When a Book Becomes a Companion: Jataka Tales

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Join us as we delve into the world of Jataka tales, stories taught by the Buddha which beautifully depict the attitudes and actions that cultivate compassion and enrich our understanding of karma. Jatakas were told by Buddha Sakyamuni drawing upon his previous lifetimes of Bodhisattva efforts for others which culminated in his complete enlightenment. Also known as birth stories, Jatakas have been cherished and passed down for centuries due to their accessible portrayal of the Buddha's teachings. We invite you to join us as we embark on this exploration of the inspiring Jataka tales of wisdom and guidance depicted in The Marvelous Companion.

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“The Jatakas can serve as occasions to reflect upon the moral choices in our lives, and to open our eyes to the reality of karma, helping us develop the insight and discipline we need to acknowledge and change destructive patterns of behavior” (The Marvelous Companion, p. xx)


The Marvelous Companion

The Marvelous Companion: Aryasura's Jatakamala brings to life thirty-four Jatakas retold by the great first century Indian master and poet Aryasura. Revered for its depth and artistry, this Jatakamala, or garland of birth stories, is accompanied by charming illustrations created in the traditional manner. It is a thoughtful rewording of an earlier translation, making it more accessible for today’s reader. In this episode we explore the Jataka tale of “The Monkey King.”

“Those who walk the path of virtue can win over the hearts of even their fiercest enemies” (The Marvelous Companion, p. 261)

Contemplation Practice: Karma

The Buddha taught that karma does not unfold in a simple linear progression with a single cause giving rise directly to a specific effect. The good do not always immediately prosper, and the evil do not always immediately pay for their actions. Yet, viewed from the perspective of many lifetimes, nothing is lost or dissipated; nothing appears from nowhere. Every action sets in motion forces that will produce results in precise accord with the nature of the action itself. A violent act brings violent consequences to its perpetrator, a generous act brings bountiful rewards, and so on. As illustrated in the Jatakalama, the seeds planted by a single action, and by the thoughts and motives that underlie it, will inevitably bear fruit, perhaps again and again over many lifetimes. Even the fact that we are born as human beings is a result of actions performed in past lives. 



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Customer Reviews

A daily dose of inspiration: "It is a very inspiring book to read and connect to the positive qualities that are available within all of us. Reading it is like turning on an internal light, and restores my belief in what human beings, at their hearts, are truly capable of." (P. Givens)

Five stars: “Very inspiring stories.” (Jesus Yerena)


Explore Additional Jataka Resources

Jataka Books for Adults and Children: Explore Jataka Tales for Here


 May you enjoy this book as much as we are by sharing it.


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