The text describes the period just before Mahāvīra renounces worldly life and eventually becomes the 24th Jina.

In lines 1 to 2 the Laukāntika gods praise the prince who has decided to give up his life of ease to become a monk.

Mahāvīra realises that it is time to give away all his possessions, which are detailed in the text:

he left his silver, he left his gold, he left his riches, corn, majesty, and kingdom; his army, grain, treasure, storehouse, town, seraglio, and subjects; he quitted and rejected his real, valuable property, such as riches, gold, precious stones, jewels, pearls, conches, stones, corals, rubies, etc.; he distributed presents through proper persons, he distributed presents among indigent [= poor] persons.

Translation by Hermann Jacobi
page 257, 1895

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 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, black and red
  • the division of the text into two parts by a central margin holding a red disk surrounded by intricate blue designs.


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.