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Browsing: Jambū-dvīpa-prajnapti-sūtra (MS. Ind. Inst. Sansk. 109)

Image: Last page – partly erased colophon

Title: Last page – partly erased colophon

Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
MS. Ind. Inst. Sansk. 109
Date of creation:
Folio number:
116 verso
Total number of folios:
Place of creation:
western India
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit
watercolour on paper
28 x 13 cms
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
JAINpedia Copyright Information


There are several notable things about this page, namely:

  • the original paper is slightly torn at the edge
  • inside an ornamental red square at the bottom of the right margin is the number 116, which is the folio number
  • at the top of the left-hand margin Jambūdvīpa° sūtra 116 is the abbreviated title of the work Jambū-dvīpa-prajñapti, along with the folio number, which therefore occurs twice on the page
  • above line 1, in the left-hand margin by line 12 and below the central red circle are words the scribe originally missed out that have been added by a later reader.

Colours are used for emphasis. Red is used to write the:

  • symbol cha in lines 2, 4 and in the last line, which is used at the end of chapters or texts
  • date and what remains of the colophon on line 5
  • final benediction formula on the last line.

Yellow pigment is used as an eraser in such manuscripts. Here it has been used extensively on lines 6 to 11.

Just visible under the yellow pigment is some text in red ink. Some syllables can be guessed, but on the whole it is no longer legible. The person who used yellow pigment deliberately wanted to hide some information. In this case, the deletion relates to the monks or lay people involved in copying the text. Such deletions are quite common.

The three red circles along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm-leaf. Here the central circle is in a lozenge-shaped blank space. Strings through one or more holes were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The circles are in the places where the holes would once have been.


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

There are a few notable features of this script, namely:

  • it is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script
  • the red vertical lines within the text, which, though they are used to divide the long sentences into smaller parts, are not necessarily punctuation marks.


The Jambū-dvīpa-prajñapti is part of the Śvetāmbara canon. It belongs to the second group, the Upāngas, of which it is the sixth. Like all the texts belonging to the Śvetāmbara canon, its language is the variety of Prakrit known as Ardhamāgadhī.

The Jambū-dvīpa-prajñapti deals with the description and geography of the Jambū-dvīpa, which is the central continent of the Jain universe. The main part of the work deals with the seven lands and the six mountain chains that make up Jambū-dvīpa.

Among these lands, Bharata is the main focus of attention. The land is named after its ruler, the first Universal Emperor Bharata. The text gives an important place to legends connected with the life of Ṛṣabhanātha or Lord Ṛṣabha, the first Jina, and his eldest son Bharata. It also provides information about the divisions, mountains, lakes and rivers of the Jambū-dvīpa. Matters of time, which are inseparable from cosmology, are covered in the final part of the work.


The text on this page can be divided into various parts.

End of the text proper

Lines 1 and 2

[This is how Lord Mahāvīra, in the middle of several] gods, [and] several goddesses, explained, exposed, unfolded, described, the book named 'Exposition of the Jambū-dvīpa'. He showed again and again the meaning, the cause, the questions, the motives and the explanations. End.

Size of the text

Lines 2 and 3

It has the total number of 4154 granthas. The 'Exposition of the Jambū-dvīpa', which has this size, is now complete.

Traditionally, the size of a text is measured in a unit called grantha, which has 32 syllables. Since this number corresponds to the number of syllables of the verse known as śloka, the word śloka also occurs. Until recently this unit was used to calculate how much the scribe was paid. The number of granthas is not necessarily very accurate.

The scribe speaks

Lines 3 and 4

I have written as it was written in the manuscript [used as a basis for copying]. Whether it is correct or inaccurate, the fault should not be ascribed to me!
May there be good! May there be prosperity! May there be well-being!

Frequently, the scribe writes one or more verses at the end of the manuscript to describe the toils of copying. Such verses are technically known as 'scribal maxims'. The one here is extremely common.


Line 5

In the year 1652 of the [Vikrama] era, on the fifth day of the bright half of [the month] of Vaiśākha, in the Large Kharatara-gaccha

The date is given according to common practice in Indian and Jain manuscripts, which records the:

The term 'Great Kharatara-gaccha' refers to the subsect involved in the process of commissioning and copying. Any other information has been deliberately erased with yellow pigment.

