On the left, a lady is on her couch in her bedroom. It is the kṣatriya lady, Queen Triśalā, into whom Mahāvīra’s embryo was transferred. She is holding the newborn Mahāvīra in her arms and looking at him tenderly. On the right side is a female attendant, fanning the queen with a fly-whisk.
The long protruding eye is a typical iconographic feature of western Indian painting. Its origin is not clearly known.
Note the painter’s care for details of the figures as well as of the furniture and decorative elements.
The elaborate script used is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, which is here like calligraphy.
It is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, and is known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script.
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.
[In that night in which the Venerable Ascetic Mahāvīra was born,] there was light originated by [many] descending and ascending [gods and goddesses]. In that night in which the Venerable Ascetic Mahāvīra was born, there was noise and confusion originated by many ascending and descending gods and goddesses. In that night in which the Venerable Ascetic Mahāvīra was born, many demons in Vaiśramaṇa’s service belonging to the animal world rained down on the palace of [Mahāvīra's father] King Siddhārtha a great rain of gold, a rain of diamonds, a rain of clothes [, ornaments, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, garlands, perfumes, colours, powder, and riches]
Translation by Hermann Jacobi
1. //tehi ya / uppayaṃtehi ya / ujjovayā vi hotthā //
2. jaṁ rayaṇiṁ ca ṇaṁ samaṇe bhagavaṁ Mahāvīre jāe taṁ ra-
3. yaṇiṁ ca ṇaṁ bahūhiṁ devehiṁ devīhi ya uvayaṃtehi
4. uppayaṃtehiṁ uppiṁ-jalamāṇa-bhūyā kahakaha-bhū-
5. yā yāvi hotthā // jaṃ rayaṇiṃ ca ṇaṃ samaṇe bhagavaṃ Mahā-
6. vīre jāe taṃ rayaṇiṃ ca ṇaṃ bahave Vesamaṇa-kuṃḍa-
7. dhārī / tiria-jaṃbhagā devā Siddhattharāya-bhavaṇaṁsi
8. hiraṇṇa-vāsaṁ ca / vaira-vāsaṁ ca vattha-vāsaṁ ca ābhara///
Victoria and Albert Museum. IM 7-1931. Unknown author. Circa 1490
British Library. Or. 13342. Unknown author.
Victoria and Albert Museum. IM 10-1931. Unknown author. Circa 1490
Victoria and Albert Museum. IM 12-1931. Unknown author. Circa 1490
Victoria and Albert Museum. IM 161-1914. Unknown author. 16th century
British Library. Or. 13700. Unknown author. 1445
Wellcome Trust Library. Gamma 3. Unknown author. 1503
British Library. Or. 12744. 1522. Unknown author.