The Jatakas: Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta (Penguin Classics)

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9780144001477: The Jatakas: Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta (Penguin Classics)

Associated with the living traditions of folk tale, drama and epic, the J?takas recount the development of the Bodhisatta—the being destined to become the present Buddha in his final life—not just through the events of one lifetime but of hundreds. Written in P?li, the language of the Therav?da Buddhist canon, the J?takas comprise one of the largest and oldest collections of stories in the world dating from the fifth century BCE to the third century CE. Generations in South and South-East Asia have grown up with these tales.

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This is an excellent selection of the Jatakas, which are somewhat reminiscent of Chaucer's tales. Sarah Shaw's translation is very moving and a delight to read. The icing on the cake though, is the commentary that accompanies each Jataka - they are very insightful, and are as fun as reading the Jatakas themselves. My only comment about this book is that the accompanying commentaries should follow after each the Jataka, and not before. Having the commentary behind would prevent any spoilers and it is also much more productive reading the commentary only after you've read the Jataka itself. Having said that, this is a great book! I'm reading this a second time and will be recommending it to my friends. --Jean

This awesome book contains 26 retellings of the Jatakas, a collection of 547 ancient tales told by the Buddha about his former lives as the Bodhisatta (the being destined to become the Buddha.) The stories are deeply instructive, entertaining and surprisingly comical, and they shed much light on the Buddha's teaching in a format that is particularly palatable to laypeople. At times the bodhisatta appears as a merchant, a king, a bandit, a rabbit, a deer-king, a mythical snake being or the spirit of a clump of grass; other times he is reborn in a brahma heaven or even a hell. As he journeys along through this continuation of existences, his quest is to cultivate the "ten perfections" (generosity, wisdom, effort, truth, morality, patience/tolerance, loving-kindness, strong determination, renunciation and equanimity) thereby fulfilling the bodhisatta's vow to postpone his own enlightenment so that he may become a Fully Awakened Buddha and teach the path to others. We can learn much from his epic exploits, which have all the appeal of legendary adventure, but feature a hero who conquers through wisdom and kindness rather than violence--both without and within. As a practicing Vipassana meditator and layfollower of the Buddha, I have found the Jatakas to be very illuminating, but in a lighthearted way that is a relief from the more hard-line reading of the suttas. Besides wonderfully illustrating the "ten perfection" values, they show how beings fare in rebirth according to their deeds. Even those approaching the Jatakas from a non-spiritual standpoint will find them interesting as a collection of folktales that is unique in all the world: they show the hero's evolution over not just one lifetime but many. --Dylan M

What is a Jataka tale? Jataka tales are about the birth and rebirth of the Bodhisatta, who in his present and final life is the Buddha. The Buddha presents one of his past lifes and a lesson from that life to share with others to help give guidance for enlightenment. The Jataka tales are one of the oldest (composed from around the 5th century BC to about the 3rd century CE) and among the largest collection of stories (547 in all) in the world. Each story reflects one of the ten perfections - giving, restraint, renuciation, wisdom, strength, acceptance, truthfulness, resolve, loving kindness, and equanimtiy. The life of the Bodhisatta is tested in countless situations, through hundreds of lives. The Bodhisatta comes to life in many forms through the different Jataka stories. Among other reincarnations the Bodhisatta lives as many types of animals (such as a monkey, fish, horse), spirits, as a king, a prince, merchant and countless other forms. The Jatakas are still a part of the living traditions of much of South-East Asia that can be seen in art, folk tale and drama. What really makes the Jatakas so interesting and entertaining to read besides the creativity and at times great humour is the form all the stories share. There is a basic structure to the stories that once a reader has read a couple one looks forward to seeing how the next story will both share the expected structure and yet surprise in the unique set of events that unfolds. --Jetsleeper

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Book Description Penguin Books India/Penguin Classics, 2006. Softcover. Book Condition: New. When my concentrated mind was purified, I directed it to the knowledge of the recollection of past lives? ?The Buddha on the night of his enlightenment Associated with the living traditions of folk tale, drama and epic, the Jatakas recount the development of the Bodhisatta?the being destined to become the present Buddha in his final life?not just through the events of one lifetime but of hundreds. Written in Pali, the language of the Theravada Buddhist canon, the Jatakas comprise one of the largest and oldest collections of stories in the world dating from the fifth century BCE to the third century CE. Generations in South and South-East Asia have grown up with these tales. This volume contains twenty-six stories drawn from various ancient sources, and each story reflects one of the ten perfections?giving, restraint, renunciation, wisdom, strength, acceptance, truthfulness, resolve, loving kindness and equanimity. A detailed introduction elaborates on the ten perfections, explains the forms of enlightenment as well as the structure, and the historical and geographical contexts of the stories. Sarah Shaw brings to life the teachings of Buddhism for the scholar and lay reader alike. Printed Pages: 408. Bookseller Inventory # 22868

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Book Description Penguin Books India/Penguin Classics, 2006. Softcover. Book Condition: New. When my concentrated mind was purified, I directed it to the knowledge of the recollection of past livesâ â"The Buddha on the night of his enlightenment Associated with the living traditions of folk tale, drama and epic, the Jatakas recount the development of the Bodhisattaâ"the being destined to become the present Buddha in his final lifeâ"not just through the events of one lifetime but of hundreds. Written in Pali, the language of the Theravada Buddhist canon, the Jatakas comprise one of the largest and oldest collections of stories in the world dating from the fifth century BCE to the third century CE. Generations in South and South-East Asia have grown up with these tales. This volume contains twenty-six stories drawn from various ancient sources, and each story reflects one of the ten perfectionsâ"giving, restraint, renunciation, wisdom, strength, acceptance, truthfulness, resolve, loving kindness and equanimity. A detailed introduction elaborates on the ten perfections, explains the forms of enlightenment as well as the structure, and the historical and geographical contexts of the stories. Sarah Shaw brings to life the teachings of Buddhism for the scholar and lay reader alike. Printed Pages: 408. Bookseller Inventory # 22868

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