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Image: Prince Kālaka meets Guṇaṃdhara

Title: Prince Kālaka meets Guṇaṃdhara

Source:
Wellcome Trust Library
Shelfmark:
Beta 365
Author:
Bhāvadeva-sūri
Date of creation:
probably 15th to 16th centuries
Folio number:
1 verso
Total number of folios:
12
Place of creation:
western India
Language:
Māhārāstri Jaina Prākrit
Medium:
watercolour on paper
Size:
28 x 11 cm
Copyright:
Wellcome Library, London
JAINpedia Copyright Information

Description

The illustration contains two scenes at different levels, both featuring Kālaka.

On the upper level the figure on the right is Prince Kālaka. His hands are folded in a respectful gesture. The figure on the left is a Jain monk wearing the typical Śvetāmbara monastic robe. He is seated on a slightly raised seat and holds the cotton broom under his arm. In one of his hands he holds the mouth-cloth, which he has taken off to talk. In between them is the sthāpanācārya, a kind of tripod that symbolises the Jain teaching and is a substitute for the teacher.

Below is a river, which means that the scene takes place in a natural landscape. The tree and the flowers on the bottom level also point to this.

On the bottom level the figure on the left is again Prince Kālaka. His face and costume are different from those in the top scene. It is so in most paintings of these scenes. He is training his horse, which is shown on the right. Both figures are full of movement. The colour of the horse is not realistic though its form, trappings and expression are.

This painting first depicts Prince Kālaka in his everyday life, at the bottom. It then shows the prince listening to a Jain ascetic, the first step towards his renunciation of the householder life.

The long protruding eye is a typical feature of western Indian painting. Its origin is unclear.

Other visual elements

There is no visible caption on this folio, where the edge is torn. But its presence on other folios of the same manuscript shows that there must have been one.

There are several notable things about this page, namely that:

  • the original paper is slightly torn at the top and has water stains
  • the bottom of the right margin contains the number 1, which is the folio number
  • the red sign inside red vertical lines right at the beginning, at the top left, is an auspicious symbol known as bhale, often used at the start of a manuscript
  • this version of the Kālaka story is in verse, with numbers at the end of each stanza, often between two vertical lines, like here, which on this page are:
    1 at the beginning of line 3
    2 in the middle of line 5
    3 at the end of line 7.

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 one is in a square blank shape. Strings through three 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.

Script

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

There are a few notable features of this script, which are that:

  • 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 divide the long sentences into smaller parts, but are not necessarily punctuation marks.

Background

Prince Kālaka was the son of King Vairisiṃha and of Queen Surasundarī in the town of Dharāvāsa and an accomplished young man. Once he went for a horse ride in a park. He heard a deep voice and went towards it. He discovered that the voice was that of the Jain monk Guṇaṃdhara, who was teaching. He sat down to listen to him respectfully. Convinced by the teaching, Kālaka asked his parents’ permission to enter monastic life.

The Kālakācāryakathā'story 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 story is frequently found as an appendix to the Kalpa-sūtra because the last part of the story explains how Kālaka changed the date of Paryuṣaṇ. This annual festival was moved from the fifth day of the bright half of the month Bhādrapada – roughly equivalent to August to September – to the fourth. The Kalpa-sūtra has a central role in Paryuṣaṇ.

The version of the story here is that of Bhāvadeva-sūri, a Jain Śvetāmbara author of the 13th century CE. It is written in Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī Prakrit and represents a short recension, where the story is told in simple language without poetical embellishments.

Glossary

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.
Jain
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
Kalpa-sūtra
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.
Muhpattī
Modern Indo-aryan language term from the Sanskrit ‘mukhavastrikā'. The small rectangular piece of cloth permanently fixed over the mouth by some mendicant orders. This is to avoid being violent accidentally, either by inhaling tiny creatures or killing them by breathing over them unexpectedly.This is not the same as the mouth-cover used on some occasions by other mendicants and by laypeople when they perform certain rites.
Paryuṣaṇ
An eight-day festival in August / September, which is the most important event of the religious calendar for Śvetāmbara lay Jains. They fast, read, spend time with monks and meditate. The last day is the occasion for public repentance. Reading the Kalpa-sūtra and sponsoring new manuscripts or editions of this canonical book are associated with this festival.
Sthāpanācārya
A small wooden object like a tripod on which a manuscript or book can be placed. It was originally understood as a substitute for the teacher's presence. It has four sticks on to which five cowrie shells wrapped in cloth are placed. The shells symbolise the Five Supreme Beings. Its appearance in art symbolises teaching or a preceptor.
Śvetāmbara
'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.
Ascetic
Someone who withdraws from ordinary life to meditate and practise physical hardships in order to advance spiritually. Jain ascetics or mendicants beg for food from devout lay followers and wander the land. Also used as an adjective to describe the practice of rigorous, even extreme, physical hardships in the belief that it leads to a higher spiritual condition.
Bright fortnight
The half of the lunar month in the traditional Indian calendar in which the moon is at its fullest.
Jaina Devanāgarī
The distinctive version of the Devanāgarī script found in Jain manuscripts.
Māhārāṣṭrī Prākrit
A dialect of the Prākrit language used in some Jain writings.
Folio
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.
Auspicious
Favourable or lucky. Auspicious objects bring good fortune and may predict good events or a bright future. 
Bhale
The red symbol between vertical red lines often found at the start of Jain manuscripts. It is an auspicious symbol known as bhale and is transliterated in JAINpedia as //§O// 
Kālakācārya-kathā
The very popular Story of the Ācārya Kālakā recounts the adventures of the Śvetāmbara monk Kālakā. Emphasising the connection between religious practice and magical abilities, the story is frequently found as an appendix to the Kalpa-sūtra because it explains how Kālaka changed the date of Paryuṣaṇ . This annual festival gives a central role to the Kalpa-sūtra scripture.

Related Manuscripts

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