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Browsing: Uttarādhyayana-sūtra (IS 2-1972)

Image: Rājīmatī in the cave with Rathanemi

Title: Rājīmatī in the cave with Rathanemi

Victoria and Albert Museum
IS 2-1972
Date of creation:
circa 1450
Folio number:
23 recto
Total number of folios:
47, folio 25 missing
Place of creation:
copied in Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit
gouache and ink on paper
30 x 11.5 cm
V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
JAINpedia Copyright Information


A man and a woman are inside a circular shape, which symbolises a cave. The seated man is dressed in the white robe of a Śvetāmbara monk. The alternating red and blue shapes round the circle’s perimeter stand for mountain peaks while natural scenery is suggested by the black and white deer and the river with fish swimming along it.

The peacock and the tormented sky along the top of the picture indicate that this episode takes place during the rainy season.

The Jain monk is Rathanemi, the elder brother of Neminātha, or Lord Nemi, the 22nd Jina, who is often called Ariṣṭanemi. Standing in front of him is the thin figure of a nun, who has removed her upper garment. This is Rājimatī. Once engaged to Nemi, she had decided to become a nun after he renounced worldly life on their wedding day.

Rājimatī goes towards Mount Raivataka and when it begins to rain she takes shelter in a cave, where she removes her clothes to dry them. Unknown to Rājimatī, Rathanemi is also in the cave and his mental peace is disturbed by the sight of her.

He invites her to love. But when Rājimatī tells him forcefully to behave nobly and remain strong in his asceticism, he is fully convinced by her spiritual strength.

Note that here the picture does not match the writing on the page. Instead, the episode is described on the verso of this folio.

Other visual elements

The number 22 in the top right-hand margin is the chapter number.

The blank diamond shape in the text is a simple ornamentation. It is the symbolic reminder of the hole through which the cord was passed in palm-leaf manuscripts.


The elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, which recalls calligraphy. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages. Here it is used for Prakrit.

The characters covered with orange pigment are the verse numbers. They are at the end of each stanza, a reversal of the Western practice. The numbers on this page go from 3 to 18.


This episode featuring Rājimatī and Rathanemi reminds Jains that even though it is hard to keep vows, even for ascetics, determination and spiritual focus can help overcome even the strongest temptations.

This tale is found in the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra, a scripture in the Śvetāmbara canon. It belongs to the class known as Mūla-sūtras, which include the most basic texts new mendicants learn at the beginning of their monastic education. It consists of didactic chapters, stories or parables and ascetic poetry teaching the fundamentals of Jainism. For instance, it opens with a chapter on the rules of respect and politeness that all monks have to observe, especially junior ones. It ends with an extensive chapter describing the rich world of living beings according to the Jain conception.

The Uttarādhyayana-sūtra is one of the most frequently illustrated texts.


His wife was Śivā by name; and her famous son was the venerable Ariṣṭanemi, the saviour of the world and the lord of ascetics. This Ariṣṭanemi, who was gifted with an excellent voice and possessed the thousand and eight lucky marks of the body, was a Gautama [family member], and his skin was black. His body was strong like that of a bull, and hard like steel; he was well proportioned, and had a belly like that of a fish. Keśava asked [for] the girl Rājimatī in marriage for him. Now this daughter of an excellent king was virtuous and well looking; she possessed all lucky marks of the body, and shone forth like the lightning Saudāmanī. Her father said to the powerful Vāsudeva: ‘Let the prince come here that I may give him my daughter.’ 

He [Nemi] had taken a bath containing all [lucky] herbs, and had performed the customary ceremonies; he wore a suit of heavenly clothes and was decked out with ornaments. Riding on the best elephant of Vāsudeva he looked beautiful, like a jewel worn on the head. He sat under a raised umbrella, fanned by two chowries [fly-whisks], and he was surrounded on all sides by a host of Daśārhas and by a complete army drawn up in rank and file, while the heavenly sound of musical instruments reached the sky. 

