is a collection of biographical stories found in the Khuddaka Nikaya
The Khuddaka Nikaya is the last of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism...
of the Pāli Canon
The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the only completely surviving early Buddhist canon, and one of the first to be written down...
, the scriptures of Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...
Buddhism. It is thought by most scholars to be a late addition to the canon, composed during the 1st and 2nd century BCE. The title Apadāna
perhaps means 'life history' or 'legend' in Pāli
; it has the additional, older meaning of advice or moral instruction; Dr Sally Cutler has suggested the word originally meant 'reapings', i.e. of the results of karma. The title is sometimes translated as the Biographical Stories
, or simply as The Stories
consists of about 600 poems (between 589 and 603 in different editions), mostly biographical stories of monks and nuns. Many of the stories of monks and nuns are expansions of, or otherwise related to, verses presented in the Theragatha
The Theragatha , often translated as Verses of the Elder Monks , is a Buddhist scripture, a collection of short poems supposedly recited by early members of the Buddhist sangha. In the Pali Canon, the Theragatha is classified as part of the Khuddaka Nikaya, the collection of short books in the...
The Therigatha, often translated as Verses of the Elder Nuns , is a Buddhist scripture, a collection of short poems supposedly recited by early members of the Buddhist sangha in India around 600 BC...
as having been spoken by senior members of the early Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...
. Most Apadāna stories follow a fairly predictable outline, in which the speaker recounts their meritorious deeds in previous births as ethical individuals in a variety of different circumstances in different parts of India, before finally recounting the story of their present birth and how they came to be disciples of the Buddha. These stories of the previous lives of famous and not so famous monks and nuns may have been meant to provide moral examples to lay followers who wished to live as Buddhists but were unable or unwilling to undertake ordination as an ascetic.
A complete translation of the Apadāna
into English is yet to be completed. The following have been translated into English.
- Buddhapadana (the 1st), tr Dwijendralal Barua, in B.C. Law Volume, Part II, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, 1946, pages 186-9
- Paccekabuddhapadana (the 2nd), tr Ria Kloppenborg, in The Paccekabuddha, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1974
- Ratthapalapadana, tr Mabel Bode, in Mélanges d'Indianisme offerts par ses élèves à S. Lévi, Paris, 1911
- Pubbakammapilotikabuddhapadana, in The Udana Commentary, tr Peter Masefield, Pali Text Society
The Pali Text Society was founded in 1881 by T.W. Rhys Davids "to foster and promote the study of Pali texts".Pali is the language in which the texts of the Theravada school of Buddhism is preserved...
http://www.palitext.com, Bristol, volume II
- 25 of the last 40 apadanas (the nuns) are included in Commentary on Verses of Theris, tr William Pruitt, 1998, Pali Text Society, Bristol.
Avadāna is the name given to a type of Buddhist literature correlating past lives' virtuous deeds to subsequent lives' events...
- broad cross-Buddhist-school Pali and Sanskrit literature including Apadāna-like material