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Michael Hahn, Professor Emeritus of Indology and Tibetology at the University of Marburg has a new title from Aditya Prakashan, Poetical vision of the Buddha's former lives: Seventeen legends from Haribhaṭṭa's Jātakamālā.

The present book contains the first Indian edition of 17 (out of 34) legends from the “Garland of Birth-Stories” (Jātakamālā) by the Kashmiri poet Haribhaṭṭa who lived not later than 400 CE. His composition, written in the prosimetric campū style, is a worthy successor to Āryaśūra's Jātakamālā. An exemplary representative of the chaste style (vaidarbhī rītiḥ), it enchants the reader by its perfectly lucid Sanskrit, the great variety of metres (29) and superb prose sections, which can be regarded as forerunners of Daṇḍin's and Bāṇa's prose novels. The legends, which are meant to illustrate the six moral perfections (pāramitā), viz. giving, morality, forbearance, striving, meditation and wisdom, are chosen not only from the rich store-house of Buddhist narrative literature, but occasionally also from other sources, e.g., the Mahābhārata or even folk tales.

In contrast to his predecessor Āryaśūra, Haribhaṭṭa follows the way of playwrights and boldly alters the original plot in order to achieve more dramatic effects. His stories vary considerably in length: between 6 pages (containing 28 stanzas) such as the legend of the ascetic Jajvalin (No. 26) and 60 pages (containing 242 stanzas) such as the legend of prince Sudhana and his wife, the kinnarī Manoharā (No. 25; still unpublished), the latter story being in fact a veritable love romance.

Until 1973, Haribhaṭṭa's work was known only from its medieval Tibetan translation. Between 1973 and 1976, Michael Hahn discovered ten of its legends in anonymous manuscripts from Nepal. They were published (in Latin script) in Japan in 2007. In 2004, Michael Hahn got access to another fragmentary Sanskrit manuscript that permitted him to include seven more legends in the present Indian edition. An English translation is currently being prepared. A CD containing colour photographs of the oldest manuscript of Haribhaṭṭa's Jātakamālā from Nepal is attached to book.

In our Buddhism and Sanskrit Literature sections, in hardcover, 232 pages with CD, ISBN 9788177421040.

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