'Jataka' Stories and 'Paccekabuddhas' in Early Buddhism


  • Naomi Appleton University of Edinburgh




Apadāna, Bodhisatta, Buddha, jātaka, paccekabuddha, Sutta-nipāta


This article explores the role of paccekabuddhas in stories of the Buddha’s past lives (jataka tales) in early Buddhist narrative collections in Pali and Sanskrit. In early Buddhism paccekabuddhas are liminal figures in two senses: they appear between Buddhist dispensations, and they are included as a category of awakening between sammasambuddha and arahat. Because of their appearance in times of no Buddhism, paccekabuddhas feature regularly in jataka literature, as exemplary renouncers, teachers, or recipients of gifts. This article asks what the liminal status of paccekabuddhas means for their interactions with the Buddha and his past lives as Bodhisatta.


Author Biography

Naomi Appleton, University of Edinburgh

Naomi Appleton is Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Edinburgh. Trained in Buddhist Studies, her interests now span Buddhist, Jain and early Hindu narrative traditions. She has published extensively on Buddhist and early Indian narrative, including: Jātaka Stories in Theravāda Buddhism (Ashgate 2010), Narrating Karma and Rebirth (CUP 2014) and Shared Characters in Jain, Buddhist and Hindu Narrative (Routledge 2017). She was lucky enough to have Pāli reading classes with Lance Cousins during her time as a doctoral student in Oxford, and continued visiting him for reading groups after moving on in her career.


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How to Cite

Appleton, N. (2018). ’Jataka’ Stories and ’Paccekabuddhas’ in Early Buddhism. Buddhist Studies Review, 35(1-2), 279–292. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.36764