Jataka tales (Pali Canon)
|Sutta Pitaka (Nikayas)|
|See also: Early Buddhist Texts, Agamas|
|Early Buddhist Texts|
|See also: Early Buddhism, Buddhist canons|
Jataka tales are included in the Khuddaka Nikaya section of the Pali Canon.
The Theravāda Jātakas comprise 547 poems, arranged roughly by an increasing number of verses. According to Professor von Hinüber, 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), 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. 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.
At the Mahathupa in Sri Lanka all 550 Jataka tales were represented inside of the reliquary chamber. Reliquaries often depict the Jataka tales.
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.
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, Bristol. There are also numerous translations of selections and individual stories from various languages.
Celebrations and ceremonies
In Theravada countries several of the longer tales such as "The Twelve Sisters" and the "Vessantara Jataka" are still performed in dance, theatre, and formal (quasi-ritual) recitation.
List of Jatakas
Some of the more well-known Jātakas include:
- Apannaka Jataka — Crossing the Wilderness (Jat 1)
- Serivavanija Jataka — The Traders of Seriva (Jat 3)
- Matakabhatta Jataka — The Goat That Laughed and Wept (Jat 18)
- Kuhaka Jataka — The Straw Worth More Than Gold (Jat 89)
- Illisa Jataka — The Miserly Treasurer (Jat 78)
- Kalakanni Jataka — What's in a Name? (Jat 83)
- Mahasara Jataka — The Queen's Necklace (Jat 92)
- Mahasupina Jataka — The Sixteen Dreams (Jat 77)
- Manicora Jataka — The Virtuous Wife (Jat 194)
- Dabbhapuppha Jataka — The Jackal's Judgment (Jat 400)
- Nalapana Jataka — The Case of the Hollow Canes (Jat 20)
- Vattaka Jataka — The Baby Quail (Jat 35)
- Pañcavudha Jataka — Prince Five-weapons (Jat 55)
- Alinacitta Jataka — The Elephant Who Saved a Kingdom (Jat 156)
- Kumbha Jataka: The Fifth Precept (Jat 512)
- Silanisamsa Jataka: A Good Friend (Jat 190)
- Duddubha Jataka: The Sound the Hare Heard (Jat 322)
- Mahakapi Jataka: The Great Monkey King (Jat 407)
- 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"/"Chicken Little" (''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
- ↑ 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  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
- ↑ The tale of Prince Samuttakote: a Buddhist epic from Thailand
- ↑ 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
- 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)
- John Strong (2004). Relics of the Buddha. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11764-0.
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