A golden Jina takes the lotus position of meditation on a throne in the middle of a triple-walled shape with entries in the four cardinal directions. At the corners of the painting are pairs of various animals and birds.

This is a depiction of the universal gathering. When each of the Jinas attain enlightenment, the gods build a magnificent triple-walled preaching hall for each one, with passages from all four directions leading to the centre. The Jina sits at the heart of the preaching hall, where he preaches to all beings in the concept of the universal gathering of gods, men and animals. Pairs of animals that are usually natural enemies come together in peace to listen, symbolising the serenity of the universal gathering

This picture does not illustrate a story. Instead, it symbolises Jain teaching and thus is a suitable representation of the facing text, which is the last paragraphs of the Kalpa-sūtra. 

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 shape and style of the script, which is close to calligraphy
  • the coloured background for the text instead of the ordinary colour of the paper
  • the white ink instead of the standard black ink for the writing
  • the profusion of gold in the painting 
  • the intricately decorated red borders around the text and the picture
  • the division of the text into two parts by a central border of geometric red shapes.

The two red circles along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound at one time. Strings through three holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The circles and the detailed square in the centre are in the places where the holes would once have been. 

The circle on the right has the page number in black inside. 


The elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, in a form which recalls calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Prakrit.

Note that this script is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant. It is known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script.