Monday 6 May 2024

What Are Jataka Tales? - Harsha Solanki

Jataka Tales

The jataka (meaning "Birth Story," "related to a birth") is a voluminous body of literature native to the Indian subcontinent which mainly concerns the previous births of Gautama Buddha in both human and animal form. Jataka stories were depicted on the railings and torans of the stupas.  According to Peter Skilling, this genre is "one of the oldest classes of Buddhist literature." Some of these texts are also considered great works of literature in their own right.

Jataka tales include an extensive cast of characters who interact and get into various kinds of trouble - whereupon the Buddha character intervenes to resolve all the problems and bring about a happy ending. The Jātaka genre is based on the idea that the Buddha could recollect all his past lives and t
hus could use these memories to tell a story and illustrate his teachings.

For the Buddhist traditions, the jātakas illustrate the many lives, acts and spiritual practices which are required on the long path to Buddhahood. They also illustrate the great qualities or perfection of the Buddha (such as generosity) and teach Buddhist moral lessons, particularly within the framework of karma and rebirth. Jātaka stories have also been illustrated in Buddhist architecture throughout the Buddhist world and they continue to be an important element in popular Buddhist art Some of the earliest such illustrations can be found at Sanchi and Bharhut.

Harsha Solanki
Grade 8
Sunbeam School & Hostel, Lahartara

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