The caption in the top left corner says: sapna 14 – ‘the 14 dreams’.

A pink-clad woman with four arms sits in the lotus pose surrounded by animals and objects.

She is the goddess Śrī, who represents one of the 14 auspicious dreams which Queen Triśalā has after finding out she is pregnant. They announce the greatness of the future baby, who will become Mahāvīra. The creatures and objects around the deity symbolise the other dreams.

The order of the 14 auspicious dreams is always the same in the text of the Kalpa-sūtra, but the manuscript painters can choose how to use the space at their disposal. Here, one of the dreams is visually dominant – the one where the expectant mother sees the ‘anointment’ – abhiseya in Prakrit, abhiṣeka in Sanskrit. This abstract notion is represented by the goddess Śrī, announcing prosperity.

Starting from the top left and moving left to right, the sequence of the dreams is:

  1. elephant
  2. bull
  3. lion
  4. moon
  5. sun
  6. garland
  7. Śrī
  8. banner
  9. vase full of water
  10. lotus lake
  11. ocean of milk
  12. celestial palace
  13. heap of jewels
  14. fire.

Note that, although the dreams represented in the bottom row are much smaller than the others, all 14 dreams are equally important. Some dreams are shown smaller because the painter is using the space practically.

If the viewer is familiar with the fixed sequence of dreams, each one can be identified. This is frequently easier than recognising the symbols themselves.

Other visual elements

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.

There are also numerals in the text on this page, namely the:

  • number 34 in the middle of line 7, which is the paragraph number
  • number 2 that follows, which indicates that the description of the second dream is finished.

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.