Kejawèn or Javanism, also called Kebatinan, Agama Jawa, and Kepercayaan, is a Javanese religious tradition, consisting of an amalgam of animistic, Buddhist,and Hindu . It is rooted in Javanese history and religiosity, syncretizing aspects of different religions.

Wayang Kulit of Semar
A Wayang puppet representing Semar


The term kebatinan is being used interchangeably with kejawèn,[1] Agama Jawa[2] and Kepercayaan,[3][4] although they are not exactly the same:

  • Kebatinan: "the science of the inner",[1] "inwardness",[4] derived from the Arabic word batin, meaning "inner" or "hidden".[5]
  • Kejawèn: "Javanism",[1][6] the culture and religious beliefs and practices of the Javanese people of Central Java and East Java.[7][6] It is "not a religious category, but refers to an ethic and a style of life that is inspired by Javanist thinking".[8]
  • Agama Jawa: "the Javanese religion"[2]
  • Kepercayaan: "belief",[3] "faith",[4] full term: Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Maha Esa,[web 1] "Believer in One Mighty God".[9] "Kepercayaan" is an official cover term for various forms of mysticism in Indonesia. According to Caldarola, it "is not an apt characterization of what the mystical groups have in common".[4] It includes kebatinan, kejiwan and kerohanian.[4]

Kebatinan is the inner-directed cultivation of inner peace, rooted in pre-Islamic traditions,[10] whereas kejawèn is outer-directed and community-oriented, manifesting in rituals and practices.[10]


COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Wajangfiguur van karbouwenhuid de mythische vogel Garuda voorstellend TMnr 1772-697
A Wayang puppet representing Garuda

Java has been a melting pot of religions and cultures, which has created a broad range of religious belief, including animism, spirit cults, and cosmology.

Hinduism and Buddhism

Indian influences came firstly in the form of Hinduism, which reached the Indonesian Archipelago as early as the first century.[11] By the fourth century, the kingdom of Kutai in East Kalimantan, Tarumanagara in West Java, and Holing (Kalingga) in Central Java, were among the early Hindu states established in the region. Several notable ancient Indonesian Hindu kingdoms are Mataram, famous for the construction of the majestic Prambanan temple, followed by Kediri and Singhasari. Since then Hinduism, along with Buddhism, spread across the archipelago and reached the peak of its influence in the fourteenth century. The last and largest of the Hindu-Buddhist Javanese empires, that of the Majapahit, influenced the entire Indonesian archipelago.

Hinduism and Buddhism penetrated deeply into all aspects of society, blending with the indigenous tradition and culture.[12] One conduit for this were the ascetics, called "resi," (Sanskrit rishi) who taught a variety of mystical practices. A resi lived surrounded by students, who took care of their master's daily needs. Resi's authorities were merely ceremonial. At the courts, Brahmin clerics and pudjangga (sacred literati) legitimized rulers and linked Hindu cosmology to their political needs.[12] Presently, small Hindu enclaves are scattered throughout Java, but there is a large Hindu population along the eastern coast nearest Bali, especially around the town of Banyuwangi.


Java adopted[13][note 1] Islam around 1500 CE.[13] Islam was first accepted by the elites and upper echelons of society, which contributed to the further spread and acceptance. Sufism and other versions of Folk Islam were most easily integrated into the existing folk religion of Java.[13] The learned versions of Sufi Islam and Shari`a-oriented Islam were integrated at the courts, blending with the rituals and myths of the existing Hindu-Buddhist culture.[13] Clifford Geertz described this as abangan and priyayi; "the lower class and elite varieties of Javanese syncretism".[13]

The Kyai, the Muslim scholar of the writ became the new religious elite as Hindu influences receded. Islam recognises no hierarchy of religious leaders nor a formal priesthood, but the Dutch colonial government established an elaborate rank order for mosque and other Islamic preaching schools. In Javanese pesantren (Islamic schools), The Kyai perpetuated the tradition of the resi. Students around him provided his needs, even peasants around the school.[12]


Christianity was brought to Java by Portuguese traders and missionaries, from the Dutch Reformed Church, and in the 20th century also by Roman Catholics, such as the Jesuits and the Divine Word Missionaries. Nowadays there are Christian communities, mostly Reformed in the larger cities, though some rural areas of south-central Java are strongly Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics and other Christian groups have been persecuted for their beliefs such as a ban on Christmas services or decorations.[14]

Islam and kebatinan

Nowadays more than 90 percent of the people of Java are Muslims, on a broad continuum between abangan and santri. Although Java is nominally Islamitic, kejawen, the syncretic Javanese culture, is a strong undercurrent.[15] Pre-Islamic Javan traditions have encouraged Islam in a mystical direction.

