian concubine…). He didn’t want to kill his own son and preferred to do “moksha” (go directly to the world of the Gods by immolating himself). Before doing that he announced to his last followers that they should not worry too much: Islam would only rule Java during 500 years…

Most of the nowadays Balinese aristocrats pretend to be the descendents of the Majapahit rulers and priests. At the end of the Majapahit kingdom it is as if the old refined Hindu culture of Java (religion, arts, literature…) had suddenly moved to Bali, which became since then the “living museum of the Majapahit times”.

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