Article

Jātaka

Naomi Appleton

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online February 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0020
Jātaka

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A jātaka, or “birth story,” is a story relating an episode in a past life of the Buddha. Many such stories are found in the literature and art of Buddhist countries, alongside other past-life stories such as avadānas (or, in Pāli, apadānas). Scholars have long been interested in jātakas as fables, as many of the stories likely began life outside of the genre of jātaka. However, to the Buddhist traditions, jātakas illustrate the long path to buddhahood and the acquisition by the bodhisatt(v)a (buddha-to-be) of the perfections required for that attainment. Jātaka stories are illustrated at the oldest Buddhist sites and told in scriptural texts, yet they also feature in cartoon books and television programs. They are part of the lifeblood of Theravada societies and underpin the rationale of the Mahayana.

Article.  9582 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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