Jātakamālā or Garland of Birth Stories
by Āryaśūra

An English translation of this famous collection of Jātaka stories, including one not found in the Pāli collection (with an embedded reading of the text).

translated by
J S Speyer
(first published 1895)




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Html Table of Contents

Preface to the Electronic Edition

Editor's Preface (by F. Max Muller)

Introduction (by J. S. Speyer)


Introductory Stanzas

1. The Story of the Tigress

2. The Story of the King of the Śibis

3. The Story of the Small Portion of Gruel

4. The Story of the Head of A Guild

5. The Story of Aviṣahya, the Head of a Guild

6. The Story of the Hare

7. The Story of Agastya

8. The Story of Maitrībala

9. The Story of Viśvantara

10. The Story of the Sacrifice

11. The Story of Sakra

12. The Story of the Brāhman

13. The Story of Unmādayantī

14. The Story of Supāraga

15. The Story of the Fish

16. The Story of the Quail's Young

17. The Story of the Jar

18. The Story of the Childless One

19. The Story of the Lotus-Stalks

20. The Story of the Treasurer

21. The Story of Cuḍḍabodhi

22. The Story of the Holy Swans

23. The Story of Mahābodhi

24. The Story of the Great Ape

25. The Story of the Śarabha

26. The Story of the Ruru-Deer

27. The Story of the Great Monkey

28. The Story of Kṣāntivādin

29. The Story of the Inhabitant of the Brahmaloka

30. The Story of the Elephant

31. The Story of Sutasoma

32. The Story of Ayogṛha

33. The Story of the Buffalo

34. The Story of the Woodpecker


Preface to the Electronic Edition

The text that follows is substantially a transcription of the translation of Jatakamālā made by J. S. Speyer and published originally in 1895 under the title Garland of Birth Stories. In preparing this edition I have made some small changes, mainly in presentation, so as to make the text more readable, which I will outline here.

These include splitting paragraphs which were very long in the original publication; removing opening quotation marks from each new paragraph when the speech is continued (an old practice now largely abandoned); reformatting for clarity, especially in regard to distinguishing between verse and prose; changing Roman numerals to the more familiar Arabic; and exchanging the written “&c.” with “and so on”, which is how I have read it in the audio recordings which accompany this text.

I have also occasionally corrected spelling mistakes found in the text, though there were very few of these; I have taken some words into the footnotes, mainly where the Sanskrit had been included in brackets; and conversely brought matter back into the text from the footnotes, when it was originally part of the text.

While reading the text in for the audio recordings it became clear that the punctuation in the original printing was sometimes quite misleading, and in the later stories I started to correct this, but I have not been as consistent as I would have liked to be.

The page numbers from the text (which is reproduced from Motilal Banarsidass’ 1990 edition) have been entered in square brackets for reference purposes.

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.

If I had more time I would like to undertake a fresh translation, or at least a revision of the present translation, but at present such a task is beyond me owing to the demands that other work places upon me, but maybe it can be accomplished at a later date.

All the stories have been read in and are being made available as audio files (mp3s), either from the html page on which the story occurs, or via the Audio page.


Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
August 2009