Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Jataka (previous lives)

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 50205)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha, Previous Life Stories (Sanskrit: jataka. Tibetan: kye rab): from the famous Indian text presenting 34 morality tales drawn from the previous life stories of the historical buddha, Shakyamuni.


#15 The Fish

The Rewards of Virtue

Through long and sustained practice, good or bad actions become inherent in one's nature to such a degree that in future lives they are performed without effort, as if in a dream. So even as a fish, the bodhisattva acted solely for the good of others. He cared for his fellow fish like they were his own offspring.

Due to an oversight by the gods charged with the dispersion of rain the lake in which the fish lived began to dry up. Flocks of birds circled the lake preying on the fish.

Out of concern and compassion for his fellow fish, the bodhisattva looked up to the sky in supplication to the gods, and proclaimed that he had never harmed a single being. The gods, hearing the true words of the virtuous fish, immediately created rain clouds. The birds of prey flew away. Drawing the attention of Shakra, the lords gods then appeared and explained that due to the tremendous virtue of the bodhisattva fish, he would protect them from drought henceforth.

Monty McKeever 5-2005


Key Events in the Story

1. A fish in a lake.

2. The lake dries up and birds of prey swarm.

3. Gods make rain.


View other items in the Thematic Set: Collection of Zanabazar: Jataka Stories