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Unfortunately this orthodox Buddhist belief as to the history of the Book of Birth Stories rests on a foundation of quicksand. The Buddhist belief, that most of their sacred books were in existence immediately after the Buddha’s death, is not only not supported, but is contradicted by the evidence of those books themselves. It may be necessary to state what that belief is, in order to show the importance which the Buddhists attach to the book; but in order to estimate the value we ourselves should give it, it will be necessary by critical, and more roundabout methods, to endeavour to arrive at some more reliable conclusion. Such an investigation cannot, it is true, be completed until the whole series of the Buddhist Birth Stories shall have become accessible in the original Pāli text, and the history of those stories
In the first place, the fairy tales, parables, fables, riddles, and comic and moral stories, of which the Buddhist Collection – known as the Jātaka Book – consists, have been found, in many instances, to bear a striking resemblance to similar ones current in the West. Now in many instances this resemblance is simply due to the fact that the Western stories were borrowed from the Buddhist ones.
To this resemblance much of the interest excited by the Buddhist Birth Stories is, very naturally, due. As, therefore, the stories translated in the body of this volume do not happen to contain among them any of those most generally known in England, I insert here one or two specimens which may at the same time afford some amusement, and also enable the reader to judge how far the alleged resemblances do actually exist.
It is absolutely essential for the correctness of such judgment that the stories should be presented exactly as they stand in the original. I am aware that a close and literal translation involves the disadvantage of presenting
And the Book of Birth Stories has a value quite independent of the fact that many of its tales have been transplanted to the West. It contains a record of the every-day life, and every-day thought, of the people among whom the tales were told: it is the oldest, most complete, and most important Collection of Folk-lore extant.
The whole value of its evidence in this respect would be lost, if a translator, by slight additions in some places, slight omissions in others, and slight modifications here and there, should run the risk of conveying erroneous impressions of early Buddhist beliefs, and habits, and modes of thought. It is important, therefore, that the reader should understand, before reading the stories I intend to give, that while translating sentence by sentence, rather than word by word, I have never lost sight of the importance of retaining in the English version, as far as possible, not only the phraseology, but the style and spirit of the Buddhist story-teller.
The first specimen I propose to give is a half-moral half-comic story, which runs as follows.
The Ass in the Lion’s Skin
(Fausböll, No. 189)
Once upon a time, while Brahmadatta was reigning in Benāres, the future Buddha was born one of a peasant family; and when he grew up, he gained his living by tilling the ground.
At that time a hawker used to go from place to place, trafficking in goods carried by an ass. Now at each place he came to, when he took the pack down from the ass’s back, he used to clothe him in a lion’s skin, and turn him loose in the rice and barley-fields. And when the watchmen in the fields saw the ass, they dared not go near him, taking him for a lion.
So one day the hawker stopped in a village; and whilst he was getting his own breakfast cooked, he dressed the ass in a lion’s skin, and turned him loose in a barley-field. The watchmen in the field dared not go up to him; but going home, they published the news. Then all the villagers came out with weapons in their hands; and blowing chanks, and beating drums, they went near the field and shouted. Terrified with the fear of death, the ass uttered a cry – the cry of an ass!
Ana when he knew him then to be an ass, the future Buddha pronounced the First Stanza:
“This is not a lion’s roaring,
Nor a tiger’s, nor a panther’s; Dressed in a lion’s skin, ’Tis a wretched ass that roars!”
But when the villagers knew the creature to be an ass, they beat him till his bones broke; and, carrying off the lion’s skin, went away. Then the hawker came; and seeing the ass fallen into so bad a plight, pronounced the Second Stanza:
“Long might the ass,
Clad in a lion’s skin,
Have fed on the barley green.
But he brayed!
And that moment he came to ruin.”
And even whilst he was yet speaking the ass died on the spot!
This story will doubtless sound familiar enough to English ears; for a similar tale is found in our modern collections of so-called ‘Æsop’s Fables.’ James’s ‘Æsop’s Fables’ (London, Murray, 1852), p. 111; La Fontaine, Book v. No. 21; Æsop (in Greek text, ed. Furia, 141, 262; ed. Coriæ, 113); Babrius (Lewis, vol. ii. p. 43). Professor Benfey has further traced it in mediæval French, German, Turkish, and Indian literature. Benfey’s Pantscha Tantra, Book iv., No. 7, in the note on which, at vol. i. p. 462, he refers to Halm, p. 333; Robert, in the ‘Fables inédites du Moyen Age’, i. p. 360; and the Turkish Tūtī-nāmah (Rosen, vol. ii. p. 149). In India it is found also in the Northern Buddhist Collection called Kathā Sarit Sāgara, by Somadeva; and in Hitopadesa (iii. 2, Max Müller, p. 110). But it may have been much older than any of these books; for the fable possibly gave rise to a proverb of which we find traces among the Greeks as early as the time of Plato. Kratylos, 411 (ed. Tauchnitz, ii. 275). Lucian gives the fable in full, localizing it
The reader will notice that the ‘moral’ of the tale
The introduction of the human element takes this story, perhaps, out of the class of fables in the most exact sense of that word. I therefore add a story containing a fable proper, where animals speak and act like men.
The Talkative Tortoise
(Fausböll, No. 215)
Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benāres, the future Buddha was born in a minister’s family; and when he grew up, he became the king’s adviser in things temporal and spiritual.
Now this king was very talkative: while he was speaking, others had no opportunity for a word. And the future Buddha, wanting to cure this talkativeness of his, was constantly seeking for some means of doing so.
At that time there was living, in a pond in the Himālaya mountains, a tortoise. Two young haṁsas (i.e. wild ducks Pronounced hangsa, often rendered swan, a favourite bird in Indian tales, and constantly represented in Buddhist carvings. It is the original Golden Goose. See below, p. 294, and Jātaka No. 136.) who came to feed there, made friends with him. And one day, when they had become very intimate with him, they said to the tortoise –
“Friend tortoise! the place where we live, at the Golden Cave on Mount Beautiful in the Himālaya country, is a delightful spot. Will you come there with us?”
“But how can I get there?”
“We can take you, if you can only hold your tongue, and will say nothing to anybody.” There is an old story of a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, who inherited a family living. He went in great trouble to Dr. Routh, the Head of his College, saying that he doubted whether he could hold, at the same time, the Living and the Fellowship. “You can hold anything,” was the reply, “if you can only hold your tongue.” And he held all three.
“O! that I can do. Take me with you.”
“That’s right,” said they. And making the tortoise bite hold of a stick, they themselves took the two ends in their teeth, and flew up into the air. In the Vinīla Jātaka (No. 160) they similarly carry a crow to the Himālaya mountains.
Seeing him thus carried by the haṁsas, some villagers called out, “Two wild ducks are carrying a tortoise along on a stick!” Whereupon the tortoise wanted to say, “If my friends choose to carry me, what is that to you, you wretched slaves!” So just as the swift flight of the wild ducks had brought him over the king’s palace in the city of Benāres, he let go of the stick he was biting, and falling in the open courtyard, split in two! And there arose a universal cry, “A tortoise has fallen in the open courtyard, and has split in two!”
The king, taking the future Buddha, went to the place, surrounded by his courtiers; and looking at the tortoise, he asked the Bodhisatta, “Teacher! how comes he to be fallen here?”
The future Buddha thought to himself, “Long expecting, wishing to admonish the king, have I sought for some means of doing so. This tortoise must have made friends with the wild ducks; and they must have made him bite hold of the stick, and have flown up into the air to take him to the hills. But he, being unable to hold his tongue when he hears any one else talk, must have wanted to say something, and let go the stick; and so must have fallen down from the sky, and thus lost his life.” And saying, “Truly, O king! those who are called chatter-boxes – people whose words have no end – come to grief like this,” he uttered these Verses:
“Verily the tortoise killed himself
Whilst uttering his voice;
Though he was holding tight the stick,
By a word himself he slew.
“Behold him then, O excellent by strength!
And speak wise words, not out of season.
You see how, by his talking overmuch,
The tortoise fell into this wretched plight!”
The king saw that he was himself referred to, and said, “O Teacher! are you speaking of us?”
And the Bodhisatta spake openly, and said, “O great king! be it thou, or be it any other, whoever talks beyond measure meets with some mishap like this.”
And the king henceforth refrained himself, and became a man of few words.
This story too is found also in Greek, Latin, Arabic, Persian, and in most European languages, Pantscha Tantra, vol. i. p. 13, where Professor Benfey (i. 239-241) traces also the later versions in different languages. He mentions Wolff’s German translation of the Kalilah and Dimnah, vol. i. p. 91; Knatchbull’s English version, p. 146; Simeon Seth’s Greek version, p. 28; John of Capua’s Directorium Humanæ Vitæ, D. 5 b.; the German translation of this last (Ulm, 1483), F. viii. 6; the Spanish translation, xix a.; Firenzuola, 65; Doni, 93; Anvār i Suhaili, p. 159; Le Livre des Lumières (1664, 8vo.), 124; Le Cabinet des Fées, xvii. 309. See also Contes et Fables Indiennes de Bidpai et de Lokman, ii. 112; La Fontaine, x. 3, where the ducks fly to America (!); and Bickell’s ‘Kalilag und Dimnag,’ p. 24. In India it is found in Somadeva, and in the Hitopadesa, iv. 2 (Max Müller, p. 125). See also Julien, i. 71. though, strangely enough, it does not occur in our books of Æsop’s Fables. But in the ‘Æsop’s Fables’ is usually included a story of a tortoise who asked an eagle to teach him to fly; and being dropped, split into two! This version is found in Babrius (Lewis, i. 122); Phædrus, ii. 7 and vii. 14 (Orelli, 55, 128); and in the Æsopæan collections (Fur. 193; Coriæ, 61) and in Abstemius, 108. It is worthy of notice that in the Southern recension of the Pañca Tantra it is eagles, and not wild ducks or swans, who carry the tortoise; Dubois, p. 109. and there can, I think, be little doubt that the two fables are historically connected.
Another fable, very familiar to modern readers, is stated in the commentary to have been first related in ridicule of a kind of Mutual Admiration Society existing among the opponents of the Buddha. Hearing the monks talking about the foolish way in which Devadatta and Kokālika went about among the people ascribing each to the other virtues which neither possessed, he is said to have told this tale.
