It is a pleasure to rewrite the Jataka stories in modern. English understandable by western readers. To achieve this goal, the stories are being retold in order to. Interpreter's Introduction. The Jataka stories, over millennia, have been seminal to the development of many civilisations, the cultivation of moral conduct and. By Ellen C. Babbitt. Fully illustrated. This is a retelling of stories from the Jataka, the treasury of tales of Buddha's previous animal reincarnations.
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and many of the Jataka stories are given in the old. Commentary on that book but with varying details, and sometimes associated with verses which are not. Jataka Tales of the Buddha. Part IV retold by. Ken and Visakha Mahasupina Jataka. The Sixteen Dreams. Jataka No. NE morning, when the ministers and . C.E. Sinhalese translation of the Jātaka stories by Virasiha Pratirāja for both the We have as well added here the Pāli titles of the various Jātaka stories for.
This book is an attempt to answer such questions.
Once we consider these issues it becomes clear that formulating a definition of jtaka stories may be more complicated than it seemed at first sight, for many of the questions above can be reformulated as questions about definition: does a jtaka story have to be narrated by the Buddha? Does the Bodhisattas behaviour in the story affect its identification as a jtaka? Do jtaka stories illustrate the actions of the Bodhisatta or the bodhisatta path as an ideal to be pursued?
Do jtaka stories have a different role in society to other forms of Buddhist narrative? Such questioning becomes circular, for in order to form a clear definition of jtaka stories one must first look at their role in Buddhist texts and societies, and yet the latter requires at least a working definition of jtakas before it can be commenced.
I shall therefore begin this book with an attempt to clarify and qualify the simple definition of jtakas as stories of past births of the Buddha, by looking at the possibility of defining the form, subject matter, audience and purpose of jtakas. However, whilst we may end this chapter with a better understanding of the complexity of jtakas, the question what is a jtaka?
What is a Jtaka? One problem with any definition of jtakas is the difficulty of disentangling jtakas from avadnas. However, a study of Buddhist narrative soon reveals that the situation is not so simple as this: jtakas often contain the Bodhisatta in a minor role thus actually seeming to be about another character altogether , whilst texts that call themselves avadnas or apadnas in Pli are sometimes about past lives of the Buddha.
Other terms are also found: in the early portions of the Theravda scriptures stories of rebirth appear un-named, as simple bhtapubbam formerly stories, and the recent Gandhran finds include what we might call jtakas and avadnas under the title of prvayoga formerconnection , a term also used in the Mahvastu. To further complicate matters, the Gandhran manuscripts also contain stories that self-identify as avadnas, but which contain no rebirth of any of the characters.
Under this definition the term is assumed to denote a story of the valiant efforts of a person often one of the Buddhas disciples , usually demonstrating its results in a present or future birth. This is not the only etymology to have been proposed for avadna, however, and the lack of agreement between scholars reveals the complexity of the terms origins and uses.
Whilst this Pli term is used as the title of a collection of birth stories of arahats, paccekabuddhas and buddhas in the Theravda tradition, it also has the simple meaning reaping related to the Sanskrit root avado, to cut and is found in descriptions of rice-harvesting in the Agaa Sutta of the Dgha Nikya.
Thus Mellick has suggested that an apadna is part of the agricultural metaphor of reaping the rewards of ones actions. Thesis, , p. A quick reading of the JA reveals this to be untrue, for many of the Bodhisattas actions in this text are karmicly insignificant, as we will see in the next chapter.
The idea that jtakas illustrate karmicly significant acts would therefore demand that we exclude much of the semi-canonical jtaka book, the very text that is considered definitional for the genre, at least within the Theravda tradition.
To go even further and suggest that jtaka and avadna are merely interchangeable terms is also not a tenable position, since historical evidence tells us that the two genres had separate specialist reciters, and are classified separately in early lists of Buddhist textual types.
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In Ohnumas study of gift-ofthe-body jtakas, she distinguishes between jtaka and avadna on the basis of the absence or presence of Buddhism, contrasting what she calls the ethos of the jtaka perfection and ethos of the avadna devotion : By means of the jtakas, the bodhisattva is lauded and exalted for the magnificent lengths he went to during his previous lives but by means of the avadnas, ordinary Buddhists receive the message that such magnificent lengths are now unnecessary thanks to the presence of Buddhism in the world as a powerful field of merit.
