The Multi-life Stories of Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira
Keywords:Buddha, Buddhism, Mahāvīra, Jainism, biography
AbstractLike Buddhist traditions, Jain traditions preserve many stories about people’s past lives. Unlike Buddhist traditions, relatively few of these stories narrate the past lives of the tradition’s central figure, the jina. In Jainism there is no equivalent path to the bodhisatt(v)a path; the karma that guarantees jinahood is bound a mere two births before that attainment, and the person who attracts that karma cannot do so willfully, nor is he aware of it being bound. There is therefore no Jain equivalent to the ubiquitous j?taka literature. In this paper I will explore what the absence of a j?taka genre in Jain traditions tells us about the genre’s role in Buddhism. Focusing upon the multi-life stories of Gautama Buddha and Vardham?na Mah?v?ra, I will ask how these two strikingly similar narratives betray some fundamental differences between Buddhist and Jain understandings of the ultimate religious goal and the method of its attainment.
———. Forthcoming. ‘Jinas-to-be and Bodhisattvas: Paths to Perfection in Jain and Buddhist Narratives.’ In Jaina Narratives, edited by Peter Flu?gel and Olle Qvarnström. SOAS Jaina Studies Series, Routledge.
Chakravarti, A. 1994. Neelakesi. Jaipur: Prakrit Bharati Academy.
Cowell, E.B. and R.A. Neil, eds. 1886. The Divy?vad?na. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Doniger, Wendy. 1993. Pur??a Perennis. Albany NY: State University of New York Press.
Dundas, Paul. 2002. The Jains. London : Routledge. 2nd edn.
Endo, Toshiichi. 1997. Buddha in Theravada Buddhism. Dehiwela, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Cultural Centre.
Fausboll, V., ed. 1877. The J?taka together with its commentary being tales of the anterior births of Gotama Buddha, volume 1. London: Trübner.
Gombrich, Richard. 1980. ‘The Significance of Former Buddhas in the Therav?din Tradition.’ In Buddhist Studies in Honour of Walpola Rahula, edited by Balasooriya et al., 62–72. London: Gordon Fraser.
Granoff, Phyllis, ed. 2008. The Clever Adultress and Other Stories: A Treasury of Jain Literature. Oakville: Mosaic Press.
Horner, I.B., trans. 1975. The Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon Part III: Chronicle of Buddhas (Buddhava?sa) and Basket of Conduct (Cariy?pi?aka). Oxford: The Pali Text Society.
Jaini, P.S. 1977. ‘Bhavyatva and Abhavyatva: A Jaina Doctrine of “Predestination”’. In Mah?v?ra and His Teachings, edited by A. N. Upadhye et al., 95–111. Bombay: Bhagv?n Mah?v?ra 2500th Nirv??a Mahotsava Samiti.
———. 1979. The Jaina Path of Purification. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
———. 1981. ‘T?rtha?kara-Prak?ti and the Bodhisattva Path.’ Journal of the Pali Text Society 9: 96–104.
———. 2003. ‘From Nigoda to Mok?a: The Story of Marudev?.’ In Jainism and Early Buddhism: Essays in Honor of Padmanabh S. Jaini, edited by Olle Qvarnström, 1–27. Fremont CA: Asian Humanities Press.
Jayawickrama, N.A. (trans.) 1990. The Story of Gotama Buddha: The Nid?na-kath? of the J?taka??hakath?. Oxford: The Pali Text Society.
Johnson, Helen M. (trans.) 1931–1962. Tri?a??i?al?k?puru?acaritra, or, The Lives of SixtyThree Illustrious Persons by ?c?rya ?r? Hemacandra, 6 vols. Baroda Oriental Institute.
Jones, J.J., trans. 1949. The Mah?vastu, Volume 1. London: Luzac & Company.
Senart, É., ed. 1882. Le Mah?vastu, Tome Premier. Paris: L’Imprimerie Nationale.
Morris, R., ed. 1882. The Buddhava?sa and the Cariy?pi?aka. London: The Pali Text Society.
Nagraj, Rashtrasant Muni Shri. 2005. ?gama Aura Tripi?aka: A Comparative Study of Lord Mah?v?ra and Lord Buddha. English translation by Muni Shri Mahendra Kumarji and K. C. Lalvani. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company.
Ohira, Suzuko. 1994. ‘The Twenty-Four Buddhas and the Twenty-Four T?rtha?karas.’ In Festschrift Klaus Bruhn zur Vollendung des 65. Lebensjahres dargebracht von Schülern, Freunden und Kollegen, edited by Nalini Balbir and Joachim K. Bautze, 475–488. Reinbek: Verlag für Orientalistische Fachpublikationen.