Final benediction

Last line

…May [the manuscript] rejoice for a long time! May there be well-being! May there be good! May there be well-being! May there be prosperity.

Common at the end of manuscripts, such benedictory formulas all have similar meanings. The scribe bestows blessings on the readers and wishes that the manuscript he has copied lasts for a long time.


The text on this page can be divided into various parts.

End of the text proper

Lines 1 and 2

[bahū]ṇaṃ devāṇaṃ / bahūṇaṃ devīṇaṃ / majjha-gae / evam ātikkhati // evaṃ bhāsati / evaṃ paṇṇaveti / evaṃ parūveti / Jaṃbuddīvapaṇṇattī
nāmā ajjhayaṇe   /   aṭṭhaṃ ca heuṃ ca pasiṇaṃ ca kāraṇaṃ ca vākaraṇaṃ ca bhujjo uvadaṃsei ti   //  chaḥ //

Size of the text

End of line 2 and start of line 3

graṃthāgraṃ śloka / 4154
evaṃ saṃkhyā Jaṃbūdvīpaprajñaptikā samāptaḥ //

The scribe speaks

Lines 3 and 4

yādṛśaṃ pustake dṛṣṭaṃ // tādṛśaṃ laṣitaṃ mayā / yadi śuddham aśuddhaṃ vā // mama doṣo na dī-
yate // // chaḥ // śrīr astuḥ // chaḥ // kalyāṇam astuḥ // chaḥ // // śubhaṃ bhavatuḥ // śrī // chaḥ // // chaḥ // //


Line 5

saṃvat 1652 varṣe vaiśākha śudi 5 dine / śrībṛhatṣarataragacche

Final benediction

Line 6

rthaḥ // ciraṃ naṃdatuḥ // śubhaṃ bhavatuḥ // kalyāṇaṃ bhūyāt // śubhaṃ bhavatuḥ // śrīr astuḥ // chaḥ //


Sanskrit for 'universal monarch'. There are 12 in the continent of Bharata in each progressive and regressive half-cyle of time. They have 9 treasures and 14 jewels they can use to conquer their enemies and become 'universal monarchs'. The cakravartin form one of the five groups of '63 illustrious men' in Jain mythology.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
The innermost island-continent in the Middle World, in Jain cosmology. It is divided into seven continents separated by six mountain ranges. It takes its name - 'Rose-Apple Continent' - from a rock formation that resembles a rose-apple tree, which is found on Mount Meru in the centre of the island.
Subsect of the Śvetāmbaras, chiefly found in Rajasthan and Mumbai and established in the 11th century. 
The 24th Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is yellow and his emblem the lion. Mahāvīra or 'the great hero' is his title. His birth name was Vardhamāna, meaning 'ever increasing'. His existence is historically documented but the two main sects of Digambara and Śvetāmbara Jains have slight differences in their accounts of his life.
Believers in a religion who are ordinary worshippers, not clergy or members of religious orders. In Jainism, lay people are often called 'householders', indicating that they live in houses and have domestic responsibilities, unlike ascetics.
Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.
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.
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit
A dialect of the Prākrit language used for many Śvetāmbara Jain scriptures.
One of the Lands of Action or Karma-bhūmi in the first continent, Jambū-dvīpa, in the Middle World where humans live. Bharata is also the name of the eldest son of the first Jina, Ṛṣabha, who succeeded his father as king.
Bright fortnight
The half of the lunar month in the traditional Indian calendar in which the moon is at its fullest.
A belief system about the universe that covers its origin, structure and parts, and natural laws and characteristics such as space, time, causality and freedom.
Jaina Devanāgarī
The distinctive version of the Devanāgarī script found in Jain manuscripts.
Transcription of a letter symbol found at the end of chapters or at the end of works in Indian languages. It indicates that the chapter or the work is finished.
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.
Found at the end of a Jain manuscript, a colophon is similar to the publication information at the beginning of modern books. It usually contains the title and sometimes details of the author, scribe and sponsor. The colophons of Jain manuscripts may also include the names of owners, readers and libraries where they have been stored. They frequently have decorative elements and very commonly contain a wish for good fortune for any readers. Written mainly by the scribes who copy texts, Jain colophons are often written in Sanskrit.
Someone who copies manuscripts for a living. Scribes are common in societies where literacy is rare. In the past, however, scribes could not always read and write fluently.

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