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Browsing: Jnātadharma-kathā (Prakrit d. 4)

Title: Last page – colophon

Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Prakrit d. 4
Date of creation:
Folio number:
114 recto
Total number of folios:
Place of creation:
western India
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit
ink on paper
26 x 11 c
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
JAINpedia Copyright Information


In Jain manuscripts, as in other Indian manuscripts, the end is the place to look for information on the title of the work, the author, the date of composition and so on. The colophon of the work is not necessarily the author’s creation. It is mostly written by the scribes who copy texts. Sanskrit is often the language of colophons, like here.

This colophon is an interesting example of a monastic lineage represented at several levels.

The main monastic leader is Gaja-sāgara. A monk is defined through his place in a lineage. Hence the name of his predecessor and teacher is mentioned, who is called Sumati-sāgara.

On the other hand, a monastic leader is also defined through his religious entourage. Gaja-sāgara’s entourage is represented, in hierarchical succession, by Lalita-sāgara, and by Māṇikya-sāgara. The latter is the one for whom the manuscript has been copied and is a monk of average rank, as suggested by the abbreviation , which stands for ṛṣi.

In addition, the monastic lineage is set within the larger frame of the Jain tradition of monastic teaching by the reference to Sudharma-svāmin. Sudharma is one of the 11 chief disciples of Mahāvīra. With the exception of one, all Śvetāmbara monastic lineages trace their descent from him. Also mentioned here is Jambū-svāmi, who was his pupil and who also figures in traditional monastic lineage accounts.

It is interesting to note that a large part of the section giving the monastic lineage has been written over yellow pigment. Yellow pigment is used as an eraser. This indicates that the manuscript originally had another recipient and has been reused and re-allocated to Māṇikya-sāgara. The present allocation shows the most frequent pattern in commissioning manuscript copies for a monk to read, which is when lay people club together to get a manuscript copied.

Jain monks have their official titles added to their names. These titles are also indicated by the respectful prefix śrī. These respectful terms are sometimes written more than once or implied as being repeated. The term śrī5 found in this colophon should be understood as adding the prefix śrī five times to the name, which denotes a very high level of honour.


Manuscripts show that the texts of the Śvetāmbara scriptures were copied without any interruption of the tradition through the centuries. This one is dated 1645 of the Vikrama era, or 1589 CE. Its interesting colophon mentions individuals who were involved in the commissioning and use of the manuscript, making it a noteworthy object.

The Jñāta-dharma-kathā is part of the Śvetāmbara canon. It is the sixth Aṅga, which is the first type of scripture in the canon. Like all the texts belonging to the Śvetāmbara canon, its language is the variety of Prakrit known as Ardhamāgadhī. The Prakrit version of the title of the work is Nāyā-dhamma-kahāo. The title as given in the left margin of the first folio is Jñāta-sūtram. The word sūtra is often used as an equivalent of 'sacred scripture'.

This work is narrative in character and composed of two main sections. The first one has 19 chapters, which contain different stories or parables. The second one has ten chapters, which are all repetitions of an initial story, but multiplied and modified, with changes in the names of persons and places.

The first section has rich narrative material and includes some stories which have become very famous in the Jain tradition. For instance, chapter eight is the first instance in the Śvetāmbara canon of a biography of Princess Mallī, who is destined to become the 19th Jina. Chapter 16 includes an early version of the story of Princess Draupadī, who wed the five Pāṇḍava brothers. It thus provides one of the first instances of a Śvetāmbara Jain version of the Mahābhārata epic. On the other hand, with the parable of the five rice grains entrusted to a man who must increase them, chapter seven has an Indian instance of a parable also known from the Bible.


This page has the final part of the colophon, which has, on line 1:

śrīr astu:// kalyāṇam astu: //

This means: 

Prosperity // May there be good!//

This kind of wish for good fortune is extremely common. It is addressed to the reader or any person who will have the manuscript in his hands.

Then comes the part of the colophon which mentions those involved in the commissioning and use of the manuscript.

Text of the colophon

1. In the year 1645 [of the Vikrama era], in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, in the bright fortnight, on the ninth,

2. a Sunday // In the village [of] Navānagara, Mr Dhannā, Mr Jayamalla, Mr Mādhava, Mr Jodhā, Mr Jasū, Mr Vacharāja, etc.

3. with their family, sons and grandsons got [this manuscript] to be written. The Jñātā-dharma-kathā is now completely finished. Now, in the lineage of Sudharma-svāmin, [there was] Jambū-svāmin, and progressively

4. there was Candra-sūri. In the Candrakula, in the monastic order [of] Vidhipakṣa, the monastic leader, the venerable Sumati-sāgara. In his lineage, [was] the monastic leader Gaja-sāgara. 

5. [This manuscript was copied] in order to be read by the monk Māṇikya-sāgara, the pupil of the learned monk Lalita-sāgara, the pupil of Gaja-sāgara. //cha// prosperity // //prosperity// //74//

6. The number of grantha units should be known as being 5464// cha// // cha// prosperity// cha// cha// prosperity// homage to the teacher// cha//


This is the traditional and complete way of giving the date, in the Vikrama era. It is equivalent to 1589 CE

Navānagara, the place name, has yet to be identified. 

