The end of the Kalpa-sūtra is generally accompanied by images illustrating the concepts of knowledge or teaching, not through specific episodes in a story. These two paintings are of favourite subjects on these themes.

Left scene

The figure sitting in the lotus position in the centre of a gold circle made of three circles of walls is a Jina. There are doorways through each of the three walls, in all four cardinal directions. In the corners of the illustrated panel are pairs of animals. This is a depiction of the samavasaraṇa. This word, which means ‘universal gathering’, refers both to an architectural structure and to the assembly itself. The Jina sits at the centre, where his speech can be heard in all directions by all beings who carefully and respectfully listen to him.

A Jina can deliver his teaching only after reaching omniscience. This is why the abstract concept of achieving omniscience is usually represented by the samavasaraṇa.

In depictions of the universal gathering, it is common to show animals that are normally enemies peacefully listening in pairs to the Jina’s teaching. Here, the snake and the peacock in the top-right corner demonstrate this atmosphere of peace.

Right scene

The largest figure is Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina, whose hand gesture shows he is preaching. In front of him, a monk is listening. Both wear typically Śvetāmbara monastic robes. Between them stands the sthāpanācārya, which symbolises both teaching and religious hierarchy.

Above the monk and along the lowest level kneeling figures face the same direction. All have their hands raised and folded in respect. There are representatives of lay womenśrāvikā – and lay menśrāvaka – along with monks and nuns. The mendicants are easily recognised from their spotted white robes, which point to their being Śvetāmbaras.

This is a standard image at the end of Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts. It shows members of Mahāvīra’s fourfold communitycaturvidha saṅgha – listening to his teaching with hands folded in respect.

Other visual elements

As with many Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts, there is a clear intention to make the manuscript a valuable and remarkable object in itself. This aim is signalled by:

  • the red background of the text
  • the use of gold ink instead of the standard black ink for the text
  • the use of gold in the paintings themselves instead of ordinary colours
  • the decorated borders with floral arabesques and geometrical designs in blue
  • the division of the text into two parts by a central margin holding a red disk surrounded by blue designs.


The elaborate script is Jaina Devanāgarī, which is here like calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit.

This script is notable because it is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant. It is known as pṣṭhamātrā script.