TRI HITA KARANA , THE VISION OF HARMONY
DR. K.G. Dharma Putra
The phrase tri hita karana (THK) originated from the Sanskrit words: tri (three), hita (secure/prosperous/bliss), karana (cause/reason). If they are combined, THK means three (things) that make us secure and prosperous. And, lexically THK signifies three causes of prosperity/safety/bliss produced by balanced and harmonious relations in one whole unity between human and God; human and human; human and nature.
Anthropologists say that THK is local genius (local wisdom) that has become a cultural identity. Local genius can be made equal to cultural identity since it can accommodate and integrate the external cultural elements into an indigenous culture. In Bali, THK does not only accommodate and integrate external cultural elements into a indigenous culture, but at the same time also becomes the substructure of life order of the Balinese community in various sectors (read: Measuring the Implementation of THK). THK is universal and has totality characteristics comprising macrocosms, but it does not become smaller for an island, a territory, a village, a house, a building or even for the human self.
THK elements in the universe (macrocosm) comprises physical environment; human as activator of nature; and God that brings life to the universe. Within the human self (microcosm), the THK elements are composed of angga sarira (corporeal body); prana (life-giving force) that activates humans and atman (inner self as the life’s giver to human).
Humans or microcosms as creations of God constitutes a small part of immeasurable an unlimited macrocosm, an ultimate and eternal source of energy. In Hindu Upanishad is mentioned as Brahman-Atman-Aikyam (the inner self or Atman originates from and can reunite with God or Brahman or Paramatman). Relations between macrocosm and microcosm or Paramatman and Atman is a mutual causality. In creating, God never leaves His creation, but inspires His (wyapi-wyapaka). This causal relation is signified in the THK concept to make it stay harmonious like a precious stone in a ring, fetus and the uterus (kadi manik ring cucupu—in Balinese language).
According to Hinduism, the universe along with its content is the creation of God. THK concepts mandates in order that the relation between God and His creation remains harmonious, concordant and balanced. One of the ways to maintain the harmony and balance of these relation is by the development of spatial arrangement culture of which realization has the capacity for the three foremost aspects pertaining to luan-teben concept (sacred-profane). The three foremost aspects in Balinese traditional geomancy is called tri mandala; tri (three), mandala (zone/territory). Tri mandala means zonal division into three, namely utama mandala (the most sacred zone or jeroanmadya mandala (intermediate zone or jaba tengah) for residential buildings; nista mandala (outermost zone, the most profane, or in Balinese known as jaba sisi, teba, lebuh or telajakan). in Balinese) for houses of worship;
The three zones in the tri mandala concept mentioned above are classified further into nine territories called sanga mandala (sanga = nine, mandala = zone). In the spatial arrangement patterns of customary villages in
In the smaller scope, for instance, at hotel sites, its parhyangan aspect is the element of atman or inner self or matter that brings life to humans (customers, hotel management, suppliers, competitors) that originates from God/Paramatman and abides in the house of worship at hotel sites. In Bhagavad-Gita (7.9) God says, punyo gandhah prthivyam ca tejas casmi vibhavasau jivanam sarva-bhutesu tapas casmi tapasvisu (I’m fragrant that originates from the land, heath from the earth, soul from all living beings, hermitage of all ascetics).
So, parhyangan is not just a physical building sanctum but Atman that originates from Paramatman and abides in these sanctums—temples, ancestral shrines and the like for the Hindu community. Then, its pawongan aspect is the human element of the hotel management (owner, management, employees), customer, supplier and competitor—not its hotel building. Ultimately, the palemahan aspect is the sarira element, namely the entire hotel territory (land, building, plants, animals and other physical facilities).
In the hotel territorial division and arrangement—whether they are residential houses or village housing, village territories, sub districts, regency/city, provinces and so forth, or hotel arrangements and the like—based on sanga mandala concept signifies that minimally 1/9 (one ninth) should be used as a sacred zone (KS); maximally 5/9 (five ninth) for residential or building zones (ZB) and the rest, minimally 3/9 (three ninth) used for green open zones (RTH). Here, there are two words “minimally” for ‘KS’ and ‘RTH’ and one word “maximally” for ‘ZB’ that signify that only ‘ZB’ can be decreased, while ‘KS’ and ‘RTH’ or activity zones can only be increased by reducing that allotment of ‘ZB’.
