Jataka Stories in Theravada Buddhism: Narrating the Bodhisatta Path

1st Edition

Naomi Appleton

Routledge
Published September 9, 2016
Reference - 186 Pages
ISBN 9781138273658 - CAT# Y315298

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Summary

Jataka stories (stories about the previous births of the Buddha) are very popular in Theravada Buddhist countries, where they are found in both canonical texts and later compositions and collections, and are commonly used in sermons, children's books, plays, poetry, temple illustrations, rituals and festivals. Whilst at first glance many of the stories look like common fables or folktales, Buddhist tradition tells us that the stories illustrate the gradual path to perfection exemplified by the Buddha in his previous births, when he was a bodhisatta (buddha-to-be). Jataka stories have had a long and colourful history, closely intertwined with the development of doctrines about the Buddha, the path to buddhahood, and how Buddhists should behave now the Buddha is no more. This book explores the shifting role of the stories in Buddhist doctrine, practice, and creative expression, finally placing this integral Buddhist genre back in the centre of scholarly understandings of the religion.

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