Tutur Candra Bherawa: A New Balinese Theatre Work

I Gusti Putu Sudarta and I Gusti Made Darma Putra

Pakeliran Tutur Candra Bherawa (Performance of the Teachings of Candra Bherawa), produced in April 2022 in Denpasar, Bali, was a total theatre performance exploring traditional theatre using song in storytelling. The melodies and vocals were not confined to Balinese and Javanese traditions but borrowed from South Asia’s Sufi qawwali and other spiritual song sources. The form was presented in the Balinese sangita (sung drama) form, which combined singing, instrumental music, puppetry, and dance.

I Gusti Putu Sudarta has trained as a musician, composer, dancer, and dalang from his childhood in Bedulu, Bali and has a PhD degree from Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI, Indonesian Institute of the Arts) in Solo. He teaches puppetry at ISI in Denpasar, Bali. He has participated in international tours of Balinese traditional and experimental music, theatre, and dance, and worked on intercultural experimental theatre pieces including Theft of Sita with composer Paul Grabowksy and Australian director Nigel Jamieson.

I Gusti Made Darma Putra, S.Sn., M.Sn. is a dalang who earned his PhD from and is teaching puppetry at Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI) in Denpasar, Bali. He has created many shadow plays composing both narrative and music/songs. A recent creation is wayang enthal, palm leaf puppets, featuring three-dimensional figures made of woven palm leaves.


Academically trained dalang in Indonesia are always searching for new models in art. One innovative production presented and funded by DIPI by Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI)-Denpasar in 2022, was a theatre production (pakeliran teater) Tutur Candra Bherawa (Teaching of Candra Bherawa [hereafter Candra Bherawa]) which included puppetry and dance, but emphasized wirama (song/music) and tembang kakawin (singing of poetic literature).[1] Our performance was presented by students and faculty from ISI Denpasar and our rehearsals took place at both the school and at Bona village. For example, one performance was presented for Indonesia’s national Independence Day, 17 August 2022, at Sanur. Co-author Darma Putra recognized that this work about harmony of religions was a good fit: “The literary work Tutur Candra Bherawa is very appropriate as a reflection of human independence in choosing and expressing the soul without any restrictions and pressure but within the proper limits” (Darma Putra 2022).

The music for the production drew from diverse spiritual/religious traditions—Hindu, Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist. The religious literature inspiring the piece was tutur (meaning “memory, recollection, or consciousness” and equivalent to the Sanskrit smriti [see Acri 2006: 107]). Although the story about the eponymous ruler Candra Bherawa (also spelled Bairawa, Bhairawa, Bhairava) is a modern work written in 1942, the intent of older tutur literature persists—to promote spiritual study. Writing about this genre, Acri notes: “What really mattered in the eyes of . . . composers of tuturs, . . . considered proficient practitioners rather than learned scholars, was the edification of the disciples through the elucidation of the Sanskrit verses and the transposition of the contents into an indigenous doctrinal framework familiar to a local audience” (2006: 107). We hoped for the performers and audience to embrace religious diversity and acknowledge that sounds from different spiritual traditions can all move us toward the same goal of self-realization and enlightenment.

The text which inspired our production was written by a great literati of twentieth-century Bali, Ida Pedanda Made Sidemen (1878?-1984) from Geria Delod Peken Intaran, Sanur, Bali. He has been acknowledged as:

One of the great figures of 20th century Bali, renowned for his accomplishments in diverse fields, among others as a Brahmana high priest (pedanda), an offerings expert, a carver of masks, a maker of wooden split drums (kulkul), a traditional architect (undagi), and a poet, author, illustrator, commentator, interpreter and scribe of lontar [palm leaf manuscripts]. He was not merely competent in each of these fields but was an expert, a perfectionist, a master craftsman. (Rubinstein 1996: 2)[2]

The sangita (song drama) production we developed, inspired by Ida Pedanda Made Sidemen’s Mahabharata-themed story, was meant to deliver his message of religious tolerance, showing how humanity can pursue spiritual truth via different paths (Buddhism and Shaivism, respectively). The look and feel of the hybrid music-dance-puppet-technology piece and its combination of spiritual speculation and contemporary political-social applications had similarities to co-author Sudarta’s earlier work, for example an adaptation of the life story of the fourteenth-century poet Mpu Tantular (2008) of which Andrew McGraw wrote:

Kidung Mpu Tantular simultaneously evoked the pre- and ultra-modern. Performers appeared in modest, rustic costumes rather than the flashy modern costuming typical of the reformasi recital. Traditional wayang puppets fought between the frames of multiple screens, recalling the windows of a multitasking desktop, illumined by both fire and electric lighting. As the wayang screens faded to the red and white of the national flag and the performers assembled for the final bow, Sudarta proclaimed: “This performance is an offering for Nusantara! Long Live Indonesia!” The effect of Sudarta’s performance appeared to overwhelm several in the audience . . . by simultaneously cementing national, religious, and ethnic truths. Its liberal humanist vision recalled both the colonial-era theosophy movement . . . and [Bengali Ishwar Chandra] Vidyasagar’s Hindu reformism in which the polyphony of interpretation and hermeneutic debate, perceived to be at the origin of Indian religious traditions, were celebrated against a totalizing, institutionally enforced dogma. (McGraw 2013, 94-95)[3]

We hope this paper concerning the choices we made to present the tale can serve as a model of how contemporary dalangs move from an idea based on older literature to its realization in a contemporary production. The discussion will clarify the modernity of our work, showing the kind of hybrid performances being generated by Balinese puppeteers who come from “family” training as dalangs, but who also have studied arts at university level, and been exposed to the performing arts around the globe. Productions like Candra Bherawa, which melded many different musical styles, are an important part of the contemporary wayang scene in Bali. We will discuss our literary research, concept, and our resources of music, choreography, narration, and plot in this production.

Literary Research and Concept

As co-creators of performances, we regularly mine traditional Javanese and Balinese literary works, such as: kakawin (narrative poems in Kawi [old Javanese]), kidung (poems in Middle Javanese in macapat [4] poetic meters), geguritan (also gaguritan, long poems in Balinese language),and tatwa jnana (philosophical-spiritual poems including yogic ideas). These remain among the major literary sources of Balinese performing arts. By reading/singing such literary works, one is able to feel the “presence” of the pengawi (poet-author) and imaginatively engage in a dialogue with the writer’s work. This fictive conversation includes both a rational understanding of the story presented, but also, since singing the text is required in a Balinese rendition, one has an embodied experience of the poem; macapat lyrics are written to be sung to specific known tunes. Sung readings allow us simultaneously a philosophical and physical experience of the poem and its ideas on spirituality. Chanting such texts is a routine part of the education of dalangs, who may join in or listen to the groups (seka shanti) that chant such works of literature during Balinese religious ceremonies.[5] These texts teach lessons both for everyday life and spiritual practice.

As practicing dalangs,we were impressed with the performance possibilities of Kekawin Candra Bherawa, which would not normally be presented in wayang.However, the language is exquisite and uses several Kawi (Old Javanese) wirama (song meters). Alamkara (poetic adornment in Indian aesthetics) is strong: the work plays with sound, word choice, and other poetic elements. The values presented concerning spiritual wisdom are profound and recognition that there are multiple paths to the divine is needed in current Indonesian society as religious fundamentalisms wax. Before creating our production, we studied the Kakawin Candra Bherawa and related texts deeply.[6] Among artists of seka shanti (religious singing groups), which study/perform these tembang texts for Balinese ceremonies in mabebasan/mepepaosan (literary/chant reading) style, the Kakawin Candra Bherawa is known, however, the story is rarely performed in wayang in puppet only form or a hybrid mixture of narration, song-music, dance, andshadow puppetryas was the case here.

The wisdom in this kakawin is the essence of religion. The leading figure, Candra Bherawa (literally “Moon-Sun,” meaning  he is enlightened), is the embodiment of noble human nature. His name signifies buddhi, a term referring to one who has experienced peak consciousness. The philosophical and spiritual values contained in the work teach that humans are created by God and should be free to express themselves as individuals, carrying out their chosen religious rituals, which are not to be confined to one sect. However, in politics today, as in the past, religion is often used to attack people who have a different belief. Religious texts are often packaged superficially as doctrines to be instilled in the minds of the people to legitimize the interests of those in political power. The human and spiritual values that should soften the soul and allow diversity are turned into political propaganda, causing racial and class divisiveness, and intolerance. The Kakawin Candra Bherawa story, which focuses on a confrontation between two modes of religious thought, Saivism and Buddhism, encourages the listener to transcend sectarian differences in order to discover the essence of all religions—spiritual enlightenment. This was the message that we wanted to share as we experience sectarianism rising in Indonesia where Hindu Balinese, Christian Ambonese are sometimes attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, disrupting the nation’s long tradition of tolerant Islam and freedom of religion.