The Jackal and the Crow
(Fausböll, No. 294)
Long, long ago, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benāres, the Bodhisatta had come to life as a tree-god, dwelling in a certain grove of Jambu-trees.
Now a crow was sitting there one day on the branch of a Jambu-tree, eating the Jambu-fruits, when a jackal coming by, looked up and saw him.
“Ha!” thought he. “I’ll flatter that fellow, and get some of those Jambus to eat.” And thereupon he uttered this verse in his praise:
“Who may this be, whose rich and pleasant notes
Proclaim him best of all the singing-birds?
Warbling so sweetly on the Jambu-branch,
Where like a peacock he sits firm and grand!”
Then the crow, to pay him back his compliments, replied in this second verse:
“ ’Tis a well-bred young gentleman, who understands
To speak of gentlemen in terms polite!
Good Sir! – whose shape and glossy coat reveal
The tiger’s offspring – eat of these, I pray!”
And so saying, he shook the branch of the Jambu-tree till he made the fruit to fall.
But when the god who dwelt in that tree saw the two of them, now they had done flattering one another, eating the Jambus together, he uttered a third verse:
“Too long, forsooth, I’ve borne the sight
Of these poor chatterers of lies –
The refuse-eater and the offal-eater
Belauding each other!”
And making himself visible in awful shape, he frightened them away from the place!
It is easy to understand, that when this story had been carried out of those countries where the crow and the jackal are the common scavengers, it would lose its point; and it may very well, therefore, have been shortened into the fable of the Fox and the Crow and the piece of cheese. On the other hand, the latter is so complete and excellent a story, that it would scarcely have been expanded, if it had been the original, into the tale of the Jackal and the Crow. See La Fontaine, Book i. No. 2, and the current collections of Æsop’s Fables (e.g. James’s edition, p. 136). It should be added that the Jambu-khādaka-saṁyutta in the Saṁyutta Nikāya has nothing to do with our fable. The Jambu-eater of that story is an ascetic, who lives on Jambus, and is converted by a discussion on Nirvāna.
The next tale to be quoted is one showing how a wise man solves a difficulty. I am sorry that Mr. Fausböll has not yet reached this Jātaka in his edition of the Pāli text; but I give it from a Sinhalese version of the fourteenth century, which is nearer to the Pāli than any other as yet known. The Sinhalese text will be found in the ‘Sidat Saṅgarāwa,’ p. clxxvii. It is an episode in
The Birth as ‘Great Physician’ Literally ‘the great medicine.’ The Bodhisatta of that time received this name because he was born with a powerful drug in his hand, – an omen of the cleverness in device by which, when he grew up, he delivered people from their misfortunes. Compare my ‘Buddhism,’ p. 187.
A woman, carrying her child, went to the future Buddha’s tank to wash. And having first bathed the child, she put on her upper garment and descended into the water to bathe herself.
Then a Yakṣiṇī, The Yakṣas, products of witchcraft and cannibalism, are beings of magical power, who feed on human flesh. The male Yakṣa occupies in Buddhist stories a position similar to that of the wicked genius in the Arabian Nights; the female Yakṣiṇī, who occurs more frequently, usually plays the part of siren. seeing the child, had a craving to eat it. And taking the form of a woman, she drew near, and asked the mother –
“Friend, this is a very pretty child, is it one of yours?”
And when she was told it was, she asked if she might nurse it. And this being allowed, she nursed it a little, and then carried it off.
But when the mother saw this, she ran after her, and cried out, “Where are you taking my child to?” and caught hold of her.
The Yakṣiṇī boldly said, “Where did you get the child from? It is mine!” And so quarrelling, they passed the door of the future Buddha’s Judgment Hall.
He heard the noise, sent for them, inquired into the matter, and asked them whether they would abide by his
But as soon as they pulled at him, the mother, seeing how he suffered, grieved as if her heart would break. And letting him go, she stood there weeping.
Then the future Buddha asked the bystanders, “Whose hearts are tender to babes? those who have borne children, or those who have not?”
And they answered, “O Sire! the hearts of mothers are tender.”
Then he said, “Whom think you is the mother? she who has the child in her arms, or she who has let go?”
And they answered, “She who has let go is the mother.”
And he said, “Then do you all think that the other was the thief?”
And they answered, “Sire! we cannot tell.”
And he said, “Verily this is a Yakṣiṇī, who took the child to eat it.”
And they asked, “O Sire! how did you know it?”
And he replied, “Because her eyes winked not, and were red, and she knew no fear, and had no pity, I knew it.”
And so saying, he demanded of the thief, “Who are you?”
And she said, “Lord! I am a Yakṣiṇī.”
And he asked, “Why did you take away this child?”
And she said, “I thought to eat him, O my Lord!”
And he rebuked her, saying, “O foolish woman! For your former sins you have been born a Yakṣiṇī, and now
But the mother of the child exalted the future Buddha, and said, “O my Lord! O Great Physician! may thy life be long!” And she went away, with her babe clasped to her bosom.
The Hebrew story, in which a similar judgment is ascribed to Solomon, occurs in the Book of Kings, which is more than a century older than the time of Gotama. We shall consider below what may be the connexion between the two.
The next specimen is a tale about lifeless things endowed with miraculous powers; perhaps the oldest tale in the world of that kind which has been yet published. It is an episode in
(Fausböll, No. 186)
Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benāres, four brothers, Brāhmans, of that kingdom, devoted themselves to an ascetic life; and having built themselves huts at equal distances in the region of the Himālaya mountains, took up their residence there.
The eldest of them died, and was reborn as the god Sakka. Not quite the same as Jupiter. Sakka is a very harmless and gentle kind of a god, not a jealous god, nor given to lasciviousness or spite. Neither is he immortal: he dies from time to time; and, if he has behaved well, is reborn under happy conditions. Meanwhile somebody else, usually one of the sons of men who has deserved it, succeeds, for a hundred thousand years or so, to his name and place and glory. Sakka can call to mind his experiences in his former birth, a gift in which he surpasses most other beings. He was also given to a kind of practical joking, by which he tempted people, and has become a mere beneficent fairy. When he became aware of this, he used to go and render help at intervals every seven or eight days to the others. And one day, having greeted the eldest hermit, and sat down beside him, he asked him, “Reverend Sir, what are you in need of?”
The hermit, who suffered from jaundice, answered, “I want fire!” So he gave him a double-edged hatchet.
But the hermit said, “Who is to take this, and bring me firewood?”
Then Sakka spake thus to him, “Whenever, reverend Sir, you want firewood, you should let go the hatchet from your hand, and say, ‘Please fetch me firewood: make me fire!’ And it will do so.”
So he gave him the hatchet; and went to the second hermit, and asked, “Reverend Sir, what are you in need of?”
Now the elephants had made a track for themselves close to his hut. And he was annoyed by those elephants, and said, “I am much troubled by elephants; drive them away.”
Sakka, handing him a drum, said, “Reverend Sir, if you strike on this side of it, your enemies will take to flight; but if you strike on this side, they will become friendly, and surround you on all sides with an army in fourfold array.” That is, infantry, cavalry, chariots of war, and elephants of war. Truly a useful kind of present to give to a pious hermit!
So he gave him the drum; and went to the third hermit, and asked, “Reverend Sir, what are you in need of?”
He was also affected with jaundice, and said, therefore, “I want sour milk.”
Sakka gave him a milk-bowl, and said, “If you wish for anything, and turn this bowl over, it will become a great river, and pour out such a torrent, that it will be able to take a kingdom, and give it to you.”
And Sakka went away. But thenceforward the hatchet made fire for the eldest hermit; when the second struck one side of his drum, the elephants ran away; and the third enjoyed his curds.
Now at that time a wild boar, straying in a forsaken village, saw a gem of magical power. When he seized this in his mouth, he rose by its magic into the air, and went to an island in the midst of the ocean. And thinking, “Here now I ought to live,” he descended, and took up his abode in a convenient spot under an Udumbara-tree. And one day, placing the gem before him, he fell asleep at the foot of the tree.
Now a certain man of the Land of Kāsi had been expelled from home by his parents, who said, “This fellow is of no use to us.” So he went to a seaport, and embarked in a ship as a servant to the sailors. And the ship was wrecked; but by the help of a plank he reached that very island. And while he was looking about for fruits, he saw the boar asleep; and going softly up, he took hold of the gem.
Then by its magical power he straightway rose right up into the air! So, taking a seat on the Udumbara-tree, he said to himself, “Methinks this boar must have become
So he broke a twig off the tree, and dropped it on his head. The boar woke up, and not seeing the gem, ran about, trembling, this way and that way. The man seated on the tree laughed. The boar, looking up, saw him, and dashing his head against the tree, died on the spot.
But the man descended, cooked his flesh, ate it, and rose into the air. And as he was passing along the summit of the Himālaya range, he saw a hermitage; and descending at the hut of the eldest hermit, he stayed there two or three days, and waited on the hermit; and thus became aware of the magic power of the hatchet.
“I must get that,” thought he. And he showed the hermit the magic power of his gem, and said, “Sir, do you take this, and give me your hatchet.” The ascetic, full of longing to be able to fly through the air, The power of going through the air is usually considered in Indian legends to be the result, and a proof, of great holiness and long-continued penance. So the hermit thought he would get a fine reputation cheaply. did so. But the man, taking the hatchet, went a little way off, and letting it go, said, “O hatchet! cut off that hermit’s head, and bring the gem to me!” And it went, and cut off the hermit’s head, and brought him the gem.
Then he put the hatchet in a secret place, and went to the second hermit, and stayed there a few days. And having thus become aware of the magic power of the drum, he exchanged the gem for the drum; and cut off his head too in the same way as before.
Then he went to the third hermit, and saw the magic power of the milk-bowl; and exchanging the gem for it, caused his head to be cut off in the same manner. And taking the Gem, and the Hatchet, and the Drum, and the Milk-bowl, he flew away up into the air.
Not far from the city of Benāres he stopped, and sent by the hand of a man a letter to the king of Benāres to this effect, “Either do battle, or give me up your kingdom!”
No sooner had he heard that message, than the king sallied forth, saying, “Let us catch the scoundrel!”
