Idol worship: Jain Agamas give no reference to moorthis in poojas or temples

Subject: temples with moortis
From: "Y. Malaiya"
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 10:09:05
Sender: malaiya@CS.ColoState.EDU

Temples with moortis

Rolf Heiner Koch wrote:

The Jain Agamas seems to give not one reference to poojas or even to temples with moortis etc...[1]

This was the observation of Lonka Shah who had founded the Lonka Gachchh opposed to idol worship. The Swetambar Sthanakvasi and the Swetambar Terapanthi sects[2], both descendants of the Lonka Gachchh, do not believe in idol worship. Around the same time Taranpanth was started among the Digambaras [3], who worship the books but not the idols.

There has been considerable discussion about this, with the murtipujak scholars pointing to passages that seem to suggest idol worship.

Swami Dayananda (founder of Arya Samaj)"blamed"The Jains for having started idol worship [4]. He may actually be right, the Lohanipur idols are likely older than any Vishnu, Shiva or Buddha idols. The Vedika Brahmins actually had a disdain for temple worship as one can observe from Manu-Smriti etc.

It should be noted that in Jainism it is not the idol that is worshipped, rather the idol is a symbol for the deity. The worshiper simply uses the idol to meditate about the Tirthankara himself. An idol is just a piece of rock until it is has gone through the installation ceremony, where it undergoes the same events as the Tirthankaras had. One thus imagines the presence of the Tirthankara through the idol as a symbol.

Ultimately, the Sravakas are characterized by the vratas, and not by symbols used for meditation.

Symbols like the temples anchor our faith and provide a sense of identity.

Incidentally it should be noted that there have always been Brahmins who were part of the Jain Sangh, just like there were kings, farmers, merchants, artisans etc who were Jain. This is also true for Buddhism. Today, one often connects Brahmins exclusively with worship of Krishna, Shiva etc, but it was not always the case.”

Y. Malaiya"

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