One of the most important texts in the literature of Buddhism, the Jātaka contains stories that celebrate the previous lives of the Buddha. The future Buddha may appear in these "jātakas" as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant — but in whatever form he takes, he exhibits some virtue which the tale then proceeds to inculcate in the reader. This superb selection of 47 stories of the Buddha — among them "The Bar of Gold Jātaka," "The King's Lesson Jātaka," "The Gem-Thief Jātaka," and "The Great Ape Jātaka" — are filled with humor, pathos, and narrative appeal that have endeared them to generations of Buddhists and to audiences around the world. Many are directly related to ancient Indian folklore and top the traditional stories and myths of other cultures, among them the beast fables of Aesop. Many have been the subject of countless works of Buddhist art. Although the settings of the stories are often imaginary, they offer scholars, students, and enthusiasts of Buddhism and Buddhist culture and society. This collection has been edited and translated by one of the most distinguished Western scholars of Buddhism, Caroline A. F. Rhys Davids, who has contributed a lively introductory essay to these landmarks of folk literature.