Translated by Joel Tatelman


The Dívyavadána, or “Heavenly Exploits,” is a collection of thirty-eight Buddhist biographical stories. The genre of narratives of an individual’s religiously significant deeds is as old as Buddhism, and its manifestations are as widely spread across Buddhist Asia, in classical and vernacular languages, down to the present day. Volume One contains the stories of Shrona Koti·karna, Purna, Prince Súdhana and Makándika. The first two stories are fine examples of the type of tales of adventurous seafaring merchants whose moral virtue and religious observance lead to material wealth. Súdhana’s is a prince’s long and dangerous heroic quest, while the brahmin ascetic Makándika offers his nubile daughter to the Buddha in marriage. Where religion meets the world, these narratives present something for everyone.

Then the wanderer Makándika approached the Lord and said: ‘May the Lord behold my virtuous daughter, Anúpama, a lovely young woman beautifully adorned. Since I give this amorous girl to you, live with her like a true sage, like the moon in the sky with Róhini.’ The Lord reflected, ‘If I speak conciliatory words to Anúpama, what will happen is that she will go to her death sweating with passion. Therefore I shall speak repellent words to her.’

444 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-8288-0  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-8288-4  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Joel Tatelman is Senior Editor at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has also published The Glorious Deeds of Purna, a translation and study of the Púrnavadána.