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Browsing: Kalpa-sūtra and Kālakācārya-kathā (Tod MS 34)

Title: Fourteen auspicious dreams

Source:
Royal Asiatic Society
Shelfmark:
Tod MS 34
Author:
unknown author / Bhavadeva-sūri
Date of creation:
1404
Folio number:
16 verso
Total number of folios:
97 folios, numbered 16 to 112, with 1–15 missing
Place of creation:
western India
Language:
Prakrit and Sanskrit
Medium:
ink and watercolour on paper
Size:
32.5 x 9.4 cm
Copyright:
Royal Asiatic Society Images/RAS, London
JAINpedia Copyright Information

Description

The 14 auspicious dreams are depicted here in three rows, each showing four dreams. All the dreams are shown to be a similar size.

The order here follows the sequence of the 14 auspicious dreams in the text of the Kalpa-sūtra. This page contains only the beginning of the list. Starting from the top left and moving left to right, with the Prakrit terms, the list is:

  1. elephant – gaya
  2. bull – vasaha
  3. lion – sīha
  4. the goddess Śrī – abhiseya, literally anointment
  5. garland – dāma
  6. moon – sasi
  7. sun – diṇayara
  8. banner – jhaya
  9. vase full of water – kumbha
  10. lotus lakepaumasara
  11. ocean of milksāyara
  12. celestial palace – vimāṇa bhavaṇa
  13. heap of jewels – rayaṇ’-uccaya
  14. fire – sihi.

The facing text relates to the brahmin lady Devānandā, in whose womb Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina, had first taken shape. More precisely, the text describes the moment when Devānandā woke up and realised that the embryo had been removed from her and that the 14 dreams she saw had also been transferred to the kṣatriya lady Triśalā.

Other visual elements

In many Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts, there is a clear intention to make the manuscript a valuable and remarkable object in itself. Here this is achieved in a rather modest manner. This aim is signalled by the:

  • ornamental motif in the central margin
  • calligraphic script.

The three red discs along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound at one time. Strings through one or more holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The discs are in the places where the holes would once have been.

This manuscript belongs to a rather early phase of Kalpa-sūtra paper manuscripts, the beginning of the 15th century. This is evidenced by the:

  • format of the paper, which is rather narrow
  • old system of folio numbering, using 'letter-numerals', which is visible in the left-hand margin inside the red disc (see Kapadia 1937).

In the system of 'letter-numerals', each number or digit from 1 to 10 is represented by a different letter. The number 20 is represented by a particular letter, which is different from those used for 30, 40 and so on. The number 100 has its own letter, while 200 has another letter, 300 its particular letter and so on up to 400. Numbers with more than one digit, such as 34 or 258, are represented by two or three of these letters placed one above the other. On this page the sign for 10 is placed above the sign for 6, meaning 16.

The middle of the right-hand margin contains the number 16. This is the folio number. It is again written in smaller script in the lower corner of the page. In this page only the 1 is visible because the edge is damaged.

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 Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit and Sanskrit.

This manuscript was read after it was copied and this page shows three additions or corrections in smaller script, namely:

  • in line 4, the Prakrit word haḍe – ‘taken away’ – used in the accusative plural, is glossed by its Sanskrit equivalent hr̥tān
  • in line 5, the small number 31 above the line is the paragraph number
  • at the beginning of the last line, the syllable ṇaṃ has been added, which was missing from the text.

In many manuscripts the paragraph numbers are part of the text, but here they have been added afterwards.

Background

The Kalpa-sūtra is the most frequently illustrated Jain text of the Śvetāmbara sect. It is read and recited by monks in the Śvetāmbara festival of Paryuṣaṇ, which takes place in August to September each year.

The first part of the Kalpa-sūtra deals with the lives of the Jinas, especially Mahāvīra, Pārśva, Nemi and Ṛṣabha. It features almost identical stories of their births, lives as princes, renunciation, enlightenment and final emancipation.The second part – Sthavirāvali – is a praise of the early teachers of Jainism. The third part – Sāmācārī – deals with particular monastic rules to be followed during the rainy season.

The author, or authors, of the Kalpa-sūtra is unknown, although it is attributed to Bhadrabāhu. Manuscripts of the Kalpa-sūtra frequently contain a related text at the end, called the Kālakācārya-kathā. The Story of the Monk Kalaka provides an explanation of the date of the festival of Paryuṣaṇ, in which the Kalpa-sūtra features. The version in this manuscript is by Bhāvadeva-sūri.

