The Nidānakathā, or
Introduction to the Jātaka Stories
Buddhist Birth Stories
Jātaka Tales

The oldest collection of folk-lore extant
being the

For the first time Edited in the Original Pāli by
V. Fausböll

and translated by
T. W. Rhys Davids

A revised edition by
Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
November, 2020

The classic translation of the Introduction to the Jātakas together with seminal studies of that work and its influence on Western literature.






Html Table of Contents


Rhys Davids’ Introduction




This is a reproduction of Rhys Davids’ studies and translation of the Nidānakathā, the Introduction to the Jātaka, as printed in his Buddhist Birth Stories, which was first published in 1880.

It is not complete, however, as Rhys Davids at that time intended to make a full translation of the Jātaka commentary, and the beginnings of that work covering the first 40 stories were also published in this volume, but are omitted here, as I will be publishing the complete translation made under the supervision of E W Cowell soon. The omitted Jātakas made up nearly half the book, but only the six Jātakas he translated in the Introduction are reproduced here.

I have made some small changes to the text also, so this cannot be taken as a verbatim transcript, and should not be quoted as such. A small list of the most important changes follows:

The Sinhala form of the title Bodisat, is here replaced with the more normal Pāḷi form Bodhisatta.
The word angel was used to translate deva, and archangel for devarāja, here I have preferred to print deva for the first; and king of the gods, and sometimes deva or great deva, for the second, depending on context.
I have sometimes updated the spelling, e.g. from Kondanya to Koṇḍañña; and from bambu to bamboo.
Sometimes diacrtics were omitted, as is Neranjarā, these have also been restored. i.e. to Nerañjarā; and Uruvela to Uruvelā.

The unmarked n- before -k and -g is now marked -ṅk- and -ṅg-.
The niggahīta was written as ŋ, but here is replaced with the Unicode compliant .
The form -sh- as in Yaksh- is here written Yakṣ-; and Kshatriya to Kṣatriya.
Many names and some words had hyphens, as, for instance, Brahma-datta, to-day, to-morrow; the hyphens are here removed.

The original transcript for this work was produced at I have fully proofread the text and made a number of unmarked corrections to that transcript.

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu,
November, 2020