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Traditional Politeness

Various tradition of Balinese are presented with short articles as listed below. The basic concept of conduct of Balinese is based on social layers called " Kasta " or castes which is very complex and expressed in language and body gesture. Yet some basic attitudes that can be found at all levels are the same especially concerning what is polite and what is not. Here are some important conducts that would be suggested to everyone who meeting Balinese :

  • Openness ( frankliness) or egalitarian is not considered polite, there are so many words to disclose the inconsistency, of one's attitude or misfortune, disagreement or negation. Usually expressed in accordance of agreement first than suggesting another answer
  • Call or address one's name who is older or not known is not common. It is suggested to put " Pak " for man and " Bu " for woman of older age and unknown person. Once it is known call Pak / Bufollowed by number of birth name would be the most refine accost.
  • Shake hand, point something by left hand is not considered polite. Basically using left hand to indicate object or someone is to be avoided
  • Point something by foot is totally unacceptable and is considered humiliation
  • Touch one's head unless you are older and have been aquintant with the person is considered not polite
  • Conduct relating to self and one's expression by language, although it is not applicable to foreigners who does not speak Balinese can be seen here
  • Conduct during visiting a temple and during a ritual in the temple can be read here

Personal Titles

It is no doubt that Balinese started to know the caste layer on the society after 1343 AD. This is the start of Bali entering the great empire of Indonesia, named Majapahit kingdom. The first indication that the king called I Dewa ( his divinity higher then his majesty ) was started when the capital city of Bali relocated from Gelgel to Klungkung ( now the city of Klungkung or Semarapura ) in 1710, for example the king Dewa Agung Jambe, Dewa Agung Di Made, and other small kingdoms ( vassals ) of Bali. Since the rule of Kepakisan dynasty ( 1343 ) until Klungkung the two castes had been strongly advocated themselvesas the caste of Brahmana and the caste of royal palace. There are two designations for royal palace caste title since then, those royal palace who traced back heir nobility to Javanese dignitaries called themselves as group of Arya with desination of I Gusti, since 1929 mostly using title Anak Agung and those who traced back their origin to Kresna Kepakisan dynasty called themselves as I Dewa. Collectively Balinese lowland social layers can be summed as follows:
Catur Wangsa ( 4 castes ) : is divided into triwangsa ( 3 castes ) plus Sudra ( common people ). Triwangsa is the nobility consist of three groups, the Brahmana, Satria ( rulers I Dewa and I Gusti ) and Wesia ( family of rulers ). While the 4th group the Sudra which is 95% of Balinese people are the common people. Each group of caste showing different name initial that can be identified easily, who belong to which caste group and from which nobility. Yet in fact still many title could not be classified into which group they belong. Just to give an idea that the initial names of each case can be summed as follows:

Brahmana Caste Ida ( for man ), Ida Ayu or Dayu ( for woman )
Satria Caste I Dewa Agung for king, Dewa Ayu for woman ( often refered as Desak ) - Kepakisan dynasty descendant

I Gusti Agung for head of army and vassal king for man, Gusti Ayu for woman - Arya or Rakryan group descendant
Wesia Caste Descendant of Dalem Kepakisan : I Dewa ( Dewa Putu, Dewa Gede, Cokorda, etc ) for man, Dewa Ayu or Desak for woman. Except the descendant of vassal king of Bangli Dewa follows the title given by Dutch in 1929 as Anak Agung.
Descendant of Arya : I Gusti for man and Gusti Ayu for woman, since 1929 given by Dutch diplomat used the title Anak Agung for man and Anak Agung Ayu for woman. Due to various mistakes by the people of Bali itself some lower dignitaries were also addressed with Gusti, it must be not all I Gusti families are descendant of Arya, this is still an assupmption, because the tradition to call kingdom official was inherited fom Jogyakarta on to Majapahit and end in Bali. There are some other title which is probably descendant either I Dewa or I Gusti but considered have lower level such as Sang, Ngakan probably from Dewa, Gusti, and Si probably from Arya
Sudra Caste Consist of various families of Pasek, Dukuh and Pande.

