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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
RICHARD SALOMON 49 This story is emblematic of the way the Gandharan texts are simultaneously like and unlike their parallel versions in the more familiar Buddhist canon. Strikingly, the full telling of the Vessan- tara story in the Pali jataka runs 115 pages, whereas the Gandhari version is boiled down to a four-line summary. This is an extreme example of the principle of expansion-and-contraction (samkshepa/ vistara) within Buddhist literature, according to which a narrator may, depending on the audience or other circumstances, string out his message to great length, abridge it, or even, as here, present it in the barest outline form. Here we see from the concluding notation, “The whole story is to be told at length,” that the scribe was jotting down the bare skeleton of his repertoire of tales by way of a memory prompt, presumably as preparation for a lesson or sermon. But there is another surprising twist in this story. The verse Sakra speaks to Sudashna/Vessantara seems to be the wrong one—this verse appears in the Pali jataka stories not in the Jataka DIRKFABIAN,INGRAPHIS©|EXHIBITIONHALLOFTHEFEDERALREPUBLICOFGERMANY,BONN