The caption in the top right corner says: chaṭṭhī – ‘sixth’. It is written twice.

The scene has two levels, but it can be read as a whole. The four women are shown as two pairs, and face each other. Each of them holds either a flower or another object that is difficult to identify.

This is a standard representation of the vigil kept during the sixth night after Mahāvīra’s birth. It is part of the sequence of rituals following the birth of a child.

As the facing text says:

on the first day Mahāvīra’s parents performed a special ceremony, on the third day they showed him the sun and the moon, on the sixth day they kept a religious vigil, on the eleventh day, they performed operations and ceremonies for the removal of impurities caused by childbirth; and on the twelfth day, they prepared plenty of food, drinks, dainties and spiced dishes.

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 39. 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 number 3 at the end of line 3 should be understood as 103. It is a paragraph number.

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.