By Āryaśūra
Translated by Justin Meiland

In this second volume of the “Garland of the Buddha’s Past Lives,” Arya·shura applies his elegant literary skill toward composing fourteen further stories that depict the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment in his former lives.

Here the perfection of forbearance becomes the dominant theme, as the future Buddha suffers mutilations from the wicked and sacrifices himself for those he seeks to save. Friendship, too, takes on central significance, with greed leading to treachery and enemies transformed into friends through the future Buddha’s miraculous virtue.

The setting for many such moral feats is the forest. Portrayed as home for the future Buddha in his lives as an animal or ascetic, the peaceful harmony of this idyllic realm is often violently interrupted by intrusions from human society. Only the future Buddha can resolve the ensuing conflict, influencing even kings to express wonder and devotion at the startling demonstrations of virtue they encounter.

The Great One's heart was gripped by compassion and he went to the edge of the pit. There he saw the king writhing in despair. Dust had removed any gleam from his armor. His turban, clothes, and protective gear were in disarray. His heart was tormented by the pain of crashing into the pit.

Seeing the king writhing in the pit,
His eyes filled with tears.
Compassion made him forget of him as a foe
And instead he shared in the king’s pain.
520 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-9583-5  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-9583-8  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Justin Meiland has also translated Garland of the Buddha’s Past Lives (volume one)Maha·bhárata IX: Shalya volume one and volume two for the CSL.