God in Jainism


God in Jainism

In Jainism, a soul that has achieved its ultimate objective, Nirvana or liberation, is called Siddha. Such a pure soul has achieved Mokṣa and is worthy of praise. Thus each person is capable of Mokṣa.

However, the worship of Siddhas, is not a worship as found in other religions. In the Jain tradition, every soul is on an equal platform, in as much as each soul has a potential of attaining Mokṣa. Thus, Jains as such do not worship any "god". This is evident from the fact that certain sections amongst the Jains do not believe in idol-worship. (e.g. the Sthanakwasi section) Also, it is very important to note that even those Jains who do idol-worship do not do it with a view of appeasing the Siddha. Jains rather worship their virtues, which is manifested in the underlying idea of Gunanuvad. (the worship of virtues and good qualities). Thus Jains see in the Tirthankar a role model, who is to be praised for the attainment of Mokṣa, and whose virtues solely must be worshipped. Thus idol-worship in Jains is not worshipping the physical form, or the person, but only the Gunas.

Jains never worship the Tirthankaras for seeking any material benefits. The Tirthankaras are those who were "Veetraag" (the one who has abandoned all relations, affection etc.). The Tirthankars, almost all of whom were Princes and Kings, had left their kingdom and wealth, their families in order to seek Mokṣa. "How are they supposed to grant you any favor, if you worship them" is how the Jain sages put this phenomenon. This practice is as a marked difference from other religions, in some of which a god is worshipped to mitigate problems, or to grant boons.

However, Jainism does explain the miracles that take place at Jain temples or otherwise. In the Jain tradition, every Tirthankar has a "Shasan Dev" and "Shashan Devi" (reign God and reign Goddess, respectively) who are to worship the Tirthankar whom they pay obeisance. Also, in most of the Jain temples there are "Adhisthayaka Dev" (Gods who are supposed to be the protectors of that temple). Famous examples could be that of Shri "Nakoda Bherav Dev" at the Nakoda Parshvanath Temple in Rajasthan, or Shri "Sammed Shikhar Bhomiya Dev" at the Sammed Shikar Tirtha. It is thus, that these Siddhas, who are ordained to protect the Jain faith, may do the miracles.

In Jainism, there is no creator god. The universe has always existed, and will always exist, although it will undergo cyclical transformations. A person is responsible for her or his own actions (karmas. In Jainism the universe is governed by natural laws, and not the wishes of a specific entity. As discussed in the etymology of the term God from Proto-Indo-European form *khutóm, a God is a deity worthy of worship. From the Jain perspective, God does not create, nor does he favor those who praise him, for that would make God imperfect. God simply inspires, and that is what Jain worship is for.


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