Tri Hita Karana: The Balinese philosophy of life

Have you ever wondered how the Balinese live in such harmony with nature and other people? There’s a philosophy behind that: the Tri Hita Karana. It covers three relationships: person and God, person and person, and person with nature. All these relationships have to be maintained to achieve harmony and prosperity.

Let’s start with a brief overview of Tri Hita Karana. We’ll explore each relationship deeper in later posts.

Tri Hita Karana can be translated to “three causes/ways to happiness or harmony”. The philosophy itself encompasses the three most important aspects of life in Bali, which include God, humans, and nature, and places these three as a basis for development in Bali. It’s also often quoted as a basis for sustainable development!

Tri Hita Karana consists of three relationships:

The first is Parhyangan or the relationship between a person and God. This is the basis for all the wonderful rituals held by the Balinese. God gives bounty to humans, and humans express their gratitude by honouring the gods through various rituals.

The second is Pawongan or the relationship between a person and their neighbours. This is the basis for the community in Bali, often represented by banjars or sub-villages. A harmonious relationship with fellow humans is essential for prosperity. As social animals, humans can’t live on their own. Having good ties with other people is what makes society function. The spirit of pawongan manifests in activities, such as helping each other during ceremonies.

Last but not least is Palemahan, or the relationship between a person and nature. This has become the basis for sustainable development in Bali. As nature provides for humans, humans must preserve nature in return. You might have heard of recycling events or coral reef preservation activities in Bali. That’s the spirit of Palemahan in action! Even the simple act of watering plants and picking up litter greatly contributes to preserving nature.

So there you have it, the three relationships that make up an entire philosophy of well-being in Bali. No wonder the Balinese are always happy!