This zonal division based on tri and sanga mandala is horizontal, while the vertical makes use of tri angga concept (tri = three, angga = part), namely utamaning angga (uppermost/most sacred part); madyaning angga (intermediate part); nistaning angga (most profane/bottommost part). If they are analogized to the human body, the head part is utamaning angga, body (madyaning angga) and feet (nistaning angga). Such a vertical spatial division seems to anticipate multitiered buildings by placing sacred rooms upstairs, residential rooms in the middle and activity rooms downstairs. Therefore, either tri mandala and sanga mandala or tri angga constitutes the motivating vehicle for the implementation of harmonization of humans and nature, human and human, human and God relations as denoted in the THK concept.
Concerning the implementation of THK concepts, in the circle of the Balinese community is known a concept or formula just like hidden gold that has high philosophical value to reinforce togetherness and harmonic principles (read: Chapter I, Understanding the Problems of Bali). One of them that is frequently put into discussion or introduction discourse at food stalls, offices, meeting halls and the like is the formula on desa, kala and patra that is analogized to the concept of ‘appreciation to dresta (tradition), customs and local norms’. Some people also position desa, kala and patra as a place, time and condition. Meanwhile, the Holy Scripture Bhagavad-Gita (17.20) states firmly,’datavyam iti yad danam diyate nupakarine dese kale ca patre ca tad danam sattvikam smrtam’ (philanthropy that is given due to non-profit obligation, on the right time and place, to the right person and is considered to have good quality). This means to have a relation to mission ‘philanthropy’ or the shape of ‘donator/social grant’ that should be carried out at the right time and place to the right person/group that is appropriate to receive it. In this context, it is improper to give donations to drunkards, gamblers or even to the poor because of laziness.
So, how are desa, kala, and patra related to the implementation of THK? If desa is analogous to place, kala to time and patra to those that are proper to revive its problem is appropriate with the condition of an individual/group), means that the attempts of spatial arrangement and construction that employs the tri angga, tri mandala and sanga mandalapalemahan). Meanwhile, time arrangement (comparable to kala) that can create conditions or life behavior (comparable to patra) is discussed inadequately. It means that time is 24 hours everyday (kala)—or seven days in a week, or four weeks in a month, or 12 months in a year and so on—that is owned by humans if related to the implementation of THK concepts, apart from being used for palemahan, should also be allocated proportionally for pawongan and parhyangan aspects in order it can give assurance for the creation of good condition/behavior (patra). Kala (time) for palemahan pertains to physico-material affairs; kala (time) for pawongan touches the socio-humanitarian affairs and kala for parhyangan relating to mental-spiritual affairs. Proportional time management here covers the elements of spiritual wisdom, contextual flexibility and transparent justice. concepts mentioned above seemingly only cover the physico-material aspect or material/artifact subsystems (
Departing from this understanding, it can be assumed that the time possessed by humans during his lifetime will not able to create harmony or balance if it is only used to look for money or wealth (palemahan) only by ignoring social affairs and failing to think of God/the Creator. It is impossible to produce ‘pure peace’ if it is spent only on ritual matters or only focused on social matters until one forgets to eat, take a rest or sleep and the like.
As an illustration that indicates partiality of thinking, I was once asked by a public official the following. “Why are forests being cut down, snatched or even burnt in Bali the problems occurs frequently, whereas we persistently implement the tri hita karana just as performing the wana kertih ceremony?’—Wana kertih ritual means ritual activity that is intended to establish spiritual values to devotees in order to maintain forest preservation).
This question in complaint style was uttered by a public officer as though ‘blaming’ the wana kertih ceremony itself, and at the same time ‘pour out’ and also ‘call off’ all affairs in skala universe (visible world) by means of rituality only. Whereas, between niskala and skala (ritual matters to God/the invisible, to human and nature/visible world) lays in the whole unity. In the context of THK concept implementation, between parhyangan, pawongan and palemahan cannot be partialized or separated, but should be treated as one unity.
Should there be any protected forest being deforested, snatched or burnt by certain persons resolving it should be done by generating all elements of THK. First of all is pawongan, that all the apparatuses of law enforcement (forest police, civil police, public prosecutors, judges and jail officers) investigate the instigators and then apprehend, administer justice and send them to prison. The next step, namely the pawongan aspect is to be being generated, namely performing a wana kertih ceremony that constitutes ritual activity to establish spiritual values (parhyangan) and allocates amounts of money for forest regreening (palemahan) that had been burnt previously.