But the man beat one side of his drum, and a fourfold army stood around him! And directly he saw that the king’s army was drawn out in battle array, he poured out his milk-bowl; and a mighty river arose, and the multitude, sinking down in it, were not able to escape! Then letting go the hatchet, he said, “Bring me the king’s head!” And the hatchet went, and brought the king’s head, and threw it at his feet; and no one had time even to raise a weapon!
Then he entered the city in the midst of his great army, and caused himself to be anointed king, under the name of Dadhivāhana (The Lord of Milk), and governed the kingdom with righteousness. Compare Mahā-bhārata, xii. 1796.
The story goes on to relate how the king planted a wonderful mango, how the sweetness of its fruit turned to sourness through the too-close proximity of bitter
In this curious tale the Hatchet, the Drum, and the Milk-bowl are endowed with qualities much more fit for the use they were put to in the latter part of the story, than to satisfy the wants of the hermits. It is common ground with satirists how little, save sorrow, men would gain if they could have anything they chose to ask for. But, unlike the others we have quoted, the tale in its present shape has a flavour distinctively Buddhist in the irreverent way in which it treats the great god Sakka, the Jupiter of the pre-Buddhistic Hindus. It takes for granted, too, that the hero ruled in righteousness
This last idea recurs more strongly in the Birth Story called
A Lesson for Kings
(Fausböll, No. 151)
Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benāres, the future Buddha returned to life in the womb of his chief queen; and after the conception ceremony had been performed, he was safely born. And when the day came for choosing a name, they called him Prince Brahmadatta. He grew up in due course; and when he was sixteen years old, went to Takkasilā, This is the well-known town in the Panjāb called by the Greeks Taxila, and famed in Buddhist legend as the great university of ancient India, as Nālanda was in later times. and became accomplished in all arts. And after his father died he ascended the throne, and ruled the kingdom with righteousness and equity. He gave judgments without partiality, hatred, ignorance, or fear. Literally “without partiality and the rest,” that is, the rest of the agatis, the actions forbidden to judges (and to kings as judges). Since he thus reigned with justice, with justice also his ministers administered the law. Lawsuits being thus decided with justice, there were none who brought false cases. And as these ceased, the noise and tumult of litigation ceased in the king’s court. Though the judges sat all day in
Then the future Buddha thought, “From my reigning with righteousness there are none who come for judgment; the bustle has ceased, and the Hall of Justice will have to be closed. It behoves me, therefore, now to examine into my own faults; and if I find that anything is wrong in me, to put that away, and practise only virtue.”
Thenceforth he sought for some one to tell him his faults; but among those around him he found no one who would tell him of any fault, but heard only his own praise.
Then he thought, “It is from fear of me that these men speak only good things, and not evil things,” and he sought among those people who lived outside the palace. And finding no fault-finder there, he sought among those who lived outside the city, in the suburbs, at the four gates. The gates opening towards the four “directions,” that is, the four cardinal points of the compass. And there too finding no one to find fault, and hearing only his own praise, he determined to search the country places.
So he made over the kingdom to his ministers, and mounted his chariot; and taking only his charioteer, left the city in disguise. And searching the country through, up to the very boundary, he found no fault-finder, and heard only of his own virtue; and so he turned back from the outermost boundary, and returned by the high road towards the city.
Now at that time the king of Kosala, Mallika by name,
Then the charioteer of Mallika the king said to the charioteer of the king of Benāres, “Take thy chariot out of the way!”
But he said, “Take thy chariot out of the way, O charioteer! In this chariot sitteth the lord over the kingdom of Benāres, the great king Brahmadatta.”
Yet the other replied, “In this chariot, O charioteer, sitteth the lord over the kingdom of Kosala, the great king Mallika. Take thy carriage out of the way, and make room for the chariot of our king!”
Then the charioteer of the king of Benāres thought, “They say then that he too is a king! What is now to be done?” After some consideration, he said to himself, “I know a way. I’ll find out how old he is, and then I’ll let the chariot of the younger be got out of the way, and so make room for the elder.”
And when he had arrived at that conclusion, he asked that charioteer what the age of the king of Kosala was. But on inquiry he found that the ages of both were equal. Then he inquired about the extent of his kingdom, and about his army, and his wealth, and his renown, and about the country he lived in, and his caste and tribe and family. And he found that both were lords of a kingdom three hundred leagues in extent; and that in respect of army and wealth and renown, and the countries in which
Then he thought, “I will make way for the most righteous.” And he asked, “What kind of righteousness has this king of yours?”
And the other saying, “Such and such is our king’s righteousness,” and so proclaiming his king’s wickedness as goodness, uttered the First Stanza:
The strong he overthrows by strength,
The mild by mildness, does Mallika;
The good he conquers by goodness,
And the wicked by wickedness too.
Such is the nature of this king!
Move out of the way, O charioteer!
But the charioteer of the king of Benāres asked him, “Well, have you told all the virtues of your king?”
“Yes,” said the other.
“If these are his virtues, where are then his faults?” replied he.
The other said, “Well, for the nonce, they shall be faults, if you like! But pray, then, what is the kind of goodness your king has?”
And then the charioteer of the king of Benāres called unto him to hearken, and uttered the Second Stanza:
Anger he conquers by calmness,
And by goodness the wicked;
The stingy he conquers by gifts,
And by truth the speaker of lies.
Such is the nature of this king!
Move out of the way, O charioteer!”
And when he had thus spoken, both Mallika, the king
But the king of Benāres exhorted Mallika the king, saying, “Thus and thus is it right to do.” And returning to Benāres, he practised charity, and did other good deeds, and so when his life was ended he passed away to heaven.
And Mallika the king took his exhortation to heart; and having in vain searched the country through for a fault-finder, he too returned to his own city, and practised charity and other good deeds; and so at the end of his life he went to heaven.
The mixture in this Jātaka of earnestness with dry humour is very instructive. The exaggeration in the earlier part of the story; the hint that law depends in reality on false cases; the suggestion that to decide cases justly would by itself put an end, not only to ‘the block in the law courts,’ but even to all lawsuits; the way in which it is brought about that two mighty kings should meet, unattended, in a narrow lane; the cleverness of the first charioteer in getting out of his difficulties; the brand-new method of settling the delicate question of precedence – a method which, logically carried out, would destroy the necessity of such questions being raised at all; – all this is the amusing side of the
But none the less also is the story-teller thoroughly in earnest; he really means that justice is noble, that to conquer evil by good is the right thing, and that goodness is the true measure of greatness. The object is edification also, and not amusement only. The lesson itself is quite Buddhistic. The first four lines of the Second Moral are indeed included, as verse 223, in the Dhammapada or ‘Scripture Verses,’ perhaps the most sacred and most widely-read book of the Buddhist Bible; and the distinction between the two ideals of virtue is in harmony with all Buddhist ethics. It is by no means, however, exclusively Buddhistic. It gives expression to an idea that would be consistent with most of the later religions; and is found also in the great Hindu Epic, the Mahā Bhārata, which has been called the Bible of the Hindus. Mahā Bhārata, v. 1518. Another passage at iii. 13253 is very similar. It is true that further on in the same poem is found the opposite sentiment, attributed in our story to the king of Mallika; Mahā Bhārata, xii. 4052. See Dr. Muir’s “Metrical Translations from Sanskrit Writers” (1879), pp. xxxi, 88, 275, 356. and that the higher teaching is in one of the latest portions of the Mahā Bhārata, and
It is to be regretted that some writers on Buddhism have been led away by their just admiration for the noble teaching of Gotama into an unjust depreciation of the religious system of which his own was, after all, but the highest product and result. There were doubtless among the Brāhmans uncompromising advocates of the worst privileges of caste, of the most debasing belief in the efficacy of rites and ceremonies; but this verse is only one among many others which are incontestable evidence of the wide prevalence also of a spirit of justice, and of an earnest seeking after truth. It is, in fact, inaccurate to draw any hard-and-fast line between the Indian Buddhists and their countrymen of other faiths. After the first glow of the Buddhist reformation had passed away, there was probably as little difference between Buddhist and Hindu as there was between the two kings in the story which has just been told.
The Kalilag and Damnag Literature
The oldest of the collections now extant is the one already referred to, the
These tales, though originally Buddhist, became great favourites among the Arabs; and as the Arabs were gradually brought into contact with Europeans, and penetrated into the South of Europe, they brought the stories with them; and we soon afterwards find them translated into Western tongues. It would be impossible within the limits of this preface to set out in full detail the intricate literary history involved in this statement; and while I must refer the student to the Tables appended to this Introduction for fuller information, I can only give here a short summary of the principal facts.
It is curious to notice that it was the Jews to whom we owe the earliest versions. Whilst their mercantile pursuits took them much amongst the followers of the Prophet, and the comparative nearness of their religious beliefs led to a freer intercourse than was usually possible between Christians and Moslems, they were naturally attracted by a kind of literature such as this – Oriental in morality, amusing in style, and perfectly free from Christian legend and from Christian dogma. It was also the kind of literature which travellers would most easily become acquainted with, and we need not therefore be surprised to hear that a Jew, named Symeon Seth, about 1080 A.D., made the first translation into a European language, viz. into modern Greek. Another
The title of the second Latin version just mentioned is very striking – it is “Æsop the Old.” To the translator, Baldo, it evidently seemed quite in order to ascribe these new stories to the traditional teller of similar stories in ancient times; just as witty sayings of more modern times have been collected into books ascribed to the once venerable Joe Miller. Baldo was neither sufficiently enlightened to consider a good story the worse for being an old one, nor sufficiently scrupulous to hesitate at giving his new book the advantage it would gain from its connexion with a well-known name.
Is it true, then, that the so-called Æsop’s Fables – so popular still, in spite of many rivals, among our Western children – are merely adaptations from tales invented long ago to please and to instruct the childlike people of the East? I think I can give an answer, though not a complete answer, to the question.
