JIWO Women's wing of JITO

Jains perform worship before the Jina idols, bowing to the idols, and lighting a lamp in front of the idols. This is an ideal way to start the day for many Jains. More elaborate forms of worship (puja), as described, is a regular daily ritual usually done in the temple. The worshipper enters the temple with the words 'Namo Jinanam' 'I bow to the Jina', and repeats three times, 'Nisihii' (to relinquish thoughts about worldly affairs). The simpler surroundings of the household shrine can also provide a suitable setting. The members of some sects of Jainism don’t believe in worship of the Jina image. They believe in meditation and silent prayers.

Worship, or puja, can take many forms. The ritual bathing of the image (Snatra Puja) is symbolic to the bathing of the newborn Tirthankara by the gods (celestial beings). A simple symbolic act is to touch one's forehead with the liquid used to bath the idol. Bathing the idol also takes place during the Panch Kalyanak Puja, a ritual to commemorate the five great events of the Tirthankara's life, namely conception, birth, renunciation, omniscience and moksa.

Antaraya Karma Puja comprises a series of prayers to remove those karmas which obstruct the spiritual uplifting power of the soul. A lengthy temple ritual which can take three days to complete is the Arihanta Puja, paying respect to the arihants. There is a ritual of prayer focused on the siddhachakra, a lotus-shaped disc bearing representations of the arhat, the liberated soul, religious teacher, religious leader and the monk (the five praiseworthy beings), as well as the four qualities namely perception, knowledge, conduct and austerity to uplift the soul.

In Jainism, worship is not offered to an eternal and eternally pure God, but to those great ones who have realized their high ideal and attained Godhood for themselves. There is no offering of food and the like, nor is a prayer made to the deity for boons.

A pious Jain who lives conveniently near a temple may carry out the worship of the Tirthankara image in the temple daily before going to work. Otherwise it may be performed before the shrine at home. Bathed and dressed simply, possibly only in two pieces of cloth like a monk, he will bow before the image and recite the Navkar Mantra. He will pass three times around the image (which in a Jain temple is set forward from the rear wall). He may perform the ritual washing of the image with water and milk and a mixture of sandalwood and saffron, or it may be done by a regular official of the temple. Although women take an active part in Jain rituals their role is somewhat simplified.

Various offerings are now made before the image. Grains of rice are arranged in the symbolic figure of Jainism, a swastika (denoting the four possible kinds of rebirth, as heavenly beings, humans, lower living beings, or creatures of hell) having above it three dots (the Three Jewels of Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct), and at the top a single dot within a crescent for the final resting place of the liberated souls. The other offerings may be flowers, incense, fruit and sweets though the practice varies. After other prayers the Navkar Mantra is repeated. This will be followed by the Chaitya Vandana, the temple prayers of reverent salutation: these commence with a formula of repentance for any harm caused to living creatures on the way to the temple; salutations follow to the twenty-four Tirthankara and to all monks and nuns; then the virtues and good deeds of all the Tirthankara follow and the devotee expresses the desire and intention to emulate them. In his or her devotions the worshipper does not seek worldly favor but sees the Jina as a divine example to be respected and followed. The worship concludes with the rather beautiful ceremony of arati, the waving of fivefold lights before the image. The image is, of course, only a symbolic representation of the Tirthankara and is in no sense a living god. Nevertheless it is considered necessary that a fully- consecrated image should receive daily attention and worship.

A special beauty is given to the rituals by the language in which they are performed. Ardhamagadhi was the language of the ancient Magadha region in north-east India where Mahavira lived. It was the familiar speech of the people, a 'Prakrit' or popular language as distinguished from the classical Sanskrit of the orthodox scholars. Although no longer a spoken language, Ardhamagadhi is used today in Jain prayers and rituals, not only for the sonorous splendor of its rolling sounds but also because a Jain, whatever his or her native tongue, can follow the familiar prayers and chants. Every Jain will have learned from childhood at least a few recitations and can take part in temple prayers with other Jains with whom he or she may not share a common modern language.


