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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Criminology as portrayed in Jataka stories

Criminology as portrayed in Jataka stories

Criminological aspects in Jathaka tales
Sudheera Jayawardene
New Vidyadara publication
175 pages. Rs. 400

According to Martin Wickramasinghe, Jataka book is the best work to be introduced for world literature from Sinhalese literature. In fact Jataka tales have pervaded the local culture in many ways. Much literary research has been done on Jathaka tales too.

Prof. Sunanda Mahendra discovered creative aspects in Jataka tales. Dr. D V J Harischandra discovered psychiatric aspects in Jataka tales. Sudheera Jayaweera, a lecturer from Sri Jayawardenepura University has lately brought out a book on criminological aspects in Jataka stories.

The work contains 6 chapters:

1.Introduction and Methodology

2.Theoretical background of the crimes in the Jathaka Stories

3.Jathaka stories and the types of the crimes

4.Deviance behaviour reflected from the Jathaka stories

5.Criminal investigation methods in the Jathaka society

6.Criminal Justice system of the Jathaka society

Jathaka stories reveal the Indian society that existed thousand years ago. There are hardships a social scientist faces when scanning criminological features in an ancient society. Many scholars argue that the present story of the Jathaka story is not appropriate to the development of the plot.

However Jayawardene’s point is that even the present story sometimes exhibit the required criminology factors. For example Thipallatthamiga Jathaka’s present story brings out child exploitation. As the focus of Jathaka stories is religion, the dealing of crime should be done with utmost care.

Jayawardene also mentions that the study of the whole text is not essential to focus on criminology portrayed in the book. Although the super-human power disturbs criminological interpretation, there are helpful instances. Vedabbha Jathaka for instance relates a story about a super-powered saint who fell into the hands of thieves and how the death of both thieves and the saint follows in the aftermath.

The modern research methodology involves analysis based on data collection. However Jathaka stories reveal the social set up of thousand years ago, hence a different method should be adopted. According to the Jathaka tales, there were villages of thieves too.

Some Jathaka stories have superb detective-style qualities. Ummagga Jatakaya is the best example, where the protagonist solves a number of issues with his detective power.

“In Ummagga Jatakaya and Mahasupina Jatakaya there exist almost all the unconscious mechanisms that Freud described over six centuries later – including symbolisation, condensation, displacement and secondary elaboration.” - Dr. D V J Harischandra. – SM

Some works used by the author

1.Criminology by F Muller and Luafer

2.Sociological Research Methods. An Introduction by M Bulmer

3.Foundation of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice by G R Cadwell

4.The Jataka or stories of the Buddha’s former births by E W Cowell

5.The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

6.New Horizons in Research Methodology by N Ratnapala

7.Crime and Punishment in the Buddhist tradition by N Ratnapala

8.The Buddhist Jataka stories and The Russian Novel by Martin Wickramasinghe


Anonymous said...

I read this article very carefully b cos it about my book, Jhathaka kathawala Aparadhawidyathmaka lakshana (Criminological Aspects of J.s.)In the article writer has used my name in a wrong way as Jayawardhane.But the correct name is Jayaweera.

I am very happy about the article and thanking to the writer of the article.

Sudheera Jayaweera

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