Jain Dev Devi

Lesser gods are classified into four main groups: bhavanavasis (gods of the house), vyantaras (intermediaries), jyotiskas (luminaries), and vaimanikas (astral gods). These are each subdivided into several groups. Besides these, certain other gods and goddesses are mentioned in various Jaina texts, including several that suggest Hindu influence or borrowing from some common ancient Indian heritage. All these deities are assigned a position subordinate to the Tirthankaras and other liberated souls.

Yakshas and Yakshinies

Jains worship idols of Jinas or Tirthankars, who are reverend as supreme beings and all the 24 Thirthankars are believed to have deities as their devotees. They are called Dev, Devi, or Yakshas and Yakshinies. They are not same as Jina, Arihant, or Tirthankars who have conquered the inner passions while these deities (Yakshas and Yakshinies) are full of passions and are wandering through the cycles of births and death just like us. They are also called shashandevtas, guardian deities. They are heavenly beings of Vyantar group who have supernatural powers including changing capabilities of their form and size.

Jains believe that these Yaksas and Yaksinis were appointed by Indra to look after the well beings of Jain Tirthankaras. It is believed that they also protect Jainism, Jain temples from any negative impacts and also the followers of Jainism called Jain shravaks and shravikas. The presence of these divine forces emanate positive vibrations of harmlessness, confidence and protection in the temple and the surroundings.The statues of deities are installed in cells on the sides of the main temple. Sometimes they are also placed in the corners near the entrances.

Some Yaksa were and are known for bestowing fertility and wealth upon their devotees, give freedom from fear, illness or disease and to pacify the harmful power of rogas, grahas, raksasas, bhutas and pisachas. It is believed that they are always there to help the Jains and show them the right path. They exist in this universe and are also known as “Prakat Prabhavi” – some one who can appear and has strong impact.

A different school of thought believes that all the Yaksha and Yakshinis are believed to help the Jains for materialistic gains and asking for materialistic gains from them is getting distracted from spiritual path of theory of Karma – that you get what you have to or deserve to and you have to face it. But the middle school of thought is of the view that the Sashan Devtas should compliment the Jain teerthankars rather than replacing them and one should follow the path of karma. As a protocol one performs puja of the Jina and then pays respect to these deities.

Some of the Prominent Yakshas and Yakshanis

Chakreshware Devi She is the dedicated attendant deity of Lord Adinath (Rishabhadev), the first tirthankara. She is also known as 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 respectively. In her four left hands she holds the rein, the bow, the protective weapon of Indra and the wheel.

Ambika Devi 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 has her two sons.

Padmavati Devi 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. Maata Padmavati Devi’s temple in Walkeshwar, Mumbai is known as a very beautiful and miraculous one.

Saraswati Devi 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.

Lakshmi Devi 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.

Manibhadra Dev 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 vehicle. Shree Manibhadra veer as he is fondly known as a history where his body is found in 3 places – Magarwada, Aglod and Ujjain. Many Jain temples would have Shree Manibhadra veers temple and there are various miraculous stories about the lord guiding and protecting the Jainism and Jains.

Ghantakarna Veer 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. Ghantakarna Mahavir is highly respected by Swetamber Jain. He is placed at 30th position among 52 heroes. He is a miracle god of Riddhi Siddhi and a troubleshooter. His idols have bell like ears that is why he is called Ghantakarna. Templeof Ghantakarna at Mahuri (Gujarat) is very much known for producing miracles - wishes of worshippers are fulfilled here.

Nakoda Bhairava 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.

Bhomiyajee This deity is in the shape of a mountain. It is the natural positive energy of the mountain Sammetshikharjee in Jharkhand. Around 22 tirthankars attained salvation here and it is said to be one of the most respected and powerful jain religious mountain oozing a lot of positive energy. Bhomiyajee is a prakat prabhavi dev and he inspires and guides the believer and the traveler. He is worshipped before the beginning of Journey to avoid obstacles. There are may miraculous stories of devotees loosing their path in the forest and hills and a dog appearing from somewhere to guide them and vanishing once the devotees find their way.

Reference: http://www.jainbelief.com/YakshYakshini.htm and http://jainsamaj.org/rpg_site/literature2.php?id=1364&cat=42