All the proper names in line 2 refer to merchants or businessmen. The term sāha is a title, which is the ancestor of the common modern surname Shah. Here what the text means is that several lay men in the same family jointly paid for the copying of this manuscript. In this case, no female member of the family is involved in the process.

Vidhipakṣa is another name of the Śvetāmbara monastic order known as Añcala-gaccha. Closely associated with the region of Kutch in Gujarat, this is a centrally organised monastic order headed by a pontiff with the title of sūrisūrīśvara or bhaṭṭāraka. Sumatisāgara-sūri and the three other monks named here appear together in other manuscript colophons as well. 


This page has the final part of the colophon, which has, on line 1:

śrīr astu:// kalyāṇam astu: //

This means:

Prosperity // May there be good!//

Then comes the part of the colophon which mentions those involved in the commissioning and use of the manuscript.

Text of the colophon

1. saṃvat 1645 vṛṣe Mārggaśīṣa-māsa-śukla-pakṣe 9 tithau

2. ravau vāsare // Navānagara-grāme sāha-Dhannā / sāha-Jayamalla sāha-Mādhava sāha-Jodhā sāha-Jasū sāha-Vacharāja-pramuṣa-pu

3. tra-pautrādi-sa-parivāreṇa laṣāpitaṃ // śrīJñātādharmmakathā-saṃpūrṇṇṇa-samāptāni // atha śrīSudharmasvāmi-paṭṭe Jaṃbūsvāmī tad-anu-

4. rameṇa śrīCandrasūrir abhavat tasmin Candrakule śrīVidhipakṣa-gacche bhaṭṭāraka-śrī5śrīSumatisāgara-sūrisvara tat-paṭṭe-śrī5śrīGaja-

5. sāgara-sūrīsvara tat-sīkṣa-paṃ5śrīLalitasāgara tat-sīkṣa-ṛ°Māṇikyasāgara-paṭhanārthaṃ //cha// /śrī// //śrī// //74// //

6. grathāgra-saṃkhyā // 5464// jñātavyaṃ//  //cha//  //cha//  //  // śrī // cha// cha//   //śrī// // śrīgurubhyo namaḥ //cha//://


Sankrit term meaning 'pontiff'. This title is given to a type of Digambara clergy who are not mendicants. Instead of practising the 'wandering life' – vihāra – of Jain monks and nuns, a bhaṭṭāraka stays in one place, living in a kind of monastery called a maṭha. There are several bhaṭṭārakas in south India, who lead the local Jain community.
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.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
Sanskrit for 'worship' or 'homage'. All Jains perform rites of honour to the 24 Jinas. Rites of worship take place daily, with more elaborate ceremonies performed on holy days. Mendicant and lay Jains perform different rituals. Some sects worship images – mūrti-pūjaka – and others do not, and different sects have various practices. Focused on images or not, worship can be:
  • external or material – dravya-pūjā – involving offerings of food, drink and precious substances
  • internal or mental – bhava-pūjā – including singing hymns of praise, reciting mantras and meditating.
'Hearer’ of the teaching. This commonly refers to the Jain lay man, who follows the teachings of the 24 Jinas and is not a member of the clergy or a religious order. The feminine form is śrāvikā.
A title for the leader of a religious order among the Śvetāmbaras. It is a higher position than ācārya.
In common use it refers to any sacred text. However, strictly speaking, it means an extremely concise style of writing, as illustrated in the Tattvārtha-sūtra, or a verse.
'White-clad’ in Sanskrit, the title of one of the two main divisions of Jainism, in which both male and female mendicants wear white robes. There are some differences of doctrine or belief between these two sects and to some extent their followers consider themselves as belonging to distinct branches. Divisions can be fierce in practical matters, for example, over the ownership of pilgrimage places, but all sects see themselves as 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 disciple of Mahāvīra and a member of his gaṇadhara, he came from a brahmin family.
An active follower of a religion, especially one who passes on teachings to others.
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.
Mendicant lineage
Ascetics are initiated into a tradition handed down from a named religious teacher. Religious instructions and principles are passed on orally and in writings from one generation of mendicants to the next, continuing the monastic lineage.
Monastic order
A single-sex group of ascetics that vows to follow rules set out by a founding religious teacher. They formally renounce the world to become monks and nuns. They usually have a hierarchy of leaders at different levels to govern them.
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.
Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.
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.
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit
A dialect of the Prākrit language used for many Śvetāmbara Jain scriptures.
Bright fortnight
The half of the lunar month in the traditional Indian calendar in which the moon is at its fullest.
The westernmost state in India, which is a stronghold of Śvetāmbara Jainism.
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.
The five Pāṇḍava brothers are the heroes of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahābhārata, and its Jain versions. The Jain Mahābhārata is quite different from the Hindu version, demonstrating Jain virtues and religious beliefs .
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.
A title of respect often used to indicate holiness or divinity. It honours a person or place and is also added to the name of written or sung texts, such as scriptures. It is added before the name, for example Śrī Ṛṣabha.

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