With such pomp and splendour the hero of the Vṛṣṇis [= Prince Nemi] started from his own palace. On his way he saw animals kept in cages and enclosures, overcome by fear and looking miserable. 

Seeing them on the point of being killed for the sake of their flesh, and to be eaten afterwards, the great sage spoke to his charioteer thus: ‘Why are all these animals, which desire to be happy, kept in cages and enclosures?’ 

Then the charioteer answered: ‘Lucky are these animals because at thy wedding they will furnish food for many people’. 

Having heard these words, which announced the slaughter of many animals, the great sage, full of compassion and kindness to living beings, meditated thus: ‘If for my sake many [living beings are killed, I shall not obtain happiness in the next world.’ 

Then the famous man presented the charioteer with his pair of earrings, his neck-chain and all his ornaments]. 

translation by Hermann Jacobi (slightly modified)

Note that the text on this page does not match the illustration. The matching text is on the other side of the folio.


  1. ṇaṃ suhae //3 tassa bhajjā Sivā nāmaṃ tīse putto mahāyaso / bhagavaṃ Ariṭṭhanemi tti loganāhe damīsa
  2. re //4 so Riṭṭhanemināmo u vaṃjaṇassarasaṃjuo / aṭṭhasahassalakkhaṇadharo Goyamo kālagacchavī //5
  3. vajjarisahasaṃghayaṇo sama-cauraṃso jhasodaro / tassa Rāīmaī kannaṃ bhajjaṃ jāyai Kesavo //6 aha 
  4. sā rāyavarakannā susīlā cārupehiṇī / savvalakkhaṇasaṃpannā vijjusoyāmaṇippabhā //7 ahāha ja
  5. ṇao tīse Vāsudevaṃ mahiḍḍhiyaṃ / ihāgacchaū kumāro jā se kaṇṇaṃ dalāmahaṃ //8 savvosahīhiṃ ṇhavi
  6. u kayakouyamaṃgalo / divvajuyalaṃ parihiu bhūsaṇehiṃ vibhūsio //9/ mattaṃ ca gaṃdhahatthiṃ Vāsude
  7. vassa jeṭṭhagaṃ / ārūḍho sohaī kumārā sire cūḍāmaṇī jahā //10 aha ussieṇa chatte
  8. ṇa cāmarāhiṃ ya sohio / dasāracakkeṇa ya so savvau parivārio //11 cauraṃgiṇī
  9. e/ seṇāe raiyāe jahakkamaṃ / turiyāṇaṃ sannināeṇaṃ divveṇa gagaṇaṃphuse //12 eyāri
  10. sīe iḍḍhīe jutīe uttimāyaya / niyagāo bhavaṇāo nijjāu vaṇhipuṃgavo //13 aha so tattha 
  11. nijjaṃto dissa pāṇe bhayaddue / vāḍehiṃ paṃjarehiṃ ca baddhe ruddhe su-dukkhie //14 jīviyaṃtaṃ tu saṃpatte 
  12. maṃsaṭṭhā bhakkhiyavvae / pāsittā se mahāpanne sārahiṃ paḍipucchai //15 kassaṭṭhā ime pāṇā ee savve 
  13. suhesiṇo / vāḍehiṃ paṃjarehiṃ ca baddhā ruddhā ya acchahiṃ //16// aha sārahī tao bhaṇai ee bhaddā u 
  14. pāṇiṇo / tubbhaṃ vivāhakajjammi bhuṃjāveuṃ bahuṃ jaṇaṃ //17 soūṇa tassa vayaṇaṃ bahupāṇaviṇāsaṇaṃ / ciṃtei se mahāpanne / sāṇukkose jiehi u //18 jai majjha kāraṇeṇaṃ hammaṃti bahū