Æsop himself is several times mentioned in classical literature, and always as the teller of stories or fables. Thus Plato says that Socrates in his imprisonment occupied himself by turning the stories (literally myths) of Æsop into verse: Phædo, p. 61. Comp. Bentley, Dissertation on the Fables of Æsop, p. 136. Aristophanes four times refers to his tales: Vespæ, 566, 1259, 1401, and foll.; and Aves, 651 and foll. and Aristotle quotes in one form a fable of his, which Lucian quotes in another. Arist. de part. anim., iii. 2; Lucian Nigr., 32. In accordance with these references, classical historians fix the date of Æsop in the sixth century B.C.; Herodotus (ii. 134) makes him contemporary with King Amasis of Egypt, the beginning of whose reign is placed in 569 B.C.; Plutarch (Sept. Sap. Conv., 152) makes him contemporary with Solon, who is reputed to have been born in 638 B.C.; and Diogenes Laertius (i. 72) says that he flourished about the fifty-second Olympiad, i.e. 572-569 B.C. Compare Clinton, Fast. Hell. i. 237 (under the year B.C. 572) and i. 239 (under B.C. 534). but some modern critics, relying on the vagueness and inconsistency of the traditions, have denied his existence altogether. This is, perhaps, pushing scepticism too far; but it may be admitted that he left no written works, and it is quite certain that if he did, they have been irretrievably lost.
Notwithstanding this, a learned monk of Constantinople, named
Whence then did Planudes and his fellow-labourers draw their tales? This cannot be completely answered till the source of each one of them shall have been clearly found, and this has not yet been completely done. But Oriental and classical scholars have already traced a goodly number of them; and the general results of their investigations may be shortly stated.
It is possible, also, that the Æsopean fables of the Latin poet Phædrus, who in the title of his work calls himself a freedman of Augustus, were known to Planudes. But the work of Phædrus, which is based on that of Babrius, existed only in very rare MSS. till the end of the sixteenth century, It was first edited by Pithou, in 1596; also by Orelli, Zürich, 1831. Comp. Oesterley, ‘Phædrus und die Æsop. Fabel im Mittelalter.’ and may therefore have easily escaped the notice of Planudes.
On the other hand, we have seen that versions of Buddhist Birth Stories, and other Indian tales, had appeared in Europe before the time of Planudes in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Spanish; and many of his stories have been clearly traced back to this source. By Silvestre de Sacy, in his edition of Kalilah and Dimnah, Paris, 1816; Loiseleur Deslongchamps, in his ‘Essai sur les Fables Indiennes, et sur leur Introd. en Europe,’ Paris, 1838; Professor Benfey, in his edition of the Pañca Tantra, Leipzig, 1859; Professor Max Müller, ‘On the Migration of Fables,’ Contemporary Review, July, 1870; Professor Weber, ‘Ueber den Zusammenhang indischer Fabeln mit Griechischen,’ Indische Studien, iii. 337 and foll.; Adolf Wagener, ‘Essai sur les rapports entre les apologues de l’Inde et de la Grèce,’ 1853; Otto Keller, ‘Ueber die Geschichte der Griechischen Fabeln,’ 1862. Further, as I shall presently show, some of the fables of Babrius and Phædrus, found in Planudes, were possibly derived by those authors from Buddhist sources. And lastly, other versions of the Jātakas, besides those which have been mentioned as coming through the Arabs, had reached Europe long before the time of Planudes; and some more of his stories have been traced back to Buddhist sources through these channels also.
What is at present known, then, with respect to the so-called Æsop’s fables, amounts to this – that none of them are really Æsopean at all; that the collection was first formed in the Middle Ages; that a large number of them have been already traced back, in various ways, to our Buddhist Jātaka book; and that almost the whole of them are probably derived, in one way or another, from Indian sources.
It is perhaps worthy of mention, as a fitting close to the history of the so-called Æsop’s Fables, that those of his stories which Planudes borrowed indirectly from India have at length been restored to their original home, and bid fair to be popular even in this much-altered form. For not only has an Englishman translated a few of them into several of the many languages spoken in the great continent of India, J. Gilchrist, ‘The Oriental Fabulist, or Polyglot Translations of Æsop’s and other Ancient Fables from the English Language into Hindustani, Persian, Arabic, Bhakka, Bongla, Sanscrit, etc., in the Roman Character,’ Calcutta, 1803. but Narāyan Balkriṣṇa Godpole, B.A., one of the Masters of the Government High School at Ahmadnagar, has lately published a second edition of his translation into Sanskrit of the common English version of the successful spurious compilation of the old monk of Constantinople!
The Barlaam and Josaphat Literature
A complete answer to the question with which the last digression started can only be given when each one of the two hundred and thirty-one fables of Planudes and his successors shall have been traced back to its original author. But – whatever that complete answer may be – the discoveries just pointed out are at least most strange and most instructive. And yet, if I mistake not, the history of the Jātaka Book contains hidden amongst its details a fact more unexpected and more striking still.
In the eighth century the Khalif of Bagdad was that Almansur at whose court was written the Arabic book Kalilah and Dimnah, afterwards translated by the learned Jews I have mentioned into Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. A Christian, high in office at his court, afterwards became a monk, and is well known, under the name of St. John of Damascus, as the author in Greek of many theological works in defence of the orthodox faith. Among these is a religious romance called ‘Barlaam and Jōasaph,’ giving the history of an Indian prince who was converted by Barlaam and became a hermit. This history, the reader will be surprised to learn, is taken from the life of the Buddha; and Joasaph is merely the Buddha under another name, the word Joasaph, or Josaphat, being
This book, the first religious romance published in a Western language, became very popular indeed, and, like the Arabic Kalilah and Dimnah, was translated into many other European languages. It exists in Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, German, English, Swedish, and Dutch. This will show how widely it was read, and how much its moral tone pleased the taste of the Middle Ages. It was also translated as early as 1204 into Icelandic, and has even been published in the Spanish dialect used in the Philippine Islands!
Now it was a very ancient custom among Christians to recite at the most sacred part of their most sacred service (in the so-called Canon of the Mass, immediately
For a long time it was permitted to the local ecclesiastics to continue the custom of inserting such names in their ‘Diptychs,’ but about 1170 a decretal of Pope Alexander III confined the power of canonization, as far as the Roman Catholics were concerned, Decret. Greg., Lib. iii. Tit. xlvi., confirmed and explained by decrees of Urban VIII. (13th March, 1625, and 5th July, 1634) and of Alexander VII. (1659). to the Pope himself. From the different Diptychs various martyrologies, or lists of persons so to be commemorated in the ‘Canon,’ were composed to supply the place of the merely local lists or Diptychs. For as time went on, it began to be considered more and more improper
Where and when they were first canonized, I have been unable, in spite of much investigation, to ascertain. Petrus de Natalibus, who was Bishop of Equilium,
In the corresponding manual of worship still used in the Greek Church, however, we find, under August 26, the name ‘of the holy Iosaph, son of Abenēr, king of India.’ p. 160 of the part for the month of August of the authorized Μηναῖον of the Greek Church, published at Constantinople, 1843: “Toῖ ὁsίou Ἰωάσαφ, υἱοῦ Ἀβενὴρ τοῦ βασιλέως τῆς Ἰνδίας.” Barlaam is not mentioned, and is not therefore recognized as a saint in the Greek Church. No history is added to the simple statement I have quoted; and I do not know on what authority it rests. But there is no doubt that it is in the East, and probably among the records of the ancient church of Syria, that a final solution of this question should be sought. For the information in the last three pages I am chiefly indebted to my father, the Rev. T. W. Davids, without whose generous aid I should not have attempted to touch this obscure and difficult question.
Some of the more learned of the numerous writers
I have now followed the Western history of the Buddhist Book of Birth Stories along two channels only. Space would fail me, and the reader’s patience perhaps too, if I attempted to do more. But I may mention that the inquiry is not by any means exhausted. A learned Italian has proved that a good many of the stories of the hero known throughout Europe as Sinbad the Sailor are derived from the same inexhaustible treasury of stories witty and wise; Comparetti, ‘Ricerche intorne al Libro di Sindibad,’ Milano 1869. Compare Landsberger, ‘Die Fabeln des Sophos,’ Posen, 1859. and a
There is only one other point on which a few words should be said. I have purposely chosen as specimens one Buddhist Birth Story similar to the Judgment of Solomon; two which are found also in Babrius; and one which is found also in Phædrus. How are these similarities, on which the later history of Indian Fables throws no light, to be explained?
As regards the cases of Babrius and Phædrus, it can only be said that the Greeks who travelled with Alexander to India may have taken the tales there, but they may equally well have brought them back. We only know that at the end of the fourth, and still more in the third century before Christ, there was constant travelling to and fro between the Greek dominions in the East and the adjoining parts of India, which were then Buddhist, and that the Birth Stories were already popular among the Buddhists in Afghanistan, where the Greeks remained for a long time. Indeed, the very region which became the seat of the Græco-Bactrian kings takes, in all the Northern versions of the Birth Stories, the place occupied by the country of Kāsi in the Pāli text, – so that the scene of the tales is laid in that district. And among the innumerable Buddhist remains still existing there, a large number are connected with the Birth Stories. The legend of Sumedha’s self-abnegation (see below, pp. 11-13) is laid near Jelāhabad; and Mr. William Simpson has discovered on the spot two bas-reliefs representing the principal incident in the legend. It is also in this very
The case of Solomon’s judgment is somewhat different. If there were only one fable in Babrius or Phædrus identical with a Buddhist Birth Story, we should suppose merely that the same idea had occurred to two different minds; and there would thus be no necessity to postulate any historical connexion. Now the similarity of the two judgments stands, as far as I know, in complete isolation; and the story is not so curious but that two writers may have hit upon the same idea. At the same time, it is just possible that when the Jews were in Babylon they may have told, or heard, the story.
Had we met with this story in a book unquestionably later than the Exile, we might suppose that they heard the story there; that some one repeating it had ascribed the judgment to King Solomon, whose great wisdom was a common tradition among them; and that it had thus been included in their history of that king. But we find it in the Book of Kings, which is usually assigned to the time of Jeremiah, who died during the Exile; and it should be remembered that the chronicle in question was based for the most part on traditions current much earlier among the Jewish people, and probably on earlier documents.
