Sorrow in the Pannasa Jataka : Emotion and the Teaching of Dharma

Patcharin Buranakorn





This article aims at studying the relation between the emotion of sorrow in the Pannasa Jataka and the teaching of Dharma by analyzing the techniques of using the emotion of sorrow and its effect in conveying the Buddhist teachings in the Pannasa Jataka.


In the Pannasa Jataka, three techniques are used to present the emotion of sorrow, namely the plot of separation and characterization which enhances sorrow and the overcoming of sorrow; the co-occurrence of sorrow with other emotions: sorrow with serenity, sorrow with determination, sorrow with love, sorrow with fear, and sorrow with love and determination-the co-occurrence of sorrow with other emotions generates 'rasa' or aesthetic experience; the use of other literary devices: word choice, metaphor, and elaborative description of the emotion of sorrow. These literary techniques create aesthetic beauty and help the reader realize and understand the teachings, namely the law of karma, the law of impermanence, and the perfection of giving. These teachings lead to the fundamental understanding of dharma: moral shame and fear to do unwholesome deeds and faith to do good things, the realization that nothing really exists, that all things are subject to decline and disappear, and finally the utmost understanding, the detachment from all things, which brings serenity, wisdom, and liberation from samsara, which is the aim of Buddhism.


In summary, the poets of the Pannasa Jataka, as the creators of a prominent collection of Thai Buddhist literature, have successfully transformed secular folktales into Buddhist tales through the technique of using the emotion of sorrow as an effective means of conveying the Dharma. The Pannasa Jataka, thus, plays a significant role as the spiritual guidance for Buddhists of all time.


(Published in Rian Thai: International Journal of Thai Studies, Volume 2/2009, Page 227-242)


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