The Info List - Jataka

The Jātaka tales (Sanskrit: जातक, birth history') are a voluminous body of literature native to India
concerning the previous births of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, he exhibits some virtue that the tale thereby inculcates.[1] Often, Jātaka tales include an extensive cast of characters who interact and get into various kinds of trouble - whereupon the Buddha character intervenes to resolve all the problems and bring about a happy ending. In Theravada
Buddhism, the Jātakas are a textual division of the Pāli Canon, included in the Khuddaka Nikaya
Khuddaka Nikaya
of the Sutta Pitaka. The term Jātaka may also refer to a traditional commentary on this book.


1 History 2 Contents 3 Jātaka stupas 4 Apocrypha 5 Celebrations and ceremonies 6 Translations 7 List of Jātakas 8 See also 9 References 10 Sources 11 Further reading 12 External links

History[edit] The Jātakas were originally amongst the earliest Buddhist literature, with metrical analysis methods dating their average contents to around the 4th century BCE.[2] The Mahāsāṃghika
sects from the Āndhra region took the Jātakas as canonical literature and are known to have rejected some of the Theravāda Jātakas which dated past the time of King Ashoka.[3] The Caitikas claimed that their own Jātakas represented the original collection before the Buddhist tradition split into various lineages.[2] According to A. K. Warder, the Jātakas are the precursors to the various legendary biographies of the Buddha, which were composed at later dates.[4] Although many Jātakas were written from an early period, which describe previous lives of the Buddha, very little biographical material about Gautama's own life has been recorded.[4] The Jātaka-Mālā of Arya Śura in Sanskrit
gives 34 Jātaka stories.[5] At the Ajanta Caves, Jātaka scenes are inscribed with quotes from Arya Shura,[6] with script datable to the sixth century. It had already been translated into Chinese in 434 CE. Borobudur contains depictions of all 34 Jatakas from Jataka

Khudda-bodhi-Jataka, Borobudur

Contents[edit] The Theravāda Jātakas comprise 547 poems, arranged roughly by an increasing number of verses. According to Professor von Hinüber,[8] only the last 50 were intended to be intelligible by themselves, without commentary. The commentary gives stories in prose that it claims provide the context for the verses, and it is these stories that are of interest to folklorists. Alternative versions of some of the stories can be found in another book of the Pali
Canon, the Cariyapitaka, and a number of individual stories can be found scattered around other books of the Canon. Many of the stories and motifs found in the Jātaka such as the Rabbit in the Moon of the Śaśajātaka ( Jataka
Tales: no.316),[9] are found in numerous other languages and media. For example, The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Turtle Who Couldn't Stop Talking and The Crab and the Crane that are listed below also famously featured in the Hindu Panchatantra, the Sanskrit
niti-shastra that ubiquitously influenced world literature.[10] Many of the stories and motifs are translations from the Pali
but others are instead derived from vernacular oral traditions prior to the Pali
compositions.[11] Sanskrit
(see for example the Jātakamālā) and Tibetan Jātaka stories tend to maintain the Buddhist morality
Buddhist morality
of their Pali equivalents, but re-tellings of the stories in Persian and other languages sometimes contain significant amendments to suit their respective cultures.[citation needed] At the Mahathupa
in Sri Lanka all 550 Jataka
tales were represented inside of the reliquary chamber.[12] Reliquaries often depict the Jataka
tales. Jātaka stupas[edit]

The Mankiala stupa
Mankiala stupa
in northern Pakistan
marks the spot where, according to the Jataka, an incarnation of Buddha sacrificed himself to feed tigers.[13]

