The expected caption in the upper left corner is missing, where the edge of the folio has been torn.

The biggest figure is Mahāvīra, sitting in the lotus position in the centre of a gold-painted square. There are people along three of the cardinal directions, except north. Around the perimeter of the square are animals and birds.

This picture shows that Mahāvīra has reached omniscience following 12 years of suffering extreme physical trials.

The abstract concept of achieving omniscience is usually represented by illustrations of the samavasaraṇa. This word, which means ‘universal gathering’, refers both to an architectural structure and to the meeting itself. The structure has three walls, with entrances in each of the four cardinal directions. The square shape, seen here, is less common than the circular one. The various beings of human, gods and animals each have a specific place in this quintessence of the universe. 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. He can deliver his teaching only after reaching omniscience. This is why this notion is represented by the samavasaraṇa.

In depictions of the universal gathering, people enter the doorways to pay homage to the Jina. It is common to show animals that are normally enemies peacefully listening in pairs to the Jina’s teaching. Here, the snake in the top-right corner and a bird like a peacock, shown in the bottom-right corner, demonstrate this atmosphere of peace.

Other visual elements

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 65. This is the folio number, in a square with two blue lines as an ornamental motif.

The original paper is slightly damaged. But, 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:

  • coloured background for the text
  • gold ink instead of the standard black ink
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • three diamonds filled with gold ink, with arrow-like blue lines and surrounding blue border as ornamental motifs.

The three diamonds along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm leaf. Strings through holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The diamonds are in the places where the holes would once have been.