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

Image: Opening page – floral decoration

Title: Opening page – floral decoration

Source:
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Shelfmark:
MS. Ind. Inst. Sansk. 109
Author:
unknown
Date of creation:
1596
Folio number:
1 recto
Total number of folios:
116
Place of creation:
western India
Language:
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit
Medium:
watercolour on paper
Size:
28 x 13 cms
Copyright:
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
JAINpedia Copyright Information

Description

There is no text on this page. Sometimes Jain manuscripts have purely decorative pages, such as this one, either before the text starts or at the end after it is complete. Such pages are like covers.

As a rule, such pages do not depict any scene. They present ornamental motifs of several geometric shapes. The shape on this page does not show any special item or holy symbol. It cannot be said to have any specific relationship with the text on the following pages. However, it functions as an auspicious symbol.

Decorative motifs are often intricate, as if to underline the idea of abundance and wealth. Colours – here red, blue and yellow – are lavishly used in harmonious patterns. Here the main circular form is continued by two arrow-like offshoots on either side. Four additional motifs are shown at each of the four corners, with flower-like shapes in between.

Background

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.

Glossary

Cakravartin
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.
Jambū-dvīpa
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.
Scripture
Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.
Prākrit
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.
Bharata
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.
Cosmology
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.
Auspicious
Favourable or lucky. Auspicious objects bring good fortune and may predict good events or a bright future. 

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