Many stupas in northern India
are said to mark locations from the Jātaka tales; the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang
reported several of these. A stupa in Pushkalavati, in northwestern Pakistan, marks where Syama fulfilled his filial duty to his blind parents. The Mankiala stupa near Gujar Khan
Gujar Khan
commemorates the spot where Prince Sattva
Prince Sattva
sacrificed himself to feed baby tigers.[13] Nearby the ascetic Ekasrnga was seduced by a beautiful woman. In Mangalura, Ksantivadin submitted to mutilation by a king. At Hadda Mountain a young Brahmin sacrificed himself to learn a half verse of the dharma. At Sarvadattaan an incarnation sold himself for ransom to make offerings to a Brahmin.[14] Faxian
describes the four great stupas as being adorned with precious substances. At one site king Sibi sacrifices his flesh to ransom a dove from a hawk. Another incarnation gave up his eyes when asked; a third incarnation sacrificed his body to feed a hungry tigress. As King Candraprabha he cut off his head as a gift to a Brahmin.[15] Some would sever their body parts in front of stupas that contained relics; or even end their own lives. Apocrypha[edit] Within the Pali
tradition, there are also many apocryphal Jātakas of later composition (some dated even to the 19th century) but these are treated as a separate category of literature from the "Official" Jātaka stories that have been more or less formally canonized from at least the 5th century — as attested to in ample epigraphic and archaeological evidence, such as extant illustrations in bas relief from ancient temple walls. Apocryphal
Jātakas of the Pali
Buddhist canon, such as those belonging to the Paññāsajātaka collection, have been adapted to fit local culture in certain South East Asian countries and have been retold with amendments to the plots to better reflect Buddhist morals.[16][17] Celebrations and ceremonies[edit]

Mahajanaka Jataka

In Theravada
countries several of the longer tales such as "The Twelve Sisters"[18] and the Vessantara Jataka[19] are still performed in dance,[20] theatre, and formal (quasi-ritual) recitation.[21] Such celebrations are associated with particular holidays on the lunar calendar used by Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
and Laos. Translations[edit] The standard Pali
collection of jātakas, with canonical text embedded, has been translated by E. B. Cowell and others, originally published in six volumes by Cambridge University Press, 1895-1907; reprinted in three volumes, Pali
Text Society,[22] Bristol. There are also numerous translations of selections and individual stories from various languages.

Jacobs, Joseph (1888), The earliest English version of the Fables of Bidpai, London  Google Books (edited and induced from The Morall Philosophie of Doni by Sir Thomas North, 1570)

The Jātaka-Mālā of Arya Śura was critically edited in the original Sanskrit
[Nâgarî letters] by Hendrik Kern
Hendrik Kern
of the University of Leiden in Netherlands, which was published as volume 1 of the Harvard Oriental Series in 1891. A second issue came in 1914. List of Jātakas[edit] This list includes stories based on or related to the Jātakas:

The Ass in the Lion's Skin
The Ass in the Lion's Skin
(Sīhacamma Jātaka) The Banyan Deer The Cock and the Cat (Kukkuṭa Jātaka) The Crab and the Crane The Elephant Girly-Face The Foolish, Timid Rabbit/"Henny Penny" (Daddabha Jātaka) Four Harmonious Animals The Great Ape How the Turtle Saved His Own Life The Jackal the Crow (Jambu-Khādaka Jātaka) The Jackal and the Otters (Dabbhapuppha Jātaka) The King's White Elephant The Lion and the Woodpecker (Javasakuṇa Jātaka) The Measure of Rice The Merchant of Seri The Monkey and the Crocodile The Ox Who Envied the Pig (Muṇika-Jātaka) The Ox Who Won the Forfeit Prince Sattva The Princes and the Water-Sprite The Quarrel of the Quails The Swan with Golden Feathers (Suvaṇṇahaṃsa Jātaka) King Sibi The Tiger, the Brahmin and the Jackal The Turtle Who Couldn't Stop Talking (Kacchapa Jātaka) The Twelve Sisters The Wise and the Foolish Merchant Vessantara Jataka Why the Owl Is Not King of the Birds

See also[edit]

