The Jataka Tale Of The Hungry Tigress

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The Jataka tales are an integral part of Buddhist literature as they illustrate the “great deeds, in past lives of the being that was to become the Buddha Gautama.” (Harvey 99)In such tales, the Bodhisattva character “…does some inspiring deed of generosity, kindness or wisdom… identified with the Buddha or his key disciples…” (99) In the story of the Hungry Tigress, a human, brahmin Bodhisattva stumbles across a starving tigress with her cubs while out meditating in nearby caves. Shocked and saddened upon seeing the dying creature; attempting to eat her own kin, the Bodhisattva deliberates how he can save this beautiful creature. He decides in a moment of passion and emptiness to hurl himself off the mountainside to where the tigress is so she can be saved by eating his body. His disciples become aware of this awe-inspiring act and are moved by the loving and kindness of this Bodhisattva. Interestingly, when analyzing the Jataka tale of the Hungry Tigress, one can point to parallels between the Bodhisattva protagonist to the practice and teachings of the Arahat of the Theravada school, the Bodhisattva of the Mahayana school and the follower of the quicker path to Buddhahood of the Vajrayana school. However, the self-sacrificial actions of the bodhisattva at the end of the tale is analogous to the Guru of the school of Vajrayana, leading one to believe that this story best follows the thunderbolt vehicle of Vajrayana.
In the school of Theravada Buddhism, one strives to

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