Strong also notes, however, that avadnas appear to be a relatively late development in the literature, thus they may not always have formed a distinctive genre. However, her discussion highlights the possible insights to be gained from an investigation of the religious or ideological11 aspects of Buddhist narrative genres. Where does this leave my attempt to define jtaka? Whilst the situation is clearly more complicated than at first sight, nothing examined thus far need prevent me from standing by my original definition of this genre.
Defining jtakas simply as birth stories of the Buddha allows for large ideological variations within the category of jtaka, which could reveal changes in conceptions of the genre across different times and communities.
Defining jtakas in this way does not require that avadnas are defined in similar terms, as birth stories about people other than the Buddha; indeed avadnas can be defined in a totally different manner, for example as stories about karmicly significant acts. I do not wish to suggest that this is the only defining feature of avadnas, and indeed it is important to acknowledge that the exact definitions of both genres changed amongst different communities at different times.
However, the important point to note here is that the definitions of jtaka and avadna can be on completely different bases thus the genres overlap, rather than being in opposition. It is possible for a story to be both a jtaka and an avadna, but also for a story to fit only in one of the two genres. Another argument in defence of the simple definition of jtakas as birth stories of the Buddha is that it is in accord with Theravda narrative texts, which will form the focus of this study.
These texts all contain a character who is identified as the Bodhisatta, or the Buddha in a previous birth. This is true even of the JA: although it contains some stories about karmicly significant acts and some stories that focus upon characters other than the Bodhisatta, one character is always identified as the Bodhisatta, suggesting that this is the unifying feature of jtaka stories.
Whether hero, saviour, villain, fool or passer-by, the Bodhisatta is always there.
Jataka Stories of Theravada Buddhism.pdf
Another feature that unifies the jtakas of the JA in particular is that all of the stories of past births are narrated by the Buddha himself. This might be seen as inextricably linked to the presence of the Bodhisatta, for it is the Buddhas extraordinary memory that allows him to reveal jtaka stories to his audience.
If the Bodhisatta did not participate in or at least witness the story then how could the Buddha remember it?
However, in Buddhism the ability to recall past lives of oneself and others is achieved through meditative prowess; it is not a skill limited to buddhas, and indeed even non-Buddhists are capable of telling stories of their past lives or the lives of other people. Thus the Buddha can see the births of others as well as his own, and selected others can see their own and, presumably, his.
Buddhist birth stories; or, Jataka tales, Volume 1 by V. Fausbøll et al.
Such a situation makes it all the more curious that the 11 I use the term here in a very general sense, relating to the ideas or doctrines contained within and negotiated by the stories and the collections which contain them. Jtaka Stories in Theravda Buddhism jtaka genre became defined by the time of the JA as a story of a past life of the Buddha related by himself. Given all the past-life narrative possibilities open to the early Buddhists, why did jtakas become defined in this way, and how did they become such a prominent genre in Theravda Buddhism?
I will argue in this book that the answer is found in the person of the Buddha and the importance of his biography.
This book, briefly put, is an investigation into the ideological relationship between the person of the Buddha and his jtaka stories in the tradition that is now known as Theravda. One reason for this is the prioritisation of the study of formal aspects of jtakas, over and above their ideological features. As a consequence, jtakas have been defined by their form: either because of their inclusion in the JA, or because they mimic the structure established in this great collection.
This structure is wellknown: each story in the JA begins with a quotation from the first line of the first verse, followed by the story of the present paccuppanna-vatthu , which sets out the Buddhas reasons for telling the story.
The story of the past atta-vatthu follows, and this is the part considered to be the jtaka proper, since it is in this section that a previous birth of the Buddha is related. At some point either within or shortly after the story of the past we find the verse or verses gth , which are both canonical and in an old form of Pli, and thus are followed by a word commentary veyykaraa.
At the end of the jtaka, the consequences of the Buddha telling it, such as the hearer becoming a stream-enterer, are related. The jtaka is rounded off with the connection samodhna , or identification of the births, where the Buddha links present and past with an explanation of who was who.
This distinctive structure of the jtakas of the JA, which is mimicked also in many later stories and collections, inspires Skilling to use the term classical jtakas to describe them.
The use of the term here is merely pragmatic, in order to distinguish the objects of my study from those texts preserved in other schools.