According to a manuscript written during Klungkung royal palace, during the enthronement of Kepakisan as king of Bali under Majapahit, some of the staffs of army chief Gajah Mada were so influential and were given the title of minister or in ancient word Rakrian Apatih in the palace. The soldiers of Java known as the group of " Arya " which was later known to used title I Gusti, or I Gusti Agung for those who in power. After making some areas independence from Klungkung. The wesia caste trace their origin of three soldiers brought by Gajah Mada the Arya Tan Mundur, Tan Kaur, and Tan Kober, but in fact mostly the descendant of king and head of armies who did not sit in throne. The dscendant of Kepakisan is considered the highest status with the title of Satria Dalem, as the dynasty of Kepakisan. Kresna Kepakisan who was the first king of Bali under Majapahit was a descendant of Empu or priest which was at that time did not called Brahmana, as the understanding of current Brahmana in Bali. Only in Bali that the priest with Brahmana sect considered as the highest priest in Hindu. The father of Kresna Kepakisan was said Dang Hyang Kepakisan, a title for a knowlegable person in all aspects of life during especially become the adviser of the king which is not nacessary a Brahmana sect, just like the position of Accharya in ancient India kingdom. This historical fact is very contradictory with what we know as priest or Pedanda now in Bali, who is only a religious figure only bussy with rituals and mantras.

Brahmana and The Myth

Within the Brahmana of Bali itself there are some groups that claim their origin to certain famous priest from Java. The Priest of Paksa Buda, Budakeling and Batuan trace back their origin from Javanese priest of Dang Hyang Astapaka. The priest of paksa Siwa traced their origin to the younger brother of Astapaka, Dang Hyang Dwijendra or Dang Hyang Nirartha, who was said to come to Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa for a legendary missionary ( dharma yatra ) in 15th to 16th century, written on the purana of Dang Hyang Dwijendra called Dwijendra Tatwa. From this priest were descended some level of priests in Bali. His first wife, a princess of Daha kingdom east Java is said to descended the Brahmana of Kemenuh, a village now also known to name Kemenuh where also exist the family of Brahmana. Second wife was daughter of king of Pasuruan, also a kingdom in East Java who descended the Brahmana Manuaba, the third wife was a daughter of priest from Blambangan also descended Brahaman Keniten. When the priest visited the village of Mas, he married the daughter of the Bendesa Mas, and descended the Brahmana Mas, and the 5th wife was a servant of the Bendesa Mass called Ni Brit descended the lowest Brahmana called Antapan Mas. While aside from the story, there are only 4 of above Brahmana are normally known. There are no historical fact that can be used to study the origin of above four Brahmana except based on the manuscript. Another priest in Bali is the Sengguhu, mentioned on the manuscript of Pasek family, that this priest originated from assistant of Dang Hyang Dwijaksara who came to Bali by steeling his name so the people thought he was the priest and treated him and trusted him to conduct a ritual. This assistant was called I Guto who also studied the script and mantrams concerning the ritual so he knew about the ceremony. Later he was caught up by Dwijaksara but due to his knowledge he was given the authority to conduct human life circle rites. This story of the manuscript can not be identified with the fact that during sectarianism worship in Bali who venerated Wishnu as supreme god also had priest with the name Senggu, see from the attributes he uses during the conduct of a ritual, it is no doubt about it. In case Senggu is the priest of Wishnu sect, that putting them as lowest priest as mentioned on above manuscript was only the personal interest of the writer of the manuscript. Historical facts suggest that Bali ever had 9 sects of religions wich were no doubt that each of them also had their priest such as Shivaitic sect, Wishnuistic sect, Brahmanic sect, Ganesha sect, and many others. Yet in the course of time the only Brahma priest that appear to control all the sects and called themselves the highest priest, while the fact in Bali is mostly Shivaitic.

In the society of Bali there are discussion about castes. Some opinion say that it should be based on function not hereditary. As the castes in Bali has been a wrong concept of thinking. For example, a family of Pande which means blacksmith. Then we can not say a person who does not even know blacksmith work as a blacksmith, that is the case, a person does not know about religious mantras or rites, can we say he/she is a priest? That is also to the ruling class. A fact that a priest or a pande or a king a large part originated from a family who were priests, Pande or King. But not all of the children of them take the assignment according to their ancestors. In Bali although they do not take the assignment as their ancestors they are also called themselves as Brahmana, Pande, or King. The hereditary based social layers in Bali was actually did not seen as the problem in itself by their group leaders, as to weather the orientation of the society would change from traditional feudal system to the world of human knowledge and technology of today in which primordial refine status means nothing unless they mastering the knowledge and technology become the main vision of them. In this case the castes status, especially higher one can be a word of bad stigma.

Garis Bali

Bali Age Village
Bali Traditional House
Balinese Language
Balinese Names
People of Bali
Castes Social Layers
Early Chinese in Bali
Indonesian Language
Kinship With Long Line
Language Dialect
Living Magic Belief
Marriage Tradition
Ngaben Cremation Ritual
Tantrayana Buddhist
Traditional Synbols Pratima
Tenganan Bali Age Village
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Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.