If, on the other hand, they told it there, we may expect to find some evidence of the fact in the details of the story as preserved in the Buddhist story-books current in the North of India, and more especially in the Buddhist countries bordering on Persia. Now Dr. Dennys, in his ‘Folklore of China,’ has given us a Chinese Buddhist version of a similar judgment, which is most probably derived from a Northern Buddhist Sanskrit original; and though this version is very late, and differs so much in its details from those of both the Pāli and Hebrew tales that it affords no basis itself for argument, it yet holds out the hope that we may discover further evidence of a decisive character. This hope is confirmed by the occurrence of a similar tale in
I should perhaps point out another way in which this tale may possibly be supposed to have wandered from the Jews to the Buddhists, or from India to the Jews. The land of Ophir was probably in India. The Hebrew names of the apes and peacocks said to have been brought thence by Solomon’s coasting-vessels are merely corruptions of Indian names; and Ophir must therefore have been either an Indian port (and if so, almost certainly at the mouth of the Indus, afterwards a Buddhist country), or an entrepot, further west,
1. In a few isolated passages of Greek and other writers, earlier than the invasion of India by Alexander the Great, there are references to a legendary Æsop, and perhaps also allusions to stories like some of the Buddhist ones.
2. After Alexander’s time a number of tales also found in the Buddhist collection became current in Greece, and are preserved in the poetical versions of Babrius and Phædrus. They are probably of Buddhist origin.
3. From the time of Babrius to the time of the first Crusade no migration of Indian tales to Europe can be proved to have taken place. About the latter time a translation into Arabic of a Persian work containing tales found in the Buddhist book was translated by Jews into Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. Translations of these versions afterwards appeared in all the principal languages of Europe.
4. In the eleventh or twelfth century a translation was made into Latin of the legend of Barlaam and
5. Other Buddhist stories not included in either of the works mentioned in the two last paragraphs were introduced into Europe both during the Crusades and also during the dominion of the Arabs in Spain.
6. Versions of other Buddhist stories were introduced into Eastern Europe by the Huns under Genghis Khān.
7. The fables and stories introduced through these various channels became very popular during the Middle Ages, and were used as the subjects of numerous sermons, story-books, romances, poems, and edifying dramas. Thus extensively adopted and circulated, they had a considerable influence on the revival of literature, which, hand in hand with the revival of learning, did so much to render possible and to bring about the Great Reformation. The character of the hero of them – the Buddha, in his last or in one or other of his supposed previous births – appealed so strongly to the sympathies, and was so attractive to the minds of mediæval Christians, that he became, and has ever since remained, an object of Christian worship. And a collection of these and similar stories – wrongly, but very naturally, ascribed to
Part II. On the History of the Birth Stories in India
For the history in India of the Jātaka Book itself, and of the stories it contains, so little has been done, that one may say it has still to be written; and the authorities for further research are only to be found in
In some portions of the Brāhmanical literature, later than the Vedas, and probably older than Buddhism, there are found myths and legends of a character somewhat similar to a few of the Buddhist ones. But, so far as I know, no one of these has been traced either in Europe or in the Buddhist Collection.
On the other hand, there is every reason to hope that in the older portions of the Buddhist Scriptures a considerable number of the tales also included in the Jātaka Book will be found in identical or similar forms; for even in the few fragments of the Piṭakas as yet studied, several Birth Stories have already been discovered. Thus, for instance, the
The title of this work is
To each of the first two of these Ten Perfections a whole chapter of this work is devoted, giving in verse ten examples of the previous births in which the Bodhisatta or future Buddha had practised Generosity and Goodness respectively. The third chapter gives only fifteen
There is yet another work in the Pāli Piṭakas which constantly refers to the Jātaka theory. The
Beyond this it is impossible yet to state what proportion of the stories in the Jātaka Book can thus be traced back to the earlier Pāli Buddhist literature; and it would be out of place to enter here upon any lengthy discussion of the difficult question as to the date of those earlier records. The provisional conclusions as to the age of the Sutta and Vinaya reached by Dr. Oldenberg in the very able introduction prefixed to his edition of the text of the Mahā Vagga, and summarized at p. xxxviii of that work, will be sufficient for our present purposes. It may be taken as so highly probable as to be almost certain, that all those Birth Stories, which are not only found in the so-called Jātaka Book itself, but are also referred to in these other parts of the
The Council of Vesāli was held about a hundred years after Gotama’s death, to settle certain disputes as to points of discipline and practice which had arisen among the members of the Order. The exact date of Gotama’s death is uncertain; The question is discussed at length in my ‘Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon’ in ‘Numismata Orientalia,’ vol. i. and in the tradition regarding the length of the interval between that event and the Council, the ‘hundred years’ is of course a round number. But we can allow for all possibilities, and still keep within the bounds of certainty, if we fix the date of the Council of Vesāli at within thirty years of 350 B.C.
The members of the Buddhist Order of Mendicants were divided at that Council – as important for the history of Buddhism as the Council of Nice is for the history of Christianity – into two parties. One side advocated the relaxation of the rules of the Order in ten particular matters, the others adopted the stricter view. In the accounts of the matter, which we at present only possess from the successors of the stricter party (or,
Now the oldest Ceylon Chronicle, the Dīpavaṁsa, which contains the only account as yet published of what occurred at the Great Council, says as follows: Dīpavaṁsa, V. 32 and foll. –
“The monks of the Great Council turned the religion upside down;
They broke up the original Scriptures, and made a new recension;
A discourse put in one place they put in another;
They distorted the sense and the teaching of the Five Nikāyas.
Those monks – knowing not what had been spoken at length, and what concisely,
What was the obvious, and what was the higher meaning –
Attached new meaning to new words, as if spoken by the Buddha,
And destroyed much of the spirit by holding to the shadow of the letter.
In part they cast aside the Sutta and the Vinaya so deep,
And made an imitation Sutta and Vinaya, changing this to that.
The Parivāra abstract, and the Six Books of Abhidhamma;
The Paṭisambhidā, the Niddesa, and a portion of the Jātaka –
So much they put aside, and made others in their place!”
The animus of this description is sufficiently evident; and the Dīpavaṁsa, which cannot have been written earlier than the fourth century after the commencement of our era, is but poor evidence of the events of seven centuries before. But it is the best we have; it is acknowledged to have been based on earlier sources, and it is at least reliable evidence that, according to Ceylon tradition, a book called the Jātaka existed at the time of the Councils of Vesāli.
As the Northern Buddhists are the successors of those who held the Great Council, we may hope before long to have the account of it from the other side, either from the Sanskrit or from the Chinese. There are several works enumerated by Mr. Beal in his Catalogue of Chinese Buddhistic Works in the India Office Library (see especially pp. 93-97, and pp. 107-109), from which we might expect to derive this information. Meanwhile it is important to notice that the fact of a Book of Birth Stories having existed at a very early date is confirmed, not only by such stories being found in other parts of the Pāli Piṭakas, but also by ancient monuments.
Among the most interesting and important discoveries
It is not necessary to turn aside here to examine into the details of these discoveries. It is sufficient for our present inquiry into the age of the Jātaka stories that these ancient bas-reliefs afford indisputable evidence that the Birth Stories were already, at the end of the third century B.C., considered so sacred that they were chosen as the subjects to be represented round the most
One remarkable fact apparent from that Table will be that the Birth Stories are sometimes called in the inscriptions over the bas-reliefs by names different from those given to them in the Jātaka Book in the Pāli Piṭakas. This would seem, at first sight, to show that, although the very stories as we have them must have been known at the time when the bas-reliefs were carved, yet that the present collection, in which different names are clearly given at the end of each story, did not then exist. But, on the other hand, we not only find in the Jātaka Book itself very great uncertainty as to the names, – the same stories being called in different parts of the Book by different titles, Thus, No. 41 is called both
The reason for this is very plain. When a fable about a lion and a jackal was told (as in No. 157) to show the advantage of a good character, and it was necessary to choose a short title for it, it was called ‘The Lion Jātaka,’ or ‘The Jackal Jātaka,’ or even ‘The Good Character Jātaka’; and when a fable was told about a tortoise, to show the evil results which follow on talkativeness (as in No. 215), the fable might as well be called ‘The Chatterbox Jātaka’ as ‘The Tortoise Jātaka,’ and the fable is referred to accordingly under both those names. It must always have been difficult, if not impossible, to fix upon a short title which should at once characterize the lesson to be taught, and the personages through whose acts it was taught; and different names would thus arise, and become interchangeable. It would be wrong therefore to attach too much importance to the difference of the names on the bas-reliefs and in the Jātaka Book. And in translating
There is yet further evidence confirmatory of the Dīpavaṁsa tradition. The Buddhist Scriptures are sometimes spoken of as consisting of nine different divisions, or sorts of texts (Aṅgāni), of which the seventh is ‘Jātakas,’ or ‘The Jātaka Collection’ (Jātakaṁ). This division of the Sacred Books is mentioned, not only in the Dīpavaṁsa itself, and in the Sumaṅgala Vilāsinī, but also in the Aṅguttara Nikāya (one of the later works included in the Pāli Piṭakas), and in the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka (a late, but standard Sanskrit work of the Northern Buddhists). See the authorities quoted in my manual, ‘Buddhism,’ pp. 214, 215; and Dr. Morris, in the Academy for May, 1880. It is common, therefore, to both of the two sections of the Buddhist Church; and it follows that it was probably in use before the great schism took place between them, possibly before the Council of Vesāli itself. In any case it is conclusive as to the existence of a collection of Jātakas at a very early date.
The text of the Jātaka Book, as now received among the Southern Buddhists, consists, as will be seen from the
We do not know either the name of the author of this work, or the date when it was composed. The meagre account given at the commencement of the work itself (below, pp. 1, 2) contains all our present information on these points. Mr. Childers, who is the translator of this passage, has elsewhere ascribed the work to Buddhaghosa; In his Dictionary, Preface, p. ix, note. but I venture to think that this is, to say the least, very uncertain.