Translation

[the embryo form of Mahāvīra] was removed to the womb [of Triśalā]. During that night, brāhmaṇī Devānandā, half-asleep and half-awake in her bed, saw the fourteen great dreams, noble, beautiful, blissful, blessed, auspicious and fortunate, were being stolen away by kṣatriyāṇī Triśalā. Namely: the stanza ‘elephant, bull’. Having seen thus she woke up. During the night when Śramaṇa Bhagavaṃ Mahāvīra [was removed from the womb] of brāhmaṇī Devānandā ...

Translation by Lalwani 1979: 22

Transcription

1. [ku]cchiṃsi gabbhattāe sāharie / taṃ rayaṇiṃ ca ṇaṃ sā Devāṇaṃdā mā-
2. haṇī sayaṇijjaṃsi sutta-jāgarā ohīramāṇī 2 ime-
3. yārūve urāle kallāṇe sive dhanne maṃgalle sa-ssirī-
4. e coddassa mahā-sumiṇe Tisalāe khattiyāṇīe haḍe
5. pāsittāṇaṃ paḍibuddhā // taṃ jahā: gaya-usaha-gāhā // jaṃ ra-
6. yaṇiṃ ca ṇaṃ samaṇe bhagavaṃ Mahāvīre / Devāṇaṃdāe māhaṇīe

Glossary

Abhiṣeka
Anointing ceremony for a king, a Jina, a Jina image or any other holy image, with water or milk. Part of daily or special worship.
Brāhmaṇa
A member of the highest caste in Hinduism, the priests or brahmins. 'Brahminical' means 'of or like brahmins'.
Jina
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.
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.
Kevala-jñāna
Omniscience, enlightenment or perfect knowledge – the highest of the five types of knowledge , where one knows everything wherever and whenever it is. It is extremely difficult to attain, equivalent to the 13th stage of spiritual purity in the guṇa-sthāna. Digambaras believe only men can achieve it whereas Śvetāmbaras believe that both men and women can become enlightened.
Kṣatriya
The Indian caste of warriors and kings, with the role of 'protectors'. Jinas are born into this caste.
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.
Śramaṇa
A term used in ancient scriptures for a non-Hindu mendicant, namely Jain or Buddhist.
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.
Devānandā
The original mother of Mahāvīra, who was from the brahmin caste. The king of the gods, Śakra, caused the embryo to be transferred into the womb of a kṣatriya woman because Jinas-to-be can only be born to the kṣatriya caste.
Mahāvīra
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.
Triśalā
The kṣatriya birth-mother of Mahāvīra. Queen Triśalā was married to King Siddhartha.
Deity
A god or divine figure, often with physical powers beyond those of a human and with superhuman abilities.
Monk
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.
Rainy season
The annual four-month rainy period in India, lasting roughly from June / July to October / November. Heavy rain, strong storms and gale-force winds are very common during this period. Mendicants cannot travel around and must stay in one place to avoid breaking their vow of non-violence and because the monsoon makes travelling on foot difficult and dangerous. It is known as cāturmāsa in Sanskrit, comāsa in Hindi and comāsu in Gujarati.
Lotus lake
Lake Pushkar in modern-day Rajasthan is one of the five holiest pilgrimage sites for Hindus, who associate it with the Hindu trinity of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. The god Brahmā killed a murderous demon with his weapon, the lotus flower. Three petals fell to the earth, each creating a lake now dedicated to each of the principal gods. Devotees believe that bathing in the lakes cures many skin diseases.
Ocean of milk
In Hindu cosmography, the ocean of milk surrounds the continent known as Krauncha and is the fifth of the seven oceans that surround loka or inhabited space. In Hindu myth the gods and demons use the snake-king Vasuki to churn the ocean of milk for a thousand years so that the nectar of immortality and other precious objects will rise to the surface.
Sanskrit
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.
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.
Jaina Devanāgarī
The distinctive version of the Devanāgarī script found in Jain manuscripts.
Festival
A public commemoration of a religious ritual. Often a celebration that involves holding a religious ceremony to mark an important event in a religion's history. 
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. 

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