At a time when “meat ban” has become an issue for a political slugfest in the country, a 400-year-old scroll from the Mughal era, preserved in the Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum in Ahmedabad, reveals how Emperor Jehangir had banned animal slaughter during Paryushan, a Jain festival.
The first half of the document, about seven-feet in length, contains a pictorial depiction of deputation of Jains visiting Emperor Jehangir and securing a new imperial command or “farmaan”, under which the slaughter of animals was prohibited during the period of Paryushan. The second half contains a text written in Marwari language. Paryushan is a period of penance where Jains avoid any form of violence, including consumption of green vegetables.
“This valuable document containing the farmaan of Mughal Emperor was painted in the scroll form by Mughal court artist Ustad Salivahana in 1610 AD. The illustrated document was commissioned by the Jain community during that period,” says Professor Ratan Parimoo, director of the museum.
“It records the entire episode in an interesting manner and is a rare and precious document from the Mughal era,” Parimoo added. In the upper part of this colourful scroll, one can see the emperor seated on the balcony, while two Jain sadhus from Agra — Vivekaharsha and Udayaharsha — are seen carrying an application. The sadhus are being introduced by Raja Ramdasa, while Prince Khurram (third son of Jehangir who later came to be known as Shah Jahan) is standing on the left.
Below this court scene is depicted the proclamation of the “farmaan” in the bazaar and in the next part of the painted scroll, the two disciples of Vijayasena Suri (a Jain Acharya) presenting the farmaan to their Guru in the presence of other disciples. The document also contains an invitation to Vijayasena Suri, residing in Patan, Gujarat, to come and spend period of Paryushan in Agra.
“The scroll also depicts how the Jain community celebrates after hearing about the imperial command being passed. This order was important as it was a continuation of tolerant policy previously adopted during Emperor Akbar’s reign,” the director of the museum explained.
A portion of this scroll was recently restored by the museum and the contents will now be part of a book which will be released later this month. “This book, titled Jain Vastrapatas, will contain detailed references of this scroll from the Mughal era, along with other ancient Jain paintings on cloth and paper,” Parimoo said.