By Dr Naomi Appleton
Buddhism and Jainism proportion the suggestions of karma, rebirth, and the desirability of escaping from rebirth. The literature of either traditions comprises many tales approximately previous, and infrequently destiny, lives which exhibit a lot approximately those foundational doctrines. Naomi Appleton rigorously explores how multi-life tales served to build, speak, and problem principles approximately karma and rebirth inside of early South Asia, interpreting portrayals of different geographical regions of rebirth, the aptitude paths and ambitions of humans, and the biographies of excellent non secular figures. Appleton additionally deftly surveys the facility of karma to bind members jointly over a number of lives, and the character of the supernormal reminiscence that makes multi-life tales on hand within the first position. This unique examine not just sheds gentle at the person preoccupations of Buddhist and Jain culture, yet contributes to a extra whole historical past of non secular idea in South Asia, and brings to the foreground long-neglected narrative resources.
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Extra resources for Narrating Karma and Rebirth: Buddhist and Jain Multi-life Stories
Despite this, little has been said about animals as subjects, as fellow travellers in the cycle of rebirth and redeath. Having brieﬂy surveyed the doctrinal positions, we may now turn our attention to a rare source for our understanding of animals as moral agents: the narrative materials. Buddhist and Jain texts 10 11 12 I am grateful to L. S. Cousins and Rupert Gethin (personal communications 2012) for clarifying the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda views, and for providing supporting references. For the Theravāda position see Abhidhammāvatāra V 206–7 (Buddhadatta 1915: 37), a manual attributed to Buddhadatta Mahāthera, thought to be a contemporary of Buddhaghosa.
31 This rebirth is the result not of simple proximity to the teacher, but of comprehension of Jain teachings and a decision to pay honour to the Jain teachers. Other animals go even further, practising fasting or taking on the lay vows, as does the frog in the story recounted above. 32 That is not to say that animals cannot be aided by association with a spiritually advanced human teacher, but rather that loyalty or service to that teacher, or indeed a mind calmed or made faithful by their presence, is neither suﬃcient nor necessary for the attainment of a better rebirth in the Jain context.
Up a treacherous mountain path the caravan leader Having ridden goats instructs everyone to slay their goat, eat the ﬂesh and climb into the skin. Then the ﬂesh-eating birds will mistake them for lumps of meat and carry them over the mountain ridge. Cārudatta is appalled, and begs for the life of his goat, who has carried him so far, to be spared. The other merchants move to kill the goat for him, and as the poor animal gazes at him Cārudatta tells him that he must be experiencing his bad karma and that he should keep his mind on the omniscient ones.