Aesop's Fables Panchatantra Puranas Last 10 jataka


^ "Jataka". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2011-12-04.  ^ a b Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. pp. 286-287 ^ Sujato, Bhikkhu. Sects & Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools. 2006. p. 51 ^ a b Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. pp. 332-333 ^ THE JATAKA-MALA Stories of Buddha's former Incarnations OTHERWISE ENTITLED BODHISATTVA-AVADANA-MALA By ARYA-ŚURA CRITICALLY EDITED IN THE ORIGINAL SANSKRITu7 BY DR. HENDRIK KERN, https://archive.org/details/jatakamala015656mbp ^ Literary History of Sanskrit
Buddhism: From Winternitz, Sylvain Levi, Huber, By Gushtaspshah K. Nariman, Moriz Winternitz, Sylvain Lévi, Edouard Huber, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1972 p. 44 ^ Jataka/Avadana Stories — Table of Contents "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-22. Retrieved 2005-12-22.  ^ Handbook of Pali
Literature, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1996 ^ Source: sacred-texts.com (accessed: Saturday January 23, 2010) ^ Jacobs 1888, Introduction, page lviii "What, the reader will exclaim, "the first literary link [1570] between India
and England, between Buddhism
and Christendom, written in racy Elizabethan with vivacious dialogue, and something distinctly resembling a plot. . . ." ^ "Indian Stories",The History of World Literature, Grant L. Voth, Chantilly, VA, 2007 ^ (John Strong 2004, p. 51) ^ a b Bernstein, Richard (2001). Ultimate Journey: Retracing the Path of an Ancient Buddhist Monk who Crossed Asia in Search of Enlightenment. A.A. Knopf. ISBN 9780375400094. Retrieved 16 June 2017.  ^ (John Strong 2004, p. 52) ^ (John Strong 2004, p. 53) ^ The tale of Prince Samuttakote: a Buddhist epic from Thailand ^ http://www.khamkoo.com/uploads/9/0/0/4/9004485/the_tham_vessantara_jataka_-_a_critical_study_of_the_vj_and_its_influence_on_kengtung_buddhism_eastern_shan_state.pdf ^ Nang Sip Song Prarath Meri Archived October 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Dance Troupe Prepares for Smithsonian Performance ^ สุธนชาดก (Suthan Jataka
- Dance form) ^ Rev. Sengpan Pannyawamsa, Recital of the Tham Vessantara Jātaka: a social-cultural phenomenon in Kengtung, Eastern Shan State, Myanmar, Institute of Pali
and Buddhist Studies, (University of Kelaniya), Sri Lanka ^ Pali Text Society Home Page


John Strong (2004). Relics of the Buddha. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11764-0. 

Further reading[edit]

Cowell, E.B.; ed. (1895). "The Jataka
or Stories of the Buddhaś former Births, Vol.1-6, Cambridge at the University Press. Vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 6 Francis, Henry Thomas (1916). Jātaka tales, Cambridge: University Press Grey, Leslie (1990). Concordance of Buddhist Birth Stories, Oxford : Pali
Text Society. (Tabulates correspondences between various jataka collections) Horner, Isaline Blew; Jaini, Padmanabh S. (1985). Apocryphal Birth-stories (Paññāsa-Jātaka), London ; Boston: Pali
Text Society, distributed by Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 9780860132332 Khan, Noor Inayat (1985). Twenty Jataka
Tales, Inner Traditions Rhys Davids, T.W. (1878). Buddhist birth-stories: Jataka
tales. The commentarial introd. entitled Nidanakatha; the story of the lineage. Translated from V. Fausböll's ed. of the Pali
text, London: G. Routledge Martin, Rafe (1998) "The Hungry Tigress: Buddhist Myths, Legends and Jataka
Tales". ISBN 0938756524 Shaw, Sandra (2006). The Jatakas — Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta, New Delhi: Penguin Books Skilling, Peter (2006). Jataka
and Pannasa-jataka in South-East Asia, Journal of the Pali Text Society 28, 113-174

External links[edit]

