The caption in the upper-left corner says: vṛkṣa heṭhi māhātmā bhāta ḍhāṃkī rahyā – 'Under a tree the ascetics kept covering the cooked rice'.
These two monks are in the countryside, signalled by the trees. The vessel between them is the begging bowl Śvetāmbara monks use. They hold their hands over it to show that the food should be covered.
The scene summarises the two main components of the rule given in the text beside the illustrated panel. This is that food offered to ascetics should be covered and that the place it is eaten should be covered as well. Following this dietary rule reduces the harm – ahiṃsa – involved in eating.
As with many Kalpa-sūtra manuscripts, there is a clear intention to make the manuscript a valuable and remarkable object in itself. This aim is signalled by the:
The diamond in the centre is a symbolic reminder of the way in which manuscripts were bound when they were on palm leaf. Strings through holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The diamond is in one of the places where the holes would once have been.
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.
British Library. Or. 5149. Unknown author. 1464
British Library. Or. 11921. Unknown author. 1488
British Library. Or. 13701. Sukha-sāgara for the commentary. 17th to 18th centuries
British Library. Or. 13342. Unknown author.
Wellcome Trust Library. Gamma 3. Unknown author. 1503