Some Javanese texts relate stories about Syekh Siti Jenar (also known as Syekh Lemah Abang) who had conflicts with Wali Sanga, the nine Islamic scholars in Java, and the Sultanate of Demak.[16][17] Although Syekh Siti Jenar was a sufi whose teaching were similar with Al-Hallaj, most of his followers (Ki Kebo Kenanga) come from Kebatinan. Some historians have doubted the existence of Syekh Siti Jenar, suggesting the stories represent conflicts between Kebatinan and Islam in the past.

With the Islamisation of Java there emerged a loosely structured society of religious leadership, revolving around kyais, Islamic experts possessing various degrees of proficiency in pre-Islamic and Islamic lore, belief and practice.[12] The kyais are the principal intermediaries between the villages masses and the realm of the supernatural. However, this very looseneess of kyai leadership structure has promoted schism. There were often sharp divisions between orthodox kyais, who merely instructed in Islamic law, with those who taught mysticism and those who sought reformed Islam with modern scientific concepts.

As a result, the Javanese recognize two broad streams of religious commitment:[18][note 2]

  1. Santri or putihan ("pure ones"), those who pray, performing the five obligatory daily ritual prayers.[18] They are more orthodox in their Islamic belief and practice,[12] and oppose the abangan, who they consider to be heterodox.[21]
  2. Abangan, "the red ones", who do not strictly observe the Islamic rituals.[18] They have mixed pre-Islamic animistic and Hindu-Indian concepts with a superficial acceptance of Islamic belief,[12] and emphasize the importance of the purity of the inner person, the batin.[18]

This distinction between "the High Islam or scripturalist, shari`a-oriented Islam of the `ulama"[13] and "living local Islam"[13] or "Folk Islam"[13] or "popular Islam"[13] is not restricted to Java, but can be found in other Islamic countries as well.[13]

Ernest Gellner has developed an influential model of Muslim society, in which this dichotomy is central:[13]

He sees a dialectical relationship between the two, with periods of scripturalist dominance followed by relapses into emotional, mystical, magical folk Islam. Modernity — especially urbanisation and mass literacy — unsettles the balance between the two, by eroding the social bases of folk Islam. An irreversible shift to scripturalist Islam occurs, which is in Gellner’s view the equivalent of secularisation in the West.[13]

Bruinessen finds this too limited, and distinguishes three overlapping spheres:[13]

  1. Shari`a-oriented Islam,
  2. Sufism (mystical Islam, which has its learned and popular variants),
  3. The periphery of local rituals, local shrines, local spirit cults and heterodox beliefs and practices in general.[note 3]

Javanese syncretistic religiousness has a strong popular base, outnumbering the santri and the support for Islamic political parties.[22][web 2] Choy relates this to a Javanese apparent openness to new religions, but filtering out only those elements which fit into the Javanese culture.[23] Choy mentions several reasons for this nominal Islamic identity:[24]

  1. The Islamic scholars in Java have been trained in curricula which were geared for social conditions of two or three centuries ago, lacking the ability to impart the spirit and sense of Islam;[23]
  2. The inability to summarise the principles of Islam in understandable basic points which can be applied to daily life;[24]
  3. Kebatinan can be learned and understood without the need to learn Arabic.[25]

In the early 20th century, several groups became formalised, developing systemetised teachings and rituals, thus offering a 'high' form of abangan religiosity, as an alternative to the 'high' Islam.[26] Bruinessen opines that the kebatinan-movements is a deliberate rejection of scriptural Islam,[27] which arose out of "folk Islam".[13]


COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Java man gezeten onder een waringinboom TMnr 60020257
A Javanese man meditating under a Banyan tree. Dutch East Indies, before 1940.


Kebatinan is derived from the Arabic word batin, meaning "inner" or "hidden",[5] or "inner self".[28] It is a metaphysical search for harmony within one's inner self, connection with the universe, and with an Almighty God.[28] Kebatinan believe in a "super-consciousness" which can be contacted through meditation.[25]


Kebatinan is a combination of metaphysics, mysticism and other esoteric doctrines[28] from Animistic, Hinduistic, Buddhist and Islamic origins. Although the Javanese culture is tolerant, and open to new religions, only those qualities are accepted and filtered which fit into the Javanese culture, character and personality.[23] Javanese ideals combine human wisdom (wicaksana), psyche (waskita) and perfection (sempurna). The follower must control his/her passions, eschewing earthly riches and comforts, so that he/she may one day reach enlightened harmony and union with the spirit of the universe.

According to Choy, the Kebatinan have no certain prophet,[29] sacred book,[29] nor distinct religious festivals and rituals. Nevertheless, various kebatinan-movements have their own foundational writings and founders.[30][31]

A kebatinan practitioner can identify with one of the six officially recognized religions, while still subscribe to the kebatinan belief and way of life.