Thanks to this research on the structure of the JA, recently crowned by von Hinbers meticulous analysis,18 it is now possible to outline the development of the text in broad terms: the JA is a commentary on the verses of the Jtakapli, which now forms the tenth section of the Khuddaka Nikya of the Theravda scriptures.
Since these verses are clearly incomplete without the stories that accompany them, we can assume that they have always circulated with the stories of the past in some possibly quite flexible form. Though there are a few exceptions, many of the stories of the present seem to have been artificially created to match their stories of the past, suggesting they may be from a 14 Distinguishing between canonical and commentarial with regard to Buddhism imposes Western conceptions of textual hierarchy and sacred texts onto the tradition.
Although it is clear that Theravda scholastics viewed the JA as a commentary upon canonical verses, it is not a natural consequence to thus view the JA as less important than purely canonical texts. It is also not clear to what extent such distinctions matter ed to the majority of Buddhists. There is in any case little historical evidence for the early formation of a fixed canon in the Theravda tradition. Fausbll , who had already translated several of the stories.
Rhys-Davids began a translation even before Fausblls endeavour was completed, but after completing the Nidnakath and the first 40 jtakas, he handed the work over to a team of translators: R. Chalmers, W. Rouse, H.
Francis, R. Neil and E. Cowell, under the editorship of the latter Ketkar and Kohn Calcutta, , p. Jtaka Stories in Theravda Buddhism somewhat later period of redaction. The overall text of the JA as we have it now can be dated to the fifth or sixth centuries ce.
There are therefore several discernable layers in the history of the text. To demonstrate the insight that can be gained from examining these different layers we may return to the jtaka outlined earlier.
In the story of the monkey gardeners, on the level of the Jtaka-pli all we have is the verse: Assistance from a fool does not lead to happiness: A fool fails, just like the monkey gardener. Thus there is an aphorism, with reference to an event or story that supports it. On the contrary, the work was rather slowed down than speeded up.
For not only was all the work of preparing the text for printing put on the shoulders of the lexicographer himself now, but, far more seriously, the overwhelm- ing amount of available material threatened almost to suffocate the work. While I find the last remark a non sequitur, I strongly agree when he goes on to say that the whole lexicographical enterprise needs to be rethought.
I wish I could be equally firm in my agreement with his claim that its future is bright.
The evi- dence for this position is set out in chapters 2—5. This is an unlikely scenario, for both paths were elaborated on an entirely different scale: aeons for the Bodhisatta path, and a maximum of seven lives for the path of the Arahat. Stories constructed around this theme could easily have accommodated the Bodhisatta in a morally ambiguous guise, and so allowed for the appropriation of pop- ular themes or stories — whatever might win an audience and promote the Buddhist mission.
Only later, when the Buddha-myth developed, did the understanding of these stories change, from a variegated collection of past life stories — in which the Bodhisatta is generally good, occasionally bad and sometimes neither — to a specific understanding of the path to Buddhahood.
What ever the reason behind the composition of these charming tales — whether to entertain, instruct, inspire or merely criticize — they must surely have been composed in the knowledge that they were relating the past lives of the Buddha, even if this was not initially understood in terms of an ideal spiritual bio- graphy.
By overlooking such a possibility, this book makes rather heavy weather of ideological development in early Buddhism. Bristol: The Pali Text Society, ISBN 0 6. On the whole this is due to the fact that canonical Pali texts were composed so as to ensure an easy transmission through communal chanting. But apart from oral oddities such as excessive repetition and prolix descriptive sections — a long depiction of the forest is relegated to an eight-page appendix — the story is itself sim- plistic.
From the beginning Vessantara cannot help himself when it comes to charitable acts.Buddhism After Patriarchy: She has renounced with him or been willingly given away in birth after birth to help his pursuit of the perfections. History and chronology become important. Ambasta ed.
I also owe a huge debt to Sarah Shaw. This book, briefly put, is an investigation into the ideological relationship between the person of the Buddha and his jtaka stories in the tradition that is now known as Theravda. How do we explain the stories in which the Bodhisatta plays a minor or morally ambiguous part?
Similar illustrations are found in South and Southeast Asian temples. However, in Buddhism the ability to recall past lives of oneself and others is achieved through meditative prowess; it is not a skill limited to buddhas, and indeed even non-Buddhists are capable of telling stories of their past lives or the lives of other people.
Two further stories from the JA are found in sutta texts.