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Sanskarti Jatakas of Arya Sura and Pali - Jatakas (A Critical Comparative Study)

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Item Code: NAR664
Author: Meena Talim
Publisher: Buddhist World Press
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9789380852737
Pages: 295 (5 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 10.00 X 6.50 inch
Weight 580 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

Arya Sura's Jatakamala has been written in Sanskrit and translated into German, English and Hindi but it is not compared with Pali - Jatakas. The present book is first of its kind which critically compares Sanskrit Jatakamala with Pali - Jatakatas. Arya Sura wrote only thirty-four Jatakas in Sanskrit; out of this only four Jatakas are exclusively different from Pali - Jatakas.

The present volume briefly narrates Pali-Jatakas and compares them with Sanskrit Jatakamala. In order to get more explanatory information, Buddhaghosa's Atthakathas and Dhammapalas Paramatthadipani have been carefully studied.

The present volume will be definitely useful to students and scholars of Sanskrit, Pali, Buddhism and Buddhist studies.

About the Author

Dr. Meena Talim is an internationally renowned scholar. She has retired as a Professor and Head of Department of Pali and Ancient Indian Culture, St. Xavier's College, Mumbai (1990). She was first to be awarded Ph.D. in Pali from University of Mumbai (1960), consequently in Maharashtra and first lady-student in India. Her contribution to the subject, in various aspects, social political, historical, literary, medicine and surgery, art and architecture is remarkably significant.

Her publications include Buddhvamsa (1969), Women in early Buddhist Literature (1972), Bagh Paintings-identification and interruption (2002), Science of Medicine & Surgery in Buddhist India (2009), Edicts of King Aioka - a new vision (2010), Life of Women in Buddhist Literature (2010), Ajanta Paintings-Unidentified and Misinterpreted (2012) Bagh Caves-Paintings & Sculptures (2014), Buddhist Art Vol I & II (2014) Buddhist studies, vol I & II (2015) Sigiriya Paintings of Sri Lanka -Identification & Interpretation (2015), Buddhist Jurisprudence (2017), A Comparative Critical study of Mahavastu Avadc7nada and Pc7lijcitakas (forth coming-Asiatic society of Mumbai). She has also contributed more than a hundred research papers to Indological Journals, National & International Seminars, Symposiums and conferences.

Dr. Talim is presently working as a Honorary Professor at K.J. Somaiya Centre for Buddhist studies and visiting Professor at University of Mumbai.


Jatakamala is written in Sanskrit and belongs to Northern Buddhist canon. Arya Sura, the author of Jatakamala calls it as Avadana-`Bodhisattvavadanamalaparyaya'-a garland of words, eulogising Bodhisattva. Marie M. Higgins titled it as 'A Garland of Birth Stories.'1

Avadana literature is a significant part of Mahayana literature, which is equivalent to Pali Apadana. It began with Mahavastu Avadana, followed by Divyavadana. Both books were written in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit (BHS). These two books were highly influenced by Southern Buddhist Canon, namely Pali-Tipitaka. Dr. Winternitz states."The Central part of Mahavastu Avadana (MHVA) came into existence in 2nd cent. B.C. and its original size swelled in 4th cent. A.D.2

Let us peep into history of Buddhism which narrates three Buddhist Councils. The first Council was held immediately after the demise of Buddha in 5th cent. B.C. at Rajagaha. In this council Vinaya Pitaka and Sutta Pitaka, along with Matikas were recited. The second Buddhist Council was held hundred years after the death of Buddha at Vesali, to quench the revolt of monks who were following ten unlawful things-namely `Dasavatthuni'. The third Council was held to maintain a unity of Samgha, at the time of King Moka, in 3rd cent. B.C.

These historical facts narrate us that Mahavastu Avadana was written nearly hundred years after Moka-era. It also reveals that Pali was then a dominant, popular language of Buddha's teachings. Hence, Mahavastu Avadana and Divyavadana have been purposely written in Hybrid Sanskrit to make them populous. However, when Mahayana accepted Sanskrit as a religious language Hybrid Sanskrit was discarded and later Avadana books were written in pure-Sanskrit language. Arya Sura's Jatakamala is one of such books. Later Avadana books from the time of Gupta period (from 4th cent ACE to 6th cent ACE) and at the rise of Bhagwat-Dharma were written only in Sanskrit language. "

The Jatakamala was translated into Chinese in A.D. 434 and Arya Sura therefore probably lived in third or fourth cent A.D."3 Arya Sura wrote thirty-four Jatakas in Sanskrit based on Pali Jatakas, Cariya Pitaka, Mahavagga, Cullavagga, books of Khuddaka Nikaya, Majjhima and Samyutta Nikayas. Out of these thirty-four Sanskrit Jatakas, thirty Jatakas are based on Pali sources but four are not.*

However, while working on `Ajanta Paintings - Identification and Interpretation' I was stumbled on the four Jatakas - Painting for I could not find them in Pali sources. Hence, I started searching in Jatakamala and found that those four paintings were based on Arya Sura's Jatakamala - namely Jatakas no. 1, 8, 18 and 30. The study of Jatakamala instigated me to write on Critical Comparative study of Arya Sura's Sanskrit Jatakas and Pali Jatakas.

Arya Sura's Jatakas are written in metric-form and explanations are in prose, but Pali-Jatakas are written only in verses. Many a time it is difficult to understand these verses hence I have used Buddhaghosa's Atthakathas which clarifies everything about the events and incidences. Besides Buddhaghosa and Arya Sura are more or less contemporaries; former belongs to 4th/5th cent ACE and later to 3rd/4th cent ACE. In spite both dealing with same topic, they differ with each other in their approaches. Buddhaghosa propounds Hinayana approach but Arya Sura put forward Mahayana attitude.

Unfortunately, so far the work on the Critical Comparative study was not done before, except translations of the book by Dr. J.S. Speyer, Dr. Marie M. Higgins in English and Dr. Jagdishachandra Mishra in Hindi. Dr. Anju Bala had done 'Comparative Appraisal' (Hindi) but her approach is more literary, based on Sanskrit language and Justice is not done to Pali-Jataka. Hence I ventured to fulfill this lacunae., In the present treatise I have compared each Jataka of Jatakamdla with Pali-Jataka and Buddhaghosa's Atthakatha.

I have noticed that Buddhaghosa narrates equivalents of Pali-Jataka~ go Jatakamala narrating more than two, three, four, and sometimes even five stories. I have related all these stories for they disclose northern and southern philosophical values. Jatakamala usually begins with motto and rarely ends with Samodhana; Jataka-Atthakathas rarely give motto but very particular in narrating Samodhana. Truly speaking Samodhana is one of the five components of Jataka. Buddhaghosa is very particular in narrating story of the present, story, of the past, Gatha or Gathas, Explanation and Identification. Arya Sura unfortunately does not abide these rules of Jataka.

In the present volume, I have briefly translated all Pali-Jatakas and compared them with Sanskrit Jatakas. Besides, commented on each Jataka to make my points more clear. I hope that readers would enjoy these observations. Personally, I have derived much pleasure in doing this research and happy to share with lovers of Buddhism.

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