Jâtaka the previous lives of the Buddha

lecture by Thierry Zéphir studies engineer at MNAA-Guimet and professor at the Ecole du Louvre.

Buddhist literature contains a set of narratives, the jataka or " Births ", Recounting the past lives of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha and constituting a source of moralizing teachings for the lay faithful.
In the number of 547 in the Pali cannon, the jataka are short fables or long stories; they are composed of versified parts accompanied by prose developments defining the context and explaining the stanzas.
In the course of his previous lives, Shakyamuni experienced, or simply witnessed, six possible conditions of existence: god, demon, man, animal, hungry ghost, damned. Throughout his entire existence, the Bodhisattva cultivated the ten perfections - generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, effort, tolerance, truth, determination, benevolent love, equanimity - which enabled him to become the Buddha of our era.
In the light of some representative stories and artistic transcriptions to which they gave rise, we propose to go back to the distant causes of access to Siddhartha Gautama Buddhahood.


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