The three different scenes in this painting show Neminātha or Lord Nemi, the 22nd Jina, at the time of renunciation.

Top level

The scene on the left shows Prince Nemi giving up all the possessions of a prince. He now wears a single garment. The bearded old man in front of him symbolises the people to whom Nemi donates his possessions, which are piled high between the two men.

The scene on the right shows Nemi being carried on a richly decorated palanquin. He is on the way to the garden or park where he will perform the final gesture of renunciation and initiation into monkhood.

Bottom level

Surrounded by trees and flowers, Nemi is now performing this final ritual of renunciation. He is catching his long hair in his hand, preparing to pluck it out in five handfuls. Monks and nuns still perform this act of dīkṣā today.

On the right is the god Śakra, depicted with four hands and seated under a royal canopy. Śakra is present at the key points of Nemi’s life. Here he is shown ready to receive the hair of the future 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 shape and style of the script, which is close to calligraphy
  • the red background of the text
  • the use of gold ink instead of the standard black ink for the text
  • the use of gold in the paintings themselves instead of ordinary colours
  • 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.

Below the disk, the number 55 refers to the folio number.


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.