We have, in the thirty-seventh chapter of the Mahāvaṁsa, Turnour, pp. 250-253. a perhaps almost contemporaneous account of Buddhaghosa’s literary work; and it is there distinctly stated, that after writing in India the Atthasālinī (a commentary on the Dhammasaṅginī, the first of the Six
What little evidence we have as regards the particular work now in question seems to me to tend very strongly
If not however by Buddhaghosa, the work must have been composed after his time; but probably not long after. It is quite clear from the account in the Mahāvaṁsa, that before he came to Ceylon the Sinhalese commentaries had not been turned into Pāli; and on the other hand, the example he had set so well will almost
It is worthy of notice, perhaps, in this connexion, that the Pāli work is not a translation of the Sinhalese Commentary. The author three times refers to a previous Jātaka Commentary, which possibly formed part of the Sinhalese work, as a separate book; Fausböll, vol. i. p. 62 and p. 488; vol. ii. p. 224. and in one case mentions what it says only to overrule it. See the translation below, p. 82. Our Pāli work may have been based upon it, but cannot be said to be a mere version of it. And the present Commentary agrees almost word for word, from p. 58 to p. 124 of my translation, with the
The Jātaka Book is not the only Pāli Commentary which has made use of the ancient Birth Stories. They occur in numerous passages of the different exegetical works composed in Ceylon, and the only commentary of which anything is known in print, that on the
In Siam there is even a rival collection of Birth Stories, which is called
In India itself the Birth Stories survived the fall, as some of them had probably preceded the rise, of Buddhism. Not a few of them were preserved by being included in the Mahā Bhārata, the great Hindu epic which became the storehouse of Indian mythology, philosophy, and folk-lore. See, for instance, above, p. xxvii; and below, p. 185. Unfortunately, the date of the final arrangement of the Mahā Bhārata, is extremely uncertain, and there is no further evidence of the continued existence of the Jātaka tales till we come to the time of the work already frequently referred to – the Pañca Tantra.
It is to the history of this book that Professor Benfey has devoted that elaborate and learned Introduction which is the most important contribution to the study of this class of literature as yet published; and I cannot do better than give in his own words his final conclusions as to the origin of this popular storybook: ‘Pantscha Tantra,’ von Theodor Benfey, Leipzig, 1859, p. xi. –
“Although we are unable at present to give any certain information either as to the author or as to the date of the work, we receive, as it seems to me, no unimportant compensation in the fact, that it turned out, That is, in the course of Prof. Benfey’s researches. with a certainty beyond doubt, to have been originally a Buddhist book. This followed especially from the chapter discussed in §225. But it was already indicated by the considerable number of the fables and
The proof that our work is of Buddhist origin is of importance in two ways: firstly – on which we will not here further insist – for the history of the work itself; and secondly, for the determination of what Buddhism is. We can find in it one more proof of that literary activity of Buddhism, to which, in my articles on ‘India,’ which appeared in 1840, In ‘Ersch und Grüber’s Encyklopædie,’ especially at pp. 255 and 277. I had already felt myself compelled to assign the most important place in the enlightenment and general intellectual development of India. This view has since received, from year to year, fresh confirmations, which I hope to bring together in another place; and whereby I hope to prove that the very bloom of the intellectual life of India (whether it found expression in Brahmanical or Buddhist works) proceeded substantially from Buddhism, and is contemporaneous with the epoch in which Buddhism flourished; – that is to say, from the third century before Christ to the sixth or seventh century after Christ. With that principle, said to have been proclaimed by Buddhism in its earliest years, ‘that only that teaching of the Buddha’s is true which contraveneth not sound reason,’ Wassiliew, ‘Der Buddhismus,’ etc., p. 68. the autonomy of man’s Intellect was, we may fairly say, effectively acknowledged; the whole relation between the realms of the knowable and of the unknowable was subjected to its control; and notwithstanding that the actual reasoning powers, to which the ultimate appeal was thus given, were in fact then not altogether
Professor Benfey then proceeds to show that the Pañca Tantra consisted originally, not of five, but of certainly eleven, perhaps of twelve, and just possibly of thirteen books; and that its original design was to teach princes right government and conduct. Compare the title of the Birth Story above, p. xxii, ‘A Lesson for Kings.’ The whole collection had then a different title descriptive of this design; and it was only after a part became detached from the rest that that part was called, for distinction’s sake, the Pañca Tantra, or Five Books. When this occurred it is impossible to say. But it was certainly the older and larger collection, not the present Pañca Tantra, which travelled into Persia, and became the source of the whole of the extensive ‘Kalilag and Damnag’ literature. See above, p. xxix.
The Arabian authors of the work translated (through the ancient Persian) from this older collection assign it to a certain Bidpai; who is said to have composed it in order to instruct Dabschelim, the successor of Alexander in his Indian possessions, in worldly wisdom. Knatchbull, p. 29. There may well be some truth in this tradition. And when we consider that the ‘Barlaam and Josaphat’ literature took its origin at the same time, and in the same place, as the ‘Kalilag and Damnag’ literature; that both of them are based upon Buddhist originals taken to Bagdad in the sixth century of our era; and that it is precisely such a book as the Book of Birth Stories from which they could have derived all that they borrowed; it is difficult to avoid connecting these facts together by the supposition that the work ascribed to Bidpai may, in fact, have been a selection of those Jātaka stories bearing more especially on the conduct of life, and preceded, like our own collection, by a sketch of the life of the Buddha in his last birth. Such a supposition would afford a reasonable explanation of some curious facts which have been quite inexplicable on the existing theory. If the Arabic ‘Kalilah and Dimnah’ was an exact translation, in our modern sense of the word translation, of an exact translation of a Buddhist work, how
The first three of those five chapters of the work ascribed to Bidpai which make up the Pañca Tantra, are also found in a form slightly different, but, on the whole, essentially the same, in two other Indian Story-books, – the
Somadeva derived his knowledge of the three books he does give from the
I should also mention here that another well-known work, the
There remains only to add a few words on the mode in which the stories, whose history in Europe and in India I have above attempted to trace, are presented to us in the Jātaka Book.
Each story is introduced by another explaining where and why it was told by the Buddha; the Birth Story itself being called the Atīta-vatthu or Story of the Past, and the Introductory Story the Paccuppanna-vatthu or Story of the Present. There is another book in the Pāli Piṭakas called
After the two stories have been told, there comes a Conclusion, in which the Buddha identifies the personages in the Birth Story with those in the Introductory Story; but it should be noticed that in one or two cases characters mentioned in the Atīta-vatthu are supposed not to have been reborn on earth at the time of the Paccuppanna-vatthu. See the Pāli note at the end of Jātaka No. 91. And the reader must of course avoid the mistake of importing Christian ideas into this Conclusion by supposing that the identity of the persons in the two stories is owing to the passage of a ‘soul’ from the one to the other. Buddhism does not teach the Transmigration of Souls. Its doctrine (which is somewhat intricate, and for a fuller statement of which I must refer to my Manual of Buddhism pp. 99-106.) would be better summarized as the Transmigration of Character;
In the case of one Jātaka (Fausböll, No. 276), the Conclusion is wholly in verse; and in several cases the Conclusion contains a verse or verses added by way of moral. Such verses, when they occur, are called Abhisambuddha-gāthā, or Verses spoken by the Buddha, not when he was still only a Bodhisatta, but when he had become a Buddha. They are so called to distinguish them from the similar verses inserted in the Birth Story, and spoken there by the Bodhisatta. Each story has its
There are several reasons for supposing that these verses are older than the prose which now forms their setting. The Ceylon tradition goes so far as to say that the original Jātaka Book, now no longer extant, consisted of the verses alone; that the Birth Stories are Commentary upon them; and the Introductory Stories, the Conclusions and the ‘Pada-gata-sannaya,’ or word-for-word explanation of the verses, are Commentary on this Commentary. This belief underlies the curious note forming the last words of the Mahā-supina Jātaka, i. 345: “Those who held the Council after the death of the Blessed One placed the lines beginning usabhā rukkhā in the Commentary, and then, making the other lines beginning lābūni into one verse, they put (the Jātaka) into the Eka-Nipāta (the chapter including all those Jātakas which have only one verse).” And archaic forms and forced
But I venture to think that, though the present form of the verses may be older than the present form of the Birth Stories, the latter, or most of the latter, were in existence first; that the verses, at least in many cases, were added to the stories, after they had become current; and that the Birth Stories without verses in them at all – those enumerated in the list in note 1 on the last page, where the verses are found only in the Conclusion – are, in fact, among the oldest, if not the oldest, in the whole collection. For any one who takes the trouble to go through that list seriatim will find that it contains a considerable number of those stories which, from their being found also in the Pāli Piṭakas or in the oldest European collections, can already be proved to belong to a very early date. The only hypothesis which will reconcile these facts seems to me to be that the Birth Stories, though probably originally older than the verses they contain, were handed down in Ceylon till the time of the compilation of our present Jātaka Book, in the Sinhalese language; whilst the verses on the other hand were not translated, but were preserved as they were received, in Pāli.
There is another group of stories which seems to be older than most of the others; those, namely, in which the Bodhisatta appears as a sort of chorus, a moralizer only, and not an actor in the play, whose part may have been an addition made when the story in which it occurs was adopted by the Buddhists. Such is the fable above translated of the Ass in the Lion’s Skin, and most of the stories where the Bodhisatta is a rukkha-devatā – the fairy or genius of a tree. See, for instance, below, pp. 212, 228, 230, 317; above, p. xii; and Jātaka No. 113. But the materials are insufficient at present to put this forward as otherwise than a mere conjecture.
The arrangement of the stories in our present collection is a most unpractical one. They are classified, not according to their contents, but according to the number of verses they contain. Thus, the First division (Nipāta) includes those one hundred and fifty of the stories which have only one verse; the Second, one hundred stories, each having two verses; the Third and Fourth, each of them fifty stories, containing respectively three and four verses each; and so on, the number of stories in each division decreasing rapidly after the number of verses exceeds four; and the whole of the five hundred and fifty Jātakas being contained in twenty-two Nipātas. Even this division, depending on so unimportant a factor
On the other hand, several Jātakas, which count only as one story in the present enumeration, really contain several different tales or fables. Thus, for instance, the Kulāvaka Jātaka (On Mercy to Animals) Translated below, pp. 278-290 [omitted here]. consists of seven stories woven, not very closely, into one. The most striking instance of this is perhaps the Ummagga Jātaka, not yet published in the Pāli, but of which the Sinhalese translation by the learned Baṭuwan Tudāwa
Nor is the number 550 any more exact (though the discrepancy in this case is not so great) if it be supposed to record, not the number of stories, but the number of distinct births of the Bodhisatta. In the Kulāvaka Jātaka, just referred to (the tale On Mercy to Animals), there are two consecutive births of the future Buddha; and on the other hand, none of the six Jātakas mentioned in note 1, p. lxxx, represents a distinct birth at all – the Bodhisatta is in them the same person as he is in the later Jātakas in which those six are contained.