Although kebatinan is a predominantly Javanese tradition, it has also attracted practitioners from other ethnic and religious groups, such as Chinese and Buddhists,[32] and foreigners from Australia and Europe.[9] President Suharto counted himself as one of its adherents. Their total membership is difficult to estimate as many of their adherents identify themselves with one of the official religions.[33]

Official recognition

The Indonesian state ideology strives toward a unified nation, recognizing only monotheism. Meanwhile, there is also a tolerance for non-recognized religions.[15] A broad plurality of religions and sects exist. In the middle of 1956, the Department of Religious Affairs in Yogyakarta reported 63 religious sects in Java other than the official Indonesian religions. Of these, 22 were in West Java, 35 were in Central Java, and 6 in East Java.[12]

These include also kebatinan-groups, such as Sumarah. This loosely organized current of thought and practice was legitimized in the 1945 constitution, but failed to attain official recognition as a religion.[9] In 1973 it was recognized as Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Maha Esa (Indonesian: Belief in One Mighty God[9]), but withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religion and placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture.[9]


A variety of practices is being used in kebatinan to acquire ilmu[34][note 4], namely tiraka[35][34][36][note 5] and tapa[35] or tapabrata.[36][note 6]

Many Kebatinan followers practice in their own way to seek spiritual and emotional relief. These practices are not performed in churches or mosques, but at home or in caves or on mountain perches. Meditation in Javanese culture is a search for inner self wisdom and to gain physical strength. This tradition is passed down from generation to generation.


There are several tapa:

  • tapa Ngalong (meditation by hanging from a tree)
  • tapa Kungkum (Meditation under small waterfall or meeting point of 2-3 rivers / Tempuran / Tjampuhan)


Fasting is a common practice employed by Javanese spiritualists in order to attain discipline of mind and body to get rid of material and emotional desires:

  • pasa Mutih (abstention from eating anything that is salted and sweetened, only eat/drink pure water & rice),
  • pasa Senen-Kemis (fasting on Monday-Thursday)
  • pasa Ngebleng (fasting for a longer period, usually 3-5-7 days)

Animistic worship

Kebatinan often implies animistic worship, because it encourages sacrifices and devotions to local and ancestral spirits. These spirits are believed to inhabit natural objects, human beings, artifacts, and grave sites of important wali (Muslim saints). Illness and other misfortunes are traced to such spirits, and if sacrifices or pilgrimages fail to placate angry deities, the advice of a dukun or healer is sought.

Other practices

Other practices include:

  • tapa Pati-Geni (avoiding fire or light for a day or days and isolating oneself in dark rooms),
  • tapa Ngadam (stand/walk on foot from sunset till sunset, 24 hours in Silence)
  • the rituals carried out on Mount Kemukus (also known as Sex Mountain), which have also been linked to Kejawen.[37]

Historical texts

Kebatinan and kejawen practices are extensively written about in texts that are held in the Sonobudoyo library in Yogyakarta, and the main Kraton Libraries of Surakarta and Yogyakarta. Many of the texts are deliberately elliptical so that those who do not work with either initiates or teachers are unable to ascertain or understand the esoteric doctrines and practices. In quite a few cases codified texts with secret systems to "unlock" the meanings are employed.

But according to Bruinessen, the writing down of kebatinan teachings was a novelty which appeared with the institutinalisation of the kebatinan-movements in the beginning of the 20th century.[27]

Kebatinan organisations

The appearance of formal kebatinan movements reflects the modernisation of Indonesia.[1] Kebatinan movements appeared early in the 1900s in urban traditional elite circles,[13] together with the rise of nationalism and the Muhammadiyah, a modernist Islamic movement.[1] Hardopusoro, one of the earliest kebatinan-movements, had strong links with the Theosophical Society.[1] Some remained very elitist, while others also accepted lower urban and rural followings, thereby popularising abangan, or syncretistic Islam, as an alternative to shari`a-oriented Islam.[13]

After the independence of 1949, the kebatinan received political support and attracted large followings.[38] Kebatinan-movements were seen by secular nationalistic elites as allies against the rise of political Islam.[27] The political struggle between the Muslim parties and the Communists and Nationalists lead to a sharper demarcation between syncretistic and shari`a-oriented Islam, whereby most kebatinan movements affiliated with the Communist or Nationalist Parties.[13][note 7]

Umbrella organisations representing several hundred kebatinan organisations, lobbied to attain legitimacy and recognition as an official religion.[1][3] They are registered at the HKP (Himpunan Penghayat Kepercayaan), which is controlled by the PAKEM (Pengawas Aliran Kepercayaan Masyarakat). After the Suharto-era (1967-1998), the kebatinan-movements lost political support,[38] and have become less dynamic, their adherents avoiding public engagement.[1]

Altogether several hundred kebatinan-groups are or have been registered, the best-known of which are:[note 8]


