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Devi and Devtas

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  • atul bafna
    YAKSHAS AND YAKSHINIES Jains worship idols of Jinas, Tirthankars1, who are reverend as supreme beings but as the time passed by Jains also started worshipping
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2009
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      Jains worship idols of Jinas, Tirthankars1, who are reverend as supreme
      beings but as the time passed by Jains also started worshipping many
      other deities, Yaksas and Yaksinis, in Jain temples. It makes many
      wonder who are they? How did they get their? How did they get such a
      prominence? Should they be there?

      The answer to first question is, even though at times it may seem that
      they get more reverence by many, they are not same as Jina, Arihant, or
      Tirthankars who have conquered the inner passions while these deities
      (Yaksas and Yaksinis) are full of passions and are wandering through the
      cycles of births and death just like us.  They are also called
      shashandevtas, gaurdian deities. They are heavenly beings of Vyantar
      group who have supernatural powers including changing capabilities of
      their form and size. The answer to second question is, according to some
      belief, Jains believe that these Yaksas and Yaksinis were appointed by
      Indra to look after the well beings of Tirthankaras. Therefore, they
      were always found around Jinas and that has reflected their presence in
      Jain temples also around the idols of Jinas. They are found in pair of a
      male (yaksha) and a female (yakshini ). Yaksa usually found on the right
      side of the Jina idol while yaksini on left side. In the earlier period
      they were regarded mainly as devotees of Jina but as the time passed by,
      people started to worship them too.

      Not all Yaksa are benevolent, because some can be malevolent. Just as
      some Yaksa paid homage to Lord mahavira and protectd him from some
      sufferings, Yaksa Sulpani troubled Lord Mahavira in his mediation and
      inflicted much suffering and similar stories are available where yaksa
      troubled others too. The residential place (bhavana) of Yaksa is also
      known as chaitya or ayatana. It could be anywhere, outside the city, on
      the hill or a mountain, on the tree, by the water reservoir, at the gate
      of a city, or within a city in a house or a palace. The famous Yaksa
      Angulimala was living on the tree in the forest and when reformed for a
      better he had a place at the city gate.

      The humans are opportunistic and since Jinas would not reward no matter
      how sincerely one may worshiop them, Jains looked at yaksas and yaksanis
      for the immediate returns, and to self serve Jains gave them the places
      in their temples. Some Yaksa were and are known for bestowing fertility
      and wealth upon their devotes. Therefore, they had become very popular
      and their idols had been placed in Jain temples and Jains worship them.
      Jains offer them different things in favor of boons for children, wealth
      or freedom from fear, illness or disease.

      The earlier scriptures like the Sthanagansutra, Utradhyayansutra,
      Bhagwatisutra, Tattvarthsutra, Antagadasasaosutra, and Paumacariya have
      frequent references to the Yaksa. Their reference as Shasandevatas in
      the Harivamsapurana (783 A.D.) made the beginning of this concept. Among
      all the yakshas, Manibhadra and Purnabadra yakshas and Bahuputrika
      yakshini have been the most favored one. Manibhadra and Purnabadra
      yakshas are mentioned a chief of demigods, Manibhadra of Northern horde
      and Purnabadra of Southern horde. Bahuputrika (having many sons) is
      named as one of the queen of Manibhadra. Harivamsapurana also describes
      the capability of yakshas and yakshnins to pacify the harmful power of
      rogas, grahas, raksasas, bhutas and pisachas. The people also believed
      that they bestow favors to those who worship them and because of that
      became more popular then Jinas for some. Therefore, the people started
      worshipping them for materialstic desires which could not be fulfilled
      by the worship of Vitaraga Jina. Due to this, between tenth and
      thirteenth centuries A. D.2 yaksha Saarvanubhuti, or Sarvahna and
      yakshini Cakreshvari, Ambika, Padmavati, and Jvalamalini became so
      popular that independent cults developed around them. Various temples
      were erected just to worship them and you can see that even now.

      The Jaina works from c. sixth to the tenth century A. D. mention only
      some of the iconographic features of Yaksharaja (Sarvahna or
      Sarvanubhuti) and Dharanendra Yaksha and Cakreshvari, Ambika, Padmavati,
      Yakshi. The list of twenty-four Yaksa-Yaksi pairs was finalized in about
      eight-ninth  century A. D. as found in Kahavali, Tiloyapannatti
      (4.934-39), and Pravacanasaroddhara (375-78) while their independent
      iconographic forms were standarized in c.11th - 12th century A. D. as
      mentioned in the Nirvankalika, the Trisastisalakapurusacaritra, the
      Pratisthasara-samgraha, Pratisthasaroddhara, the Pratisthatilaka and
      acaradinakara and a number of other texts. However, we find much
      difference between Svetambara and Digambara traditions as to the names
      and iconographic features of Yaksas and Yaksis2. The names and the
      iconographic features of the majority of the Yaksas and Yaksis bear the
      influence of the Brahminical and Buddhist gods and goddesses. The Jainas
      seem to have adopted either the names or the distinct iconographic
      features, sometimes both, in such cases2.