From the facts as they stand it seems at present to
With regard to some of the Jātakas, among which may certainly be included those found in the Pāli Piṭakas, there may well have been a tradition, more or less reliable, as to the time and the occasion at which they were supposed to have been uttered by the Buddha. These traditions will have given rise to the earliest Introductory Stories, in imitation of which the rest were afterwards invented; and these will then have been handed down as commentary on the Birth Stories, till they were finally made part of our present collection by its compiler in Ceylon. That (either through their later origin, or their having been much more modified in transmission) they represent a more modern point of view than the Birth Stories themselves, will be patent to every reader. There is a freshness and simplicity about the ‘Stories of the Past’ that is sadly wanting in the ‘Stories of the Present’; so much so, that the latter (and this is also true of the whole long Introduction containing the life of the Buddha) may be compared more accurately with mediæval Legends of the Saints than with such simple stories as Æsop’s Fables, which still bear a likeness to their forefathers, the ‘Stories of the Past.’
The Jātakas so constituted were carried to Ceylon in the Pāli language, when Buddhism was first introduced into that island (a date that is not quite certain, but may be taken provisionally as about 200 B.C.); and the whole was there translated into and preserved in the Sinhalese language (except the verses, which were left untranslated) until the compilation in the fifth century A.D., and by an unknown author, of the Pāli Jātaka Book, the translation of which into English is commenced in this volume.
When we consider the number of elaborate similes by which the arguments in the Pāli Suttas are enforced, there can be no reasonable doubt that the Buddha was really accustomed to teach much by the aid of parables, and it is not improbable that the compiler was quite correct in attributing to him that subtle sense of good-natured humour which led to his inventing, as occasion arose, some fable or some tale of a previous birth, to explain away existing failures in conduct among the monks, or to draw a moral from contemporaneous events. It is even already possible to point to some of the Jātakas as being probably the oldest in the collection; but it must be left to future research to carry out in ampler detail the investigation into the comparative date of each of the stories, both those which are called ‘Stories of the Past’ and those which are called ‘Stories of the Present.’
Besides the points which the teaching of the Jātakas has in common with that of European moralists and satirists, it inculcates two lessons peculiar to itself – firstly, the powerful influence of inherited character; and secondly, the essential likeness between man and other animals. The former of these two ideas underlies both the central Buddhist doctrine of Karma and the theory of the Buddhas, views certainly common among all the early Buddhists, and therefore probably held by Gotama himself. And the latter of the two underlies and explains the sympathy with animals so conspicuous in these tales, and the frequency with which they lay stress upon the duty of kindness, and even of courtesy, to the brute creation. It is curious to find in these records of a strange and ancient faith such blind feeling after, such vague foreshadowing of beliefs only now beginning to be put forward here in the West; but it is scarcely necessary to point out that the paramount value to us now of the Jātaka stories is historical.
In this respect their value does not consist only in the evidence they afford of the intercommunion between East and West, but also, and perhaps chiefly, in the assistance which they will render to the study of folk-lore; – that is, of the beliefs and habits of men in the earlier stages of their development. The researches of Tylor and Waitz and Peschel and Lubbock and Spencer
But in the Jātakas we have a nearly complete picture, and quite uncorrupted and unadulterated by European intercourse, of the social life and customs and popular beliefs of the common people of Aryan tribes closely related to ourselves, just as they were passing through the first stages of civilization.
The popularity of the Jātakas as amusing stories may pass away. How can it stand against the rival claims of the fairy tales of science, and the entrancing, many
I avail myself of this opportunity of acknowledging my indebtedness to several friends whose assistance has been too continuous to be specified on any particular page. Professor Childers, whose premature death was so great a blow to Pāli studies, and whose name I never think of without a feeling of reverent and grateful regret, had undertaken the translation of the Jātakas, and the first thirty-three pages are from his pen. They are the last memento of his earnest work: they stand exactly as he left them. Professor Estlin Carpenter, who takes a deep interest in this and cognate subjects, has been kind enough to read through all the proofs, and I owe to his varied scholarship many useful hints. And my especial thanks, and the thanks of any readers this work may meet with, are above all due to Professor Fausböll, without whose editio princeps of the Pāli text, the result of self-denying labours spread over many years, this translation would not have been undertaken.
T. W. Rhys Davids
Tables Illustrative of the History and Migrations of the Buddhist Birth Stories [Ed: the below were not tables at all, but lists, sometimes compressed into tables to save space. As no such requirements are necessary in digital format, here they are presented simply as lists].
Table I. Indian Works
1a. Sinhalese translation of No. 1, called
1d. An Eastern Love Story. Translation in verse of 1c, by Thomas Steele, C.C.S., London, 1871.
6. Translations: – German, by Benfey, Leipzig, 1859.
7. French by Dubois, Paris, 1826.
8. French by Lancerau, Paris, 1871.
9. Greek by Galanos and Typaldos, Athens, 1851.
11. Translations: – English, by Wilkins, Bath, 1787; reprinted by Nyālankar in his edition of the text.
12. English, by Sir W. Jones, Calcutta, 1816.
12a. English, by E. Arnold, London, 1861.
13. German, by Max Müller, Leipzig, 1844.
13a. German, by Dursch, Tübingen, 1853.
14. German, by L. Fritze, Breslau, 1874.
15. French, by Langlés, Paris, 1790.
16. French, by Lancerau, Paris, 1855.
17. Greek, by Galanos and Typaldos, Athens, 1851.
18a. Greek version of No. 18 added to No. 17.
20. No. 19, translated into English by Babington, in ‘Miscellaneous Translations from Oriental Languages,’ London, 1831.
21. No. 18, translated into Brajbakha, by Surāt, 1740.
22b. English versions of 22a, by J. T. Platts, Hollings, and Barker.
22d. German version of 22a, by H. Oesterley, in the ‘Bibliothek Orientalischer Märchen und Erzählungen,’ 1873, with valuable introduction and notes.
24. German versions of No. 23, by Benjamin Bergmann in Nomadische Streifereien im Lande der Kalmücken, i. 247 and foll., 1804; and by Juelg, 1866 and 1868.
25. German version of No. 18, by Dr. Luber, Görz, 1875.
27. Greek version of No. 26, by Demetrios Galanos and G. K. Typaldos, Psittakou Mythologiai Nukterinai, included in their version of Nos. 10 and 18.
28. Persian version of No. 26, now lost; but reproduced by Nachshebi under the title Tuti Nāmeh.
28b. English version of 28a, by the Rev. G. Small.
38. Bengali version of No. 37, by Tāra Shankar Tarkaratna. Tenth edition, Calcutta, 1868.
41a. English translation of No. 41, by Rājā Kāli Kriṣṇa, Serampur, 1830. See No. 22.
Table II. The Kalilag and Damnag Literature
1. A lost Buddhist work in a language of Northern India, ascribed to Bidpai. See above, pp. lxx-lxxii.
2. Pēlvī version, 531-579 A.D. By Barzūyē, the Court physician of Khosru Nushírvan. See above, p. xxix.
8. Latin version of No. 7, by Father Possin, at the end of his edition of Pachymeres, Rome, 1866.
9. Persian translation of No. 4, by Abdul Maali Nasr Allah, 1118-1153. Exists, in MS. only, in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna.
11a. Another English version of No. 10, by Arthur N. Wollaston (London, Allen).
14. Hebrew version of No. 4, by Joel (?), before 1250. Exists only in a single MS. in Paris, of which the first part is missing.
16. German version of No. 15, also about 1480, but without date or name of place.
17. Version in Ulm dialect of No. 16. Ulm, 1483.
18. Baldo’s ‘
27. North’s English version of last, 1570.
First edition in vi. books, the subjects of which are mostly taken from classical authors and from Planudes’s Æsop, Paris, 1668.
Second edition in xi. books, the five later taken from Nos. 12 and 23, Paris, 1678.
Third edition in xii. books, Paris, 1694.
Table III. The Barlaam and Josaphat Series
2. Syriac version of No. 1 exists only in MS.
3. Arabic version of No. 2 exists only in MS., one MS. being at least as old as the eleventh century.
4. Latin version of No. 1, of unknown date and author, of which MSS. of the twelfth century are still extant. There is a black-letter edition (? Spiers, 1470) in the British Museum. It was adopted, with abbreviations in several places, by
4a. An abbreviated version in Latin of the fourteenth century in the British Museum. Arundel MS. 330, fol. 51-57. See Koch, No. 9, p. xiv.
5. Barlaam und Josaphat. A poem of the thirteenth century, published from a MS. in the Solms-Laubach Library by
6. Another poem, partly published from an imperfect MS. at Zürich, by
7. Barlaam und Josaphat. By
7. Die Hÿstorí Josaphat und Barlaam. Date and author not named. Black-letter. Woodcuts. Title on last page. Fifty-six short chapters. Quaint and forcible old German. A small folio in the British Museum.
8. Historia von dem Leben der zweien H. Beichtiger Barlaam Eremiten, und Josaphat des König’s in Indien Sohn, etc. Translated from the Latin by the Counts of
9. Het Leven en Bedryf van Barlaam den Heremit, en Josaphat Koning van Indien. Noo in Nederduits vertaalt door F. v. H., Antwerp, 1593, 12mo.
A new edition of this version appeared in 1672. This is a long and tedious prose version of the holy legend.
8. Poem by
9. La Vie de Seint Josaphaz. Poem by
10. A third poem by an unknown author.
11. A prose work by an unknown author – all three being of the 13th cent.
11a. Another in MS. Egerton, 745, British Museum.
12. A poem in French of the fifteenth century, based on the abstract in Latin of No. 4, by
13. A Provençal tale in prose, containing only the story of Josafat and the tales told by Barlaam, without the moralizations.