Subud was founded in the 1920s by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo. The name Subud was first used in the late 1940s when Subud was legally registered in Indonesia. The basis of Subud is a spiritual exercise commonly referred to as the latihan kejiwaan, which was said by Muhammad Subuh to be guidance from "the Power of God" or "the Great Life Force". The aim of Subud is to attain perfection of character according to the will of God.[51] Only when passion, heart and mind are separated from the inner feeling is it possible to make contact with the "Great Life Force" which permeates everywhere.[52]

The name Subud is formed from the words susila ("the good character of man"[51]), budhi ("the force of the inner self"[51]) and dharma ("trust in God"[51]). These words are derived from the Sanskrit words susila, bodhi and dharma.[web 3]

Muhammad Subuh saw the present age as one that demands personal evidence and proof of religious or spiritual realities, as people no longer just believe in words. He claimed that Subud is not a new teaching or religion but only that the latihan kejiwaan itself is the kind of proof that humanity is looking for. He also rejected the classification of Subud as a kebatinan organization. There are now Subud groups in about 83 countries, with a worldwide membership of about 10,000.[53]


Sumarah was formed in the 1930s by Pak Hardo, Pak Sadina and Pak Sutadi, without a formal organisation.[54] In those early days, the younger members were taught kanoman, occult practices including invulnerability for knives and guns. This was regarded as essential in the struggle against the Dutch colonial powers.[54] Around 1950, when Indonesia became an independent nation, Sumarah was streamlined and organised by Dr. Surono. The emphasis shifted from magic to "surrender to God".[54] From 1957 on internal struggles surfaced between dr. Surono and the founders Pak Hardo and Pak Sadina, leading to a change in leadership by dr. Ary Muthy in 1967.[54]

Sumarah theology maintains that humankind's soul is like the holy spirit, a spark from the Divine Essence, which means that we are in essence similar to God. In other words, "One can find God within oneself," a belief similar to the "I=God" theory found in Hindu-Javanese literature.[55]

According to Sumarah theology, man and his physical and spiritual world are divided into three parts:[55]

  • The physical body and brain. One section, Sukusma, governs the passions. In the brain, the faculty of thinking has two functions:
    • To record memories
    • To serve as a means of communion with God
  • The invisible world, which is situated within the chest. It is the Jiwa, the ineffable soul, which provides the driving forces governing thought and reason. It is here that the deeper feeling (Rasa) is located.
  • The more elusive and sublime world. The most elusive and sublime world is hidden somewhere near the anatomical heart.

Sumarah's conception of God is different from Islam. It has a pantheistic vision of reality, considering God to be present in all living beings.[55]


Pangestu was founded in 1949.[56] Its doctrine was revealed in 1932 to Sunarto Mertowarjoyo, and written down in the Setat Sasangka Djati by R.T. Harjoparakowo and R. Trihardono Sumodiharjo Pangastu.[56] It describes the way to obtain wahyu, the blessing of God.[56]

Sapta Dharma

Sapta Dharma was founded in 1952 by Harjo Sapura, after he received a revelation.[50] According to Sri Pawenang, it was God's wish to provide the Indonesian people with a new spirituality in atime of crisis.[50] Its aim is to free man of his passions.[56]

According to Sapta Dharma teachings, suji (meditation) is necessary to pierce through different layers of obstacles to reach Semar, the guardian spirit of Java.[57] Theory and practice resemble Hindu Kundalini yoga, aiming at awakening the Kundalini energy and guiding it through the chakras.[56]

Majapahit Pancasila

Majapahit Pancasila[note 9] was founded by W. Hardjanta Pardjapangarsa.[52] It is based in Javanese Hindu-yogic practices,[59] c.q. Kundalini yoga,[52] rather than Balinese ritual practice as is prevalent in Parisada Hindu Dharma.[59] According to Hardjanta, his meditation practices also lead to invulnerability for knives, daggers and other weapons.[60]

Spread of kebatinan


Kebatinan beliefs have spread to some parts of Malaysia, wherein certain individuals have combined it with Islamic concepts (e.g. proclaiming themselves to be new-age Islamic prophets, but delivering messages that are a combination of Islamic and kebatinan beliefs). This has led to the Malaysian Islamic authorities declaring elements of kebatinan to be "syirik" (shirk) and un-Islamic. Kebatinan interpretations of Islam are widespread in Malaysia among practitioners of silat, traditional healers, and some preachers (such as Ariffin Mohammed and other self-proclaimed Islamic prophets).


In the Netherlands, the former colonial power in Indonesia, some kebatinan-groups are active.[61]


Since the majority of Singaporean Malays are of Indonesian descent, particularly from Java, many of Kebatinan are still practiced usually among older people. However, the practice is still widespread among some Javanese Silat and Kuda Kepang groups, and also traditional shamans.


