The following excerpt is from the introduction to Jataka Tales
The Jatakas, or Birth-stories, form one of the sacred books of the Buddhists and relate to the adventures of the Buddha in his former existences, the best character in any story being identified with the Master.
These legends were continually introduced into the religious discourses of the Buddhist teachers to illustrate the doctrines of their faith or to magnify the glory and sanctity of the Buddha, somewhat as medieval preachers in Europe used to enliven their sermons by introducing fables and popular tales to rouse the flagging interest of their hearers. . . .
. . . While some of the stories are Buddhistic and depend for their point on some custom or idea peculiar to Buddhism, many are age-old fables, the flotsam and jetsam of folklore, which have appeared under various guises throughout the centuries, as when they were used by Boccaccio or Poggio, merely as merry tales, or by Chaucer, who unwittingly puts a Jataka story into the mouth of his pardoners when he tells the tale of "the Ryotoures three."
. . . The Jataka Tales contain deep truths, and are calculated to impress lessons of great moral beauty. . . . .these tales "are, as everyone must admit, nobly conceived, lofty in meaning, and many a helpful sermon might be preached from them as texts."
|Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt 33 credits
The Jatakas are 'birth stories' based on sacred Buddhist texts from the east. These eighteen fables from the Jatakas of India are skillfully retold and strikingly illustrated. They include The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Merchant of Seri, The Turtle Who Wouldn't Stop Talking, The Foolish Timid Rabbit, The Banyan Deer, and many others.
|More Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt 32 credits
This is the second volume of The Jataka tales, or 'birth stories', that are based on sacred Buddhist texts, some dating as far back as the third century B. C. They are among the oldest collection of folklore extant, and like Aesop's fables, teach interesting moral and life lessons with the use of interesting characters.