Our concept was that the debate about the path to the Divine will never end, but those in power have often tried to control it. The paths to God are many: there are those who seek liberating knowledge and transcend worldly attachments as lonely walkers, and those who take a path of passionate devotion or worldly application. Each is a path of liberation if spiritual awareness is the goal.

The source text contrasts Buddhism (as exemplified by Candra Bherawa of the Dewantara Kingdom) and Hinduism (as represented by the Mahabharata hero Yudistira). Candra Bherawa follows Yoga Sanyasa, the path of contemplation, wandering within his body/self to reach enlightenment. Yudistira practices Karma Sanyasa, a path of action and devotion, which may ultimately lead to enlightenment as well, but has more political dimensions which can result in conflict. Both are merely following different paths toward the same end. The narrative shows that King Krisna (India, Krishna), cousin to and advisor of Yudistira, helps spark a war between Candra Bherawa and Yudistira, but, at the end, Yudistira and Candra Bherawa experience unity in pure spiritual awareness. They worship God together, upholding humanity, serving community, and respecting nature. Tolerance of the multiple ways humans can achieve spiritual ends was the message we thought to convey.

Resources: Music, Choreography, Narration, Plot

Diversity of sound was our throughline. Sangita, a sung form of performance-storytelling, was our model (Figure 1).[7] Singing and instrumental pieces were composed with new melodies (solo and choral), primarily in selendro and pelog, two tuning systems of local gamelan music in a pentatonic and seven-toned scale, respectively.

Instruments for the performance pictured in rehearsal space.
Figure 1. Instruments for the performance pictured in rehearsal space. (Photo: I Gusti Sudarta)

The piece opened with co-author Dalang Sudarta delivering a long Balinese monologue as he tells the story of the unending debate and contradictions between religious sects. The melody in the pelog tuning was accompanied by a gambuh flute. Gambuh is an old Balinese theatre/music genre which tells stories about the East Javanese prince Panji. We borrowed the sound for this Mahabharata-based story to bring sweetness to the scenes it accompanied. We devised an offering dance performed by a female dancer which came with a chant in a selendro tuning, sung to the accompaniment of suling (flutes)fromBalinese gambuh-style dance-drama and kemanak (metal percussive instruments used in Javanese sacred dances such as bedhoyo, a palace female dance used for coronations).

In contrast, the five-toned pentatonic scale (selendro, also slendro) was accompanied at times by the Chinese yangqin (hammered dulcimer) instrument. Even a hang (hand pandrum inspired by Caribbean steel pan music) was played by the dalang in comic moments. We went worldwide in our instrumentation: Indian, Nepali, and Caribbean instruments and tunings were all included, though Balinese instruments were the core.[8]

With the mixed instruments we could introduce compositions in the style of qawwali (Sufi songs of South Asia), Indonesian Islamic chanting with frame drum accompaniment (dikir/rebana/terbang), Indian kirtan and bajan religious singing in praise of Krisna (Indian, Krishna), and even shades of Western Gregorian chant. The vocal aspects of puppetry were also important: the dalang’s text (tandak [melodically set mood songs], bebaturan [melodically free chants accompanied by an ostinato continually repeated musical rhythm], ngerak [rough vocalization], ngelur [flowing vocalization]) was performed not only to deliver the narrative, but as part of a complete musical composition.

Boundaries were amorphous: musicians rose and became dancers. At other points the wayang figures were projected on the wall behind the gamelan or on a hand-held screen. The dalang (co-author Sudarta) moved out of the singers/musicians to narrate sometimes with puppets or without. The dalang multi-tasked and acted as the narrator, delivered the characters’ dialogue, sang poetry alone or with the group, and played music; normally a dalang sits in one place behind a shadow screen or in the orchestra and does not move in and out of the action. Using the Balinese puppeteer’s guttural vocal techniques (sometimes described as “crashing” or “screaming”), the dalang’svoice enhanced the musical accompaniment.