- volume I, vol. II, vol. III, vol. IV, vol. V, vol. VI of E. B. Cowell 1895 Jataka
Tales - by Ellen C. Babbitt 1912 Buddhist Birth Stories ( Jataka
Tales), T. W. Rhys Davids, London 1880, archive.org Jataka
Tales - English Animation "The Illustrated Jataka
& Other Stories of the Buddha" by Dr C. B. Varma - Illustrated, English Jataka: from Pali
Proper Names Buddhist tales jathakakatha.lk Learning From Borobudur
documentary about the stories of Jatakas, Lalitavistara
and Gandavyuha
from bas-reliefs of Borobudur, YouTube

v t e


Glossary Index Outline


Three Jewels

Buddha Dharma Sangha

Four Noble Truths Noble Eightfold Path Nirvana Middle Way

The Buddha

Tathāgata Birthday Four sights Physical characteristics Footprint Relics Iconography in Laos
and Thailand Films Miracles Family

Suddhodāna (father) Māyā (mother) Mahapajapati Gotamī (aunt, adoptive mother) Yasodhara (wife) Rāhula
(son) Ānanda (cousin) Devadatta

Places where the Buddha stayed Buddha in world religions

Key concepts

Avidyā (Ignorance) Bardo Bodhicitta Bodhisattva Buddha-nature Dhamma theory Dharma Enlightenment Five hindrances Indriya Karma Kleshas Mind Stream Parinirvana Pratītyasamutpāda Rebirth Saṃsāra Saṅkhāra Skandha Śūnyatā Taṇhā
(Craving) Tathātā Ten Fetters Three marks of existence

Impermanence Dukkha Anatta

Two truths doctrine


Ten spiritual realms Six realms

Deva (Buddhism) Human realm Asura realm Hungry Ghost realm Animal realm Hell

Three planes of existence


Bhavana Bodhipakkhiyādhammā Brahmavihara

Mettā Karuṇā Mudita Upekkha

Buddhābhiseka Dāna Devotion Dhyāna Faith Five Strengths Iddhipada Meditation

Mantras Kammaṭṭhāna Recollection Smarana Anapanasati Samatha Vipassanā
(Vipassana movement) Shikantaza Zazen Kōan Mandala Tonglen Tantra Tertön Terma

Merit Mindfulness


Nekkhamma Pāramitā Paritta Puja

Offerings Prostration Chanting

Refuge Satya


Seven Factors of Enlightenment

Sati Dhamma vicaya Pīti Passaddhi


Five Precepts Bodhisattva
vow Prātimokṣa

Threefold Training

Śīla Samadhi Prajñā


Four Right Exertions


Bodhi Bodhisattva Buddhahood Pratyekabuddha Four stages of enlightenment

Sotāpanna Sakadagami Anāgāmi Arhat


Bhikkhu Bhikkhuni Śrāmaṇera Śrāmaṇerī Anagarika Ajahn Sayadaw Zen
master Rōshi Lama Rinpoche Geshe Tulku Householder Upāsaka and Upāsikā Śrāvaka

The ten principal disciples

Shaolin Monastery

Major figures

Gautama Buddha Kaundinya Assaji Sāriputta Mahamoggallāna Mulian Ānanda Mahākassapa Anuruddha Mahākaccana Nanda Subhuti Punna Upali Mahapajapati Gotamī Khema Uppalavanna Asita Channa Yasa Buddhaghoṣa Nagasena Angulimala Bodhidharma Nagarjuna Asanga Vasubandhu Atiśa Padmasambhava Nichiren Songtsen Gampo Emperor Wen of Sui Dalai Lama Panchen Lama Karmapa Shamarpa Naropa Xuanzang Zhiyi


Tripiṭaka Madhyamakālaṃkāra Mahayana
sutras Pāli Canon Chinese Buddhist canon Tibetan Buddhist canon


