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Browsing: Uttarādhyayana-sūtra (Or. 13362)

Image: The bad monk – Sanjaya

Title: The bad monk – Sanjaya

Source:
The British Library Board
Shelfmark:
Or. 13362
Author:
unknown
Date of creation:
perhaps 15th century
Folio number:
57 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 two pictures illustrate separate notions.

In the left-hand painting two monks are pictured. In the top-left panel one stands motionless in the ideal ascetic posture of kāyotsarga or 'rejection of the body'. The other monk is shown in the other panels, lounging around, chatting, striking his superior with a saucepan and embracing a woman.

The painting on the right has two levels depicting a different story. At the top is a hunting scene in which a man on a galloping horse is about to shoot a deer with an arrow. The larger middle level shows a monk under a tree talking to a richly dressed man under a royal canopy. The monk holds his mouth-covering in his hand and his broom under his right arm while he talks. Lines of smaller attendants sit behind and below them.

In the first painting the monk on the left demonstrates the ascetic ideal of deep meditation and indifference to physical demands by taking thekāyotsarga. He displays the detachment from worldly concerns that advanced spiritual progress provides. The bad monk indulges in all sorts of bad behaviour, breaking all the vows he has taken. He lies down at his ease, has pointless discussions and is disrespectful, violent and lustful.

In the second picture the hunter is King Sanjaya. After killing a deer he finds a Jain monk near the animal and is terrified at the thought that he could have hurt him. He asks for forgiveness. The monk teaches him the Law and Sanjaya renounces the world to become a monk. Then he teaches other people the way to purity.

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 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

The elaborate script used for the main text is the Jaina Devanāgarī script. It is used for writing numerous Indian languages, here Ardhamāgadhī Prakrit and Sanskrit.

There are a few notable features of this script:

  • it is an old type in the way the sounds e and o are notated when used with a consonant, 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 hunter is King Sanjaya, who enters a park while hunting and sees a monk meditating. When he realises that he has killed animals that had fled to the ascetic and could well have killed the man himself, Sanjaya is full of remorse and asks for forgiveness. The monk remains silent so Sanjaya is scared that he will curse him. Instead, the monk teaches him the beliefs of the Jains, emphasising that power and relations are only transitory, that one should not be attached to them, and that cruelty should be given up. Convinced, Sanjaya gives up his royal power and follows the monk.

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

Dhyāna
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.
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.
Kāyotsarga
'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.
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.
Vrata
Vows are extremely important in Jain religious life. Mendicants take the compulsory Five Great Vows – mahā-vratas – as part of their initiation – dīkṣā. Lay people can choose to take 12 vows, which are divided into:
  • aṇu-vratas – 'Five Lesser Vows'
  • guṇa-vratas – three supplementary vows
  • śikṣā-vratas – four vows of spiritual discipline
All of these vows are lifelong and cannot be taken back. The sallekhana-vrata is a supplementary vow to fast to death, open to both ascetics and householders. 
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.
Monk
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.
Renunciation
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.
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.
Ardhamāgadhī Prākrit
A dialect of the Prākrit language used for many Śvetāmbara Jain scriptures.
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.
Detachment
Not feeling attached to any things, people or emotions in the world, whether positive or negative. Jains believe that detachment from the world is necessary to progress spiritually towards the ultimate aim of freeing the soul from the cycle of rebirth.

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