It was brought to Suriname by Javanese workers in the late 19th century.

See also


  1. ^ Bruinessen: "Java was converted to Islam quite late; the process started seriously around 1500CE, that is, at the time of the great Alevi rebellions. Adoption of Islam is perhaps a better term than conversion, for the Javanese were deliberately syncretistic. For many of the new Muslims Islam, especially in its Sufi variety, was a welcome additional source of spiritual power, not a substitute for what they already had."[13]
  2. ^ Anthropologist Clifford Geertz made a well-known, though criticised, threefold distinction between abangan, antri and priyayi.[web 2][19] The priyayi are the descendants of the high class and court members, were gurus taught the Hindu-Buddhist art of inner cultivation,[20] which stayed alive in the interior areas of Java.[6] Geertz noticed that the priyayi play a central role in the teaching of kejawen and kebatinan to the abangan.[20]
  3. ^ Bruinessen: "This third sphere was no doubt in most parts of the world for many years the one that had by far the greatest numbers of adherents. It has often been through Sufism that people from the heterodox periphery gradually moved towards some degree of conformity with orthodoxy."[13]
  4. ^ knowledge, power
  5. ^ "Fasting",[35] "ascetic exercises",[34] "spiritual techniques"[36]
  6. ^ "austerity",[35] "spiritual techniques"[36]
  7. ^ The relation between religion c.q. "spirituality", politics and (post-)colonial struggles is not unique to Indonesia. In India, Hindu reform movements involved both religious and social reforms, for example the Brahmo Samaj,[39] Vivekananda, who modernised Advaita Vedanta,[40] Aurobindo[39] and Mahatma Gandhi.[39] In Buddhist countries, Buddhist modernism was a response against the colonial powers and the western culture.[41] In Sri Lanka, Theravada Buddhism was revitalised in the struggle against the colonial rule. The Theosophical Society played an essential role here.[42][43][44] In China, Taixu propagated a Humanistic Buddhism, which is again endorsed by Jing Hui, the (former) abbott of Bailin Monastery.[45] In Japan, Buddhism adopted nationalistic politics to survive in the modern era, in which it lost support from the government.[46][41] zen was popularised in the west by adherents of this modern Buddhism, especially D.T. Suzuki and Hakuun Yasutani.[47][41]
  8. ^ See [48] for a longer list of Kebatinan organisations.
  9. ^ Full "Sanaata Dharma Majapahit Pancasila",[58] acronym "Sadhar Mapan"[58]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ooi 2004, p. 719.
  2. ^ a b Caldarola 1982, p. 501.
  3. ^ a b c Hooker 1988, p. 196.
  4. ^ a b c d e Caldarola 1982, p. 539, note 30.
  5. ^ a b Levenda 2011, p. 72.
  6. ^ a b c Mulder 2005, p. 16.
  7. ^ Oey 2000, p. 58-59.
  8. ^ Mulder 2005, p. 17.
  9. ^ a b c d e Choy 1999, p. 112.
  10. ^ a b Levenda 2011, p. 73.
  11. ^ McDaniel 2010.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g van der Kroef 1961.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s van Bruinessen 2000a.
  14. ^ Epa 2010.
  15. ^ a b Mulder 2005.
  16. ^ Headley 2004, p. 367-368.
  17. ^ Azra 2006, p. 129.
  18. ^ a b c d Mulder 2005, p. 15.
  19. ^ Mulder 2005, p. 21-22.
  20. ^ a b Mulder 2005, p. 21.
  21. ^ Mulder 2005, p. 15-16.
  22. ^ Mulder 2005, p. 22-24.
  23. ^ a b c Choy 1999, p. 109.
  24. ^ a b Choy 1999, p. 109-110.
  25. ^ a b Choy 1999, p. 110.
  26. ^ Masus 2009, p. 148.
  27. ^ a b c van Bruinessen 2000b.
  28. ^ a b c Choy 1999, p. 107.
  29. ^ a b Choy 1999, p. 108.
  30. ^ Choy 1999.
  31. ^ Masud 2009, p. 148.
  32. ^ Choy 1999, p. 111-112.
  33. ^ Beatty 1999.
  34. ^ a b c Retsikas 2012, p. 179.
  35. ^ a b c d Christomy 2008, p. 171.
  36. ^ a b c d Hughes-Freeland 2008, p. 189.
  37. ^ An adulterous pilgrimage,
  38. ^ a b Musad 2009, p. 148.
  39. ^ a b c Senari 2000.
  40. ^ Rambachan 1994.
  41. ^ a b c McMahan 2008.
  42. ^ McMahan 2008, p. 98.
  43. ^ Gombrich 1996, p. 185-188.
  44. ^ Fields 1992, p. 83-118.
  45. ^ Feuchtwang 2010, p. 189.
  46. ^ Victoria 2006.
  47. ^ Fields 1992.
  48. ^ van Bruinessen & Howell 2007, p. 225-226.
  49. ^ a b c d van Bruinessen & Howell 2007, p. 226.
  50. ^ a b c d e f g Choy 1999, p. 116.
  51. ^ a b c d Choy 1999, p. 118.
  52. ^ a b c Choy 1999, p. 119.
  53. ^ Hunt 2003, p. 122.
  54. ^ a b c d Choy 1999, p. 115.
  55. ^ a b c Choy 1999, p. 114.
  56. ^ a b c d e Choy 1999, p. 117.
  57. ^ Choy 1999, p. 116-117.
  58. ^ a b Research School of Pacific Studies 1980, p. 217.
  59. ^ a b Tarling 1992, p. 563.
  60. ^ Choy 1999, p. 122.
  61. ^ Renard 2010.