When we go to temple, we wear simple or special clothes just for the temple. We do not wear silk or leather articles. We take a bath before going to temple, and if not, then at least be in a clean condition. As we get close to the temple, and if we could see the idols of Jinas from outside, then say "Namo Jinanam" while placing folded hands over slightly bent forehead which means "I salute Jina". Before entering the temple, we take off shoes. After this, we do the ten different things in a given sequence and each of these ten things has three different ways of doing them. Therefore, some people call them "Dashtrik". These ten things are:

  1. Nissihi (renunciation)

  2. Pradakshina (circumambulation - going around the Jina’s idol)

  3. Pranam (salutation)

  4. Puja (worship)

  5. Avasthachintan (contemplation upon the various states of the Lord)

  6. Dishatyag (do not look here and there, but look only at the Jina’s idol)

  7. Pramarjan (cleaning the ground before sitting down)

  8. Alamban (support)

  9. Mudras (postures for meditation)

  10. Pranidhan (be absorbed)


  1. Nissihi (Renunciation): Nissihi means renunciation (give up). It is said three times in the temple. The first "Nissihi" is said while entering the temple to discard all the thoughts relating to worldly affairs (Samsar). The second "Nissihi" is said while entering the actual area of the Jina idol (gabharo) to discard thinking of such things as the cleaning of the temple and its management. The third "Nissihi" is said right after finishing the worship with physical substances (dravyapuja) and at the beginning of psychic worshipping (Chaityavandan).

  2. Pradakshina (Circumambulation): We keep the holy substances always on our right side. Therefore, we circumambulate (go around) Jina idols three times keeping them on our right side, that is from our left to the right. While going around, we remind ourselves that Arihants are precious, that they are our mentor, and that one day we will be like them. This contemplation of the Arihants would help us overcome attachment and hatred. Three circumambulations should also remind us that there are three remedies to overcome attachment and hatred; they are right jnan (gnan), right darshan, and right charitra. Therefore, we should also contemplate how to acquire them. Some feel as if they are going around Samavasaran itself.

  3. Pranam (Salutation): We salute the idols of Arihants three times. 1) The first salutation is offered at the time of first seeing the idols of Arihants (usually at the time of entering temple) with placing the folded hands over slightly bent forehead and saying Namo Jinanam. 2) The second salutation is done with folded hands and bowed body as we enter the gabharo. 3) The third salutation is done while performing the glorifying prayers (Chaityavandan - psychic worshipping) while touching the ground with five limbs (2 knees. 2 hands and the forehead) bent down. This is called Panchangapranipat.

  4. Puja (worship): There are three kinds of worships offered: 1) The first worship is called Angapuja. This is done by touching the different parts of an idol of Arihant with water or milk, sandal wood paste and saffron, and a flower. 2) The second worship is called Agrapuja, which is done by placing incense, lamp, rice, fruit and sweets in front of idols. First and second worships together make the worship by eight kinds, Ashtprakari puja. These two are called physical worship. 3) The third worship is called Psychic (Bhava-puja) which is done by chanting glorifying prayers (Chaityavandan).

  5. Avasthachintan (Contemplating on the different states of Arihants): After completing the physical worship, one must carry out this contemplation. The male person should stand on the right side of idol of Arihant (that is the left side if facing the idol) while the woman should stand on left side of it (that is the right side if facing the idol). Standing this way, we should contemplate on the three different states which Arihants went through. They are 1) Pindastha avastha, 2) Padastha avastha, and 3) Aroopastha avastha.In Pindastha avastha we contemplate on his a) Janmavastha, b) Rajyavastha, and c) Shramanavastha.

Janmavastha: Oh Lord, during your third last life, you observed any of twenty factors to acquire Tirthankar Nam Karma like psychic compassion towards all living beings, etc. When you were born to be a Tirthankar, all of 56 goddesses of directions and 64 Indras performed oblation to you. How great you were that even at such occasion, you did not feel proud of what was happening around. Your loftiness is blessed.

Rajyavastha: Oh Lord, you had the status of a Prince. You had the princely power and grandeur, and yet you were neither attached to them nor felt hatred about them. You were like a Yogi who is detached. Glory to your self-abnegation (renunciation).

Shramanvastha: Oh heroic Lord, you renounced the worldly power and luxury without any hesitation, became a monk or nun (sadhu or sadhvi). You carried out heroic endeavors for the attainment of spiritual elevation, bearing the most bitter obstacles and calamities. At times, you carried out incomparable and arduous spiritual austerities and penance. You stood for days absorbed in deep meditation. By doing so, you destroyed all the terrible ghati karmas. Glory to your austerity. Glory to your bravery. Glory to your tolerance.

