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Manuscript fragment of the Jatakamala, Sanskrit language, 8th-9th century

Jātakamālā (T. skyes rabs 'phreng ba སྐྱེས་རབས་འཕྲེང་བ་; C. pusa benshengman 菩薩本生鬘論). "Garland of Birth Stories." A collection of 34 Jataka tales composed in Sanskrit by the Indian master Arya Shura circa the 2nd century. The text was translated into Tibetan and Chinese, and it is included in their respective canons. However, according to the Princeton Dictionary, the Chinese translators (circa 434 C.E.) had such difficulty in translating the text, that they lifted stories from other sources and matched them with the titles of Sanskrit text; hence many of the stories the Chinese translation do not match the Sansrit text or the Tibetan translation.[1]

List of stories

Bhutanese painted thangka of the Jātakas, 18th-19th Century, Phajoding Gonpa, Thimphu, Bhutan

The Jātakamālā includes the following stories:[2]

  1. The Tigress
  2. Shibhi
  3. The dumpling
  4. The Merchant
  5. Avishahya, the Merchant
  6. The hare/rabbit
  7. Agastya
  8. Maitribala
  9. Vishvamtara
  10. The sacrifice
  11. Shakra
  12. The brahmin
  13. Unmadayanti
  14. Suparaga
  15. The lord of the fish
  16. The young quail
  17. The jar full of spirits
  18. The man without an heir
  19. The lotus stalks
  20. The royal treasurer
  21. Kuddhabodhi
  22. The king of geese
  23. Bodhi, the wandering ascetic
  24. The great ape
  25. The ibex
  26. The antelope
  27. The king of monkeys
  28. Kshantivadin
  29. The inhabitant of highest heaven
  30. The elephant
  31. Sutosama
  32. Ayogriha, the prince in the iron house
  33. Buffalo
  34. Woodpecker

Pictorial representations

Khudda-bodhi-Jataka, Borobudur

At the Ajanta Caves in India, scenes from the Jātaka tales are inscribed with quotes from Arya Shura,[3] with script datable to the sixth century.

The Borobudur temple in Indonesia contains depictions of all 34 Jatakas from the Jatakamala.[4]

Modern translations

In print

  • Ārya Śūra, Once the Buddha Was a Monkey, translated by Peter Khoroche, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989
  • Āryaśūra, The Marvelous Companion: Life Stories of the Buddha, Dharma Publishing, 1983
  • Āryaśūra, Garland of the Buddha’s Past Lives, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2, translated by Justin Meiland, (Clay Sanskrit Library), NYU Press 2009


Translation from a Sanskrit source text:

Note that in the Preface to this online edition, Ānandajoti Bhikkhu states:

On the whole I think that Speyer has made a good and readable translation, but there are occasions where there are misinterpretations that will be obvious to anyone reading from a Buddhist perspective today, especially the frequent references to the Self, an interpretation which is unwarranted by the grammar or by the doctrine.

Sanskrit text

The Jātaka-Mālā of was critically edited in the original Sanskrit [Nâgarî letters] by 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.


  1. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Jātakamālā.
  2. RW icon height 18px.png Jatakamala, Rigpa Shedra Wiki
  3. 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
  4. Jataka/Avadana Stories — Table of Contents "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-22. Retrieved 2005-12-22. 


External links