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Browsing: Fragments of Jain manuscripts (Or. 13950)

Title: Stanzas 20 to 22

The British Library Board
Or. 13950
Date of creation:
Folio number:
189 verso
Total number of folios:
Place of creation:
western India
various in Devanāgarī script
opaque watercolour on paper
25 x 10.5 cms
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain


This page consists of stanzas 20 to 22 of this Sanskrit version of the popular story of Kālaka.

The text on this page recounts what happens after King Gardabhilla ignores the pleas of all the monks and nuns to free the nun Sarasvatī. He has kidnapped her and forced her into his harem.

The monk Kālaka is Sarasvatī's brother and his earlier attempt to persuade the king to free her also failed. When Kālaka learns that Gardabhilla has taken no notice of the monastic community's efforts, he swears an oath that he will uproot the king from his kingdom. But he cannot use any violent means because one of the key Jain principles is non-violence.

So he deliberately wanders in the city like a madman, covered with mud, saying: ‘If Gardabhilla is king, then what next? If his harem is nice, then what next?’

Seeing Kālaka like this, and hearing his words, the population and the royal ministers understand that the king has not behaved properly. Then they try to persuade King Gardabhilla to release the kidnapped nun.

Other visual elements

There are several notable things about this page, which is not in perfect condition as the edges are slightly torn.

The Kālaka story is often an appendix to Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts. In many Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts, there is a clear intention to make the manuscript a valuable and remarkable object in itself. This often holds true for the manuscripts of the Kālaka story as well. Here this aim is signalled by the:

  • shape and style of the script, which is close to calligraphy
  • use of gold ink for the red-edged border lines and ornamental diamond shapes
  • division of the text into two equally-sized panels, separated by a 2-centimetre margin containing a golden diamond
  • blue ornamental motifs around the golden diamonds.

There are three ornamental diamonds because this is the verso side of a folio.

This version of the Kālaka story is told in poetry. Verse numbers are at the end of each stanza. They are often in red, like here. On this page are the following numbers:

  • 20 on line 2
  • 21 on line 4
  • 22 on line 6.

This means that this page contains the end part of verse 20, all of verses 21 and 22, and the beginning of verse 23.

The bottom of the right margin contains the number 189, which is the folio number. It is a high number because this manuscript is the continuation of a Kalpa-sūtra manuscript. However, the rest of the manuscript is not available.


The elaborate script used is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, which is here like calligraphy. There are a few notable features of this script.

Firstly, it is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script.

There are red vertical lines within the text marking out verse divisions. Single red vertical lines indicate where a verse is divided in two, while double red vertical lines are found at the end of the verse.


The Kālakācārya-kathāStory of the religious teacher Kālaka – emphasises the connection between religious practice and magical abilities. As an accomplished Jain teacher, Kālaka can master various magical sciences and transmute brick into gold. He uses his powers to help the Śakas, a foreign population. In exchange, the Śakas help him destroy the wicked King Gardabhilla.

This eventful tale belongs to the Śvetāmbara Jain tradition. It is known in several versions in various languages and is often illustrated.The one in this manuscript is an anonymous text in Sanskrit verse, but the first seven stanzas are missing. Also missing are folios 191 to 197, corresponding to stanzas 33 to 61.

This version is known as Śrīvīra-vākyānumatam from its starting words. It is a short recension, where the story is told in simple language without poetical embellishments. By an unknown author, it is one of the most popular versions of the Kālaka story.

Assorted folios

The pages or folios under this shelfmark belong to different manuscripts. The folios show a variety of handwriting, language and artistic style and are on noticeably different paper.

The folios are from four separate manuscripts, as follows:

  • several folios are from a single manuscript of the Kālakācārya-kathā – Story of the Ācārya Kālaka
  • three folios are from different manuscripts of the Kalpa-sūtra, an extremely popular text in the Śvetāmbara canon.

There is also a manuscript holder made for an unknown manuscript.

It is not known what has happened to the rest of each manuscript.

Copies of the Kalpa-sūtra and Kālakācārya-kathā are often made in a single manuscript, which may be why these folios were bundled together. At some point in the past these folios and the manuscript holder were put into a box at the British Library and labelled ‘Frags. of Jain Mss. Skt. / Pkt.’ meaning 'Fragments of Jain manuscripts in Sanskrit and Prakrit'. However, it is important to remember that they do not belong together.


1. 'Those who are foes to the Jina’s teaching, those who talk ill of the community and who cast contempt indifferently on this earth, I will have
2. always the same fate as they have // 20 if I do not uproot for [the sake of] his kingdom
3. this powerful king Gardabhilla together with his treasure and his sons.’ Having taken this resolution
4. He [Kālaka] put on the attire proper for a madman // 21 He wanders, the body smeared with mud in the large city,
5. muttering all the time: ‘If Gardabhilla is king, then
6. what next? And if his harem is nice, then what next?’


1. [ye pratyanīkā jina-śāsanasya sanghasya ye cāśubha-va]rṇa-vācaḥ / upekṣakoḍḍāhakarā dharāyāṃ teṣām ahaṃ yāmi
2. gatiṃ sadaiva //20 yady enam urvīpati-Gardabhillaṃ kośe-
3. na putraiḥ prabalaṃ ca rājyāt / nonmūlayāmīti kṛta-pratijño
4. vidhāya veṣaṃ grahilānurūpaṃ //21 bhramaty adaḥ kardama-lipta-gā-
5. tra / sarvvatra jalpan nagarīṃ viśālāṃ / śrīGardabhillo nṛpa-
6. tis tataḥ kiṃ / bho ramyam antaḥpuram asya kiṃ vā// 22 ityādi


A 'victor' in Sanskrit, a Jina is an enlightened human being who has triumphed over karma and teaches the way to achieve liberation . A synonym for Tīrthaṃkara, which means 'ford-maker' or one who has founded a community after reaching omniscience through asceticism. The most famous 24 – Ṛṣabha to Mahāvīra – were born in the Bharata-kṣetra of the middle world , but more are found in other continents. There have been Jinas in the past and there will be some in the future.
The Book of Ritual attributed to Bhadrabāhu. It has three sections:
  1. 'Jina-caritra' – 'Lives of the Jinas'
  2. 'Sthavirāvalī' – 'String of Elders'
  3. 'Sāmācārī' – 'Right Monastic Conduct'.
A significant sacred text for Śvetāmbara Jains, the Kalpa-sūtra has a central role in the annual Paryuṣaṇ festival.
Sanskrit for 'community'. The Jain ‘fourfold community’ is composed of monks, nuns, lay men and lay women.
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.
A woman who has taken a public vow to withdraw from ordinary life to enter religious life and advance spiritually. Frequently, nuns perform physical austerities or undergo physical hardships in order to progress spiritually.
A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.
A term for any of the dead vernacular languages of ancient and medieval India. It may be contrasted with classical Sanskrit, the language used by priests and the aristocracy. The Jains used a large variety of Prakrits, with the Jain canon written chiefly in Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit.
Jaina Devanāgarī
The distinctive version of the Devanāgarī script found in Jain manuscripts.
A single sheet of paper or parchment with a front and a back side. Manuscripts and books are written or printed on both sides of sheets of paper. A manuscript page is one side of a sheet of paper, parchment or other material. The recto page is the top side of a sheet of paper and the verso is the underside.
Known as a folio, a single sheet of paper or other material has a front and a back side. The recto page is the top side of a sheet of paper and the verso is the underside.

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