Acintya (from Sanskrit: अचिन्त्य, "the inconceivable", "the unimaginable"), also known as Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (Balinese: "The Divine Order") and Sang Hyang Tunggal ("The Divine Oneness"), is the Supreme God of Indonesian Hinduism (formally known as Agama Hindu Dharma), especially on the island of Bali. Acintya is equivalent to the metaphysical concept of Brahman of Indian Hinduism, and is the Supreme God in traditional wayang (shadow puppet) theatre. All gods, goddesses and existence are believed to be the manifestation of the Acintya in Balinese Hinduism.
Sanghyang Widhi Wasa
Acintya corresponds to a rather recent trend towards monism in Bali, according to which there is one supreme deity, and that all other gods are only manifestations of him. Acintya is emptiness, and considered as the origin of the Universe, all other divinities emanating from him.
Prayers and offerings are not made directly to Acintya, but also to the other manifestations of the deity. He is often not even represented, in which case he is only evoked by an empty throne on top of a pillar (the Padmasana, lit. "lotus throne"), inside Balinese temples.
The introduction of the Padmasana as an altar to the Supreme God, was the result of a 16th-century Hindu reformation movement, led by Dang Hyang Nirartha, the priest of the Gelgel King Batu Renggong (also Waturenggong), at the time when Islam was spreading from the west through Java. Dang Hyang Nirartha built temples in Bali, and added the Padmasana shrines to the temples he visited.
Since the end of World War II and the Indonesian War of Independence, the Republic of Indonesia has adopted the political philosophy of Pancasila (literally, "The five principles"), which allows for freedom of religion. The statute, however, requires that the religion in question be monotheistic, i.e., based upon the belief in a single, omnipotent deity. Under this system, six religions are recognised: Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism and later on Confucianism. To comply with regulations, Balinese Hindus have felt the need to reinforce the monotheistic component of the faith, thus the more emphasised role of Acintya. To refer to him, they selected the term Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (glossed as "God Almighty"), which although coined in the 1930s by Protestant missionaries to describe the Christian God, was thought to be well-adapted to describe the Hindu supreme deity. This is thus the name which is now more commonly used by modern Balinese.
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