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A Concordance of Buddhist Birth Stories.

Those hoping to find in this volume a verbal concordance of the Buddhist birth stories in the usual sense of an alphabetical listing of the principal words from the texts, together with their contexts and citations of the passages in which they occur, will be disappointed. Such it is not.

Rather, Grey's Concordance is a reference tool of a very different sort, being built around an alphabetical listing by title, usually in Pali or Sanskrit, respectively, of Jatakas and Avadanas. The three main sources for Grey's listing of the Jatakas are Fausboll's edition and Cowell's translation of the Jatakas, together with Malalasekera's Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. Grey takes Ksemendra's Bodhisattvavadanakalpalata as the main source for his separate listing of the Avadanas. For Ksemendra he relies on Tucci's Tibetan Painted Scrolls.

Under each title three types of material are normally listed. First is a brief summary of the story or indication of its theme. This is often extremely sketchy, and at times omitted completely. Second is an effort to classify the morals of the stories according to the virtues of the ten paramitas or ten prohibitions of the patimokkha/pratimoksa which they exemplify. As Grey himself notes, labeling the stories according to this pattern of classification is not always possible. Apart from perhaps providing minimal identification of the stories beyond their titles, the inclusion of these first two types of material is of little value. Third, and of greater use, is a set of references to sources relating to the story in question. At their best these bibliographical listings include references to alternate translations, parallel versions and artistic representations of the stories, secondary studies, and the like. As is to be expected, given the vastness of the subject, the list of references is far from exhaustive and important omissions not uncommon.

In spite of its incompleteness and imperfections, Grey's Concordance, particularly in its references to sources, provides a handy starting point for serious research into the Jataka and Avadana literature.
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Author:McDermott, James P.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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