Tri Hita Karana, Life Philosophy of Balinese People

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Rice Field.
Overlay of Rice Field managed by subak cooperative in Bali.

The life concept of Tri Hita Karana has been a life guide for Balinese people since the ninth century. The concept can be applied to all sectors paying attention to the balance of harmonious relationships with fellow humans (pawongan), the natural environment (palemahan) and spiritualism (parhyangan).

This concept is a local wisdom or traditional philosophy of community life on the island of Bali. Literally, Tri Hita Karana can be interpreted as “the three causes of happiness” by achieving the harmony of the three relationships as mentioned above.

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The principles of Tri Hita Karana guide many aspects of Balinese life, from daily rituals, to communal mutual cooperation practices, to spatial planning in Balinese architecture. This is also reflected in the traditional Balinese irrigation system known as subak, which consists of cooperatively managed dams and irrigation channels drawn from one water source or from upstream to downstream.

As previously explained, the tri hita karana concept maintains a good relationship between the three components. Well, in a nutshell the relationship goes like this.

Humans and Humans

Humans as social creatures need help and cooperation with others. Therefore, the relationship between each other must always be good and harmonious. The relationship is based on the concepts of mutual honing, mutual compassion and nurturing, which means mutual respect, mutual love and mutual love. This harmonious relationship will create security and inner and outer peace of society in a higher order.

Human and Nature

Humans get the necessities of life from their environment or they are very dependent on the environment. For this reason, they must always take care of their environmental conditions and keep them from being damaged. The environment shouldn’t be soiled. Forests should not be cut down arbitrarily and animals should not be over hunted because they can disturb the balance of nature. If everything is properly maintained, it will create beauty and bring a sense of calm and serenity in humans.

Human and God

Humans are God’s creation (Brahman), while the Atman in humans is the spark of the holy light of God’s greatness that causes humans to live. Therefore, humans actually owe their lives to God. Therefore every human being is obliged to be grateful, devoted and always prostrate to God. In other words, they worship and carry out religious teachings, make rallies to holy places.

It has been applied from traditional institutions such subak (irrigation cooperative) and customary village to regional development of Bali.


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