To cast wayang shadows, we used a movable screen. Two to three dancers would stretch a cloth, dividing the stage. Sometimes the puppets would be held by puppeteers standing behind the screen, other times the puppets were projected on a wall behind the performance. Technology added a dramatic atmosphere via the lighting as the large figure of an actual wayang would be projected high on the wall behind the gamelan musicians. Both puppets and screens would disappear in a moment if not needed. The production used space dynamically; storytelling was not limited to a scene enacted with puppets as in traditional wayang. Dancers performed a solo or appeared in a group (for example, two strong male dancers might face off dramatically to represent the “war” scene). The composition of the dance was attuned to music. Group chant might leave the “stage” empty for periods while spectators listened to the sounds, and for a short while the piece seemed more like a concert. Then the dalang would rise and take over narration again. The production provided a constantly changing flow of sound-dance-story with music and mystical texts at the core.

The story showed the movement toward gnosis. It opened with a chanted prayer asking for divine inspiration (taksu) and included the performance by a solo dancer with a tree of life (kayon) puppet (see appendix for more specifics of action and orchestration). Next came group chanting in Islamic style to terbang/rebana frame drums with gender, metallophones used in traditional wayang but here with more keys for an expanded range. The accompaniment played beneath the lyrics was borrowed from “Atma Bodha” (Self Knowledge) written by Adi Shankara, the eighth-century Indian mystic. Finally, the dalang chanted his opening lines taken from the Middle Javanese Kidung Kaki Tuwa (Poem of [the eponymous] Kaki Tuwa). This was followed by a song composed for the Indian text Mantram Guru (Praising God/Teacher) and lines from Kakawin Candra Bherawa.The dalang narrated that the argument among religions was never-ending, as percussion played softly behind. The production was in many ways a further step on a musical, philosophical, and spiritual journey that co-author Dalang Sudarta has engaged in over the years and on his PhD research in Surakarta which allowed him to further explore ideas of Hindu music and philosophy.

Figure 2. Dance rehearsal for the scene of Kidung Wanwa. (Photo: Gusti Sudarta)

In the story proper the Mahabharata hero Bima has been sent by his brother King Yudistira, from a Saivite (Shaivite) kingdom, to investigate a realm where a different religion is practiced. Arriving at Dewantara Kingdom, a Buddhist rural society, Bima is amazed by the its beauty, bounty, and peace. The sung text for this section came from Kekawin Candra Bherawa. Female dancers represented the happy rural inhabitants (Fig 2). Bima then meets the Buddhist ruler, Candra Bherawa, and reports back to King Yudistira. Krisna, as advisor to Yudistira, counsels war to prevent people from seeing there can be other ways of thinking than Yudistira’s Saivism. The forces of Yudistira attack, but cannot overcome the power Candra Bherawa has achieved through his meditative practice. Not even Yudistira, as the epitome of Saivite dharma, can prevail. Candra Bherawa worships through the path of yoga sanyasa, worshiping the deity within himself. He sees the body is a sacred shrine in which the Sanghyang Wairocana/Adi Buddha/Divinity[9] resides in the human heart. Candra Bherawa does not build temples or perform religious ceremonies because he experiences Oneness in and as self-knowledge. This is the source of his power.

Creative Method

Candra Bherawa’s name, as noted earlier, means brightly lit. He is an enlightened soul who has taken an inner journey to achieve bodhi citta, awareness. To realize the idea in the literature of Ida Pedanda Made Sidemen, we used his concepts, described as ngarcana sarining lango, bukti-mukti-jiwan-mukti (liberation), gandha sesa and bhasma sesa.[10]

Ngarcana sarining lango means “embodying divinity/beauty,” which is formless, but we used a concept of bukti-mukti-jiwan-mukti. Bukti mukti means using logic without neglecting ethics and aesthetic creativity. Jiwan mukti means requiring contemplation (dharana), which leads to self-awareness and balance (dhyana), and hence enlightenment, breaking through shackles that limit the soul’s evolution (see Shringy and Sharma [1989] for discussion of these Hindu aesthetic concepts).

