The caption in the upper right corner says: Ma° janma – ‘Mahāvīra’s birth’.

On the left, a lady is on her couch in her bedroom holding a baby. On the right side is a female attendant, fanning the queen with a fly-whisk.

The reclining woman is the kṣatriya lady Queen Triśalā, into whom Mahāvīra’s embryo was transferred. She is holding the newborn Mahāvīra in her arm. The baby is shown almost standing, which is not the usual pose.

This is the standard scene used to show Mahāvīra’s birth, and, more generally, for the births of all Jinas.

Above this main scene two women either side of a cot with a baby are shown. This is an uncommon addition. They may be cleaning the baby just after he is born before putting him in his mother’s arms.

Note the painter’s care for details of the figures as well as those of the furniture and decorative elements.

The long protruding eye is a typical feature of western Indian painting. Its origin is unclear.

Other visual elements

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 36. This is the folio number.

The original paper has been pasted onto a new base. 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:

  • use of gold in the paintings, margins and ornamental motifs
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • three diamonds filled with gold ink and surrounded by blue ornamental motifs.

The three golden diamonds along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound at one time. Strings through one or more holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The shapes are in the places where the holes would once have been.

Three diamonds mean a verso side.


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

There are a few notable features of this script, which:

  • is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script
  • contains red vertical lines that mark out verse divisions, with a single line dividing a verse in two while double lines are found at the end of the verse.

The number 96 in the middle of line 3 is a paragraph number.

The lines in smaller script above and below the main text and in the margins are explanations in Sanskrit of phrases found in the central part. The two small parallel lines like slanted = after the words are meant to separate the explanations.