This picture depicts different episodes from the life of the 22nd Jina, Nemiinātha or Lord Nemi, often called Ariṣṭanemi.

At the top left a large richly dressed woman sits in a highly decorated pavilion. At the top right a man with a royal parasol rides a lavishly caparisoned elephant towards her. Below the woman is a pen holding numerous animals. Outside the pen the man on the elephant rides away.

The lower level shows two scenes. In the centre a woman in strange clothing stands inside a slightly crenellated structure. The man with upraised hand to the right of her is richly dressed and wearing jewellery. To the left is another scene, in which a woman raises her hand to the man in the robe of a Śvetāmbara monk.

The upper level shows Princess Rājimatī and Prince Nemi. From a young age Nemi has wanted to renounce the householder life to become an ascetic. After much persuasion from his family and friends he has overcome his reluctance to marry. Now he is on his way to the palace of his future in-laws for his wedding to Rājimatī, who is waiting for him.

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

The bottom panel shows the next part of Rājīmatī’s story. When Nemi becomes a monk, Rājīmatī is left with no other choice than to become a nun. Drenched by rain, she takes shelter in a cave, shown as a semicircle in the picture. There she takes her clothes off to dry.

Rājīmatī has not noticed that a man is already sheltering from the rain in the cave. He is Rathanemi, Nemi’s brother. He sees her naked, although Rājīmatī is never depicted in this state. He is captivated by her beauty but Rājīmatī refuses his advances, and convinces him to become a monk. He is shown as a monk at the bottom left.

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

Other visual elements

This is a good example of a good-quality Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript, with interesting miniature paintings.

The page is divided into three parts. This format is known as tri-pāṭha. In the middle, in larger script, is the original Prakrit text. Above and below, in smaller script, is a commentary of the text, here in Sanskrit. The commentary explains but also expands the text. The artists do not make any difference between these two levels.

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


The elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit and Sanskrit.

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.