Manuscript Illustrations of the Uttaradhyayana Sutra

Posted: 07.09.2011
Updated on: 31.07.2012

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As the latest addition to Professor W. Norman Brown's distinguished work in Jaina studies and paintings, we now have this description of one of the last series of Jaina manuscripts with paintings which had up to the present publication remained without interpretation - the Uttarādhyayana Sūtra, " well known as part of the Śvetāmbara Jain canon, belonging to the section known aa Mūlasūtra" (p. 2), and containing thirty-six chapters.

The purpose of such a work, which are " sermons thought to have been spoken by Mahāvīra in answer to unasked questions," was to serve as a guide for a young monk in his duties and " to commend an ascetic life by precepts and examples, to warn him against the dangers in his spiritual career, and to give some theoretical information” as stated by Jacobi.

There are four manuscripts with illustrations to the text which Professor Brown photographed from the originals in Jaina libraries in 1934-5. These are the Uttarādhyayana Sutras belonging respectively to the Daya Vimalji Jñāna Bhaṇḍār, Ahmadabad (DV), attributed by Brown to the latter part of the fifteenth century; to the Hamsa Vijaya Jñāna Mandira, Baroda (HV), attributed by Brown to "probably the early part of the six­teenth century"; to the Śrī Mukti Karaala Jaina Mohana Jñāna Mandir, Baroda (JM), dated equivalent to 1583; and the last, to the Jainananda Pustakālaya (JP), dated equivalent to 1591.

Professor Brown's approach to the paintings in the four manuscripts has been from the iconographic viewpoint, and "the validity of such a treatment," as the author states, "lies in the fact that the scenes are largely cliches, being repeated with only minor variations in the different manuscripts..."

Brown first summarizes the chapters and gives exact translations where necessary and then identi­fies the miniatures, giving accurate descriptions of each.

With the exception of samavasarana scenes, scenes of rebirths as deities, conference, tonsure and austerity scenes (the kāyotsarga stance), and scenes of Siddhas or Perfected beings, together with episodes from Aristanemi's life, most of the illustrations of the Uttarādhyayana Sūtra, as we found on examination, increase the range of Jaina iconography by presenting new departures from the familiar Kalpa Sūtra subjects.

 

Title:

Manuscript Illustrations of the  Uttarādhyayana Sūtra

Author:

W. Norman Brown

Series:

American Oriental Series, Vol. 21

Publisher:

American Oriental Society, New Haven (Connecticut)

Year:

1941

Pages:

xiii + 54, 150 figures on 46 plates.

References

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