Harinaigameshin removes the embryo from Devananda's womb
- Place of origin:
Gujarat, India (made)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
The Kalpasutra (Book of Rituals) is the most important canonical text in Jain literature for the Svetambaras (white-clad), one of the two sects of Jainism. Jainism is one of the oldest religions to have survived until the present time and its basic teaching is one of non-violence. The Kalpasutra is divided into three sections. The first section deals with the lives of the twenty-four Jinas or Tirthankaras, who were the Jain spiritual teachers or 'ford-makers'. The second part deals with the life of Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara. The third part deals with rules for the ascetics and laws during the four months (chaturmas) of the rainy season, when ascetics temporarily abandon their wandering life and settle down amidst the laity. This is the time when the festival of Paryushan is celebrated and the Kalpasutra is traditionally recited.
The subjects of the pictures deal mainly with the early life of Mahavira. In this folio Harinaigameshin, the antelope- or goat-headed divine general, has descended from the chief god Indra's heaven to the town of Kundagrama, and is removing the foetus of Mahavira from the womb of the Brahmani Devananda. Mahavira's embryo was to be transferred from the Brahmani Devananda's womb to that of Trishala, the Kshatriya woman who was to give birth to him. Brahmans are the hereditary priestly estate, while Kshatriyas were traditionally warriors or rulers.
This page from the Kalpasutra is handwritten in gold in Nandinagari characters on a red ground with blue foliate borders. The illustration is painted in gold, blue, white and black. The page is written on both sides, the sides being divided into two square compartments of red each enclosing a block of text on the side with text only, and one compartment on the front side alongside a smaller one to accommodate the illustration.
The subject of the picture concerns the early life of the Jina Mahavira, last of the twenty-four Jain tirthankaras or great spiritual teachers (believed to have died in 528 BC). This folio show the antelope- or goat-headed god Harinaigameshin removing the foetus of Mahavira from the womb of the Brahmani Devananda.
Place of Origin
Gujarat, India (made)
Materials and Techniques
Length: 10.5 in, Height: 4.25 in
Kalpasutra page with Harinaigameshin removing Mahavira's embryo, paper, 1490, Gujarat, India
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Balbir, N. et al, Catalogue of the Jain Manuscripts of the British Library including the holdings of the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. London, British Library and Institute of Jainology, 2006. Vol 1, pp.38-39, Vol 2, pp.124.
Barnard, N. and Wheeler, M. 'Jain Manuscript Pages and Paintings Display at the V&A. 14 May 2010 to 31 December 2012', Jaina Studies: Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies, Issue 6, March 2011, pp. 48-50.
Labels and date
PAGES FROM KALPASUTRA MANUSCRIPTS ABOVE: THE TRANSFER OF MAHAVIRA’S
Opaque watercolour with gold on paper
Gujarat, c. 1490
The Kalpasutra (Book of Ritual) is the most frequently illustrated Jain text. It is read and
worshipped by Shvetambara Jains in the Paryushan festival during the rainy season.
Part deals with the lives of the Jinas.The 24th Jina, Mahavira, was conceived by Devananda, a woman of the Brahmin (priestly) caste. Shakra, king of the Gods, believed such a family to be unsuitable for a future Great Man. Here Harinegameshin, the divine goat-or antelope-headed general, removes Mahavira’s embryo. [14.05.2010]
Jainism; Harinaigameshin; Devananda