Heir to one’s Karma

Multi-Life Personal Genealogies in Early Buddhist and Jain Narratives


  • Naomi Appleton Cardiff University Author




Buddhism, Jainism, karma, lineage, rebirth, stories


Buddhist and Jain texts contain many stories that trace a person’s biography through multiple lives, illustrating karmic consequences, progress towards spiritual goals, and the preservation or deconstruction of relationships across several births. These stories can be seen as a form of genealogy, since they explain a person’s identity and form an alternative lineage to the family. This paper explores the ways in which karmic genealogies are constructed in some early Buddhist and Jain narratives, and how these interact with other forms of lineage, namely the family and networks of significant religious figures.

Author Biography

  • Naomi Appleton, Cardiff University

    Naomi Appleton is a British Academy Post Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Religious and Theological Studies at Cardiff University.


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How to Cite

Appleton, N. (2012). Heir to one’s Karma: Multi-Life Personal Genealogies in Early Buddhist and Jain Narratives. Religions of South Asia, 5(1-2), 227-244. https://doi.org/10.1558/rosa.v5i1/2.227