All living creatures die to be born again, so believe the Hindus, Siddhartha, who became the Buddha, was no
exception. It is believed that several lifetimes as a Bodhisattva go into the making of a Buddha, the Enlightened
One. The Bodhisattva is one, who by performing virtuous, kind and intelligent acts, aspires to become a Buddha.
The Bodhisattva came in many forms - man, monkey, deer, elephant, lion. Whatever his mortal body, he spread
the message of justice and wisdom, tempered with compassion.
This wisdom, the wisdom of right thinking and right living, is preserved in the Jatakas stories on which the
present title is based. It is a collection of 550 stories included in the Pali canon and are based on the ballads,
legend and folklore of ancient India. A definite date cannot be assigned to the Jataka stories. From archaeological and literary evidence, it seems likely that they were compiled in the period between 3rd century BC and 5th
century AD. The Jataka tales provides keen insights into the civilization, culture and philosophy of ancient India.
The Magic Chant narrates short and simple tales that reflect on the demerits of greed, pride and blind faith. The
Giant and the Dwarf tells a story that not only highlights wit versus might and brain versus brawn, but also
provides a lesson in humility and gratitude.
According to the Maha Ummagga Jataka, the Bodhisattva was once born as Aushadha Kumar who as endowed
with celestial knowledge and superhuman powers. The Priceless Gem presents the third set of tales connected
with Aushadha Kumar, and feature his adventures in the court of Mithila.
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