This idea of bukti-mukti-jiwan-mukti is a method of creation we related to gandha sesa and bhasma sesa. Gandha sesa means creative activities related to composing songs, music, selecting tunings or instruments, song meter, and vocal sounds. Meanwhile, bhasma sesa refers to building a dramatic framework, plot, script, and forms of presentation and artistic design (see Haryono [2005] for discussion of dramatic structures that we used). My concepts are derived from my study of Hindu and Buddhist aesthetics in an Indian context. Jiwan mukti is liberation and is both implicit and explicit in the singing of Balinese seka shanti groups singing at temple ceremonies, Muslim drum and chant, and female dancer genres of the Javanese court. Gandha sesa, imagination, relates to humans who have that creativity. The initial process the authors engaged in was to deepen their understanding of the Kakawin Candra Bherawa by re-reading each line, seeking to understand the significance.

Next, we selected the verses to be used in this work, selecting wirama (tunes/songs) for solo vocals and the chorus. We created a sangita work with tonal hierarchy (pathet) according to the characters’ demand, allowing the sound to create the desired mood for each scene. We used our wide choice of instruments (from fourteen-keyed gender, to drums, gamelan, and singing bowls) and selected among the elaborate playing techniques available.

The dalang guided the course of the story with singing, narration, and dialogue. Balinese poetry and phrases were fully worked out musically. As a storyteller, the dalang also performed narration by reciting improvised chants while playing the hang drum, bells, and yanqin dulcimer instrument. The storytelling strength of the Balinese drama forms, including mask dance (topeng) and wayang, allow the performer to move freely from character to character, from narration to dialogue, from serious storytelling with tatwa (philosophy) to humor, enhancing the work.

For bhasma sesa we used our study of contemporary drama to construct the work’s staging. Lighting supported the scene’s atmosphere and allowed us to cast shadows on the screen. The sound system supported the gamelan and vocal and were enhanced by use of microphones. Through our rehearsals we refined our offering, finding the sounds, songs, instruments, movements, and moments to bring to life the important concept of spiritual seeking and religious harmony.


In a talk at the Smithsonian in 2018, co-author Sudarta quoted the verse from the Poet Mpu Tantular which gives Indonesia its motto “Unity in Diversity” (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika).

It is said that there are two truths

One known as Buddha and one as Siwa

They may appear different but in fact spiritual truth cannot be split in two.

Truly the essence of Buddhism and Siwa-ism are the one, the deepest truth.

This difference is only apparent. In diversity there is oneness, an essence that cannot be divided because it encompasses everything. (Library of Congress 2018: 25.00)

That 2018 talk contrasted the religious tolerance and embrace of diversity of the poet, Mpu Tantular, with the political divisiveness of Gajah Mada, the prime minister of Majapahit who attacked the Sundanese and Balinese and whose machinations soon helped bring about the fall of the kingdom—a time of diversity with a Hindu King, his Muslim son, and the Buddhist-Saivite Empu Tantular.

The hybrid dance-puppet-music work featured in Tutur Candra Bherawa has a throughline of religious tolerance and pluralism. In employing diverse music, instrumentations, philosophical storytelling with puppets and dancers, co-author Sudarta’s productions have been simultaneously about finding enlightenment and at the same time creating a more perfect civil society in which Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Christian all fit. As with Yudistira and Candra Bherawa, all true seekers must realize we all share the same goal.


Work Structure

A. “Manggala Carana”

“Manggala Carana” is the opening in the form of manggala puja (auspicious prayer), chant sung to worship Sanghyang Shiva Buddha. “Kayonan Pamungkah” (Tree of Life Opening Dance) had the puppeteer singing (tembang cecantungan)using the metallophone instruments used in puppetry (gender wayang) accompaniment. This opening was asked permission to perform and with the blessings of Sanghyang Taksu (God of Inspiration). The worship song consists of two parts, namely vadyan (India, “music”)in the form of a chorus mantrasinging and qawwali (literally, “utterance of the Prophet”—a Sufi style of singing) accompanied by gambuh flutes and tambourines. Nretya puja (dance worship) via an offering dance came next with a chant in a selendro tuning to the accompaniment of suling (flutes)and kemanak (metal percussive instruments used in Javanese sacred dances such as Javanese bedhoyo, palace female dance).

