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Jataka Stories in Theravada Buddhism

Narrating the Bodhisatta Path

Jataka Stories in Theravada Buddhism by Naomi Appleton
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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.

Ashgate Publishing Ltd; June 2013
186 pages; ISBN 9781409481317
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Title: Jataka Stories in Theravada Buddhism
Author: Naomi Appleton
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