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Conservation a la Balinese  

by on Wednesday, 11 July 2007No Comment | 2,028 views

1. The protection of natural environment.
2. The act of preventing something from being lost, wasted, damaged, or destroyed.
Those are the definition of conservation offered by my Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary. From the definitions above at least I can get a little idea of ‘conservation’ in English speaking country.

In Balinese culture the idea of ‘conservation’ equivalent to the idea of ‘kerti’ which means ‘order,’ ‘peace’ and ‘prosperity.’ How come? Let see how they connect each other. In the context of conservation the idea of ‘kerti’ is explained by expounding six kinds of ‘kerti,’ known as ‘sad kerti.’ They are Atma Kerti (soul), Samudra Kerti (ocean), Wana Kerti (forest), Danu Kerti (lake), Jagat Kerti (world), Jana Kerti (individual). Instead of ‘order,’ ‘peace’ and ‘prosperity,’ at this point, the word ‘kerti’ means ‘effort to achieve the prosperity of ….’

Atma Kerti can be defined as efforts to achieve the peacefulness of the soul. The soul of deceased Balinese is given a series of ceremonies in order to purify the soul from worldly influence, so it can achieve the stage of perfection and peacefulness as a deities in family temple.


Samudra Kerti can be defined as efforts to achieve the welfare of the ocean. The welfare of the ocean includes conservation of ocean natural environment and protection of ocean wildlife. Sea temples (pura segara) were built on each beach in order to appease the spirit of the sea and prevent pollutant dumping in the sea near the temples. Many kinds of ceremonies are also dedicated to the sea as a remainder for the Balinese to protect the ocean.


Wana Kerti is defined as efforts to achieve the welfare of the forest. It includes the conservation of the forest and protection of its wildlife. Balinese built many sacred forest temples (Pura Alas Angker), the forests in the surrounding areas of the temples are considered as sacred, no tree is allowed to be cut, and no animal is allowed to be kill since all plants and animals in these forest are belong to the gods which reside in the forest temple. Balinese believe a violation of this rule will result the wrath of the gods, source of all misfortunes. Many kinds of ceremony also dedicated for the welfare of the forest serve as reminder on the importance of the forest to the human life.


Danu Kerti is defined as efforts to achieve the welfare of the lake, river, spring, underground water and all water ecosystems found on land as well as their inhabitants and surrounding environment. Each lake has it own temple known as Pura Ulun Danu, each big spring also has its own temple (Pura Beji), and a shrine for the small one. There are a series of shrines (bedugul) scattered along the river. All these temples and shrines are built as place to honor the deities of the lake, spring or river and to preserve the surrounding areas of these temples or shrines.

Jagat Kerti is defined as efforts to the welfare and peacefulness of the world. This goal can be achieved through establishing harmonious relationship among men; men and nature; and men and God. Harmonious relationship among men can be achieved through reciprocation of good deeds and services; between men and environment through love and compassion to nature and all its inhabitants; and between men and God through devotion and knowledge.

Jana Kerti can be defined as an effort to achieve welfare of an individual. This can only be achieved after all other five efforts have been completed successfully. It means that the welfare of an individual greatly depends on the welfare of his environment and society.

That a glimpse on the idea of ‘conservation’ in Balinese culture. Balinese are seldom aware of the existence of this idea in our culture but we do practice it.

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