Generally Jains use the following eight items to perform puja
of a Tirthankara in
the temple. Symbolically each item represents a specific religious
virtue and one should reflect on it while performing puja.
1. Jala Puja: Water
2. Chandan Puja: Sandalwood
3. Pushpa Puja: Flower
4. Dhup Puja: Incense
5. Dipak Puja: Candle
6. Akshat Puja: Rice
7. Naivedya Puja: Sweet food
8. Fal Puja: Fruit
1. Jala Puja: (Water) Water symbolizes the ocean.
Every living being continuously travels through life's ocean of
birth, death, and misery. This puja reminds that one should live
his life with honesty, truthfulness, love, and compassion towards
all living beings. This way one will be able to cross life's ocean
and attain liberation (Moksha). This is known as samyakdarshana,
samyakjnana, and samyakcharitrya in the Jain religion.
2. Chandan Puja: (Sandalwood) Chandan symbolizes
knowledge (jnana). By doing this puja, one should thrive for right
knowledge. Jainism believes that the path of knowledge is the main
path to attain Moksha or liberation. Bhakti or devotion helps in
the early stages of one's effort for liberation.
3. Pushpa Puja: (Flower) The flower symbolizes conduct.
Our conduct should be like a flower, which provides fragrance and
beauty to all living beings without discrimination. We should live
our life like flowers full of love and compassion towards all living
4. Dhup Puja: (Incense) Dhup symbolizes monkhood
life. While burning itself, incense provides fragrance to others.
Similarly, true monks and nuns spend their entire life selflessly
for the benefit of all living beings. This puja reminds that one
should thrive for a ascetic life.
5. Dipak Puja: (Candle) The flame of dipak represents
a pure consciousness, i.e. a soul without any bondage of a karma
or a liberated soul. In Jainism, such a soul is called a Siddha
or God. The ultimate goal of every living being is to become liberated.
By doing this puja one should thrive to follow five great vows;
nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, chastity, and nonpossession.
Ultimately these vows will lead to liberation.
6. Akshat Puja: (Rice) Rice is a kind of grain which
is nonfertile. One cannot grow rice plants by seeding rice. Symbolically,
it means that rice is the last birth. By doing this puja one should
thrive to put all the efforts in life in such a way that this life
becomes one's last life, and after the end of this life one will
not be reborn again.
7. Naivedya Puja: (Sweet food) Naivedya symbolizes
tasty food. By doing this puja, one should thrive to reduce or eliminate
attachment to tasty food. Healthy food is essential for survival,
however one should not live for tasty food. Ultimate aim in one's
life is to attain a life where no food is essential for survival.
That is the life of a liberated soul who lives in Moksha for ever
in ultimate blissful state.
8. Fal Puja: (Fruit) Fruit is a symbol of Moksha
or liberation. If we live our life without any attachment to worldly
affairs, continue to perform our duty without any expectation and
reward, be a witness to all the incidents that occur surrounding
us, truly follow monkhood life, and have a love and compassion to
all living beings, we will attain the fruit of liberation. This
is the last puja symbolizing the ultimate achievement of our life.
Suggested Further Reading
Source: Meaning Of Ashta Prakari Puja (N10) 01/19/93 8PUJA.A01
Complied by Pravin K. Shah, Jain Study Center of North Carolina