Tag Archives: Kalpasutra

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



Lord Mahavira : painted images

      Lord Mahavira is the 24th tirthankara in Jainism. He lived in 6th century B.C and was born in Kundagrama in present day Bihar in India. He  was born to King Siddhartha and his queen Trishala of the Ishkvaku dynasty. In his childhood he was called Vardhamana. He was given the name Mahavira or Great hero because of his heroic deeds in his childhood. He is believed to be consecrated by Indra on Mount Meru. His previous births are mentioned in Mahapurana.

   At the age of thirty Mahavira left the comforts of his palace and left to lead the life of an ascetic. His aim was spiritual awakening. He gave up everything he had including his clothes. He went to various places and meditated; underwent rigorous hardships. The places included Nalanda, Mithila,Shravasti and Vaishali.  He attained enlightenment or kevalajnana under a sala tree. Jaina texts Harivamsa-purana and Uttara-purana have described this event. He  became all-knowing and all-seeing. After this he travelled all over India to spread his message. He had thousands of lay followers, sravakas(male) and sravikas(female). His royal followers included King Bimbisara of Magadha and King Kunika of Anga. His teachings are brought together in Agamas, canons. His chief disciple Gautama Swami compiled many of his teachings.  Lord Mahavira preached ahimsa or non-violence, satya or truthfulness, brahmacharya  or chastity, for monks, aparigraha or non-attachment and achaurya  or non-stealing.

   Lord Mahavira attained to nirvana from samsara or the cycles of birth and death at 72 in Pawapuri (in Bihar). The funeral rites are done by heavenly beings of tirthankaras and only the hair and nails are left behind, the rest of the body dissolving into air, as said in the Pravachana-sara.

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Birth of Mahavira, Kalpasutra, late 14th century, gouache on paper, India.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The depiction below shows  Mahavira  on the left decked in jewellery, probably during his consecration.

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Mahavira in a miniature from Kalpasutra, early 15th century,Gujarat, British Museum, London.

By Jaina manuscript [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

        Depicted below is Mahavira’s nirvana, the crescent shaped siddhashila,a place where all siddhas reside after nirvana is clearly seen.

File:Kalpasutra Mahavira Nirvana.jpg

Mahavira’s nirvana or moksa, Folio from Kalpasutra series, loose leaf manuscript,15th century, Patan, Gujarat.

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

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Mahavira attaining enlightenment in goduhasana posture,painting.

By Amitjain80 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


Mahavira,manuscript, early 15th century,Gujarat.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6698017

References :

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

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh