The concept of God is very unique in Jains. Appropriate synonyms are not found in English or other languages to express the full meaning of several terms used in Jain philosophy, metaphysics, or ethics. This unique concept also has an impact on the meaning of prayer, bhakti and worship which attach to pure soul and obscure its natural qualities. Pure soul's natural qualities include omniscience and bliss. Based on the type and amount of karma, a soul takes a body form and has four minor categories of karma with it which define the body, life span, social standing, pleasure and pain. The cycle of birth/death continues until the removal of all Ghati Karma. The path of removal of karma is the Jain path of purification or spiritual progress which ultimately leads to perfection or Godhood.
WHAT GODHOOD IS NOT: Jains do believe in God, that's why there are temples. But everyone can be a God - we have the potentiality. If western semitic sense of "Theism" is taken, requiring creation theory, then Jains may be considered an atheism but further explanation must be provided. It follows that Jains do not believe in prophets as Creator God's messengers. God is not involved in providing material things to the asking devotee. Thus, the God in Jains may be loosely equated to the Christian or Hindu God (not demigods) minus creation.
GODHOOD: Godhood is the perfected state of soul and supreme manifestation of human excellence. Godhood is latent in ordinary individuals (souls) who become God upon removal of karma by their own effort. Upon complete removal of all four categories of Ghati Karma, the perfected human being becomes Arihanta God. At this state, the God remains human and has perfect knowledge (without bounds of time and space). When the life span of this last body form is completed, soul is said to reach Nirvana or Moksha and is referred to as Siddha God. This state of soul is the ultimate and associated with it are perfect power and bliss.
TIRTHANKAR: Arihanta God is also called Jina, the word from which the word "Jain" has been derived. The words Arihanta and Jina mean the victor of soul's inner enemies of attachment and aversion. Becoming Arihanta, Jina or Kevali, removing of four Ghati Karma, and attaining Kevalijnan (Omniscience) are all equivalent. A lot of souls have become Arihanta. A limited number of Arihanta Gods become Tirthankars, who reestablish religious order (consisting of male and female monks and lay followers) and become well known. Most recent Tirthankar Bhagwan was MAHAVIR (not born as a God or an incarnation of God, not a founder of Jainism). Like other Arihanta Gods, Tirthankar Gods reach Siddhahood upon completion of life-span as a human. All Arihanta souls are equal in the qualities of soul. To be an all known (omniscient) human, one must make spiritual progress to remove all Ghati Karma and become Arihanta. Only through Arihanta can the truth be revealed about issues unknown to humans.
For example, Mahavir, after becoming a Tirthankar, could tell about prior Tirthankars and future Tirthankars. Other souls became Arihanta and Siddha Gods, while Mahavir was Tirthankar himself. Bhagwan Bahubali, whose tall monolith statue is quite famous, was an Arihanta and the son of Tirthankar Rshabnath-Adinath.
Prior to Mahavir, (twenty-fourth of recent era), Parshvanath (twenty-third Tirthankar), Arishta Neminath (twenty-second Tirthankar, are said to be cousins and contemporary of Shri Krishna), Naminath (said to be a contemporary of Shri Rama) and other Tirthankars have been known. First Tirthankar of recent era. Rshbhnath is mentioned in the early vedas. The lives and teachings of Bhagwan Parshvanath (about 850 B.C.) and Bhagwan Mahavir are historical facts and prior Tirthankars are known through literary accounts. All Tirthankars teach the same principles of Jain Dharma through non-violence, at different times and circumstances. At the present time, there are no Tirthankars or ordinary Arihanta in our region (Bharat-Kshetra) of the universe. However, in another region (Mahavideh Kshetra) there are twenty Tirthankars. The first current Tirthankar's name is Shri Simandhar Swami.
WORSHIP: God has no desires or attachments and loves all souls equally. Thus, a Tirthankar is unaffected by the kind or mean actions to him/her by surrounding beings. God does not participate in performing miracles for the devotee to fulfill material desires. Worship, prayer, and rituals are for the devotee's self-purification and spiritual aspirations. The praise of God's qualities and remembering of Tirthankar's life are for inspiration. God's idol is always in the meditation posture and without garments, ornaments or weapons. Thus, the idol represents purity and Godhood.