The partly damaged caption in the upper-left corner says: …gra guphā māhī Rājīmatī – ‘Rājīmatī in the cave’.

A large peacock is set above the figures of a man and a woman. On the left is a strangely dressed woman in a mountain cave, while the man is a Jain monk, wearing the typical Śvetāmbara robe, with his hands clasped in front of him.

The woman is Princess Rājīmatī, who had been betrothed to Prince Nemi. Her fiancé had called off the wedding when he realised that his lifelong calling to the ascetic life could be denied no longer.

After Nemi jilts her, Rājīmatī retires to a cave in the mountains, which is represented around her. According to the tradition, she takes off her clothes after getting caught in the storm and is naked. Her somewhat strange clothing is the painter’s way of representing nudity, which he probably did not want to show directly.

Nemi’s elder brother, Rathanemi has become a Jain monk too. He happens to visit Rājīmatī’s cave during the rainy season. He falls in love with Rājīmatī and asks her to marry him.

However, Rājīmatī is a virtuous woman and she preaches the right path to him – he should be true to his vows and remain a monk. Thus he cannot marry.

The atmosphere of the monsoon, with storm and lightning, is aptly rendered in the depiction of the sky. The peacock is a bird associated with this season, and here the painter has skilfully portrayed it emerging from the sky.

This is a well-known episode dear to the Jains, but it is rarely represented in Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts. This painting is therefore noteworthy and rather unusual.

Other visual elements

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 86. This is the folio number, in a square with two blue lines as an ornamental motif.

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.