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The Paññāsa Jātaka (Burmese: ပညာသဇာတက; Thai: ปัญญาสชาดก), is a non-canonical collection of 50 stories of the Buddha's past lives, originating in mainland Southeast Asia.[1] The stories were based on the style of the Jātakatthavaṇṇanā, but are not from the Pāli Canon itself.[2][3] The stories outline the Buddha's biography and illustrate his acquisition of the perfections (pāramitā), with a strong focus on generosity (dāna).[4]



According to 17th and 18th century Burmese tradition,[4] the stories may have originated in 15th century Lan Na (modern Northern Thailand).[3] According to Damrong Rajanubhab, the stories were first composed in Chiang Mai between 1467 and 1667.[3]


The collection has 3 recensions, one in Laotian and 2 in Pali, one from Burma, and another from Cambodia and Thailand. The Burmese version is also known as Zinme Pyinnyatha (ဇင်းမယ်ပညာသ; lit. "Chiang Mai Fifty"),[5] from where the collection was likely transmitted.[6] While there is some overlap between the versions, there is a significant degree of variation in the 3 recensions.[7]


  1. ^ Kaung, Thaw (December 2006). "Myanmar Dramatic Literature, its Rise and Decline" (PDF). Myanmar Historical Research Journal: 8–104.
  2. ^ Collins, Steven (May 1998), "The Vessantara Jātaka", Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities, Cambridge University Press, pp. 497–554, doi:10.1017/cbo9780511520655.013, ISBN 9780511520655, retrieved 2018-09-02
  3. ^ a b c Jaini, Padmanabh S. (2001). Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 9788120817760.
  4. ^ a b Appleton, Dr Naomi (2013-06-28). Jataka Stories in Theravada Buddhism: Narrating the Bodhisatta Path. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781409481317.
  5. ^ Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. 1998.
  6. ^ Cone, Margaret (January 1984). "Paññāsa-Jātaka, or Zimme Paṇṇāsa (In The Burmese Recension). Vol. II (Jātakas 26–50). Edited by Padmanabh S. Jaini. (Text Series, No. 173.) pp. xliii, 309–584. London, Pali Text Society, 1983. (Distributed by Routledge and Kegan Paul. £22.50.)". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 116 (1): 172–173. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00166687. ISSN 2051-2066.
  7. ^ Skilling, Peter (2006). "Jātaka and Paññāsa-jātaka in South-East Asia" (PDF). Journal of the Pali Text Society. 27: 113–174.

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