Jain Manuscript and Revolution

In the 1500 century, by praising the illustrated manuscripts, related artistic workflow got prosper in several ways. To get satisfaction, the wealthy families of the Jain community made a number of duplicates of old manuscripts in a new way by implementing updated methods of color making that evolve the overall manuscript composition. Financial supports increased the usability of costly materials such as Lapis lazuli, tourmaline, gold. Moreover, it was getting a trend to make the gorgeous ornamental-designed edge of each manuscript by using so many colors and patterns. The edges of each page of manuscripts also decorated with figurative models of devotees and monks to make it more eye-catching. In those designs, the impact of Persian traditional art emphasized notably. Such a trend also influenced artists to go ahead with social events and landscape painting out of the spiritual subject.

Painting from Jain Manuscript. Plants and two-sensed beings.

The manuscript art now not only confined with the spiritual subject of Jain but the trend also transferred to the Vaishnava[1] community and redesigned some wonderful Vaishnava scriptures such as Geeta Govinda[2], Balagopala Stuti[3] etc. Although the style of Jain illustration did the impact to those Vaishnava scriptures, however still, those manuscripts got a sprightliness in a new way that expressively attended the devotional emotion of human soul.


 This new revolution born a new form of a manuscript that we recognized as “Pad Painting”. (serially composed storytelling paintings represented in the rolled form) The oldest one in such style composed in 1451 titled, - Vasant-villas. It was not just a manuscript but a new stream in the Indian illustration culture that produced several Pad Paintings sprayed in Gujarat, Rajasthan and even in Uttar Pradesh.


 Starting such a trend of illustrated manuscripts also changed the classic tradition of illustration. In the Jain manuscript, the main attraction was the Mahavira[4] and other Tirthankars[5] and while getting their portrait in profile angle, the eye of the opposite side always took place out of the drawing of the face. But after the progress, such style reverted to the original way and the farthest eye placed as just a bit of reference. It is tough to determine the specific time of such a change happened, however, historians concluded that it resulted approximately in 1500 century. The subjects of Persian poems also took place in the Jain manuscripts at the same timeframe as well. Actually; Indian artists of that ear successfully coordinated both cultures and the result exposed in their painting.


The new trend of illustration sprayed in eastern India even up to Nepal and Chennai of southern India.

Kalpa Sutra. Jain Manuscript.

 In the court of Akbar, a lot of artists of Gujarat positioned with the highest honor; accordingly, some other artists from Rajasthan also got the invitation in the court of the emperor to contribute with the art of Mughal Kalam. From the aspect of those artists, it was also necessary to have permanent financial reimbursement for their livelihood. As an outcome, a new method and style in the Indian miniature painting yielded a new era. In the composition of background and figures influenced by the Mughal tradition but the preparation of color and treatment received the Jain tradition. In some paintings, we even can notice the background followed the concept of Jainism. All of those are a kind of simplification of both concepts.


 From 1512 to 1675, all the manuscript illustration respectively adopted the Persian Mughal style in the traditional method of Jain illustration. It resulted in a rapturous effect in all the miniature paintings that amazed us. Such interchange in both styles received a prosper that took the Indian miniature art at the next level.     


1. Vaishnavism (Vaishnava dharma) is one of the major traditions within Hinduism along with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smarthism. It is also called Vishnuism (paternal), its followers are called Vaishnavas (maternal), and it considers Krishna as the Supreme Lord.

The tradition is notable for its avatar doctrine, wherein Krishna is revered in one of many distinct incarnations. Of these, ten avatars of Vishnu are the most studied. Rama, Krishna, Narayana, Kalki, Hari, Vithoba, Kesava, Madhava, Govinda, and Jagannath are among the popular names used for the same supreme being. The tradition has traceable roots to the 1st millennium BCE, as Bhagavatism, also called Krishnaism. Later developments led by Ramananda created a Rama-oriented movement, now the largest monastic group in Asia. The Vaishnava tradition has many sampradayas (denominations, sub-schools) ranging from the medieval era Dvaita school of Madhvacharya to Vishishtadvaita school of Ramanuja.

The tradition is known for the loving devotion to an avatar of Vishnu (often Krishna), and it has been key to the spread of the Bhakti movement in South Asia in the 2nd millennium CE.Key texts in Vaishnavism include the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Pancaratra (Agama) texts and the Bhagavata Purana.


2. The Gita Govinda (Sanskrit: गीत गोविन्द) (Song of Govinda) is a work composed by the 12th-century Indian poet, Jayadeva. It describes the relationship between Krishna and the gopis (female cow herders) of Vrindavana, and in particular one gopi named Radha.

The Gita Govinda is organized into twelve chapters. Each chapter is further sub-divided into twenty-four divisions called Prabandhas. The prabandhas contain couplets grouped into eights, called Ashtapadis. It is mentioned that Radha is greater than Krishna. The text also elaborates the eight moods of Heroine, the Ashta Nayika, which has been an inspiration for many compositions and choreographic works in Indian classical dances.


3. Balagoplastuti is about the chant in Sanskrit language praying to Lord Krishna in the form of a child. It Describes all about the childhood of Lord Krishna played several roles to have in common people the knowledge of theology.


4. Mahavira, also known as Vardhamāna, was the twenty-fourth tirthankara (ford-maker) who revived Jainism. In the Jain tradition, it is believed that Mahavira was born in the early part of the 6th century BC into a royal kshatriya family in present-day Bihar, India. He abandoned all worldly possessions at the age of 30 and left home in pursuit of spiritual awakening, becoming an ascetic. Mahavira practiced intense meditation and severe austerities for 12 years, after which he is believed to have attained Kevala Jnana(omniscience). He preached for 30 years and is believed by Jains to have died in the 6th century BC, although the year varies by sect. Scholars such as Karl Potter consider his biography uncertain; some suggest that he lived in the 5th century BC, contemporaneously with the Buddha. Mahavira attained nirvana at the age of 72, and his body was cremated.



5. In Jainism, a tirthankara is a savior and spiritual teacher of the dharma(righteous path). The word tirthankara signifies the founder of a tirtha, which is a fordable passage across the sea of interminable births and deaths, the saṃsāra. According to Jains, a tirthankara is a rare individual who has conquered the saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth, on their own and made a path for others to follow. After understanding the true nature of the Self or soul, the Tīrthaṅkara attains Kevala Jnana (omniscience), and the first Tirthankara refounds Jainism. Tirthankara provides a bridge for others to follow the new teacher from saṃsāra to moksha (liberation)


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Last updated on - 25.09.2023