1. “Kidung Manggala Puja”(Poem of Praise and Offering)

The melodies of the “Kidung Manggala Puja” are composed in the tune of gender wayang in selendro tuning to the rhythmic playing of tambourines/frame drums (terbana). The words are taken from “Atma Bodha” (Enlighted Soul), attributed to Adi Sangkaracarya (Adi Shankara, Adi Shankaracharya, eighth-century Indian mystic-scholar-teacher). The song begins with a chorus hummed meditatively (using the idea of alap [improvised passage] from Indian music). After this, the song continues with a chorus in a slow tempo (wilambit laya), accompanied by a rhythmic playing of the tambourines. The mood of this song is very meditative, inspired by qawwali, Sufi music. The central part of this ballad was in a moderate rhythmic pattern (madyama laya), and at the end, it was in a fast tempo (druta laya).

2. “Kidung Pamungkah”(Poem of Opening)

This pamungkah (opening) song by the puppeteer is in a selendro tuning. The melodies were improvised based on the melodies called for in Kidung Kaki Tuwa. The cakepan (lyrics) were from the Kidung Kaki Tuwa, a lontar in Middle Kawi language (Kawi-Bali) about a pandita (religious teacher) of the Majapahit era (see Sukartha 1996/1997).

3. “Nretya Puja”

The chanting to God as the Guru (words or quotations from the Sanskrit text Mantram Guru) begins with a bonang (pot gong-chime instrument) in selendro tuning accompanied by six flutes (suling gambuh), gender wayang, and an Indian tambura as a drone instrument. Then follows chanting of the puja (prayer) to the Gods—Sanghyang Tiga (Three Gods—Brahma, Wisnu, Siwa), Sanghyang Saraswati (Goddess of Learning), Sanghyang Guru Reka (God of Writing/Poetry), and Sanghyang Kawi Swara (God of Language/Vocalization). The words were taken from the manggala of Kekawin Candra Bherawa and were accompanied by gongs including, a large gong (gong ageng) with large beri gong (gong beri ageng), flutes (suling gambuh) as well as gender wayang. A dancer perform this puja (offering) with manembah (paying respects) meditative patterns and movements.

B. “Angga” (Origin)

1. Monologue

This Balinese monologue scene tells the story of the unending debate and contradictions between religious sects. A pot gong chime (bonang panembung) accompanies the monologue with the dialogue such that the musical composition is in constant dialogue with the actor rather than just a piece of accompanying music. The sentences of the singer-actor respond to the rhythm and dynamics of the instrument.

3. “Kidung Wanwa” (Poem of Nature)

This section describes Dewantara village with its lush greenery. Farmers happily work the fields. It begins with the kawitan gender (beginning gender tune), and then the song flows, accompanied by the strains of the flute in dialogue with the song building in harmony. The melodies of the gender wayang (metallophones used in shadow play) move in slow rhythms, building elaborations that respond to each other and the pot chime instrument, bonang barung selendro. In the gender gending (song) section, the melodies are elaborated with the bonang barung kotekan (interlocking beat) and the two drums (kendang sabet, kendang ciblon). The female dancers representing the happy citizenry dance with simple choreography and natural ease.

4. “Rengganisan” (Understanding)

Three figures discuss Candra Bherawa’s religion, concerning his mantra formulae aji pegat and bajradara. Bima has met Candra Bherawa and debated about yoga, ceremonies, and the kingdom.

Bima reports his meeting at Dewantara to Yudistira. Krisna does not agree with Candra Bherawa’s religious teachings and decides to send troops to attack Dewantara’s kingdom. The Pandawa surrender to Candra Bherawa, and even Krisna, in the form of the Divine Wisnu (Vishnu), cannot defeat Candra Bherawa. Candra Bherawa’s verse is recited in the new wirama (rhythm).

[1] See one version of this production of Sudarta (2022a) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnnhrHSH6Cs. An Indonesian language version of a paper of this production with greater discussion of instrumentation/music was delivered at the Bali Sangga Dwipantara Wastika Seminar (Sudarta and Darma Putra 2022). For discussion and images of rehearsals see Sudarta (2022b), https://tatkala.co/2022/07/21/teater-pakeliran-tutur-candra-bherawa-proses-penciptaan-karya-teater-bertolak-dari-penjelajahan-teater-tradisi-bali/, accessed 30 July 2023.

About  a performance for Indonesian Independence Day see (Darma Putra 2022) https://tatkala.co/2022/09/07/tutur-candra-bherawa-1-tutur-yang-mengumandang-dalam-suasana-kemerdekaan/, accessed 30 July 2023..

