Jaina kalpasutras: some manuscript images

        Kalpasutra literally means book of rituals. Some say it is a wish-fulfilling book  It is a sacred Jaina text, one of the Cheda sutras. They mainly contain the biographies of the Jain tirthankaras Mahavir and Parshvanatha. Bhadrabahu  is the author who composed the text one hundred and fifty years after the nirvana of Lord Mahavira in the sixth century. They were illustrated with miniature paintings from the 14th century; and written on paper mostly in Gujarat in India. The Kalpasutra is an important text for the Svetambara sect of Jainsim.

      The Kalpasutra has three sections. The first  deals with the lives of 24 Tirthankaras, the Jain spiritual teachers. The second is about the life of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara. The third part deals with rules for ascetics and laws during four months of the rainy season, when they temporarily abandon their wandering life and settle down amidst the ordinary people. This is the time of the year  when the Kalpasutra is recited and the festival of Paryushan is celebrated.

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Rishabhanatha, Kalpasutra, 15th century,Gujarat, LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  The Kalpasutras depict the events in a Jina’s life. The folio below depicts how Parsvanatha endures torments from evil God Kamatha and is protected by serpent god Dharnendra and his consort Padmavati.

File:Parsva and Dharnendra.jpg

Parsvanatha, Kalpasutra ,manuscript, 15th century,Patan, Gujarat.

By Anishshah19 (15th Century art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A depiction of Queen Trishala’s dream is shown  in the folio below. She had 14 auspicious dreams before Mahavira’s birth. They are depicted as an array of emblems above her in the illustration.

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Queen Trishala’s dreams, Kalpa Sutra ,15th century, Jaunpur,Uttar Pradesh, Metmuseum, USA.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=628466

In order to decode the dreams King Siddhartha, father of Mahavira summoned dream interpreters. This is depicted in the manuscript folio below.

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King Siddhartha summons  dream interpreters, Kalpasutra LACMA, USA.

Source : flickr.com/photos/wikimediacommons/16386642566 Image by :Ashley Van Haeften

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Birth of Mahavira, Kalpasutra, Prakrit Manuscript,1503, Wellcome images, U.K.

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 The manuscript below depicts varsidana or Mahavira giving away his personal belongings for a year, before his enlightenment.


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Mahavira’s varsidana, Kalpasutra, manuscript, 15th century,Patan, Gujarat.

By Anishshah19 (15th Century art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Captive Gardabhilla. Kalpasutra. C.1375, Western India.JPG

Gardabhilla presented before Kalakacharya, folio,Kalpasutra and Kalakacharya Katha, 14th century, Western India, CSMVS, Mumbai.

By Ismoon (talk) 14:57, 25 February 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons





References :

  • The peaceful liberators : Jain art from India/Pal,Pratapaditya,Los Angeles : LACMA,1996.
  • wikipedia.org
  • jainpedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh


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