14. A miracle play of about 1400.
15. Another miracle play of about 1460.
16. Vita di san Giosafat convertito da Barlaam. By
17. Storia de’ SS. Barlaam e Giosafatte. By
18. La santissima vita di Santo Josafat, figluolo del Re Avenero, Re dell’ India, da che ei nacque per infino ch’ei morì. A prose romance, edited by
19. A prose Vita da Santo Josafat. In MS. Add. 10902 of the British Museum, which Paul Mayer (see No. 8) says begins exactly as No. 18, but ends differently. (See Koch, No. 9 above, p. xiii.)
20. A Rappresentatione di Barlaam e Josafat is mentioned by Frederigo Palermo in his ‘I manuscritti Palatini de Firenze,’ 1860, vol. ii. p. 401.
A full account of all the Skandinavian versions is given in Barlaam’s ok Josaphat’s Saga, by
Honesta, etc., historia de la rara vida de los famosos y singulares sanctos Barlaam, etc. By
Horstmann has also published a Middle English version in the ‘Program of the Sagan Gymnasium,’ 1877.
The History of the Five Wise Philosophers; or, the Wonderful Relations of the Life of Jehoshaphat the Hermit, Son of Avenerian, King of Barma in India, etc. By N. H. (that is,
The work referred to on p. xlvi, under the title Gesta Romanorum, a collection of tales with lengthy moralizations (probably sermons), was made in England about 1300. It soon passed to the Continent, and was repeatedly re-written in numerous MSS., with additions and alterations. Three printed editions appeared between 1472 and 1475; and one of these, containing 181 stories, is the source of the work now known under this title. Tale No. 168 quotes Barlaam. The best edition of the Latin version is by
The Seven Sages (edited by
Table IV. Comparison of the Cariyā Piṭaka and the Jātaka Mālā
1. Akitte-cariyaṁ. = Vyāghī-jātakaṁ.
2. Saṁkha-c°. = Śivi-j° (8).
3. Danañjaya-c°. = Kulmāsapiṇḍi-j°
4. Mahā-sudassana-c°. = Śreṣṭhi-j° (21).
5. Mahā-govinda-c°. = Avisajyaśreṣṭhi-j°
6. Nimi-rāja-c°. = Śaśa-j° (10).
7. Canda-kumāra-c°. = Agastya-j°
8. Śivi-rāja-c° (2). = Maitribala-j°
9. Vessantara-c° (9). = Viśvantara-j° (9).
10. Sasa-paṇḍita-c° (6). = Yajña-j°
11. Sīlava-nāga-c° (J. 72). = Sakra-j°
12. Bhuridatta-c°. = Brāhmaṇa-j°
13. Campeyya-nāga-c°. = Ummādayanti-j°
14. Cūla-bodhi-c°. = Suparāga-j°
15. Māhiṁsa-rāja-c° (27). = Matsya-j° (30).
16. Ruru-rāja-c°. = Vartaka-potaka-j° (29).
17. Mātaṁga-c°. = Kacchapa-j°
18. Dhammādhamma-devaputta-c°. = Kumbha-j°
19. Jayadisa-c°. = Putra-j°
20. Saṁkhapāla-c°. = Visa-j°
21. Yudañjaya-c°. = Śreṣṭhi-j° (4).
22. Somanassa-c°. = Buddhabodhi-j°
23. Ayoghara-c° (33). = Haṁsa-j°
24. Bhisa-c°. = Mahābodhi-j°
25. Soma-paṇḍita-c° (32). = Mahākapi-j° (27, 28).
26. Temiya-c°. = Śarabha-j°
27. Kapi-rāja-c° (25, 28). = Ruru-j° (16).
28. Saccahvaya-paṇḍita-c°. = Mahākapi-j° (25, 27).
29. Vaṭṭaka-potaka-c° (16). = Kṣānti-j°
30. Maccha-rāja-c° (15). = Brahma-j°
31. Kaṇha-dipāyana-c°. = Hasti-j°
32. Sutasoma-c° (25, 32). = Sutasoma-j° (25, 32).
33. Suvaṇṇa-sāma-c°. = Ayogṛiha-j° (23).
34. Ekarāja-c°. = Mahiṣa-j°
35. Mahā-lomahaṁsa-c° (J. 94). = Śatapatra-j°
For the above lists see Feer, ‘Etude sur les Jatakas,’ p. 58; Gogerly, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1853; and Fausböll, ‘Five Jātakas,’ p. 59; and also above, pp. liii, liv. It will be seen that there are seven tales with identical, and one or two more with similar titles, in the two collections. Editions of these two works are very much required. The Cambridge University Library possesses a MS. of the former, with the various readings of several other MSS. noted, for me, by Dewa Aranolis.
Table V. Alphabetical List of Jātaka Stories in the Mahāvastu
Arranged from Cowell and Eggeling’s ‘Catalogue of Buddhist Sanskrit MSS. in the Possession of the Royal Asiatic Society (Hodgson Collection).’
Amarāye karmārakādhītāye jātakaṁ
Śakuntaka-j° (two with this title)
Śyāma-j° (Car. Piṭ. 33.)
Upali gaṅga palānaṁ-j°
Table VI. Places at which the Tales were Told
Jetavana monastery, 410
Sāvatthi, 6, (= 416)
Laṭṭhivanuyyāna, 1 (= 55)
By the Ganges, 1
Total = 494
To which we may add from pp. 124-128 below
Total = 498
Table VII. The Bodhisattas
An ascetic, 83
A king, 85
A tree god, 43
A teacher, 26
A courtier, 24
A brāhman, 24
A king’s son, 24
A nobleman, 23
A learned man, 22
A monkey, 18
A merchant, 13
A man of property, 12
A deer, 11
A lion, 10
A wild duck, 8
A snipe, 6
An elephant, 6
A cock, 5
A slave, 5
An eagle, 5
A horse, 4
A bull, 4
A peacock, 4
A serpent, 4
A potter, 3
An outcast, 3
An iguana, 3
A fish, 2
An elephant driver, 2
A rat, 2
A jackal, 2
A crow, 2
A woodpecker, 2
A thief, 2
A pig, 2
A dog, 1
A curer of snake bites, 1
A gambler, 1
A mason, 1
A smith, 1
A devil dancer, 1
A student, 1
A silversmith, 1
A carpenter, 1
A water-fowl, 1
A frog, 1
A hare, 1
A kite, 1
A jungle cock, 1
A fairy, 1
Total = 530
Table VIII. Jātakas illustrated in Bas-relief on the Ancient Monuments
No. – Plate – Title inscribed on the stone – Title in the Jātaka Book
1. xxv. Miga Jākata – Nigrodha-miga Jākata Translated below, pp. 205 [omitted here] and foll. This is one of those which general Cunningham was unable to identify.
2. xxv. Nāga General Cunningham says (p. 52): “The former (Nāga Jātaka, i.e. Elephant jātaka) is the correct name, as in the legend here represented Buddha is the King of the Elephants, and therefore the Jātaka, or Birth, must of necessity have been named after him.” As I have above pointed out (p. xli), the title of each Jātaka, or Birth Story, is chosen not by any means from the character which the Bodhisatta fills in it, but indifferently from a variety of other reasons. General Cunningham himself gives the story called Isīsingga Jātaka (No 7 in the above list), in which the ascetic after which the Jātaka is named is not the Bodhisatta. Jākata – Kakkaṭaka Jākata
3. xxv. Yava-majhakiya Jātaka – ? Not as yet found in the Jātaka book; but Dr. Bühler has shown in the ‘Indian Antiquary,’ vol. i. p. 305, that it is the first tale in the ‘Vṛihat Kathā’ of Guṇadhya (Table I. No 32).
4. xxv. Muga-pakhaya Jākata. – Muga-pakkha Jākata
5. xxvi. Laṭuwa Jākata. – Laṭukikā Jākata
6. xxvi. Cha-dantiya Jākata. – Chaddanta Jākata
7. xxvi. Isi-siṁgiya Jākata. – Isa-siṅga Jākata
8. xxvi. (?) Yambumane-ayavesi Jākata. – Andha-bhūta Jākata
9. xxvii. ? The part of the stone supposed to have contained the inscription is lost. – Kuruṅga-miga Jākata
10. xxvii. Haṁsa Jākata. – Nacca Jākata Translated below, pp 292, 293 [omitted here].
11. xxvii. Kinara Jākata. – Canda-kinnara Jākata It is mentioned below, p. 128, and is included in the Mahāvastu (Table V.), and forms the subject of the carving on one iof the rails at Buddha Gayā (Rajendra Lāl Mitra, pl. xxxiv. Fig. 2).
12. xxvii. ? The part of the stone supposed to have contained the inscription is lost. – Asadisa Jākata
13. xxvii. ? The part of the stone supposed to have contained the inscription is lost. – Dasaratha Jākata
14. xliii. Isi-migo Jākata – ? Not yet found in the Jātaka book.
15. xlvi. Uda Jākata – ? Not yet found in the Jātaka book.
16. xlvi. Secha Jākata – Dūbhiya-makkaṭa.
17. xlvii. Sujāto gahuto Jākata – Sujāta Jākata.
18. Biḍala Jākata & Kukuṭa Jātaka – Kukkuṭa Jākata
19. xlviii. Maghā-deviya Jākata – Makhā-deva Jākata Translated below, pp. 186-188. See also above, p. lxiv.
20. xlviii. Bhisa-haraniya Jākata –?
21. xviii. Vitura-panakaya Jākata There are four distinct bas-reliefs illustrative of this Jātaka. – Vidhūra Jākata
22. xxviii. Janako & Sivala Devi Jākata – Janaka Jātaka
Besides the above, Mr. Fergusson, in his ‘Tree and Serpent Worship,’ has identified bas-reliefs on the Sanchi Tope in illustration of the Sāma and Asadisa Jātakas (Pl. xxxvi p. 181) and of the Vessantara Jātaka (Pl. xxiv. p. 125); and there are other Jātaka scenes on the Sanchi Tope not yet identified.
Mr. Simpson also has been kind enough to show me drawings of bas-reliefs he discovered in Afghanistān, two of which I have been able to identify as illustrations of the Sumedha Jātaka (below, p. 11-13), and another as illustrative of the scene described below on pp. 125, 126.
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last updated: Nov 2020