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  • Retsikas, Konstantinos (2012), Becoming: An Anthropological Approach to Understandings of the Person in Java, Anthem Press
  • Sinari, Ramakant (2000), Advaita and Contemporary Indian Philosophy. In: Chattopadhyana (gen.ed.), "History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization. Volume II Part 2: Advaita Vedanta", Delhi: Centre for Studies in Civilizations
  • Stange, Paul (1980), The Sumarah movement in Javanese mysticism. Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Wisconsin-Madison, University Microfilms International
  • Tarling, N. (1992), The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: The nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Volume two, Cambridge University Press
  • Victoria, Brian Daizen (2006), Zen at war (Second ed.), Lanham e.a.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.


  1. ^ Indonesia: East Java native religion called Aliran Kepercayaan or Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan Yang Maha Esa, aka Pangistu; its status and treatment of its members by Muslim fundamentalists (2003-June 2004)
  2. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Rogge2009 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ SubudBritain, About Subud

Further reading

  • Geertz, Clifford (1976), Religion of Java, University of Chicago Press
  • Jones, David (2010), Magic & Mysticism in Java
  • Kinney, Ann R.; Klokke, Marijke J.; Kieven, Lydia (2003), Worshiping Siva and Buddha: The Temple Art of East Java, University of Hawaii Press
  • Retsikas, Konstantinos (2012), Becoming: An Anthropological Approach to Understandings of the Person in Java, Anthem Press
  • Stange, Paul (n.d.), The evolution of Sumarah (PDF)

External links


Ali Illahism (Persian: علی‌اللّهی‎) is a syncretic religion which has been practiced in parts of Iranian Luristan which combines elements of Shia Islam with older religions. It centers on the belief that there have been successive incarnations of the Deity throughout history, and Ali Ilahees reserve particular reverence for Ali, the son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who is considered one such incarnation. Various rites have been attributed as Ali Ilahian, similarly to the Yezidis, Ansaris, and all sects whose doctrine is unknown to the surrounding Muslim and Christian population. Observers have described it as an agglomeration of the customs and rites of several earlier religions, including Zoroastrianism, historically because travelogues were "evident that there is no definite code which can be described as Ali Illahism".Sometimes Ali-Illahism is used as a general term for the several denominations that venerate or deify Ali, like the Kaysanites, the Alawis or the Ahl-e Haqq/Yarsanis, others to mean the Ahl-e Haqq.

Anthropological Perspectives on Religion

Anthropological Perspectives on Religion (Anpere), is an open access journal founded in 2006 by Swedish anthropologists Pierre Wiktorin and André Möller. The journal's focus is anthropology of religion.

Anthropology of religion

Anthropology of religion is the study of religion in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures.


A Bobohizan (Tangaa' Kadazan term) or Bobolian (Bundu Liwan Dusun term) is a high priestess, a ritual specialist and a spirit medium in Kadazan-Dusun pagan rites. The office of Bobohizan or Bobolian, is also the chief preserver of Momolianism, i.e. the philosophy and way of life of the Kadazan-Dusun people.

One of the primary roles of a Bobohizan is to appease the rice spirit Bambaazon during harvest festival or Kaamatan. During the event, she will lead a procession of people from her village through the paddy field under the full moon, to give thanks and to seek a bountiful harvest for the rice-cultivating Kadazan-Dusun people. A Bobohizan also plays a role as a mediator between the spirits and the people. One of the commonest duties of a Bobohizan is to heal and cure illnesses with herbal remedies and rites.

Bora (Australian)

Bora is an initiation ceremony of the Aboriginal people of Eastern Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before European colonisation. The word "bora" also refers to the site on which the initiation is performed. At such a site, boys, having reached puberty, achieve the status of men. The initiation ceremony differs from Aboriginal culture to culture, but often, at a physical level, involved scarification, circumcision, subincision and, in some regions, also the removal of a tooth. During the rites, the youths who were to be initiated were taught traditional sacred songs, the secrets of the tribe's religious visions, dances, and traditional lore. Many different clans would assemble to participate in an initiation ceremony. Women and children were not permitted to be present at the sacred bora ground where these rituals were undertaken.

