Jains pay their respect and worship idols of Jinas for three reasons:
. He has liberated Himself and attained Moksha
. He expounded the path of Liberation
. To get inspiration to become like Him
The only goal of Jainism is to free ourselves from the worldly sufferings and attain liberation. Jina is a liberated soul, freed of its material body and resides at the top of the universe, in a region called Siddha-loka, according to Jain Cosmology. The images/idols of Jinas are intended to serve as reminders to the faithful, of the possibility of liberation. They served as role models for both the Jain laity, guiding their ethical code of living, and for the aspirant, providing inspiration and a reminder that spiritual liberation is an attainable goal.
As a detached soul, the Jina is incapable of responding to a devotee's prayers or requests. This inability to intervene, to respond to the prayers and offerings from the faithful, sets Jina apart from both all Hindu and most Buddhist deities.
In addition to the images/idols of Jinas, we notice images and/or idols of Yakshas and Yakshinis (deities) in many Jain temples. These deities are seen as neither eternal nor divine, and they themselves are said to be worshippers of the Jina, true devotees of Jina. In addition, these Yakshas and Yakshinis are full of passions and are wandering through the cycles of birth and death just like us.
Yakshas are males and Yakshinis are females. They are also called Shäsandevtäs (male ones) and Shäsandevis (female ones). They are guardian deities, angels of order. They are heavenly beings of Vyantar group who have supernatural powers including ability to change their forms and sizes. Either these Yakshas or Yakshinis were appointed by Indra (king of heaven) or were positively associated with Tirthankars in their previous lives. Even though, Tirthankars do not require or ask for any protection, these Yakshas and Yakshinis watched over them due to their devotion towards the Tirthankars and come back to protect Jainism whenever it becomes necessary.
The earlier scriptures like the Sthänänga-sutra, Uttarädhyayan-sutra, Bhagawati-sutra, Tattvärtha-sutra, Antagadadasäo-sutra, and Pauma-chariya have frequent references to Yakshas and Yakshinis. Many Jains pay their respect to these Yakshas and Yakshinis for their protection to Tirthankars and the Jain faith. Yakshas and Yakshinis These are the reasons, they are found around the images of Jinas as well as their individual images are worshipped in many Jain temples.
Yaksha is usually found on the right side of the Jina idol while Yakshini on the left side. In Jain temples, they are never situated in superior physical locations in relation to idols of the Jinas.
These are benevolent Yakshas and Yakshinis. There are also malevolent Yakshas and Yakshinis who caused sufferings to the Tirthankars and create troubles for Jains and the existence of Jainism. For example, Yaksha Sulpäni troubled Lord Mahävir in his mediation and inflicted much suffering and there are similar stories in which malevolent Yakshas troubled others as well.
We Jains do not pay our respects or worship Yakshas and Yakshinis for the material gains, favour and freedom from fear, illness and disease. We do pay our respect to them for their service to Tirthankars and Jainism. Asking for materialistic gains from them will be quite opposite to the teachings of Jinas.
Each tirthankar has his own Yaksha and Yakshini. Pl visit narration chart of 24 Tirthankars
Given below is a brief description of the various Yakshas and Yakshinis worshipped in Jain temples:
She is the dedicated attendant deity of lord Ädi Näth (Rishabhadev). She is also called by another name i.e. Apratichakrä. The color of this goddess is golden. Her vehicle is the eagle. She has eight arms. In her four right hands she holds the blessing Mudrä (posture), arrow, rope and wheel respectively. In her four left hands she holds a rein, a bow, the protective weapon of Indra and the wheel.
A very good temple of Chakreswari Devi is at Sirhind, Punjab India
She is the dedicated deity of Lord Nemi-Näth, the 22nd Tirthankar. She is also called Ambai Amba and Amra Kushmändini. Her color is golden and the lion is her vehicle. She has four arms. In her two right hands she carries a mango and in the other a branch of a mango tree. In her one left hand she carries a rein and in the other she has her two sons. Famous Ambika Temple is at Ambaji, Gujarat, India
She is the dedicated deity of Lord Pärshva-Näth, the 23rd Tirthankar. Her color is red/golden and her vehicle is a snake with a cock's head. She has four arms and her two right hands hold a lotus and a rosary respectively. The two left hands hold a fruit and a rein respectively. Very famous temples of Shri Padmavati Devi are at Naroda, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Aadinath temple Walkeswar and Humcha in Shimoga District of Karnataka, India
Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, is considered to be the source of all learning. This divine energy is the source of spiritual light, remover of all ignorance and promoter of all knowledge. She is respected and adored by all faiths, worldly persons and saints. She has four arms, one holding a book, the other a rosary and two hands holding a musical instrument - Veenä. Her seat is a lotus and the peacock is her vehicle representing equanimity in prosperity. In some places it is mentioned that the swan is her vehicle.
Goddess Lakshmi represents wealth. The people worship her as the goddess of wealth, power, money etc. In the upper two hands, she is holding a lotus, in the lower right hand a rosary and in the lower left hand a pot full of gold coins. Her vehicle is the elephant.
Shri Manibhadra is originally a Yaksha, worshipped by Indian masses since very old times and his introduction to Jain worship is only a later adaptation. It is an image of six armed Yaksha with an elephant as his vehicle. There are three main temples of shri Manibhadra Vir. One at Aglod near vijapur, Gujarat pl.
This deity is worshipped for protection and for driving away the evil influence created by the lower types of negative energy. His arrow indicates penetration of evil forces. The bow gives forceful momentum to the arrow. His symbol is the bell that resounds to create auspicious sounds in the atmosphere. Sometimes the people who are not aware of the facts erroneously call him Ghantäkarna Mahävir that creates confusion between Lord Mahävir and Ghantäkarna Veer. Lord Mahävir is 24th Tirthankar of present chovishi in Jainism while Ghantakarna Mahavir is a Rakshak Dev and he is established as one of 52 Vir. Main temple of Shri Ghantakarna Mahavir is at Mahudi, near Vijapur, Gujarat Pl
This is the tutelary Bhairava. This deity is usually found near the entrance of a temple. People from far and near, visit the shrine and make offerings to the deity on fulfilment of their material desires. It is a positive force around the temple. Main Temple of Shri Nakoda Bhairav is at Nakoda, near Balotara in Barmer District of Rajasthan
This deity is in the shape of a mountain. It is the natural positive energy of Mt. Sametshikhar in Bihar. This energy inspires and guides believers and travellers. Main temple of Shri Bhomiyaji is at bottom of mount Parswanath i.e. Samet Sikhar in Bihar.