World Culture Forum 2016

The famous gamelan orchestra of Bali can be seen as an eurhythmic means. Beyond music, furthermore, Bali has much more to offer. One aspect of everyday life in the Island of Gods is the unison of desa (topos), kala (chronos), and patra (logos) in the philosophy of Tri Pramana(Three Measures).

Understanding this philosophy requires a bodily experience of the integrity of village life in Bali. Despite the cultural change brought about by tourism, there are villages that still practice Tri Pramana. Even more, there are villages that are able to harmonize the rhythm of tradition and the rhythm of global development.

With this understanding, it is easier to grasp the complex interplay involved in the translation of local cultural wisdom into the language of development planners. The elusiveness of culture is made manageable by providing touch-points: space, time, and reason. In Bali, the truth of space can be observed through Pratyaksa Pramana, or observation; time is experienced through Agama Pramana, with the trust in teachers; reason is developed through Anumana Pramana, or logic. In everyday situations, Tri Pramana translates into an attitude which respects local conditions (with regard to time, place and its social context) and the ability to act accordingly.

As a cultural paradigm, Tri Pramana could be translated into a guide for the construction and implementation of sustainable development.

  1. Desa as the principle of spatiality (ecological aspect of development).
    The spatial and local aspects as the main principle of development (preserving the environment, developing the local potentials, recognizing the opportunities and obstacles in a specific geographical context)

  2. Kala as the principle of historicity (historical aspect of development).
    The historical aspects as the main principle of development (affirming the historical specificity of society, reconciling the rhythm of development and social life).

  3. Patra as the principle of discursivity (participatory aspect of development).
    The social discourses as the main principle of development (basing the decision-making process regarding development in the social deliberation, adapting the agenda and method of development to the pillars of local culture)

Tri Pramana would provide a strong basis for creating a rhythmical harmony between the flow of production and reproduction of social life and the force of development.

It is known that eurhythmic interplay between the three is exemplified by the Subak irrigation system — a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape — which has withstood a variety of changes for over 1,000 years. Nevertheless, in the 2016 World Culture Forum it is important to enrich understanding of each part separately, before trying to rejoin them in a general discussion.