Legends of the Buddhist Saints


Translated by Jonathan S. Walters
Whitman College

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The Text

Legends of the Buddhist Saints (Apadāna) is a collection of about six hundred autobiographical poems ascribed to the accomplished Buddhas and Arahants of the early Buddhist community. Composed in India in the Pāli language around the second century, B.C.E., the collection has been preserved for more than two thousand years. Apadāna is the source of many of the best-loved stories of the saints in the Buddhist world. It is also a particularly rich and colorful source for the social and religious history of ancient India.

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About the Project

This is the first-ever complete translation of Apadāna into a Western language. It has been a daunting undertaking, traversing the translator’s entire professional career, yet it admittedly remains an imperfect work in progress. Motivated by a sense that scholars, students, Buddhists and even the general public might enjoy and benefit from access to this beautiful collection of ancient poetry, he has pushed ahead, in fits and starts, to produce the present translation, and to offer it for free to the world in this innovative online format.

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