Jataka Tales contain the very essence of Buddha’s
preaching. According to popular beliefs, they were narrated by Buddha himself. Numbering a total of 550, they are believed to be episodes from his past lives. They are meant to teach the common people about the virtues relating to self-sacrifice, honesty and other moral values. Originally written in a language known as Pali, they have fascinated the young and old alike through the ages. Like their Hindu counterpart, Panchatantra
, they make a very interesting reading.
In Jataka tales, the characters are all animals. The tales are based on some problems and the solutions brought about to solve them. The narration is interleaved with elements of magic, heroism, comedy and tragedy. These tales serve to impart the qualities of cooperation, understanding, wisdom and creativity on the common man. Their adaptation in the folk theatre, decorative arts and temple murals bears testimony to their popularity.