Ever since the dawn of civilization, mankind has been craving to quench its thirst for knowledge besides being enthusiastic to equip itself with values and morality, irrespective of the worldly pleasures and attractions which are trying to captivate humanity in its shackles.
Gautama Buddha‘s life is one such moral lesson that can instil morale and can manifest divinity in the lives of common people with its encompassing spirituality. Jataka tales were recorded in 300 B.C., with an aim to inculcate such poignant knowledge and morality, which made Buddha the incarnation of piety in human form. Jataka tales have been retold in many languages for their everlasting influence and the language of their origin is Pali, an ancient one.
As a piece of Art and Literature, Jataka tales depict the religious, social and political structure of the society of 3rd century B.C. These tales are the invaluable source of information that throws light on the history of ancient India and its civilization, the common life of people, their economic conditions, social manners and customs. Jataka tales contain stories about the previous births of Gautama Buddha and these are intended to teach valuable moral lessons to children of every generation. By going through Jataka tales, not only Buddhists but also common people can accept harsh realities of life, can realize their actual duties and try to achieve Nirvana or enlightenment.
In Jataka tales, there are different stories about the previous births of Buddha, featuring him in human and non-human forms. These stories explore versatile teachings like the Paramitas, the four noble truths, the Bodhi Sattva vows, the eightfold path, the four abodes, the six realms etc. The Jataka tales reveal that Buddha, like a common man, aspires to achieve enlightenment, being trapped in the cycle of Samsara
The vital aspect of Jataka Tales is its Eightfold path – right action, right speech, right thought, right understanding, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. These are the ethical and didactic values that teach generations lessons about right behaviour.
Dr K Sarojadevi