Religions of South Asia, Vol 5, No 1/5.2 (2011)

Heir to one’s Karma: Multi-Life Personal Genealogies in Early Buddhist and Jain Narratives

Naomi Appleton
Issued Date: 23 May 2012


Buddhist and Jain texts contain many stories that trace a person’s biography through multiple lives, illustrating karmic consequences, progress towards spiritual goals, and the preservation or deconstruction of relationships across several births. These stories can be seen as a form of genealogy, since they explain a person’s identity and form an alternative lineage to the family. This paper explores the ways in which karmic genealogies are constructed in some early Buddhist and Jain narratives, and how these interact with other forms of lineage, namely the family and networks of significant religious figures.

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DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v5i1/2.227


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