Comparative religion

Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religion yields a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophical concerns of religion such as ethics, metaphysics, and the nature and forms of salvation. Studying such material is meant to give one a broadened and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual, and divine.In the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification of the main world religions includes Middle Eastern religions (including Iranian religions), Indian religions, East Asian religions, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions, and

classical Hellenistic religions.

Divine language

Divine language, the language of the gods, or, in monotheism, the language of God (or angels) is the concept of a mystical or divine proto-language, which predates and supersedes human speech.


Initiation is a rite of passage marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in which the initiate is 'reborn' into a new role. Examples of initiation ceremonies might include Christian baptism or confirmation, Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, acceptance into a fraternal organization, secret society or religious order, or graduation from school or recruit training. A person taking the initiation ceremony in traditional rites, such as those depicted in these pictures, is called an initiate.

Islam in Suriname

According to the official data, the Muslim population of Suriname represents about 13.9 percent of the country's total population as of 2012, which is the highest percentages of Muslims on the South American continent. Though the majority belong to the Sunni interpretation of Islam and some syncretic sects such as Sufism and Javanese Kejawèn.

Some speculate that Muslims first came to Suriname as slaves from West Africa and then were converted to Christianity over time, even though there is little proof for these speculations. The ancestors of the actual Muslim population came to the country as indentured laborers from South Asia and Indonesia, from whom today most Muslims in Suriname are descended.

Because Islam came to Suriname with immigrants from Indonesia (Java) and South Asia (today India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), who brought their local form of Islam to Suriname, it is strongly influenced by these regions. Apart from descent, most Surinamese Muslims also share the same culture and speak the same languages. Suriname has a small number of Afghan Muslims and their native-born children.

Organized religion

Organized religion (or organised religion—see spelling differences), also known as institutional religion, is religion in which belief systems and rituals are systematically arranged and formally established. Organized religion is typically characterized by an official doctrine (or dogma), a hierarchical or bureaucratic leadership structure, and a codification of rules and practices.

Purity and Danger

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo is a 1966 book by the anthropologist and cultural theorist Mary Douglas. It is her best known work. In 1991 the Times Literary Supplement listed it as one of the hundred most influential non-fiction books published since 1945. It has gone through numerous reprints and re-editions (1969, 1970, 1978, 1984, 1991, 2002). In 2003 a further edition was brought out as volume 2 in Mary Douglas: Collected Works (ISBN 0415291054).

Religion in Indonesia

Indonesia is officially a republic with a compromise made between the ideas of an Islamic state and a secular state. Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and the first principle of Indonesia's philosophical foundation Pancasila requires its citizens to "believe in the one and only God". Consequently, atheists in Indonesia experience official discrimination in the context of registration of births and marriages and the issuance of identity cards. In addition, the Aceh province officially enforces the Sharia law and is notorious for its discriminatory practices towards religious and sexual minorities. There are also pro-Sharia movements in other parts of the country with overwhelming Muslim majorities.A number of different religions are practised in the country, and their collective influence on the country's political, economic and cultural life is significant. The Indonesian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. However, the government recognises only six official religions: Islam, Protestant Christianity, Roman-Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. According to the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia (Mahkamah Konstitusi) of 7 November 2017, the branches of beliefs (Indonesian: aliran kepercayaan), or ethnic religions, must be recognized and included in an Indonesian identity card. Based on data collected by the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), there are about 245 unofficial religions in Indonesia.Indonesian law requires that every citizen hold an identity card that identifies that person with one of these six religions, but citizens are able to leave that section blank. Indonesia does not recognise agnosticism or atheism, and blasphemy is illegal. In the 2010 Indonesian census, 87.18% of Indonesians identified themselves as Muslim (with Sunnis about 99%, Shias about 1% and Ahmadis 0.2%), 7% Protestant Christian, 2.91% Catholic Christian, 1.69% Hindu, 0.72% Buddhist, 0.05% Confucianist, 0.13% other, and 0.38% unstated or not asked.Indonesia's political leadership has played an important role in the relations between groups, both positively and negatively, promoting mutual respect by affirming Pancasila but also promoting a Transmigration Program, which has caused a number of conflicts in the eastern region of the country.

Rite of passage

A rite of passage is a ceremony or ritual of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It involves a significant change of status in society. In cultural anthropology the term is the Anglicisation of rite de passage, a French term innovated by the ethnographer Arnold van Gennep in his work Les rites de passage, "The Rites of Passage". The term is now fully adopted into anthropology as well as into the literature and popular cultures of many modern languages.


