The Info List - Avadana

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AVADāNA ( Sanskrit
; Pali
cognate: Apadāna ) is the name given to a type of Buddhist
literature correlating past lives ' virtuous deeds to subsequent lives' events. While including accounts from the Pali language Vinaya Pitaka
Vinaya Pitaka
("Basket of Discipline"), this literature also includes a large number of Sanskrit
collections, of which the chief are the Mahāsaṅghika 's Mahāvastu ("Great Book"), and the Sarvāstivāda 's Avadānaśataka (Century of Legends) and Divyāvadāna (The Heavenly Legend). These latter collections include accounts relating to Buddha Gautama and the third-century BC "righteous ruler," Ashoka

Amongst the most popular avadānas of Northern Hinayāna Buddhism are:

* the story of Sudhana, preserved in the Mahāvastu under the title Kinnarī jātaka, amongst others, who falls in love with a kinnarī and saves her life. * the Vessantara jātaka , the story of the compassionate prince who gives away everything he owns, including his wife and children, thereby displaying the virtue of perfect charity. * the Suvannasankha jātaka

Though of later date than most of the canonical Buddhist
books, avadānas are held in veneration by the orthodox, and occupy much the same position with regard to Buddhism
that the Puranas
do towards Hinduism
. They act in a similar way to other texts describing past deeds or past lives held in other traditions in the region, such as the aforementioned Puranas, the Dasam Granth
Dasam Granth
and Janamsakhis of Sikhism, and the Kalpa Sutra of Jainism.


* ^ While avadāna (Sanskrit) and apadāna (Pali) are cognates, the former refers to a broad literature, including both canonical and non-canonical material from multiple Buddhist
schools, while the latter refers explicitly to a late addition to Theravada
Buddhism's Pali
Canon 's Khuddaka Nikaya . * ^ "Avadāna" (2008). * ^ Padmanabh S. Jaini, "The Story of Sudhana and Manoharā: An Analysis of the Texts and the Borobudur Reliefs", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 29, No. 3 (1966), pp. 533-558.


* Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Avadāna". Encyclopædia Britannica . 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 51. * "Avadāna." (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 20, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/45339/Avadana


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