Balian Usada often are literate scholars who are consulted for their knowledge of certain lontars and who are able to help their clients by using the information in their libraries. This information my be of almost any variety, from advice about the use of medicines to a long list of offerings that must be made and ceremonies conducted in order to resolve the problem at hand. But this information is not ever dispensed in the same atmosphere as one might find, for example, at the reference desk of a library. The context is always spiritual.

A Balian may possess some of the ingredients for the cures he or she prescribes, but likely as not the patient will be given a recipe that can be made up at home. Most Balinese are knowledgeable about traditional medicines. Many herbal medicines are easy to find just about everywhere. The women’s organizations of many banjars encourage housewives to maintain what in Indonesian is called an apotek hidup, a “living drugstore,” a small garden of medical herbs. Village markets are good sources of these substance. Most of them are plant substances – concoctions of leaves, bark, roots, or seeds. Those that are designed to be taken internally are boiled in water and the resulting infusion, called loloh, is drunk. For external use, the ingredients are mashed up in a stone mortar and pestle and smeared over the body as a baboreh. Some are combined with coconut oil and used to rub on the body. Every now and then Budi’s little son Aris turns up looking like a man from mars. Green from head to toe. He has a skin problem and is the occasional victim of one of the local balian’s baboreh experiments.

One need not go to a balian to seek traditional medicines. There are more or less stock remedies for such common diseases as colds or chills, which the Balinese call masuk angin – “wind enters.” For a cold, one must use something hot, like a preparation with ginger or chili, or both. And something cold, such as onion, should be used if one suffers from another common malady, a “hot stomach.” Medicines for these and many other illnesses may be purchased from the sellers of the traditional Javanese jamu found in every Balinese village.

It is not unusual for a balian who dispenses medicines to have some sort of magic substance. For example, it my been found in an unusual place or in an unusual context. These substances are especially desirable and my be rubbed on a patient, or given to him to eat. Some balians, usually called balian paica, base their entire practice upon the possession of a powerful relic, divinely bestowed upon the balian’s family. Such might be a kris, a piece of cloth, or a statue. And its magical energy can be transferred to patients by suitable prayers and offerings.

The practice of balian apun, sometimes called balian uat or urat, is based upon massage. Balians who massage should not be confused with ordinary masseurs, tukang uut, of whom there are a great number in Bali, many of them Javanese. As with all the activities of balians, balian uat combines the physical actions of massage with the niskala actions of the manipulation of mystical forces, through mantras and offerings. Ordinary masseurs are concerned largely with the sekala aspect of this profesion. The usual name of this sort of balian stems from the widely held concept of the existence of “channels,” uat, or urat, that run through and connect all parts of the body. Through these channels run various fluids that transmit the life force and that remove waste products. Blood is one of these fluids, but there are many others- some tangible, some not. A channel need not be hollow. Any stringy structure in the body, such as a tendon or nerve, could be an uat. The basis of massage is to straighten uat that have become crooked, remove lumps or other obstructions in them, and stimulate the flow of the life fluids so that the body will be healthy and perform normally. Diseases and malfunctions, pain, stiffness, sterility, constipation, and so on, are attributed to improper circulation of the life fluids to the part of the body where the problem is centered.

source : Bali sekala & niskala

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