Royals across Religious Boundaries: A Comparative Study of Stories of Shared Royal Personages in Indian Buddhism and Jainism


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


School of Humanities


Institute for Area Studies at Leiden University


This project compares Buddhist and Jaina narrative traditions of four groups of royals, namely, King Bimbisara of Magadha and his family, King Pradyota of Avanti and his family, King Udayana of Vatsa and his family, and King Candragupta with his Mauryan family. Its purpose is not to offer an alternative political history of early India, but to explore the fluidity of identities of these royals across Buddhism and Jainism, and the diverse ways in which Buddhist and Jaina storytellers used these royals to convey their own views on issues such as the relations between religion and the state, the tension between ideals and realities of kingship, etc. In doing so, the project also sheds new light on both common narrative heritage of Buddhism and Jainism, and unique properties of each tradition.