[2] See also Agastya 1994 for more information on Ida Pendada Made Sidemen’s life and work.

[3] Sudarta and McGraw (2018), in a lecture at the Smithsonian, also discuss Sudarta’s production of Sutasoma, a king who teaches Buddhist compassion and  tolerance—a Kakawin by this poet Mpu Tantular. (Library of Congress 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJcfuYBulgU, accessed 30 July 2023).

[4] Macapat are composed to be sung. Each verse form (pupuh) has a prescribed number of lines per verse, with a specific syllable count per line, and set vowel sound at the end of each line.

[5] See Zurbuchen (1987) for an understanding of the interrelationship of shadow performance and such group singing of poetic texts. For an extended discussion of how the singing of kidung was important to co-author Sudarta as an artist and a full description of another project combining spiritual investigation and musical composition see Sudarta’s PhD dissertation (Sudarta 2019).

[6] In addition to the manuscript of Kakawin Candra Bherawa written by Ida Pedanda Made Sidemen, we also consulted several other manuscripts on the same theme/story. These included Candra Bherawa Kakawin Miwah Artos ipun composed by I Wayan Pamit (1935-2009) in 1997, which we found in the collection of the Province of Bali. Kakawin Candra Bherawa Griya Kecicang Karangasem and Kakawin Candra Bherawa Griya Sidemen Karangasem, are two manuscript versions we accessed in Gedong Kirtya, the lontar archive in Singaraja, Bali. Excerpts from Kakawin Gunung Kawi (Mount Kawi, also called Kusuma Wicitra) and Geguritan Yadnyeng Ukir (also called Jayeng Ukir) both by Ida Pedanda Ngurah, a great 19th-century Balinese author active 1890-1920, strengthened our work. Geguritan Sucita-Subudi (see Jlantik 1982) by Ida Ketut Jlantik (1905-1961), which contains thoughts on yoga and Samkhya (dualistic Hindu philosophic tradition), was also tapped for its verses in our choral chants.

[7] For an extended discussion of contemporary composition in Bali and its complex intercultural social-political nexus see McGraw (2013).

[8] The musical instruments were not any complete ensemble but borrowed as we saw fit from Javanese and Balinese gamelan ensembles with international additions. Instruments included bonang barung and kenong selendro tuning; slentem, bonang penembung, pelog pitu tuning; slentem, gender barung selendro tuning; additionally, we used Balinese gender wayang baru (fourteen-keyed instruments), and many rhythmic instruments such as drums, tambourines/rebana, various Chinese gongs (beri), gentorag (bells), Nepalese singing bowls, manjira (cymbal finger), Chinese yangqin (zither), Caribbean hang drum, etc., were used. Flutes and fiddles were used to emphasize the tembang (song) melody and Indian tambura (drone) also accompanied solo vocals. For more specificity on musical aspects see the Indonesian report on this project (Sudarta and Darma Putra 2022).

[9] Sanghyang Wairocana is a ferocious manifestation of the Buddha.

[10] Lango is a concept of Old Javanese poetics and is discussed by Zoetmulder 1974 in his masterwork on Javanese literature Kalangawan (1974, see especially 172-185). The terms like bhasma sesa and gandha sesa are part of the author of Candra Bherawa Ida Pedanda Made Sidemen’s thought, which we had researched and hence we apply these terms in this work.


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Geguritan Yadnyeng Ukir (Young Ukir) [by Ida Pedanda Ngurah, 1918), Blayu, Tabanan]. [Also in Palguna, Ida Bagus Made. Ida Pedanda Ngurah. Denpasar: Yayasan Dharma Sastra.]

Kakawin Candra Bherawa (K. 6810/632) [Ida I Dewa Made Oka, Jro Kanginan Sidemen, Karangasem]. Singaraja: Gedong Kirtya.

Kakawin Candra Bherawa (K. 3550/ 633) [Geria Kecicang Karangasem. Katurun Anak Agung Ngurah Gde Ngurah, I Wayan Patera]. Singaraja: Gedong Kirtya.

Kakawin Gunung Kawi (K. 662/4623/IV) [by Ida Pedanda Ngurah, Griya Gede, Balayu, Marga, Tabanan]. Singaraja: Gedong Kirtya.