Your Trail:

Browsing: Uttarādhyayana-sūtra (IS 2-1972)

Image: Right monastic behaviour

Title: Right monastic behaviour

Victoria and Albert Museum
IS 2-1972
Date of creation:
circa 1450
Folio number:
35 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 large male figure stands in the ideal ascetic posture of kāyotsarga– 'rejection of the body'. Dressed as a Śvetāmbara monk, he wears conspicuous earrings and a kind of tilaka on the forehead.

Above him in the centre is a Jina seated cross-legged inside a white crescent moon. On either side of the monk two figures stand with folded hands to express their respect to him while he practises asceticism. The figure on the left is four-armed and represents a god. The one on the bottom right is also a god with four arms.

There is an elephant close to the monk on the left, while on the bottom right a blue human figure has his head trapped in a pot.

The kāyotsarga pose of the central figure of the monk indicates that he is so deep in meditation he is indifferent to his surroundings. He wears a garment that represents the white of the Śvetāmbara monastic robe with dots. This convention is balanced by his jewellery and tilaka, which are slightly unusual. However, in the Śvetāmbara tradition Jina images are mostly ornamented.

The crescent moon in which the Jina sits is the standard representation of the siddha-śilā. This is where the liberated souls live, at the top of the Jain universe. This is the place a monk will go if he follows the rules of conduct in the text beside the illustration.

However, he will remain in the circle of rebirths or endure suffering in hells if he does not behave properly. The blue figure with his head in a pot may represent rebirth in hells. Such a depiction is often found in paintings showing the tortures of the seven hells.

The elephant may represent all potential attacks, tortures and trials through which the monk might be put. He would be able to withstand these and emerge spiritually stronger if he is a true ascetic.

Other visual elements

The number 31 in the top right-hand margin is the chapter number.

The left margin has the usual thick red line for a border.

The blank diamond shape in the centre of the text is a symbolic reminder 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 empty diamond space is in the places where the central hole would once have been.

Note the insect holes in the left-hand margin and the white paper used to repair part of the damaged margin.


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.

There are a few notable features of this script:

  • the characters covered with orange pigment are the verse numbers, which are at the end of each stanza, a reversal of the Western practice. The numbers on this page go from 33 to 37.
  • double vertical lines are punctuation signs used before the stanza number
  • a simple vertical line separates the two halves of a stanza.

On this folio, lines 1 to 4 are the five last stanzas of chapter 30 of the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra.

Line 5 contains the final colophon of chapter 30, giving its title:

tavamaggaijjaṃ tīsai sammattaṃ/ cha/ 30

Road of penance, [chapter] 30 is finished / [sign marking the end] / 30

Lines 6 to 15 are the first 11 stanzas of chapter 31 of the work. The numbers 1 to 10 are emphasised by orange pigment.


This chapter of the Uttarādhyayana-sūtra deals with the ‘prescribed mode of life’ – caraṇa-vihi – for a monk. It starts:

I shall declare the mode of life that benefits the soul; by practising it many souls have crossed the ocean of transmigration. One should desist from one thing, and practise another: desist from neglect of self-control, and practise self-control. Love and hatred are two evils which produce bad Karman; if a monk always avoids them, he will not stand within the circle of transmigration [will be liberated].

translation by Hermann Jacobi

The text carries on, amounting to a catalogue of concepts and of behaviours that a monk should avoid. This is arranged in ascending numerical order, from 3 to 33.

The conclusion is:

A clever monk who always exerts himself with regard to the above-mentioned points, will soon be thoroughly released from the Circle of Births [will be liberated].

translation by Hermann Jacobi

It is plain that the chapter contains no story element.

The Uttarādhyayana-sūtra is 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.


Space – one of the five non-material substances that is non-sentient in Jain belief. These five substances make up the universe along with the sentient substance, called jīvastikaya.
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.
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.
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.
Time. One of the five insentient non-material substances that make up the universe along with the sentient substance, called jīvastikaya.
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.
'Absence of concern for the body'. This commonly refers to a standing or sitting posture of deep meditation. In the standing position the eyes are concentrated on the tip of the nose and the arms hang loosely by the body. The individual remains unaffected by whatever happens around him.
The 'liberation' of the soul from its body and thus from the cycle of rebirth because it has no karma and becomes omniscient. The ultimate aim of Jainism is to achieve mokṣa and become a liberated soul in siddha-śilā.
Hell. There are seven levels of hells in the lower world of Jain cosmology .
Cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth caused by karma binding to the soul as a result of activities. Only by destroying all karma can this perpetual cycle finish in mokṣa – liberation. The karma gained in life affects the next life, and even future lives, for example:
  • in which of the three worlds the life is lived out
  • which of four conditions – gati – the body takes, namely human, divine, hellish or as a plant or animal.
An omniscient soul that has achieved mokṣa. All liberated souls live in the siddha-śilā, at the top of the universe, in perpetual bliss.
The realm of liberated souls, at the apex of the universe. All the liberated souls – siddha – dwell there in eternal bliss.
'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.
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.
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 god or divine figure, often with physical powers beyond those of a human and with superhuman abilities.
An image of a deity or concept that is worshipped either as a god or as a representation of the deity.
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 voluntary action undertaken to make up for a sin or breach of a religious principle, frequently an act of self-punishment or physical hardship.
Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.
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.
A mark worn on the forehead and other parts of the body for religious reasons. It symbolises the third eye, which is associated with spiritual enlightement and meditation. Historically, only deities, priests, ascetics and worshippers wore tilakas. It is usually a paste or powder made of sandalwood, ashes, coloured powder (kumkum) or clay and may be applied in various lines, dots and U shapes.
Transcription of a letter symbol found at the end of chapters or at the end of works in Indian languages. It indicates that the chapter or the work is finished.
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.
Found at the end of a Jain manuscript, a colophon is similar to the publication information at the beginning of modern books. It usually contains the title and sometimes details of the author, scribe and sponsor. The colophons of Jain manuscripts may also include the names of owners, readers and libraries where they have been stored. They frequently have decorative elements and very commonly contain a wish for good fortune for any readers. Written mainly by the scribes who copy texts, Jain colophons are often written in Sanskrit.

Related Articles

Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

  • The chaste monk

    The chaste monk

    Victoria and Albert Museum. IS 2-1972. Unknown author. Circa 1450

  • The bad monk – Sanjaya

    The bad monk – Sanjaya

    British Library. Or. 13362. Unknown author. Perhaps 15th century

  • Monks


    Victoria and Albert Museum. IS 2-1972. Unknown author. Circa 1450

  • The chaste monk

    The chaste monk

    Victoria and Albert Museum. IS 2-1972. Unknown author. Circa 1450 - All text is © JAINpedia / Institute of Jainology 2021 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence The Jain universe online at

Unless images are explicitly stated as either public domain or licensed under a Creative Commons licence, all images are copyrighted. See individual images for details of copyright.