The Jatakamala of Aryasura, also known as Bodhisattvavadanamala is a 3rd-4th cent. AD
collection of thirty-four Jataka tales of the Sanskrit tradition, narrated in the form of a
campukavya. Due to its unique place in the Buddhist narrative literature and its literary
qualities, this text has gone through quite a few editions and translations.
Of all the editions of the Jatakamala so far published the present bilingual one is
by far the best. The text published in this edition has been reconstructed primarily on the
basis of two earlier editions one by Hendrik Kern and the other by P.L. Vaidya. While
editing the text variants noted by Kern and emendations suggested by Vaidya have been taken
into consideration. In addition, the readings adopted by the anonymous commentary and the
suggestions of the translator, J.S. Speyer, have also helped the finalization of the text.
The text has been printed elegantly on a Devanagari font, specially developed for the
series. J.S. Speyer's faithful and lucid translation has been made to conform to the modern
idiom. The transliteration of Sanskrit words has been standardized according to the latest
system internationally accepted.
The learned editor, Pandit Satakari Mukhopadhyaya, has augmented the edition with an
informative and exhaustive introduction of nineteen pages, which traces the entire history
of the origin and development of the Jataka stories in Pali and Sanskrit and also furnishes
latest information about the Jataka Literature. A new index of verses has been appended
which will prove useful to the readers.
Aryasura's Jatakamala narrates the pious and super-human deeds of Bodhisattvas
former existences of the Buddha. The Jatakamala is an excellent campukavya (poetry in prose
and verse). The thirty-four stories, as contained in the Jatakamala are intended to
illustrate the six paramitas (perfections), viz. dana (munificence), sila (good conduct),
ksanti (forbearance), virya (courage), dhyana (meditation) and prajna (wisdom).
The style of the author of the Jatakamala is classical and his language is chaste
Paninian Sanskrit. Aryasura's complete command over the art of poetry both in prose and
verse has been amply displayed.
Till recently very little was known about the life and personality of Aryasura. It
is now known on the basis of the introductory sentences of the newly discovered anonymous
Sanskrit commentary (edited from a single manuscript preserved in the Tokyo University
Library) that the author was the son of a king of the Deccan but he renounced the duly
inherited kingdom and embraced monkhood. He composed the Jatakamala with a view to bringing
people to the path of wisdom. In the Chinese translation he is mentioned as Bodhisattva.
General Editor's Preface
The Pracya-Manisa-Gavesana-Mandiram feels immense pleasure in bringing out a bilingual
edition of Aryasura's Jatakamala as the volume one of the Pracya-Manisa Classics series.
The Gavesana-Mandiram has been founded, in October 2005, by some eminent persons as
a registered academic institution, with the noble objective, the study of and research in
oriental literary and cultural heritage. A major part of Indian heritage constitute a vast
classical literature, chiefly written in Sanskrit and Prakrit. This literature is unique in
its comprehensiveness and range as well as in its intrinsic value. Besides, this literature
is unparalled in the world for its amazing continuity of at least five thousand years. This
literature comprises innumerable branches and disciplines, both religious and philosophical
on the one hand and material and secular on the other. Some of the disciplines and branches
are: the Vedas and auxiliary sciences; grammar, lexicography and semantics; religious and
social codes, philosophical and metaphysical schools; logic and epistemology, sacred books
of various sects; polity and statecraft; erotica; epic and mythology; creative literature
and belles-letters; poetics, aesthetics and dramaturgy; architecture, iconography, music and
dance; astronomy and mathematics, etc. etc. All the Indian traditions, -Brahmanical,
Buddhist and Jain-have contributed to the growth and enrichment of this literature, down the
The Gavesana-Mandiram has taken up the ambitious project of starting a series of
bilingual editions of the representative works in all branches of the Indian classical
literature. To start with the Jatakamala of Aryasura, a fourth century book of Buddhist
narratives, written as a compukavya (a poem in prose and verse), is being published as the
volume one in the series. Its place in Sanskrit literature in general and in the Buddhist
narrative literature in particular has been discussed in greater in the Introduction, in the
This is to be noted that the Gavesana-Mandiram does not aim at producing a
text-critical edition, based on original manuscripts, which would have been far more
time-consuming and expensive, besides, not of much interest to general readers.
The text published in this edition has been reconstructed primarily on the basis of
two earlier editions,-one by Hendrik Kern (referred to in the margin by K), the other one by
P.L. Vaidya (referred to in the margin by V). While reconstructing the text, variants
adopted by the anonymous commentary and the suggestions of the translator, J.S. Speyer, have
also helped in finalizing the text in this edition. In a few cases, such variants and
suggestions have been noted in the footnotes. We could not, however, incorporate the results
of Peter Khoroche's research on the readings of the Jatakamala, since we could not contact
him for his permission.
The excellent and faithful English translation by J.S. Speyer, based on Kern's
edition and published as Vol. I of the Sacred Books of the Buddhists, in 1895, has been
adopted here. No substantial change in the translation was found necessary; only manor
alterations in the language have been made to conform to the modern idiom and also to our
text. The old system of transliteration followed in the Sacred Books of the Buddhists has
been replaced by the latest system now internationally accepted.
The Kacchapa-jataka, appended by Kern to his edition, which he found as the
seventeenth Jataka in a Manuscript preserved in Paris has been dropped since it is proved
beyond all doubts that the said Jataka is not from the pen of Aryasura.
The General Editor is beholden to the office-bearers of the
Pracya-Manisa-Gavesana-Mandiram, for their interest, encouragement and constant support. We
also thank Sri Harish Chandra of the Akshya Prakashan for his kindly agreeing to be the co
publisher for the Series.
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