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.
Literally a Sanskrit word for 'tree', gaccha is used by Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjak Jains to describe the largest groups of their mendicant lineages. It is often translated as 'monastic group', 'monastic order' or 'monastic tradition'. These groups are formed when some mendicants split from their gaccha because of disagreements over ascetic practices.
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
An ancient Jain text outlining the rules of monastic conduct, said to be Mahāvīra's final sermon. These 36 lectures provide rules for ascetics but also discuss various topics, such as karma and the substances in the universe, and recount the tale of Nemi's renunciation.
Indrabhūti Gautama
Chief disciple of Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina. From a brahmin family, he was the first of Mahāvīra's 11 chief disciples. He became enlightened on the day Mahāvīra was liberated. He achieved liberation himself 12 years later.
The 22nd Jina of the present age, also called Ariṣṭanemi. His symbolic colour is blue or black and his emblem the conch. There is no historical evidence of his existence. The Jains hold that Nemi is the cousin of the Hindu god Kṛṣna. The tale of his renunciation and jilting of his fiancée Princess Rājīmati are famous among the Jains.
One of the 16 satīs, who are renowned as Jain heroines for remaining virtuous despite tribulations. Rājimatī was about to marry Prince Nemi but he left her at the last minute to become a monk. He later became the 22nd Jina. She remained faithful to him and became a nun.
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.
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.
A woman who has taken a public vow to withdraw from ordinary life to enter religious life and advance spiritually. Frequently, nuns perform physical austerities or undergo physical hardships in order to progress spiritually.
Giving up something. A lay person who becomes an ascetic renounces the life of a householder within society, instead choosing the physical hardships of being a monk or nun. The formal renunciation ceremony in Jainism is dīkṣā.
A sequence of actions that must be followed to perform a religious ceremony. The set of actions is largely symbolic, for example offering food to statues symbolises sacrificing to a deity. The ritual actions are often accompanied by set phrases.
Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.
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.
One of the five types of 'great men' – śalākā-puruṣas or mahā-puruṣas – in Jain Universal History , Vāsudevas are the younger half-brothers of the Baladevas, sharing the same fathers. They are both demi-Cakravartins or half Universal Rulers. In the part of the universe where humans live, nine Vāsudevas are born in each progressive and regressive half- cycle of time . Each one battles his mortal enemy, one of the Prati-vāsudevas. For breaking the principle of non-violence , the Vāsudevas are reborn as hell-beings – nārakis. Some may then become Jinas in their next lives. Vāsudevas are also known as Nārāyaṇa.
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.
Jaina Devanāgarī
The distinctive version of the Devanāgarī script found in Jain manuscripts.
The practice of rigorous, even extreme, physical hardships in the belief that it leads to a higher spiritual condition. Asceticism involves self-denial – for example refusing tasty food or warm clothes – and sometimes self-mortification, such as wearing hair-shirts or whipping oneself.
Brother of the 22nd Jina, Nemi. A Jain monk, he asked the nun Rājimatī, who was his brother's jilted fiancée, to accept him as her lover. He was brought back to the right path by her response.
Usually written as 'chowrie' in English, the Hindi carũrī is a fly-whisk or fan. It is probably descended from the Sanskrit term cāmara, which means a 'yak-tail fan'. Like the cāmara, the chowrie is used to fan royalty or priests and thus signifies high status in Indian art.
The vehicle of a Hindu god or goddess. Usually an animal, the vāhana fulfils one or more roles and may:
  • be the deity's emblem
  • symbolise positive attributes associated with the deity
  • represent evil powers over which the god has triumphed
  • help the divinity to perform duties.
The vāhana may also have its own divine powers or be worshipped in its own right.
A term used for a man who is one of those listed in early sources as the direct successors of Mahāvīra, the 24th Jina.
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.
Known as a folio, a single sheet of paper or other material has a front and a back side. The recto page is the top side of a sheet of paper and the verso is the underside.
Supernatural event during which a human being, animal or object is controlled by a spirit or god, leading to noticeable changes in behaviour or health.

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