The picture on this folio depicts the episode leading to the renunciation of the 22nd Jina, Ariṣṭaneminātha, or Lord Ariṣṭanemi, often called Nemi. There are two scenes, one above the other, which have to be read in order.

Top level

On the left is a semi-circle representing a pen holding numerous animals of different species. Many of them are deer or antelopes. Standing below on the right is a man, who is likely to be the person in charge of these animals. On the right, a chariot drawn by a galloping horse is approaching. The small figure is the charioteer while the larger figure is Prince Nemi. The dais, canopy and the flag on the chariot are signs of Nemi’s royal status.

With some difficulty, his family and friends have persuaded Prince Nemi to get married to Princess Rājīmatī. Riding in his chariot, he goes towards the palace of his future in-laws for the wedding feast.

Bottom level

But when Nemi sees all the animals penned up ready to be killed to feed the guests, he is deeply troubled and repulsed. He decides to pull out of the marriage and renounce worldly life.

The chariot has now turned back, its vigorous movement making the viewer feel the strength of Nemi’s reaction.

The richly dressed lady on the left is Rājīmatī. Rejected, she will also decide to become a mendicant.

This famous episode is dear to the Jains’ hearts in part because it underscores the repulsion towards taking animal life and the importance of vegetarianism. Nemi’s renunciation is a key step in his journey towards becoming a Jina.

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

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 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.