The slametan (or selametan, slamatan, and selamatan) is the communal feast from Java, symbolizing the social unity of those participating in it. Clifford Geertz considered it the core ritual in Javanese religion, in particular the abangan variant. The feast is common among the closely related Javanese, Sundanese and Madurese people.

A slametan can be given to celebrate almost any occurrence, including birth, marriage, death, moving to a new house, and so forth. Depending on the intention, the mood and emphasis may vary somewhat, but the main structure is the same. Geertz categorizes them into four main types:

Those relating to the crises of life: birth, circumcision, marriage, and death

Those associated with events of the Islamic calendar

The bersih désa ("cleaning of the village"), concerned with the social integration of the village

Those held irregularly depending on unusual occurrences: departing for a long trip, moving residence, changing personal names, illness, sorcery, and so onThe ceremony takes its name from the Javanese word slamet, from Arabic: salam, which refers to a peaceful state of equanimity, in which nothing will happen. This is what the host intends for both himself and his guests, by experiencing the egalitarian structure of the slametan and the petitions of supernatural protection from spirits.In Geertz's fieldwork in Mojokuto in the 1950s, he found that costs of slametans varied from 3 to 5,000 Indonesian rupiahs, depending on the type and the relative wealth of the host.


The concept of the supernatural encompasses anything that is inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature but nevertheless argued by believers to exist. Examples include immaterial beings such as angels, gods and spirits, and claimed human abilities like magic, telekinesis and extrasensory perception.

Historically, supernatural entities have been invoked to explain phenomena as diverse as lightning, seasons and the human senses. Naturalists maintain that nothing beyond the physical world exists and hence maintain skeptical attitudes towards supernatural concepts.The supernatural is featured in paranormal, occult and religious contexts, but can also feature as an explanation in more secular contexts.

Suriname (Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Suriname was a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands between 1954 and 1975. The country had full autonomy, except in areas of defence, foreign policy, and nationality, and participated on a basis of equality with the Netherlands Antilles and the Netherlands itself in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The country became fully independent as the Republic of Suriname on 25 November 1975.

Surinamese people in the Netherlands

Surinamese people in the Netherlands are people in the Netherlands who come from a Surinamese background. From 1667 to 1975, Suriname belonged to the Netherlands.

Migration began during the colonial era. Initially this was mainly the colonial elite but expanded during the 1920s and 1930s to the less fortunate inhabitants looking for better education, employment or other opportunities.Approximately 350,000 individuals of Surinamese descent now live in the Netherlands, with mass migration beginning in the years leading up to Suriname's independence in 1975, and continuing in the period immediately after independence and during military rule in the 1980s. Surinamese continued to migrate to the Netherlands throughout the 1990s because of the then tough economic situation in Suriname. Most Surinamese people in the Netherlands have a Dutch passport and the majority of whom have been successfully integrated into Dutch society.

Six percent of Dutch people of Chinese descent can trace their ancestry through Suriname. Most of them are Hakka people.

Tongji (spirit medium)

Tongji (Chinese: 童乩; pinyin: tóngjī; Wade–Giles: t'ung-chi; literally: 'youth diviner'; Tâi-lô: tâng-ki) or Jitong (Chinese: 乩童; pinyin: jītóng; Wade–Giles: chi-t'ung; literally: 'divining youth') is a Chinese folk religious specialist, usually translated as a "spirit medium", "oracle", or "shaman".

This word compounds tong 童 "child; youth; boy servant" and ji 乩 "to divine" (cf. fuji 扶乩 "divination; planchette writing"). Regional variants include Hokkien tâng-ki 童乩 and Cantonese gei-tung 乩童 or san-daa 神打.

A tongji or jitong is a person believed to have been chosen by a particular shen 神 "god; spirit" as the earthly vehicle for divine expression. The Chinese differentiate a wu 巫 "shaman; healer; spirit medium" who gains control of forces in the spirit world versus a tongji who appears to be entirely under the control of forces in the spirit world.

Frequently a person who will become a tongji to experiences a feeling of compulsion of something that will possess them. The person may attempt to resist that compulsion, but should their resistance fail, they will enter into a trance in which they may beat themselves with a nail-studded ball at the end of a cord and handle to the point that he draws blood from multiple wounds on his back. While in this trance state the tongji is believed to be possessed by a shen.


A totem (Ojibwe doodem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe.

While the term totem is derived from the North American Ojibwe language, belief in tutelary spirits and deities is not limited to indigenous peoples of the Americas but common to a number of cultures worldwide. However, the traditional people of those cultures have words for their guardian spirits in their own languages, and do not call these spirits or symbols "totems".

Contemporary neoshamanic, New Age, and mythopoetic men's movements not otherwise involved in the practice of a tribal religion have been known to use "totem" terminology for the personal identification with a tutelary spirit or guide, however this is generally seen by the originating cultures as cultural misappropriation.

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