Characteristics of a Siddha in Jainism
Jainism preaches that attainment of salvation is the supreme aim of mankind and for the achievement of this aim, Jainism also highlights that every soul has a potential to be liberated. But what restricts a soul is his servility to his own karmas. An important prerequisite for the attainment of liberation is ones strict control over his materialistic passions and temptations, otherwise the soul remains trapped in the transmigratory cycle of birth and death. It is important to note that before attaining salvation, a person first becomes Arihant where the Ghati (destructive) karmas are destroyed first and then the rest four Aghati (non-destructive) karmas are destroyed by the end of lifespan. This kind of freedom from bondage is the most vital aim for those who have undertaken the path of becoming a Siddha.
Siddha in Jainism are the liberated souls who have destroyed all karmas and will no longer collect any new karma. They have therefore attained Moksha, which is indicative of freedom from the transmigratory cycle of birth and death. They are above the omniscient beings called the Arihantas. Characteristically, they are soul in its purest form and therefore do not have a body like ordinary beings. They are even formless. Since they are free from karmas, they do not experience any kind of suffering. They do not have any kind of materialistic desires to achieve and are therefore experiencing the ultimate and unobstructed bliss called Aksha Sukh. They reside in Siddhashila which is situated on top of the Universe.
More specifically, the soul of a siddha possesses infinite faith or belief in the tattvas or essential principles of reality (Ksayika Samyaktva), infinite knowledge (Kevala Jnana), infinite perception (Kevaladarsana), infinite power (Anantavirya), fineness (Suksmatva), inter-penetrability (Avagahan), it is neither heavy nor light (Agurulaghutva) and is undisturbed and experiences infinite bliss (Avyabadha).
Different Ways of Achieving Siddha
Jainism highlights fifteen different ways of achieving liberation or salvation.
Jin Siddha comprises of an individual constructing the Tirthankar Nam karma (gotra) in the third life from the last, thereby becoming a Tirthankar in the last life. A Tirthankar is the founder of the four-fold order of monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. He will again establish the Jain Sangh, which will lead to his salvation. Some of the Tirthankars who followed this path are Rishabhdev, Ajitnath, Shantinath, Nemitath, Parshvanath and Lord Mahavira.
Following the Ajin Siddha path one becomes Arihant and attains salvation. Arihant is the one who has successfully and completely destroyed his inner foes such as materialistic desires, greed, anger and hatred. This process was followed by Gautamswami.
When the individual has taken shelter in the Jain Sangh established by the Tirthankar, thereby attaining salvation, this path is called the Tirth Siddha.
Atirth Siddha is characterized by becoming Arihant prior to the establishment of Jain Sangh by a Tirthankar. The individual following this path attains salvation after the Jain Sangh is established. One noteworthy example of the follower of this path is Marudevamata.
Individuals who follow the Gruhasthaling Siddha path have a peculiar type of dualism living as manusya. They are gregarious living the life of a regular householder, but from the inside they are totally detached. They neither have any attachment nor do they hold grudges or malice in their heart for anyone or anything around. They thus are endowed with a spiritual attitude which improves with time, thereby helping them destroying ghati karmas and becoming Arihants. With a shorter life span, they may attain salvation in about one antrmuhurt. With a longer life span, then may take up monkhood and oblige the world to bring the awareness until their death. This process was followed by Chakravarti king, Bharat.
A person with right code of conduct, right faith and right knowledge can also attain salvation. This path was followed by Vallakchiri.
Svaling Siddha is characterized by a sadhu attaining salvation as a renounced sadhu. A noteworthy example of this sadhu is Muni Shri Prasannchandra.
Purushling Siddha takes place when a man attains salvation. A noteworthy example of such a man is Sudharmaswami.
A woman can attain salvation too and achieve Striling Siddha. However, Digambar sect does not believe that woman can attain salvation. Some of the women who have achieved Striling Siddha are Chandanbala and Mrugavatiji.
Napusankling Siddha relates to a person with neutral gender who can attain salvation. This kind of Siddha was achieved by Gangeyamuni.
Pratyek Siddha relates to self-awareness of a person, which becomes the tool for destroying the ghati karmas trigord. He then becomes Arihant and then moves a step forward to becoming a Siddha. This kind of siddha was attained by Karkandu Muni.
Svayambuddha Siddha relates to self-inspiration (Kevali) used as a weapon for destroying the ghati karmas, thereby becoming Arihant and Siddha. This path was followed by Kapil Kevali.
Buddha Bodhit Siddha
Buddha Bodhit Siddha path involves being enlightened by a spiritual teacher, thereby filled with intense desire to renounce the world to become a Siddha. Some of the followers of this path are Gautamswami and Vayubhuti.
Sometimes, one soul or person achieves salvation among the group of other monks and nuns. He thus achieves Ek Siddha. Lord Mahaviraswami is known to attain Ek Siddha.
Sometimes many monks attain salvation together at the same time, consequent to all their lives ending at the same time. This is called Anek Siddha. Lord Rishabhdev and other monks with him are known to achieve this kind of Siddha.
It is important to note that Jainism strongly upholds that it is the attitude that matters and not the label. This implies that not only a Jain, but anyone can reach the ultimate and the supreme level of salvation. He needs to lead a life filled with goodness and purity which is imperative to gain salvation.
Representation of Siddha in Jainism
The siddha and the other ascetics constitute the panca-paramesthin, the five chief divinities of the Jainas. Their figures are represented on a silver or brass tray called a siddha-cakra (saint-wheel). This tray is sacred and is known to possess magical powers. It is washed and anointed in the twice-yearly ceremony known as oli. Rice, sweetmeats and fruits are also offered to it during this ceremony.
In the Digambara sect the saint-wheel is called navapada meaning nine dignities or nine virtues. It has panca-paramesthin along with the Jina (savior) image, temple, scriptures, and dharma-cakra (sacred wheel of the law).
Origin of Jainism
Four Orders of Jainism
Worship in Jainism