Keshalocha of Mahavira
55.65 - 37
From the illustrated Manuscript of Kalpasutra and Kalakacharya Katha
This painting depicts one of the five important episodes in the life of a Jina (forder), which are considered very auspicious. These are known as Pancha kalyanakas i.e., Birth, Renunciation, Enlightenment, Preaching and final Emancipation.
Mahavira the 24th Jain Tirthankara forsakes his princely position and renounces the world. Here we see him performing the ceremony of plucking out his hair to become a monk. Jain monks do not shave but pluck their hair as a symbol of the beginning of hard austerities.
Seated on a stylised purple mountain in the form of a flame, Mahaviraholds his hair with one hand in an effort to pluck them out. The attendant is Shakra (Indra) who is in all attention to collect Mahavira’s hair in his outstretched hands.
The upper section of the painting depicts Mahavira giving away his devadushya (divine cloth) to the Brahmin Soma. Indra had once given this garment to Mahavira.
Kalpasutra is a well-known Jain canonical text describing the life of Mahavira and other Tirthankaras. Kalakacharya Katha is probably a semi-historical tale of the 1st Century CE narrating the story of the monk Kalaka. This story was added to the Kalpasutra in later times. These manuscripts were often donated by the devotees to the temples to attain spiritual merit.
Indian Miniature Paintings
Circa 1375 CE
Folio: 30 x 8.6 cms Painting: 7.7 x 8.6 cms