The caption in the top right corner says: Iṃdra Hara ādeśa – ‘Indra commands Hariṇaigameṣin’.

On the left is a figure with four arms. He holds a trident in one hand and a thunderbolt in another. He wears elaborate dress and is seated on a raised throne under a canopy. In front of him is a figure with the head of a horned antelope, who is shown with hands raised in respect.

The larger figure is the god Śakra or Indra, lord of the Saudharma heaven, where many deities live. The antelope-headed figure is the standard depiction of Hariṇaigameṣin, the commander of Śakra’s infantry. Here he is waiting for his master’s commands.

The embryo of Mahāvīra first forms in the womb of the brahmin lady Devānandā but Śakra realises that the Jinas cannot be born as brahmins. He tells Hariṇaigameṣin to transfer the embryo into the womb of Queen Triśalā, a lady of the warrior caste. This is the episode known as the transfer of the embryo, which is specific to the Jina Mahāvīra and recognised only by the sect of the Śvetāmbaras.

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

Other visual elements

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 12. This is the folio number.

The original paper has been pasted onto a new base. 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:

  • use of gold in the paintings, margins and ornamental motifs
  • decorated border with blue floral motifs
  • three diamonds filled with gold ink and surrounded by blue ornamental motifs.

The three golden diamonds along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders 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 shapes are in the places where the holes would once have been.

Three diamonds mean a verso side.


The elaborate script used is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, which is here like calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit.

There are a few notable features of this script, which:

  • is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script
  • contains red vertical lines that mark out verse divisions, with a single line dividing a verse in two while double lines are found at the end of the verse.

The lines in smaller script above and below the main text and in the margins are explanations in Sanskrit of phrases found in the central part. The two small parallel lines like slanted = after the words are meant to separate the explanations.