Mount Agung in Balinese language is also known as Giri To Langkir to express its majesty. Giri means ‘mountain,’ To means ‘person,’ while Langkir means ‘towering.’ R. Goris, a literary scholar, compares the word to meaning ‘person’ to the family of languages found in other places having almost identical spellings that indicate the original equation.
Mount Agung in Balinese language is also known as Giri To Langkir to express its majesty. Giri means ‘mountain,’ To means ‘person,’ while Langkir means ‘towering.’ R. Goris, a literary scholar, compares the word to meaning ‘person’ to the family of languages found in other places having almost identical spellings that indicate the original equation. For example, the people of Bugis, Makassar and Toraja mention the person with the word ‘tou’ or ‘tow,’ the Sasak people on Lombok Island say ‘tau,’ the Bima people on Sumbawa Island say ‘dou,’ while the Filipinos say ‘tawuw.’
The word Langkir in Sanskrit can also be interpreted as the Mahadev or Supreme God (Master Plan for the Besakih Temple Development). In the Sangkul Putih palm-leaf manuscript is mentioned: “… Kang um is the ring tolangkir Bhatara Pasupati Ngaran …” means: “… the deity abiding on Mount Agung is named Bhatara Pasupati …”
The word Tolangkir is derived from the word to (tu) meaning ‘honorable’ and langkir meaning ‘stepping’ or ‘the glorified or honored mountain’ as the abode of (Lord) Hyang Pasupati most honored by Balinese people (Pasar Agung Temple development committee). Mount Agung is called Giri To Langkir because of its size and height, another word for explaining the Supreme.
Considering the majesty of Mount Agung, it was then established the abode of Hyang Pasupati named Besakih Temple. Besakih Temple belongs to Sad Kahyangan (six main temples) of Bali. This temple consists of 86 groups of temples. This group is divided into 18 (eighteen) common temples, 4 Catur Lawa temples, 11 Padharman temples, 6 non-Padharman temples, 29 clan temples and 11 temples do not belong to the group.
All groups of the temples were built in stages. They were estimated to be first built by King Wira Dalem Kesari Warmadewa (913 AD), and then continued by Sri Kesari Warmadewa whose wife is Sri Gunapriya Dharmapatni (1007 AD). Rapid development occurred during the administration of Dalem Waturenggong where Danghyang Nirartha and Empu Kuturan played great role (Nala, 1996: 1).
Chronicle of Gunung Agung dated Çaka 11 noted the eruption in the same year and displacement of four mountains stated as Candra Sangkala or chronogram reading Rudhira Bumi. Rudhira and Bumi respectively means number 1 (one) so that Rudhira Bhumi means number 11 (eleven) or 89 AD. The Çaka Year 13 stated as chronogram of Gni Bhudara: Gni means ‘number three’ and Bhudara means ‘one,’ so that in the Çaka 13 meaning 92 AD it is said to erupt again. The eruption caused a tremendous earthquake accompanied by incessant heavy rains day and night for two months.
After that, Lord Putra Jaya, Lord Gni Jaya and Goddess Danuh came down to Bali. Among the three, Lord Putra Jaya is the most glorified with the title Lord Mahadev abiding on top of Mount Agung as Lord Shiva, then Lord Gni Jaya abides on top of Mount Lempuyang and Goddess of Danuh abides in Lake Batur worshipped as Lord Vishnu.
At Besakih Temple, there is worship for gods namely; Kiduling Kreteg Temple where to worship Lord Brahma; Gelap Temple (Lord Ishvara), Ulun Kulkul Temple (Lord Mahadev), and Batumadeg Temple (Lord Vishnu). Penataran Agung Temple is located in the middle because it is considered the most distinguished. Here is where Hindu devotees say prayers every year in the ceremony known as Bhatara Turun Kabeh falling on full moon of the tenth month in Balinese calendar (April). Then, every ten years is held a ceremony known as Panca Wali Krama and most importantly is the ceremony held every 100 (one hundred) years, known as the Eka Dasa Rudra.
When Did Mount Agung Erupt?
In the chronicle of Mount Agung is mentioned that Mount Agung erupted for the second time in Çaka Year 70 or 148 AD, Friday (Sukra) Kliwon Wuku Tolu of the fifth month according to Balinese calendar. Meanwhile, in the crater of the Mount Agung was found a substance called Salodaka (sulfur). It is considered to have supernatural power by residents in Bali and used as a means of grandiose Hindu rituals.
