Once in a Dhamma talk I heard a Theravada Monk saying he did not believe in such stories, because some of them contradict the Buddha's teachings (suttas), I don't know if that was his personal opinion or a general view in Theravada Buddhism.

4 Answers 4


The Theravada accepts the Jataka stories as commentarial literature; they are not canonical, but are considered a reliable account by a learned Buddhist scholar. What are canonical are the verses that accompany the stories, as that is how 547 of the latter were easily remembered. Number of verses per varies; some have a single verse, others have over 100, I think.

It's not uncommon for modern Theravada Buddhists to question the authenticity of the stories, especially given their often fantastical content. Probably, though, it is more common for Theravada Buddhists to accept the stories far more at face value than they really should, again given their content.


No, it is not a general view. Theravada tradition does accept the Jataka stories. It is a part of Khuddaka Nikaya. But it is not unnatural for someone to doubt any part of the Tipitaka at any given time. Doubt can appear in the mind at any time. Apart from that, some teachers might opt to leave the Jataka stories out when they preach to western audiences as it may not be appealing to them.

  • The point he made was that they were introduced later in Buddhism and some of the messages there, in his view, dont make sense in a Buddhist perspective like giving yourself to a tiger, a human life can benefit much more people than a tiger. That was just one example
    – konrad01
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 11:02
  • Well, the whole cannon was written centuries after the parinibbana of the Buddha. That doesn't mean it isn't authentic. If I remember right, the story you are referring to is the one in which the Bodhisatta sacrifices himself to a leopardess to stop it from eating it's own cubs due to extreme hunger. That is called Dana Paramatta Paramita. You have to perfect each Paramita in 3 ways to become a fully enlightened Buddha. I don't see any conflicts with that Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 13:13

My understanding of Theravada is that it only accepts the Pali Canon as canonical and any other teaching that is in conflict with the Pali Canon is rejected. As the Jataka stories are actually part of the Pali canon, it can be said that Theravada Buddhism accepts the Jataka stories.


The Jataka Tales appear in the Khuddaka Nikaya. Some later compositions on the Jataka Tales expand upon the original stogies hence some parts in these works might be fictitious or exaggerated.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .