by Made Wijaya
I am researching for a book on the glorious 13 – 15th century East Javanese Hindu Empire of Majapahit, and have need to check facts about Ubud on Google.
The trouble is : when I punch in, say, Rsi Markandya ( the important 10th century priest who founded Pura Campuan), up comes a lot of links to green papaya colonic irrigation spas and such and nothing about history. So I go to Pura Besakih, also founded by Markandya, and can’t find anything, but there is a big tag on the bottom of the page directing me to “How to get a Javanese girlfriend”. I follow the link and find all sorts of intriguing detail in an area in which I lack expertise. Did you know, for example, that if a Javanese girl approaches one at the Yoga Barn, one must offer her a drink if she is with friends, and a tray of expensive cocktails will arrive. Or that care must be taken not to buy real estate on the first date?
I decided to move my research sideways to Goa Gajah, the “elephant cave”, to try and discover if the Buddhists who built it were followers of the “esoteric” Vajrayana cult later adopted by many Majapahit princes. I have decided that all those flaming finials and fangs on the architecture of the Ubud Pura Dalem are descended from this movement, and from the equally esoteric Siwa-Bhairawa cult of worship – of Siwa in his manifestation as the terrible . On Google I find, once again, twenty Gajah Nungging spas and feet reflexologists and shonky shaman for rent by the half hour, but nothing on Vajrayana. “Do you mean Viagra?” it asks.
That film “Eat Pay Leave” with Julie Andrews prompted a commercial New Age overhaul in Google search, I reckon. Anyone serious about Sanghyang Jaran fire-worship, for example, now has to wade through pages of bar-men whirling combusting liquor bottles, all-women ketjaks, and, the piece de resistance, “agni fire worship Rituals” at 6-star hotels for $200 that include a “Hindu fire priest”, two cocktails and a five-course gourmet meal.