Divine Stories - Praise
Explore this second volume of translations, in vivid prose, from one of the most celebrated collections of ancient Buddhist stories.
“These stories are vivid reminders that Buddhism is much more than a collection of philosophical abstractions or a bare-bones meditative technique for altering our neurobiology. Here we see the Buddha’s teachings firmly anchored in their natural habitat, shaping lives by opening us up to the sorrows and joys of others. In pondering the depths of the human soul, they invite us to examine our assumptions about the hidden springs of desire and fear, what motivates us to think, speak, and act in the way we do.”—C. W. Huntington Jr., author of Maya
“The Divyāvadāna interrupts our assumptions that Buddhist literature is technical and devoid of drama. The Divine Stories are full of the big questions—of choice and consequence, love and power, harrowing events, and unexpected turns. These Buddhist texts reveal storytelling and teaching at its narrative best, and in this second volume of the Divine Stories, Andy Rotman has translated them with unparalleled love and dedication.”—Akincano M. Weber, guiding teacher, Atammaya Cologne
“Those who devoured volume one of Divine Stories will delight in this fresh batch of adventures and misadventures, each illustrating the twisting karmic bonds of a host of comic, tragic, evil, mundane, and divine characters throughout the three times. Pairing profundity with playfulness, Rotman’s precise translations of these historically important tales not only captivate, they also remind us of the power of stories to shape humans and the worlds they inhabit. An exhilarating storytelling tour de force!”—Sara McClintock, Associate Professor of Religion, Emory University
"In these early Buddhist stories we meet fabulous creatures and ordinary men and women of 2,000 years ago. The places mentioned in them sound like nothing that we know of today. And yet in Andy Rotman’s captivating translation, these stories have a contemporary ring. Everywhere we see parallels between their world and ours. In search of a better life, the poor leave Jambudvipa (the Indian subcontinent) by the boatload, just as the Tamils of Sri Lanka left by the planeload their war-ravaged homeland for the New Ratnadvipa (Treasure Island) of Australia. And who will not recognize someone they know, the eggshell of his ignorance unbroken by knowledge, in the following verse:
One ignorant because of his innocence
is actually wise in this case.
But one ignorant and thinking himself wise
is rightly recognized as a fool.
Poetry, W. H. Auden said, makes nothing happen. But there are, in lines of poetry, shafts of wisdom that can sometimes bring clarity to our lives. The Buddhist storytellers knew that wisdom must come wrapped in entertainment, and made certain that these stories have it in plenty." –Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, author of History of Indian literature in English