by Clifford Sawhney
Jataka Tales are often short narratives which tell the stories of the lives of the Buddha before he reached Enlightenment.
When, in the process of meditating beneath the Bodhi Tree, the cure for life`s suffering was revealed to him.
Before reaching his last life as the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha lived 550 successive lives in which he behaved justly and generously, accumulating merit during each life, until finally reaching Enlightenment.
In some of his lives he is born as human, while in others he is an animal, such as a deer a monkey or an elephant.
The Buddha himself used the Jataka stories to explain concepts like karma and rebirth and to emphasise the importance of certain moral values.
The story of each of these earlier lives, like a fable, is meant to convey the lessons of moral behaviour.
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