Arranged in four rows of three and one of two, 11 men wear the white robes of the Śvetāmbara monk and sit in the lotus posture of meditation. Identical in size, all the monks make the ritual gesture of exposition with their right hands.

In the middle of the second row is the sacred syllable hrīṃ, which is considered a mantra or powerful spiritual formula.

The 24th Jina Mahāvīra had 11 direct disciples who were in charge of transmitting his teachings and were at the head of the monastic community. They are called gaṇadharas, as the caption states.

The first of them is Indrabhūti Gautama, who gained omniscience on the same night Mahāvīra died.

Other visual element

This is a good example of an average Kalpa-sūtra manuscript. Gold is used for the paintings and there are blue arabesques in the margins, but there are no other signs of an aesthetic object of special value.

The red circle in the centre is a symbolic reminder 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 circle is in the place where the central hole would once have been.


The elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, in a form which recalls calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Prakrit.

There are a few notable features of this script:

  • it is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script 
  • the red vertical lines within the text divide the long sentences into smaller parts, but are not necessarily punctuation marks.

In this particular folio there are occasional rings above the main line of writing. These notate the nasalised vowels and are used instead of simple dots. There are examples above the first line.