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Ida Ratu Ayu Subandar (Ratu Ayu Mas Subandar)  

by on Saturday, 29 April 2006No Comment | 3,185 views

Whether Subandar is or not another name for For Jaya Kesunu’s wife is highly debatable. The fact that Subandar is an important figure in Bali is beyond question. There is a large shrine dedicated to Ida Ratu Ayu Subandar located in the extreme northeast corner of the outer courtyard of Pura Dalem Balingkang. Inside of it is a long megalith that is considered to be very sacred and in the shape of a barong landung. At any rate, there seems to be some connection between Subandar and the Balingkang stories. With this in mind, let us examine the other Subandar phenomena in Bali.

Ida Ratu Ayu Subandar

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The word Bandar means “harbor” or “port” in Indonesian. Subandar then refers to a harbor master, or one who supervises the trade of a port. In its most simple aspect, the deity called Subandar may be a deification of the historical importance to Chinese people of trade. At least this is the thought of some authorities. The Chinese, who have been trading for more than millennia, had various gods of trade. There are shrines to Subandar not only at Balingkang, but also at Besakih, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, and Pura silayukti at Padang Bai. The names are interesting. At Balingkang, the “Ida Ayu” prefixed to the name indicates a female. At BaturTemple the name of the shrine is Jero Gede Subandar, implying male. The name of the shrine at Besakih is female and identical to the one at Balingkang.

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The Subandar shrine at Pura Ulun Danu Batur is by far the most interesting of these and the only one that displays any obvious external Chinese influence. Here is to all intents and purposes, a Chinese temple in Bali. It is located in the northeast or far left hand corner of the sacred inner courtyard of the temple. The Chinese temple is not large – about five meters wide and long – and is built upon a white platform. The shrine itself is in a traditional Balinese bale with four pillars on the open porch and a thatch roof. But the pillars, and indeed, the whole interior of the open porch, are painted bright Chinese red. Two red sitting lions with their paws and claws facing outward guard the steps up to the entrance, which is enclosed by a low carved stone wall. The bright red door to the room. The bright red door to the room inside is covered with gold decoration and is guarded by two large green snakes with bared teeth. On each side of the snakes is a mustachioed Chinese figure in a bright green robe. The wall facing the temple courtyard is decorated with two carvings in deep relief. The one on the left is of a typical heroic figure from one of the Hindu epics; the one on the right is a pedanda, a Brahmana priest. The carvings are painted gold, with green and red borders.

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The story is that Batur temple was originally located at a site down in the caldera, next to the lake. And the holy soul of Jero Gede Subandar was worshipped at a shrine there, along with Ida Betara Sri Jaya Kesunu (he had apparently also become a god) and his Chinese wife. In 1926 Mount Batur erupted with violence. At the moment of eruption, the story goes, the temple priests arrived on the scene and became possessed by a spirit. The spirit said the Subandar shrine would be not be harmed, but they must evacuate everyone to the west side of the lake where there would be no damage. They did so. Upon returning, the pemangkus (lay priests in charge of the temple) found that none of the Subandar relics had been harmed by lava, but everything else in the temple was destroyed.

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The temple was rebuilt up on crater rim in its present location. The Subandar shrine was inside the jaba, the outermost courtyard, with all of the other shrines. Then, in 1952, the government decided to move it completely outside the temple because the Chinese who came to worship there went in and out of Pura Batur without wearing the required traditional clothing. Shortly after the shrine was moved, it is said, disasters appeared in the Kintamani area. The water dikes broke without apparent cause. Plant diseases ruined the crops. People became seriously ill. One day, at a ceremony in the temple, several pemangkus went into trance. The spirit that possessed them was that of Subandar, called in this story Chong Poo Kong, who said that because the shrine was moved outside of the temple, he could no longer guard the gate if an accident or disaster appeared. He said the people should move his shrine back to its original place in the temple. The pemangkus asked where the shrine should be placed. The reply was that it should be placed where a stone appears from inside the earth. The stone, visible only at night, did appear, it is said, and got larger every night. The present shrine of Jero Gede Subandar was built here and has protected the temple ever since.

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Source: Bali Sekala & Niskala

Editor’s Note
See map of Batur and surroundings.

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