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Browsing: Saṃgrahaṇī-ratna or Trailokyadīpikā (IS 35-1971)

Image: Planetary bodies and distances

Title: Planetary bodies and distances

Victoria and Albert Museum
IS. 35-1971
Date of creation:
18th century
Folio number:
14 verso
Total number of folios:
Place of creation:
Rajasthan; copied in Srāparanagara
Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī Prākrit and Gujarati
watercolour on paper
25 x 11.5 cms
V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
JAINpedia Copyright Information


This page is a diagram of planetary bodies, their distance from the ground and the distances between some of them.

All the captions on this picture are in Nāgarī script, used here to write the Gujarati language. They are Gujarati translations of the Prakrit verses 48 to 52 of the text of the manuscript. However, since the diagram takes up the whole page, there is no space for the text itself.

There are two levels to this painting, each divided into several panels.

Top row

This is a graphic representation of verses 48 to 50 in the original Prakrit text. These eight panels deal with the distance of the various luminaries or planetary bodies from the surface of the earth and the distance between them. Each panel has a yellow border and a caption. 

From left to right:

  • Mount Meru and its forests with the luminaries above
  • the sun
  • the moon
  • one constellation standing for all the constellations
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Jupiter
  • Mars
  • Saturn.

The planets have the colour with which they are traditionally associated – red for Mars, black for Saturn.

Note that the folios are loose so can be turned in various directions. Here, if the folio is rotated the viewer can read the captions on the top panel more easily, reading upwards from Mount Meru on the bottom.


All in Nāgarī script and going from left to right, the captions are presented in the table.

Captions of top-row pictures

Prakrit caption

English rendering

tārā 790 jojana uṃcā samabhūtala thakī

The stars are 790 yojanas higher than the foot of Mount Meru

tārā thakī jojana 10 sūrya ūṃco

The sun is 10 yojanas higher than the stars

sūrya thī jo° 80 caṃdra uṃco

The moon is 80 yojanas higher than the sun

caṃdra thī yo° 4 nakṣatra

The constellations are 4 yojanas from the moon

naṣatra thī jo°4 Budha ūṃco

Mercury is 4 yojanas higher than the constellations

Budha thī jo° 3 Śukra uṃca jāṃ°

Venus is known to be 3 yojanas higher than Mercury

Śukra thī jo 3 Bṛhaspa°

Jupiter is 3 yojanas from Venus

Bṛhaspatī thī yo 3 Maṃga ja°

Mars is 3 yojanas from Jupiter

Śanī Maṃgala thī jo 3 anī

Saturn is known to be 3 yojanas from Mars

Bottom row

There are three panels on this row, each containing a different picture and caption.

Left-hand panel

The tiered structure with a banner on top is Mount Meru. It is the centre of the Jain world, at the heart of the Mahā-videha and Jambū-dvīpa. It has three terraces, here painted in green. Each one is smaller than the one below and is planted with forests. On the top one – the cūlikā – is a temple to the Jinas, which is here symbolised by the banner. This is often seen at the top of Jain temples even today.

The total height of Mount Meru is 100,000 yojanas, 99,000 of which are above the ground while 1,000 is underground.

The circles around Mount Meru represent the five types of luminaries or planetary bodies. They are known as Jyotiṣa or, here, Jotisi:

  1. suns – sūrya
  2. moons – candra
  3. planets – graha
  4. constellations – nakṣatra
  5. stars – tārā.

The caption on the left side of the banner reads:

Jotiṣī Meru thakī alagā 1121 jojana caṃdramā sūrya graha nakṣatra tārā rahai.
The luminaries – moon, sun, planets, constellations, stars – are at a distance of 1121 yojanas from the Meru.

The caption on the right side says the same:

1121 jojana Meru thakī Jotiṣī alagā rahe chaiṃ //
The luminaries are at a distance of 1121 yojanas from the Meru.

Central panel

This consists of a green background above a semicircle shape, which sits on a yellow band above a caption.

This caption, a Gujarati rendering of part of verse 52, describes the shape of the luminaries. Although the luminary pictured here is a semicircle, the usual shape is the circle.

The caption reads:

araddha kavaṭṭhāgārā e gāhā no artha teha no jantra jāṃṇavo
These planets have the shape of half-circles. The meaning should be known from the diagram.

Right panel

There are two smaller sections making up the panel. In the left-hand one, yellow circles stack vertically around a grey circle, which has a darker slice.

The section on the right has a green background with a large black semicircle down the left.

