The caption in the top-right corner says: likṣmī dekhyā – ‘she saw Lakṣmī’.

The 14 dreams Queen Triśalā has after finding out she is pregnant announce the greatness of the future baby, who will become Mahāvīra. The goddess Lakṣmī or Śrī, who embodies prosperity, is the traditional way in which the fourth of the 14 auspicious dreams is represented. The fourth dream is often depicted much larger than the others in the full sequence.

After they have all been listed in the text in one verse, each dream is described individually. Often, the illustrations follow this pattern. Here, the painter has decided to represent individually only one of the dreams – Śrī.

A goddess with four arms, Śrī is seated in the lotus position, which is an ascetic posture to aid meditation. She sits on a lotus flower that rises from the lotus lake on top of the Himalayan mountain. In her two upper hands she holds two lotuses. Śrī is frequently shown with lotuses.

The gesture of her lower left hand indicates giving – varada. In the lower right hand she carries a kind of water pot. These may be seen as symbolising prosperity and generosity. She has a tilaka on her forehead as an ornament.

As a goddess, Śrī wears costly clothing and superb jewellery. These are described in the text alongside.

Lines 3 to 7 of the text beside the painting form the beginning of an elaborate, poetic description of Śrī:

And then [the queen saw] Goddess Śrī, with her face like [a] full moon, seated at the top of the Himavat mountain on a lotus in a lotus lake, highly auspicious, on a lofty throne at a beautiful elevation: with a firmly placed golden tortoise as her befitting [divine] vehicle; with copper-tinged, delightful, fine and well-set on swelling, thick and dyed muscles; with fingers tender like lotus petals set on her dainty hands and feet.

Slightly adapted Kalpasūtra of Bhadrabāhu Svāmī
Translated by Kastur Chand Lalwani

Other visual elements

The original paper is slightly damaged. But, 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
  • diamond filled with gold ink, with arrow-like blue lines and surrounding blue border as ornamental motifs.

The diamond in the centre is a symbolic reminder 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 diamond is in the place where one of the holes would once have been.