The Jataka tales, on which the present collection is based, is a collection of 550 stories included in the Pali canon,. They are tales in which the life of the Bodhisattva in his previous births is narrated. The Bodhisattva is one, who by performing virtuous, kind and intelligent acts aspires to become a Buddha (enlightened one), his came in many forms man, monkey, deer, elephant, lion and whatever the form of his mortal body, he spread the message of justice and wisdom, tempered with compassion. The wisdom, of right thinking and right living is preserved in the Jataka stories.
The Mouse Merchant narrates a tale of wit versus might, and brain versus brawn, and also a lesson in humility and gratitude. The Giant and the Dwarf contains three stories teaching patience, perseverance and ingenuity, the last of which is exemplified in a tale where a poor young man makes his fortune with a dead rat. The Invaluable Treasure is a charming tale about a destitute water-carrier who earns half a kingdom.
The demerits of greed, pride and blind faith are narrated in the sort and simple tales of The Magic Chant. The Priceless Gem presents the second set of the tales connected with Aushdha Kumar, a Bodhisattva, and contain his adventures in the court of Mithila.
The Jataka tales are based on the ballads, legend and folklore of ancient India, and provide interesting insights into the civilization, culture and philosophy of that time.
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