Your Trail:

Browsing: Uttarādhyayana-sūtra (Or. 13362)

Image: Parable of the ram

Title: Parable of the ram

Source:
The British Library Board
Shelfmark:
Or. 13362
Author:
unknown
Date of creation:
perhaps 15th century
Folio number:
22 verso
Total number of folios:
132
Place of creation:
western India
Language:
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit and Sanskrit in Devanāgarī script
Medium:
opaque watercolour on paper
Size:
26 x 11 cms
Copyright:
CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)
Image copyright: Creative Commons Public Domain

Description

These panels illustrate a moral lesson. In the top-left one a goat-like animal – a ram, according to the text – is having its throat cut while a calf and a cow live happily in the panel below. In the right-hand panels are two richly dressed figures.

The left-hand panel shows how a ram has been nicely fed, getting fat, only to be killed violently in order to feed guests. Thus the calf should not envy it and complain to its mother. Rather than desiring 'the food of death', it should be content to eat grass, shown on the left.

The lesson is that 'a wise man weighs in his mind the state of the sinner and that of the virtuous man and realises that of a virtuous [man is far better]'.

Other visual elements

This is a good example of a good-quality Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript, with interesting miniature paintings.

The page is divided into three parts. This format is known as tri-pāṭha. In the middle, in larger script, is the original Prakrit text. Above and below, in smaller script, is a commentary of the text, here in Sanskrit. The commentary explains but also expands the text. The story of the cow and the calf, for instance, is part of the commentary. The artists do not make any difference between these two levels.

The three circles along the central horizontal plane are symbolic reminders of the way in which manuscripts were bound at one time. Strings through three holes in the paper were used to thread together the loose folios so the reader could turn them over easily. The circles are in the places where the holes would once have been.

Script

There are a few interesting characteristics of the script used here:

  • the elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script, used for writing numerous Indian languages, but here for Prakrit and Sanskrit
  • this is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant – this is known as pṛṣṭhamātrā script
  • the red vertical lines within the text divide the long sentences into smaller parts, but are not necessarily punctuation marks.

Background

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.

Glossary

Jain
Follower of the 24 Jinas or an adjective describing Jain teachings or practices. The term 'Jaina' is also used although 'Jain' is more common.
Kāla
Time. One of the five insentient non-material substances that make up the universe along with the sentient substance, called jīvastikaya.
Uttarādhyayana-sūtra
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.
Ascetic
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.
Scripture
Set of sacred texts that believers accept as authoritative within a religion. Synonymous with canon.
Sanskrit
A classical language of India, originally used by priests and nobility. Sanskrit has a rich literary and religious tradition. With only a few thousand native speakers nowadays, it is predominantly used in Hindu religious ceremonies and by scholars.
Prākrit
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.
Folio
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.
Commentary
An essay explaining a text. Commentaries on the scriptures are common in the Jain tradition and there are various types, including the:
  • bālāvabodha
  • bhāṣya
  • cūrṇi
  • niryukti
  • ṭīkā.
Rāma
An avatar of Viṣṇu, the preserver or protector who is one of the three major Hindu gods. Rāma is a prince of Ayodhyā and is often shown with blue skin, holding a bow and arrow. The epic poem Rāmāyaṇa recounts his adventures as he searches for his wife Sītā, who has been kidnapped by Rāvaṇa. Blending Jain values into the story, the Jain Rāmāyaṇas cast him and other figures in the tale as some of the 'great men' of Jain Universal History .
Sin
Breaking a religious or moral principle, especially if this is done deliberately. Sinners commit sins or may sin by not doing something they are supposed to do.
http://www.jainpedia.org/manuscripts/detail-view-meta/manuscript/uttaradhyayana-sutra-or-13362/parable-of-the-ram/index.html - All text is © JAINpedia / Institute of Jainology 2019 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence The Jain universe online at www.jainpedia.org

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.