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Browsing: Ḍholā-Marū and Madhavanala kī copaī (Or. 14687)

Image: Umar instructs his soldiers

Title: Umar instructs his soldiers

The British Library Board
Or. 14687
Kuśalalābha Upādhyāya
Date of creation:
composed in 1560, this copy created in perhaps 18th to 19th centuries
Folio number:
68 verso
Total number of folios:
Place of creation:
western India
Rajasthani / Gujarati in Devanāgarī script
opaque watercolour on paper
20 x 14.5 cms
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain


A well-dressed bearded figure gestures to two armed men on prancing horses. A strangely clad figure with blue skin stands behind him.

The bearded man is the villain Umar, giving orders to his soldiers. He tells them they should chase Ḍhola and Māru, who are running away. Umar wants the beautiful Māru for his harem.

The blue-skinned figure is the Cāraṇa, who is listening to Umar. He is a kind of double agent.

The painting depicts an episode from the very popular love story of Ḍhola and Māru.

Other visual elements

The paintings of this manuscript are colourful and lively. Note the comparatively modern format of the page, very different from the traditional long and narrow rectangle.


The elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here for Rajasthani / Gujarati.


The moving love story of Prince Ḍhola and the young girl Māru is a folk ballad from western India known in many oral and written versions. The lovers are separated and finally reunited after many adventures.

Jain monks, who are fond of all types of stories, have copied it many times and are therefore partly responsible for spreading it around India. It is a story with a rich pictorial tradition.

The author of this version is the Śvetāmbara Mūrtipujak monk Kuśalalābha Upādhyāya, who wrote it in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, in 1560 CE (1617 VS). He was affiliated to the Kharatara-gaccha, one of the most numerous monastic orders in Rajasthan.


Common Era
The period of time starting with the year when Jesus Christ was traditionally believed to have been born. Using CE is a more secular way of dating events in a multinational, multi-religious world.
Subsect of the Śvetāmbaras, chiefly found in Rajasthan and Mumbai and established in the 11th century. 
Preceptor or tutor. One of the Five Supreme Beings, who is worthy of being worshipped by ordinary Jains.
Often abbreviated, Vikrama-saṃvat is the calendar associated with Emperor Vikramāditya. It begins in about 56 BCE so the equivalent date in the Common Era can be calculated by subtracting 57 or 56. Based on Hindu traditions, it is a lunar calendar often used in contemporary India.
A man who has taken a public vow to withdraw from ordinary life to formally enter religious life and advance spiritually. Frequently, monks perform physical austerities or undergo physical hardships in order to progress spiritually.
The language that developed in Gujarat, in western India. It is also spoken in neighbouring states. Also a term for someone or something associated with or coming from Gujarat.
Jaina Devanāgarī
The distinctive version of the Devanāgarī script found in Jain manuscripts.
A city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India.
The largest state in India, in the north-western part of the country.
The language spoken in Rajasthan, in north-western India, and surrounding states. It is also spoken in some parts of neighbouring Pakistan. Also the adjective describing people, things or places in or associated with the state of Rajasthan. - All text is © JAINpedia / Institute of Jainology 2020 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence The Jain universe online at

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