The Balinese Rwa Bhineda and Readjusting Complementary Opposites
This chapter focuses on the role of the penasar (mediator between the gods, nobles, and common people) and how it exemplifies the importance the Balinese ascribe to maintaining equilibrium between complementary opposites—the concept of rwa bhineda. Their obsession with ritual to preserve harmonious balance applies to both the catastrophes of macrocosmic proportions and the microcosmic problems in daily life, all interrelated in the tri buana: the three worlds of gods, humans, and demons. While rwa bhineda permeates Balinese culture, even the perception of how “opposites” are defined is not absolute. Hence, acts of performance are simultaneously employed to further the understanding of what constitutes harmony in the modern world as well as restore it.
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