Theravada Mahayana

Chan Buddhism

Zen Seon Thiền

Pure Land Tiantai Nichiren Madhyamaka Yogachara

Navayana Vajrayana

Tibetan Shingon Dzogchen

Early Buddhist schools Pre-sectarian Buddhism Basic points unifying Theravāda and Mahāyāna


Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan Cambodia China India Indonesia Japan Korea Laos Malaysia Maldives Mongolia Myanmar Nepal Pakistan Philippines Russia

Kalmykia Buryatia

Singapore Sri Lanka Taiwan Thailand Tibet Vietnam Middle East


Western countries

Argentina Australia Brazil France United Kingdom United States Venezuela


Timeline Ashoka Buddhist councils History of Buddhism
in India

Decline of Buddhism
in India

Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution Greco-Buddhism Buddhism
and the Roman world Buddhism
in the West Silk Road transmission of Buddhism Persecution of Buddhists Banishment of Buddhist monks from Nepal Buddhist crisis Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism Buddhist modernism Vipassana movement 969 Movement Women in Buddhism


Abhidharma Atomism Buddhology Creator Economics Eight Consciousnesses Engaged Buddhism Eschatology Ethics Evolution Humanism Logic Reality Secular Buddhism Socialism The unanswered questions



Temple Vihara Wat Stupa Pagoda Candi Dzong architecture Japanese Buddhist architecture Korean Buddhist temples Thai temple art and architecture Tibetan Buddhist architecture



Tree Budai Buddharupa Calendar Cuisine Funeral Holidays

Vesak Uposatha Magha Puja Asalha Puja Vassa

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Kasaya Mahabodhi Temple Mantra

Om mani padme hum

Mudra Music Pilgrimage

Lumbini Maya Devi Temple Bodh Gaya Sarnath Kushinagar

Poetry Prayer beads Prayer wheel Symbolism

Dharmachakra Flag Bhavacakra Swastika Thangka

Temple of the Tooth Vegetarianism


Abhijñā Amitābha Avalokiteśvara


Brahmā Dhammapada Dharma
talk Hinayana Kalpa Koliya Lineage Maitreya Māra Ṛddhi Sacred languages

Pali Sanskrit

Siddhi Sutra Vinaya


Bahá'í Faith Christianity

Influences Comparison

East Asian religions Gnosticism Hinduism Jainism Judaism Psychology Science Theosophy Violence Western philosophy


Bodhisattvas Books Buddhas


Buddhists Suttas Temples

Category Portal

v t e


aka: Tantrakhyayika — Panchakhyana — Kalila and Dimna — The Lights of Canopus — The Fables of Bidpai/Pilpay — The Moral Philosophy of Doni — Tantri Kamandaka — Nandaka-prakarana


The Blue Jackal The Tortoise and the Birds The Bear and the Gardener The Lion and the Mouse The Mouse Turned into a Maid The Deer without a Heart The Ass in the Lion's Skin The Brahmin and the Mongoose The Fox and the Cat The milkmaid and her pail

Related works

Aesop's Fables La Fontaine's Fables Hikayat Panca Tanderan Hitopadesha Jataka
tales Kathasaritsagara One Thousand and One Nights Śukasaptati

Other media

The Tall Tales of Vishnu Sharma

Editors, translators, adapters


Vishnu Sharma
Vishnu Sharma
(putative author) Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak Borzūya Durgasimha Jean de La Fontaine Antoine Galland John of Capua Kshemendra Ibn al-Muqaffa' Narayana Abu'l-Ma'ali Nasrallah Thomas North Rudaki Simeon Seth


Theodor Benfey Gustav Bickell Hermann Brockhaus Edward Backhouse Eastwick Franklin Edgerton A. N. D. Haksar Johannes Hertel Joseph Jacobs Ion Keith-Falconer Patrick Olivelle N. M. Penzer Arthur W. Ryder Silvestre de Sacy C. H. Tawney Charles Wilkins Ramsay Wood


Beast fable Frame