• Sumalee Limprasert Faculty of Arts, Silpakorn University


พระพุทธศาสนา, วรรณกรรม, อวทาน


The purpose of this article is to provide a report on a Study of the plots of the Fifty Avadanas, as detailed in Kshemendra’s Avadana-Kalpalata. The study employed the data contained within the Fifty Avadanas to conduct a narrative analysis in terms of V.L. Propp’s Structure of Folktale Theory.

Although Jatakas and Avadanas are both Buddhist stories, they are not exactly alike. Whereas the Pali Jatakas almost invaliably describe the exemplary conducts of the Buddha during this past existence, the Avadanas are generally stories in which the Buddha relates the good and bad deeds of others, posthumously. Most of these Avadanas were supposed to have originated from the Buddha himself, during his mortal lifetime, however, there are a few Avadanas which are told to have originated after the Buddha’s Parinirvana and in these tales faith in the Buddha, either previously and independently acquired of acquired under the persuasive influence of the Buddha’s personality, plays a strong part.

The analysis shows that the Avadanas in Avadana-Kalpalata, in which the Buddha acts as the witness and narrator, put a lot of emphasis on ‘faith’ as the key element (‘function’ in Propps’ terminology) of the story, thus leading to an audience with the Buddha. In other Avadana stories, which are supposed to take place after Buddha transcends life, the key elements are (again); faith, followed by observing the Buddhist dharma and obtaining good consequences out of such observance.

It may be said that faith in Buddha is the key element of the Avadana stories, and that the desire to have an audience with the Buddha will naturally follow. Even in post-Buddha Avadana stories the major characters, who have obtained higher dharma, still wish to have an audience with the Buddha. From the above it is possible to conclude that the Avadanas, of the Buddhist sects that have separated themselves from the Theravada Buddhist Sangha, put more emphasis on faith in the Buddha than on the Buddhist dharma, They do so because they are strongly convinced that faith in Buddha will bring superior transformation into their life.



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Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of Folktale. Translated by Laurence Scott. 15th ed. Austin : University of Texas Press, 2000.

Vaidya, P.L., ed. Avadana-Kalpalata. Vol. 1, 2. Darbhanga : The Mithila Institute, 1959.