In Balinese Hindu thought, he explains, the gods do not exist only in heaven but are located everywhere in the universe. They are in the landscape, in the five elements—fire, water, earth, air, and space—of which everything is comprised, in the human body, and in the days of the weeks that make up the complex Balinese calendrical system. In the painting hanging on the wall behind him, the directions of nine gods are plotted at the cardinal points, or what are called the “eyes of the winds.
Image at right: Eyes of the Winds. Bali. Gift of Professor John Garvey. 2002.17.0021.
This type of painting is often referred to as a compass. The nine gods depicted include Iswara to the east, Brahma to the south, Wisnu to the north, and Cintya/Siwa at the center. In a Balinese worldview, the gods of the Hindu pantheon are active participants in the assemblage of fetal bodies and “sit” in the body throughout life. Reincarnation occurs when the soul slips in between lovers’ bodies, entering the woman’s womb to animate the procreative fluids mixing there and to initiate human life.