Teruyoshi Matsumoto, "Jataka: The Story of Buddha's Former Life" - A recommended introduction to Buddhist discourses that greatly influenced Mahayana Buddhism.

hawk or falcon (esp. the common hawk, Accipiter gularis) Buddhism in India

Teruyoshi Matsumoto, "Jataka: The Story of Buddha's Former Life" Summary and Comments - A recommended introduction to the Buddhist sermons that greatly influenced Mahayana Buddhism.

We are pleased to present "Jataka: The Story of Buddha's Former Life" by Teruyoshi Matsumoto, published by KADOKAWA in 2019.

Let's take a quick look at the book.

A collection of Buddhist sermons depicting self-sacrifice and altruism

The rabbit, which had no food, jumped into the fire and offered its flesh as an offering. This rabbit was the Buddha's previous life. The Jataka is a collection of stories passed down orally by Buddhists in ancient India. Based on the idea of reincarnation, the stories depict the lives of kings, Brahmins, merchants, animals, and even gods, and have been popularized in Japan through the Konjaku Monogatari (Ancient and Modern Tales) and Kabuki plays. This volume brings together in one volume the essence of this collection of tales and literature, which depicts the ideals of altruism and self-sacrifice, colored by poetry and prose.

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This book is a recommended introduction to the Jataka, which is believed to have been prototyped a couple of hundred years after the Buddha's demise.

The Jataka is the story of Buddha's previous life, a simple tale of altruism and self-sacrifice, as described in the book introduction above.

The first chapter of this book provides an explanation of this jataka, so let's look there.

In India, the idea of reincarnation has existed since before the rise of Buddhism. It is the belief that after a certain period of time after death, living beings return to this world.

It is said that what we are reborn into in the next life is based on what we did before we were born. The invisible power that arises as a result of the actions of living beings is calledwork (i.e. performance, words, actions, etc.)karma (i.e. actions of a ruler, in order to prevent unauthorized actions)It is called "the good karma that makes one good and the bad karma that makes one bad. The Brahmanic Upanishadic scriptures, which were established before Buddhism, state that "by good karma one becomes good, and by bad karma one becomes bad.

Based on the idea of reincarnation, Indian Buddhists believed that before being born as the prince of Kapila Castle, the Buddha lived and died as various living beings, accumulating good karma over and over again, and that as a result, he developed the personality that would make him the Buddha.

In the Jatakas, Sakyamuni Buddha is called Bodhisattva or Mahasatta. Bodhisattvas who practice in pursuit of sattva are sometimes active as emperors or tree nymphs. At other times they are born as kings, princes, ministers, Brahmins, scholars, merchants, and so on. Not only are they born as gods or humans. They can also be deer, rabbits, dogs, rats, crabs, etc. Thus, Bodhisattvas practice good deeds in various forms.

KADOKAWA, Terutaka Matsumoto, Jataka: The Story of Buddha's Former Life, p. 14-15.

A representative story is the "Sutekamushi Tiger," which is also depicted in the Tamamushi kitchen of Horyuji Temple. It is a famous story of a tiger who gave his own body to save his mother from starvation. This story is also included in this book.

Horyuji Temple, Tamamushi Kitchen, "Suteki-Kaishi Tiger (right side facing Shumiza)Wikipedia.

Other famous tales can be read in this book, such as the story of King Sibi, who saved a dove by cutting off his own body and giving the meat to a hawk, and the story of the rabbit who jumped into the fire himself to make offerings to the Brahmins. This rabbit story in particular is also the original story of the "Moon Rabbit".

The jātaka contains a story that is familiar to us all.

In addition to the famous stories, there are many more interesting discourses, so I highly recommend this book to get a feel for the atmosphere of the Jātaka. I also think it is very significant to study the Jataka in the sense that the flow of Mahayana Buddhism started from these Buddhist discourses.

I highly recommend this introductory book.

The above is "Teruyoshi Matsumoto, "Jataka: The Story of Buddha's Former Life" - A recommended introduction to Buddhist discourses that greatly influenced Mahayana Buddhism.

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