A SYMBOL OF LOYALTY
In the Balinese culture, dogs are historically important as they are believed to symbolize “Tyaga” which means “bhakti” or sincere devotion. In Mahaprashtanikaparwa or the “Book of the Great Journey” – a part of the Mahabharata, an epic ancient story from India – a black dog is told to follow Panca Pandavas (the five brothers) and Drupadi (the wife of the five brothers) as they journey to heaven.
However, one by one the travelers died – only one of the five brothers named Yudhisthira and the black dog survived and made it to the top of Mount Mahameru. Then, God Indra came to pick Yudhisthira up to heaven, but he told Yudhisthira that he should not bring a dog into heaven. Yudhisthira refused the request as the black dog has been a loyal companion from the beginning of his journey. Suddenly, the dog transformed into God of Yama, Yudhisthira’s father. It turns out the Gods were testing him and Yudhistira passed the test. He then managed to go to heaven.