Mystic Lotus


Stories of the Buddha's Former Births

Jataka Tales


Stories of the Buddha's Former Births

The Jātaka is a massive collection of Buddhist folklore about previous incarnations of the Buddha, both in human and animal form. Originally written in Pali, and dating to at least 380 BCE, the Jātaka includes many stories which have traveled afar. Many of these can be traced cross-culturally in the folklore of many countries.


Tales of the Buddha's Former Births


Apaṇṇaka-Jātaka: Praised be the Blessed One, the Arahat, the Perfect Buddha.

Two merchants travel with caravans across a desert. One, beguiled by goblins, throws away his drinking-water in the desert and is devoured with all his people and cattle; the other completes his journey safely.


Vaṇṇupatha-Jātaka: Untiring, deep they dug

Travelling across a desert, a caravan through mistake throws away its water, etc In their despair the leader has a well dug, till far down water is found, and perseverance saves the caravan from death.


Serivāṇija-Jātaka: "If in this faith."

Two hawkers are successively offered by its unwitting owners a golden bowl. The greedy hawker over-reaches himself, whilst the honest one is richly rewarded.


Cullaka-Seṭṭhi-Jātaka: "With humblest start."

A young man picks up a dead mouse which he sells, and works up this capital till he becomes rich.


Taṇḍulanāli-Jātaka: "Dost ask how much a peck of rice is worth?"

An incompetent valuer declares 500 horses worth a measure of rice, which measure. of rice in turn he is led to declare worth all Benares.


Devadhamma-Jātaka: "Those only 'godlike' call."

Two princes going down to a haunted pool are seized by an ogre; the third, by correctly defining 'godlike', saves his brothers.


Kaṭṭhahāri-Jātaka: "Your son am I."

A king refuses to recognize his son by a chance amour; the mother throws the child into the air, praying that, if he be not the king's son, he may be killed by his fall. The child rests in mid-air, and the king recognizes him as his son.


Gāmani-Jātaka: "Their heart’s desire."


Makhādeva-Jātaka: "Lo! these grey hairs."

A king, finding a grey hair in his head, renounces his throne to prepare as a hermit for death.


Sukhavihāri-jātaka: "The man who guards not."

A king who becomes a Brother proclaims the happiness he has found.


Lakkhaṇa-jātaka: "The upright man."

Two stags; one through stupidity loses all his following, whilst the other brings his herd home in safety.