Then, Mount Agung erupted for the third time in Çaka 111 (one hundred eleven) with the chronogram of Wak Çasih Wak where each word means number 1 (one) or 189 AD. At this time was held the first Eka Dasa Rudra at Besakih Temple. Later, the Eka Dasa Rudra was not performed for several times.
The next Eka Dasa Rudra was held in 1963 AD precisely on March 18, 1963, falling on full moon of the tenth month (Balinese calendar), Sukra Pon Julungwangi Çaka 1885, but was then not cancelled. At that time (1963), a great eruption of Mount Agung happened and caused the Island of Bali to be in pitch black.
According to traditional mythological sources, a figure named Sri Wira Dalem Kesari founding the Merajan Selonding approximately in 250 AD located in the west of Penataran Agung Temple, where the Selonding gamelan instrument is now stored. He is said to have repaired the Besakih Temple. The word Dalem is the title of a king in Bali. Thus, the meaning of Dalem Kesari is most likely the King Kesari Warmadewa who ruled around 917 AD.
This is indicated by inscriptions at Puseh Penempahan Temple and Belanjong (Sanur). Among the inscriptions, only those at Belanjong that have the date or chronogram: Cara Wahni Murti. Cara means ‘the star’ and has number 5, Wahni means ‘fire’ number 3, murti means the body of Lord Shiva has number 8. Therefore, after being read from the rear, the whole chronogram shows Caka 835 or 913 AD.
During the reign of Sri Udayana, Besakih Temple also received great attention. This can be found in two inscriptions whose copy is now stored in Merajan Selonding and Gedung Sakti inscription in Selat (Karangasem). It has chronogram ‘Nawa Sangapit Lawang’ and ‘Lawang Apit Lawang.’ Both chronograms have the same meaning: nawa means 9, apit means 2 and lawang means 9 (symbol of 9 holes in human body). The whole chronogram becomes Caka Year 929 or 1007 AD. Since the year 1007 belongs to the era of Udayana Warmadewa, apparently the king paid enough attention to Besakih Temple.
During the reign of the kings belonging to descendants of Sri Kresna Kepakisan, Besakih Temple received more special arrangement. This can be found in the palm-leaf manuscript of Raja Purana Besakih that specifies the type of ceremony, name of shrine, land property, composition of the pangemong (supporting devotees) and well-organized ceremonial levels. Other than two inscriptions dating 1444 AD and 1454 AD that carry the inauguration of the autonomy of “Desa Hila-hila Hulundang Ing Besuki” it is also carried that outsiders as well as royal officers are not allowed to collect taxes in the region of Besakih Temple and the people of Besakih have duty to maintain Besakih Temple and the shrine of Sasuhunan Kidul. Such a condition continued until the conquest of the Klungkung kingdom by the Dutch in 1908.
During the Dutch colonial era, the Dutch government paid great attention to Besakih Temple as proved in 1918-1923 when natural disasters destroyed many buildings; the government held a massive restoration. Furthermore, after Indonesian got its independence, the local government of Bali handled the repair and ceremonies at Besakih Temple. In 1967 supervision and maintenance of Besakih Temple by the governor of Bali was submitted to the Hindu Dharma Council of Indonesia (PHDI) and was then mandated again to Prawartakan Besakih Foundation. This foundation then carried out the repairs to damages caused by natural disasters.
Great attention of the Bali government along the district and municipal government across Bali is given to the improvements that continue until now. Other than the attention of customary and religious institutions through meetings of Sulinggih and Walaka, religious seminars and other meetings on the ceremonies at Besakih Temple should be carried out in accordance with the norms including the implementation of grandiose rituals held periodically such as the Eka Dasa Rudra in 1979 (Çaka 1900), Panca Walikrama in 1989 (Çaka 1910) and Candi Narmada at Batu Klotok, Panca Walikrama in Lake Batur and Tri Bhuana Ritual in 1993, Eka Bhuana Ritual in 1996 in the courtyard of Besakih Temple as a series of the Eka Dasa Rudra. (Dr. I Wayan Wastawa—lecturer at IHDN Denpasar)