Re-viewing Jātakas: Adultery, Punishments and Gender

in Articles


Salomi Rai

Research Scholar
Department of History
Sikkim University
Gangtok, India

Abstract: Buddhism attaches a great significance towards the notion of morality. Adultery thus was seen as a serious transgression and sin, the fallout of which not only harms oneself but everyone around. Despite this, the instances of adultery are extensive in the early Buddhist texts like the Jātakas or the birth stories of Buddha. The text speaks largely regarding the infidelity of women. Here, it is interesting to see how Gender defines the nature of characters. Women have been recurrently represented as adulterous, wicked and seductive causing trouble to men and letting them astray of the right path. In majority of the cases the initiative for such relations are taken mainly by the married women. Also, gender had its role to play even in the degree and intensity of punishments given to men and women for the same crime like Adultery. The paper thus attempts to review the representation and notion of adultery and Gender in the text . Even in today’s society the idea of women being frail to urges and desires are still prevalent. This work aspires to trace the roots of such ideas and bring into light how they have been weaved into and preserved since very ancient times.

Key Words:Adultery,Gender, Jātakas,Literature ,Punishment, Stereotype, Women