Here is one of the most entertaining masterpieces of Sanskrit literature rendered in an English translation that fully captures the original's artistry and charm.
Written most probably in the fourth century A.D., the Jatakamala is generally considered the masterpiece of Buddhist literature in Sanskrit. In elegant, courtly style, Arya Sura retells thirty-four traditional stories about the Buddha in his previous incarnations, human and animal. Whether as a king, a brahmin, a monkey, or a hare, the Great One is shown in assiduous pursuit of virtue and compassion. Though primarily intended as exemplary tales illustrating the Buddhist virtues, these stories also provide a vivid picture of life at a high point in ancient Indian culture city life in ordinary households or at the royal court, and country life against a backdrop of mountain, desert, and jungle.
Fresh study of the Sanskrit manuscripts, now scattered in libraries all over the world, has enabled Peter Khoroche to make this new translation faithful to the original in both style and content. His explanatory notes will assist student and general reader alike in appreciating this classic from an ancient and exotic civilization.
"The general reader will be highly grateful for this new translation which, besides being beautifully printed, is rounded off with a very informative and reliable introduction." Renate Sohnen-Thieme, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Once the Buddha Was a Monkey: Arya Sura's "Jatakamala", Arya Sura, Paperback, University of Chicago Press, 2006, 294 Pages, $24.00