The Jatakas furnish us valuable material not only for literature and art, but also for the study of economic condition of ancient India. Critically discuss with suitable examples.
The Jataka are based on the premise that before his birth as Gautama, Buddha passed over 550 births in both human and animal forms. Jatakas were possibly compiled in the second and third centuries (A.D.) by the Mahayana and the Tantrika sects of Buddhism.
Some Jatakas give information on economic activities, trades and professions. Some stories have references to land traders, sea traders and some kind of trade routes that existed during that period. For example Jatakas mention the sea voyages to Suvaranabhumi (SE Asia) from Varanasi in Ganga valley which helps to know how the export import trade through seas was flourished in Ancient India. We also get some information about the ship making workers of ancient India.
Jatakas also speak about politico-economical conditions such as duties of the king; different varnas and jatis and their economic activities, dispensation of justice and so on. Some of the stories also explain about situation of women, social inequality and slavery.
For example, in the Rajovada Jatakas, kings are depicted as the followers of justice and regulators of law. The stories mention many types of punishment that were given to the culprits, thus giving us political and administrative knowledge of those times.
Topics: GS-I: Indian Literature