The 6th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Yakshas and Yakshinies
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- Yakshas and Yakshinies
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
But now by erecting and worshiping 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).
Somadeva might have felt that these sasana-devatas may replace rather 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.
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 AmbaiAmba 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 Jain worship is only a later adaptation. It is an image of six armed yaksha with an elephant as his vehicle.
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 Mahavir 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.