Padastha Avastha: In this, we contemplate the state of his life as a Tirthankar. As Tirthankar Arihant, you acquired the 34 super specialities (atishay) and offered us spiritual sermons on Tattvas filled with 35 virtues of the speech. You then established the four-fold Jain sangh, tirtha, and Jain Shasan.

You explained the noble doctrines of Jiva tattva and Ajiva tattva of the universe. You showed the path of salvation comprised of the right faith, right knowledge, and right character. You expounded the immortal philosophical doctrines like Anekantvad , Syadvad, and Naya, etc.

Aroopastha Avastha: In this, we contemplate on the pure form of Jina. O, Paramatma (supreme being)! You have destroyed totally all your Karmas, and you have become bodiless, formless, pure, awakened, liberated, and perfect. Having attained this state, you are absorbed in infinite knowledge and indescribable bliss. You embody countless virtues. Your state is absolutely free from stains, distortion, and agitation. In this state, death, disease, distress, or poverty, and all such adversities do not exist. O Lord, thou art blessed !

  1. Dishatyag (Do not see here and there but see only the Jina’s idol): Now we perform the Psychic (bhav) worshipping known as Chaityavandan. This should not be impaired by anything. We start the Chaityavandan in our mind and it should not be shaken even to the slightest extent. Our eyes and mind must be fixed on the idol and we shall not look around, until it is over.

  2. Pramarjan (Cleaning the ground before sitting down): Before sitting we should clean the ground three times with our upper cloth, so that no small insect may be hurt by sitting there.

  3. Alamban (Support): Having sat down, we must keep three supports in our mind: l) The image of the Lord, 2) The sutras we utter, and 3) their meaning. Our mind should be concentrated on these three things.

  4. Mudra (Posture): Among the eight steps of meditation, the right posture is the third step. The right posture is very much necessary to attain the sublime concentration during Chaityavandan.

  5. Yoga Mudra: During chaityavandan and the recital of the sutras, we must sit straight with both palms together and the fingers of one hand in the spaces between the fingers of the other hand, and the elbows to the sides of our stomach.

    Muktashukti Mudra: We must keep our hands in the posture of an oyster shell, with both hands together so that there is a space between the two palms where the fingers meet. This posture is used at the time of recitation of the sutras "Javanthi Cheyi Ayam", "Javantkevi Sahu", and "Jai Viyaraya" sutras.

    Jin Mudra: At the time of Kayotsarg, we stand up in such a way that there is a distance of 4 inches between the two feet at the toes in the front while the heels almost touch each other. Our hands should be hanging down. Our eyes should be fixed on the tip of our nose. Jina stood in Kayotsagga with this posture.

  6. Pranidhan (be absorbed): We should concentrate our senses, our body, our voice, and our mind on carrying out Chaityavandan and we should not let them wander.

The precautions to be taken in respect of pooja or worship:

  1. We must respect the idols of Arihants as Jina in reality. In case, the idol of Arihant has to be carried from one place to another; it should be carried in reverence holding straight with the support of the both hands beneath it.

  2. At the time of worshipping Arihants with substances, you may bring the necessary substances from your house.

  3. The flowers selected should have naturally fallen down, and should not be plucked for this purpose. The buds of the flowers should not be removed. When making a garland of the flowers, a needle should not be used for stringing them together and they should not be washed.

  4. While using a brush to clear the things stuck to the idols of the Jinas, it should not make even the slightest noise. We may clean with a wet thick cloth to remove the saffron etc. Do not rub the idols roughly.

  5. The flowers, the decorations, and the smearings which are used for various parts of the idols of the Arihants should not be allowed to fall to the ground. In case they do fall down, they should not be used again and they should be kept in a clean plate.

  6. In case, we have to rub the saffron (Keshar) we must close our mouth, and when we finish we should wash our hands and the slab.

  7. You must recite the hymns and sutras relating to the Chaityavandan in such a way, that we do not disturb the concentration and devotion of others.

  8. While reciting Chaityavandan, we should not engage in any other activities, including forming the swastika, etc.

  9. When we get out of the temple, we should not turn our back towards the idols of Arihants. Rather, we shouls walk backwards few steps first and then turn sideways.

(Members of some Jain sects do not worship in temple.)