Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions


The Antiquity of Jainism
Jain Heroes
Jaina Order and Literature
Fundamental Beliefs
  The Human Predicament
  The Doctrine of Karma
  The Doctrine of Man
  The Denial of God
  Jaina Ethics and Morality
  Three Spiritual Paths
  Response to Contemporary Issue
  Social Issues
  The Economic Order
  The Idea of Ahimsa and Vegetarianism

The Denial of God



The Jaina views of the nature of man and the universe render the notion of God unnecessary.  All of nature is autonomous and is governed by its own laws.  Man makes his own world for better or for worse, Jaina ethics is thus nontheocentric, unlike Judaism, Christianity, Islam and some forms of Hinduism.  In all of these religions, God functions as Maker, Ruler, Rewarder, and Judge.  But for the Jainas �It is not necessary to surrender to any higher being nor to ask for any divine favor for the individual to reach the highest goal of perfection.  There is no place for divine grace, nor is one to depend on the capricious whims of a superior deity for the sake of attaining the highest ideal.  According to Jainism each individual soul is to be considered as God, as he is essentially divine in nature.�

Though Jainism rejects the notion of a creator God, it does have a sort of �ethical heaven� inhabited by enlightened souls called Arhatas and Siddhas.  These pure beings are ones who have realized the true form of the self by conquering their senses.  In the words of D. N. Bhargava:  �These Siddhas are far more above gods or deities.  They neither create nor destroy anything.  They have conquered, once and for all, their nescience and passion, and cannot be molested by them again.�

Jainism permits the worship of the Arhatas and Siddhas but not in the conventional sense of seeking rewards.  Instead, worship is ethically oriented for the sake of attaining their high qualities.  It begins with penance.  It continues with progressive purification of one�s actions.  Jaina ethics specifies three grades of Self.  First, there is the Outer-Self, involved in worldly affairs, taking the body to be the soul.  Second, there is the inner-Self that understands the difference between body and soul and aims at the perfection of the latter.  Third, there is the Enlightened Soul (Paramatman) that has realized its true form.  It possesses infinite knowledge and joy unspeakable.  In the practice of Jaina worship, one must renounce the Outer-Self and, through the conversion of the Inner- Self, move toward the Paramatman, which is the true goal of the mystic quest.  This journey is traversed through the medium of moral and intellectual preparations, which purge everything obstructing the emergence of potential divinity.  The spirit in which the Jaina devotee worships the Paramatmans is reflected in this verse, �Him who is the leader of the path to Liberation, who is the crusher of mountains of Karmas, and who is the Knower of all reality, Him I worship in order that I may realize those very qualities of him.�

Thus the purpose of Jaina worship is not the deification of some savior figure, but the veneration and adoration of the ideals that figure represents.