Myth-Folklore Unit: Jataka Tales (Shedlock)

Overview. This selection of jataka tales, or "birth stories" of the Buddha, is taken from Shedlock's Eastern Stories and Legends, with a focus on distinctively Buddhist teachings. The stories from will take you to the holy city of Benares (Varanasi) on the Ganges River in India, and also to ancient Takasila (Taxila), a city in the Punjab (modern-day Pakistan) that was once the site of a great Buddhist monastery. You will learn how the Buddha was re-born as a hare whose self-sacrifice is the origin of the "hare in the moon" (i.e. what we call the "man in the moon"), and you will also read the famous Buddhist legend of Kisagotami, a woman overwhelmed by grief at the death of her only child, along with many other stories of humans and animals in search of wisdom who are guided by the example of the Buddha in his many different incarnations.

Language. This is a modern English retelling of the jatakas, not a direct translation of the Pali text, so the language should not pose any difficulties.

Story Length. This unit contains only single-page stories.

Choosing Between Units. If you are choosing between the two Jataka Tales unit, Babbitt or Shedlock, here's something to keep in mind: the Babbitt unit presents the stories without the Buddhist framework, in a way that is very similar to Aesop's fables, while the Shedlock unit presents the stories in a more explicitly Buddhist context. So if you are specifically interested in Buddhism, choose the Shedlock unit!

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Jataka Tales (Shedlock). Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.



READING A:
  1. The Spirit that Lived in a Tree
  2. The Hare that Was not Afraid to Die
  3. The Parrot that Fed His Parents
  4. The Man Who Worked to Give Alms
  5. The King Who Saw the Truth
  6. The Bull that Proved His Gratitude
  7. The Horse that Held Out till the End
  8. The Monkey that Saved the Herd
  9. The Merchant Who Overcame All Obstacles
  10. The Elephant that Was Honored in Old Age
  11. Grandmother's Golden Dish
READING B:
  1. The Elephant that Spared Life
  2. How the Antelope Was Caught
  3. The Pupil Who Taught His Teacher
  4. The Man Who Told a Lie
  5. The Crow that Thought It Knew
  6. The River Fish and the Monkey
  7. The Dreamer in the Wood
  8. The Rice Measure
  9. The Poisonous Trees
  10. The Well-Trained Elephant
  11. The Wise Physician



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