This diagram can be understood with the caption below:

aloka thī jojana 1111 Jotiṣī alagā rahai //
The luminaries are at a distance of 1111 yojanas from the trans‑cosmic space

The trans-cosmic space is a vacuum. The black semicircle on the right probably represents this vaccum. This diagram is an attempt to depict part of verse 51 of the Saṃgrahaṇī-ratna or Trailokyadīpikā.

Other visual elements

The right-hand margin contains the number 14, which is the folio number.


Mount Meru is the centre of the universe in Jain cosmology, at the heart of the central continent called Jambū-dvīpa. Jambū is where human beings live and is in the Middle World, one of the three worlds of traditional Jain cosmology.

The Middle World is the smallest of the three worlds that make up world space – loka-ākāśa. In world space all the souls live in the different body-forms they take according to their rebirths, in the various worlds. Outside world space is the non world space – aloka-ākāśa – which is endless. However, the Middle World is the most important area from the spiritual point of view because it is the only part where human beings can live.

Pictures in cosmological works are not intended to be merely attractive. Spelling out in visual form the complex explanations found in the writings, cosmological paintings form a long-established tradition of artwork in Jain heritage.

Jains cannot advance spiritually without understanding and meditating upon cosmological theories so understanding them is crucial. Certain key religious concepts run through these theories. These include the notion of a physical soul shedding karma by moving through the cycle of rebirth to eventual omniscience and final liberation, along with the cyclical nature of time, the interconnectedness of the universe, and the importance of symmetry, repetition and balance.


Sanskrit for 'meditation', one of the six internal austerities or tapas that help purify the soul of karma. Meditation is deep thought about religious doctrine or mental focus on spiritual matters over a period of time. An important part of many religions, meditation is especially important in Jain belief because it forms key elements of religious practice and spiritual development.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
The innermost island-continent in the Middle World, in Jain cosmology. It is divided into seven continents separated by six mountain ranges. It takes its name - 'Rose-Apple Continent' - from a rock formation that resembles a rose-apple tree, which is found on Mount Meru in the centre of the island.
Sanskrit for 'self', 'soul' or 'that which is sentient'. It makes up the universe along with ajīva, or non-sentient material substance. It is a material substance that changes in size according to the body it inhabits in each life. It is born in different bodies in various places in the Jain universe based on karma from earlier lives. The soul is liberated from the cycle of birth when it has achieved spiritual purity and omniscience. Also called ātma or ātman.
Action or act, thought of as physical in Jainism. Created by mental or physical action, karma enters the soul, which then needs religious restraints and practices to make it flow out. Karma can be both:
  • negative – deriving from harmful acts
  • positive – arising from beneficial actions.
Both types of karma trap a soul in continual rebirth. A pan-Indian concept, karma has extremely complex, detailed and technical divisions and subdivisions in Jainism.
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.
There are three worlds in traditional Jain cosmology. The middle world is where human beings and animals live, and sits between the upper and the lower worlds.
A measure of distance equal to about 14 kilometres.
A building reserved for public worship or prayer, usually dedicated to one religion and run by members of that religion's clergy.
To Jains the universe is composed of two types of space. A Sanskrit term meaning 'world space', loka-ākāśa is a vast but limited area, where all humans, deities and all other forms of life live. Here the souls live and travel through the cycle of rebirths. Outside it is 'non-world space' – aloka-ākāśa.
The language that developed in Gujarat, in western India. It is also spoken in neighbouring states. Also a term for someone or something associated with or coming from Gujarat.
An early form of the Devanāgarī script, which is still used in India. Nāgarī was used to write several Indian languages, particularly Prākrit and Sanskrit.
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.
A belief system about the universe that covers its origin, structure and parts, and natural laws and characteristics such as space, time, causality and freedom.
In Jain cosmology, one of the Lands of Action or karma-bhūmi in the first continent, Jambū-dvīpa, in the middle world of humans. Mahā-videha consists of 32 provinces between the Niṣadha and the Nīla mountain ranges. Thanks to the repetitive nature of Jain cosmology, there are also two Mahā-videhas on each of the continents of Dhātakīkhaṇḍa and Puṣkara-dvīpa.
Mount Meru
The cosmic axis of the Jain universe. Located in the middle of Jambū-dvīpa, the innermost continent of Jain cosmology, Mount Meru consists of three forested terraces, each smaller than the one below. When a Jina is born, the gods visit the earth, take him away and wash him in the standard birth ritual on the mountain. Jain temples often have a tower symbolising Mount Meru. Mount Meru is also the centre of the universe in traditional Buddhist and Hindu belief.
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.

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