Ritual ceremonies can only be carried out if it involves human beings (pawongan) with several ingredients (leaf/young coconut leaf, fruit/cash crops, meat and the like) that are picked or obtained at palemahan and later presented to God (parhyangan) to establish spiritual values (parhyangan) on human beings (pawongan) in order to be able to maintain forest conservation or not to deforest/burn the forest anymore (palemahan).
This matter indicates that from any aspect we start, it is impossible to resolve all problems if we merely do it by clearing up one aspect. Such problems can only be possibly resolved when employing a comprehensive approach in one unity. In the book The Essence of Bhagavad-Gita is stated, “Venerating God on one hand, but inflicts or harms other creatures on the other hand merely shows one’s stupidity. This kind of person will never achieve any spiritual progress.” This seems to be the right understanding and substance of the THK concept.
The terminology tri hita karana (THK), according to some references was declared around 1964 in the activity arena of the Struggle Board of Bali’s Hindu’s. This board was then renamed Prajaniti Hindu of
Though its terminology has not been introduced for long, the fundamental concept of THK has been carried in the Holy Scripture Bhagavad-Gita (III.10) saying that yajna (holy sacrifice) is the basis of relation among the Almighty God (Praja Pati), human (praja) and nature (kamadhuk). THK in this context can imply the balanced life attitude between devotional services to God, dedication and mutual service to fellow human, maintaining the welfare of physical environment based on yajna. In other words, humans as social creatures can achieve life happiness both materially and spiritually if he can establish harmony of relation with God, fellow human and nature in whole unity based on yajna.
AT the seminar on customary villages at the Faculty of Law and Social Studies,
The term ‘milch cow’ does not mean to legalize humans to exploit or annihilate nature just for the sake of individuals or group’s short-term interest. Such sloka (a couplet of Sanskrit verse) in Bhagavad-Gita indicates that humans are not forbidden to cut down trees or catch animals provided it is based on yajna interest (offering or holy sacrifice).
Furthermore, human and Divine elements are described in the Hindu Holy Scripture Rg Veda (I.164.64) in the sentence ‘Ekam Sadwivra Bahudha Wadanti. Saha-yajnah Parajah Srisva Purowaca Prajatih’ (God is the one, the wise call it in various names. God creates humans based on yajna). The existence of natural resources is expressed in Bhagavad-Gita (IV.31) saying ‘Na-ayam Loko’Sty Ayajnasya (world that contains all natural resources is intended for the life of all living beings, but not for those who are not performing yajna).
Interdependency principles (life depending on one another) between humans and God, the fellows and nature is described in Bhagavad-Gita (III: 11, 12, 14) by the following statement ‘maintain the conservation of nature of my (God) creation at your (human) surroundings, as a consequence nature will also maintain your survival. By mutual assistance, you (human) will accomplish immeasurable bliss. If you maintain the conservation of nature as a devotion to me, any forces of nature will also give what you appeal for. This human body is composed of what is consumed, like food that is resulted from rain, and rain is determined by human concern on his/her environment. Those who enjoy perquisite of nature without giving back something are just like a thief’.
Such interdependency principles is also carried in Santiparwa (109.11) and Mahabharata (2.28) saying ‘Dharmena widhartah prajah dharmena dharyate sarwam. Jagat sthawara janggaman loka samgraha samyuktam. Widhatrawihitam pura, sukma dharmarthaniyatam satwam caritam uttamam.’ It means that the universe along with all living beings are looked after and organized by dharma. Welfare of human beings comes from dharma (holy deeds or truth). Likewise, activity and noble character for human welfare are derived from the supreme dharma.
It is worth reaffirming that even though the referential teachings lay on Hindu holy scriptures, THK is universal as it emphasizes the principles of togetherness and harmony that basically is correct for all layers of the community, even for devotees of any other religions. In the context of the hotel business, the pawongan aspect in the THK concept put service aspects to all customers on the front line (first), service to employees on the second line; owner on the third; the authority on the fourth; and service to the wider general public on the fifth.
Service to customers is put on top priority since it immensely determines the survival of the hotel service business. Employees are put on the second line because they are situated in the front line in giving service to customer’s satisfaction. The owners are put on the third line as they have an investment so the company can be founded. Authority element on the fourth is to remind the business practitioners in order that they propose a license if they would like to establish any companies and pay taxes when they obtain profits. The company is obliged to give service to the community in the surrounding of the hotel to create a harmonious interaction and avoid any adverse conflicts.