The Jataka
Stories of the Buddha's former births
translated for Pali into English by
various translators
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    THE JĀTAKAM or Stories of the Buddha's former births. Translated from Pali by various hands under the editorship of Prof. E.B. Cowell.

    The Jataka is a massive collection of Buddhist folklore about previous incarnations of the Buddha, both in human and animal form. Originally written in Pali, and dating to at least 380 BCE, the Jataka includes many stories which have traveled afar. Many of these can be traced cross-culturally in the folklore of many countries.

    General informations and details in regard of the translations you may find in:

Even though the Jatakas are those stories which are most commonly used for teaching the laity in South East Asia, and they are also very helpful in educating with regard to Vinaya, they have not yet found essential meaning in the Western hemisphere. This may surely be related to the circumstance that the available translations do not very much confom to the state of "science" and also contain parts we would translate different today. The antiquated language in the texts in not everyone's cup of tea either. Nevertheless these texts should not stay so excluded as they are until now and are mentined in the Suttas as importand parts to know and learn as well. We hope that this collection here may perhaps serve also as a help and support for new translations and studies as well.

The Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon contains "only" the verses, which are contained in the respective stories (see the pale "§" signs). Even though this may deviate somewhat from the usual structure of the website here I have nevertheless decided to include the stories as well here in the Sutta Pitaka section, and not separted them off into the commentary section. This just did not seem practical, also in view of the large extent of the material, but it should nevertheless be mentioned and made known here.

The single stories as well as the directories are equipped with numerous links to the Pali original sources: See the notes.

Important to mention is certainly as well that the complete Jataka section on Zugang zur Einsicht is under construction, and therefore there are still some "dead" links, missing cross references and missing explanations. The German translation by Dr. Julius Dutoit was generously made available for ZzE by the Beyerlen & Steinschulte publishing house. For the English translations has been generously shared to contribute here on ZzE as a Dhamma-Gift by the "Pali Text Sociaty. Also especially for this section of ZzE, you are heartily invited at anytime to participate in the works, the integration and necessary additions. For more info here see: Cowork

Introductions notes by the various translators   

  • Preface - Volume I

    translated by Robert Chalmers, B.E., of Oriel College, Oxford (1895), the volume includes the Jataka J 001 - J 150
  • Preface - Volume II

    translated by W.H.D. Rouse, B.E., of Christ's College, Cambridge (1895), the volume includes the Jataka J 151 - J 300
  • Preface - Volume III

    translated by H.T. Francis of Gonville and Caids College; and R.A. Neil of Pembroke College, London, (1897), the volume includes the Jataka J 301 - J 438
  • Preface - Volume IV

    translated by W.H.D. Rouse, of Christ's College, Cambridge (1901), the volume includes the Jataka J 439 - J 510
  • Preface - Volume V

    translated by H.T. Francis of Gonville and Caids College, (1905), the volume includes the Jataka J 511 - J 537
  • Preface - Volume VI

    translated by W.H.D. Rouse, B.E., of Christ's College, Cambridge (1907), the volume includes the Jataka J 537 - J 547


Here a short legend to all the various links included in the index and content pages (above the page heading).

  • "{Sutta:..." is a hint that this link points to sources in the Sutta Pitaka.
  • "J i 109|": This first link leads to the original text in the Pali Canon SLTP (Sri Lanka Tipitaka Project) and is directly available on this page. The small-letter roman number refers to the volume, and the arabic number refers to the page in the original edition. The text is designated as "common property" and appears, when viewed side by side with the helpful efforts by John Bullitt for this ATI (ZzE) edition, as not very well maintained.
  • "|J 001|": leads directly to the reference in the edition in the "Vipassana Research Institute"'s CSCD edition offered to, and is as a Sangha gift only available for monastic persons and helpers for study purposes. As a Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Novice or lay helper you are heartily invited to have an account be registered for you.
  • "|J 001}": leads to the "Vipassana Research Institutes"'s original edition on Since the single Jatakas are not equipped with link anchors the link refers to the first verse after the heading. Since the anchor attribute is set with the ID "name" this direct link does not work with HTML 5.
  • "{Vaṇṇanā:": (Pali: story) is a hint that these links lead to sources in the commentary section of the Tipitaka. The public SLTP edition does not contain the commentary part to the Jataka stories.
  • "atta. J 001|": leads directly to the reference in the edition of the CSCD in the Pali commentary section (user account necessary for access, see above).
  • "|atta. J 001": leads to the next verse after the heading in the original CSCD on
  • A directory of all the Jataka sections and chapters that also contains all the links in a list you can download for your works here in Excel format: Index Jataka references in Pali resources and Translations (English, German) (1,16 MB), Remark: This list is continously updated. Should you spot a mistake I am happy about reports.

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