      The original Agamas don?t mention about the Jina idol and idol worship,
      even then for last 2500 years Jains have constructed thousands of
      excellent temples at tremendous cost and have installed idols to respect
      the Tithankars.  Therefore the idea of idol and idol worship, even that
      of the Jinas, was anathema to the very spirit and words of the Jinas.
      But now by erecting and worshipping Yaksas and Yaksinis, and asking for
      materialistic gains from them, Jains are distracted from spiritual path
      and digging their own graveyard to false belief (Mithyatva). Jain?s aim
      is to be free from materialistic attachment. For a moment even if we
      look at the materialistic gain by their worship then everybody who
      worships should get it but that does not happen. Therefore, one lives in
      mithyatva. One should not forget that if at all materialistic gain is
      attained then that is from maturation of one?s own shubh (good karmas).
      Somadeva might have felt that these sasana-devatas may replace ratherr
      than being complementary to the Jinas as the object of worship
      cautioned; anyone who worship them equal to Jina is heading downwards.
      Asadhara  declares that a person with true insight would never worship
      Yaksas even when beset with great calamities? Because as a Jain, we
      believe that our calamities are our own doing and we should bare down
      such calamities with calmness to stop the whirlpool of reaction which
      would do nothing but will bring more calamities. In conclusion in
      Jainism, the guidlines are set which tell us what is right and wrong,
      but it is upto every individual to decide which idles to bow down
      (worship) to and which ones we should just admire.

      Some of the prominent yakshas and yakshanis*:


      She is the dedicated attendant deity of lord Adinath (Rishabhadev).  She
      is also called by another name i.e. Apratichakra.  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 mudra, arrow, rope and
      wheel. In her four left hands she holds the rein, the bow, the
      protective weapon of Indra and the wheel.


      She is the dedicated deity of Lord Neminath the 22nd Tirthankara.  She
      is also called Ambai Amba and Amra Kushmandini.  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 hasher two sons.







      She is the dedicated deity of Lord Parshvanath, the 23rd Tirthankara.
      Her color is golden and her vehicle is the snake with a cock's head.
      She has four arms and her two right hands hold a lotus and a rosary.
      The two left hands hold a fruit and a rein.






      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  Veena.  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.  People worship her as the goddess of
      wealth, power, money etc.  In the upper two hands, she is holding a
      lotus with an elephant,  in the lower right  hand a rosary and in the
      lower left hand a pot.


      Shri Manibhadra is originally a yaksha, worshipped by Indian masses from
      very old times and his introduction in Jainworship is only a later
      adaptation.  It is an image of six armed yaksha with an elephant as his





      This deity is worshipped for protection and for driving away the evil
      influence created by 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 people who are not aware of the
      facts call him by mistake Ghantakarna Mahavira that creates confusion
      between Lord Mahavira and Ghantakarna Veer. He is not connected to Lord
      Mah䶩r in any way.


      This is the tutelary deity of Bhairava.  This deity is usually found
      near the entrance of the temple.  People from far and near, visit the
      shrine and make offerings to the deity on fulfillment of their material
      desires.  It is the positive force around the temple.


      This deity is in the shape of a mountain.  It is the natural positive
      energy of the mountain Sametshikharji.  This energy inspires and guides
      the believer and the traveler.More at my home page at http://jainism.co.nr

      animated gifs

      Live and Let Live   


      --- On Mon, 6/1/09, Manish Yashodhar Modi <manishymodi@...> wrote:

      From: Manish Yashodhar Modi <manishymodi@...>
      Subject: [JainList] demigods such as Ambika, Laxmi, Ganesha and Kali
      To: jainlist@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Monday, June 1, 2009, 10:22 AM

      Dear Gary and Sharad,
      Jay Jinendra

      One may say that demigods play and do not play an important role in getting things done. {Anekantavada! }

      Let me give you a simple example. When you order books from me, it is your credibility {and the fact that you always pay promptly} that ensures that I send the books to you immediately.

      So the key is your credibility and creditworthiness. Think of them as merits / punya karmas.

      I ship the books by FedEx or UPS or DHL. The courier is the means. So they have a role to play for they picks up the books from my bookstore and deliver them to your doorstep.

      This is the role we may presume that demigods and demigoddesses play.

      Ulitmately, it all depends on our karmas.

      If we have more merits than demerits, good things come our way. If we have more demerits than merits, bad things happen to us.

      Let us take the analogy of a surgeon and his scalpel.

      Our karmas are the surgeon. The demigods and demigoddesses are the scalpel.

      So instead of propitiating the scalpel, we need to pay the surgeon his fee. {Earn good karmas, stay away from acts that bring about bad karmas.}

      And ultimately, to get away from it all, we need to contemplate on the soul and conquer our senses. That is the path of purification.

      In peace,

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