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This article discusses three stories from the Jātaka Collection, a compendium of Buddhist folk stories—some of which date back to the third century bce. The collection as it exists today was complied, scholars believe, between the first and fifth centuries ce. Since that time it has been translated back and forth into many languages and has become part of the popular culture of the Asian Buddhist world.

The three stories the author has selected are from a fourteenth-century ce Sinhala text and focus around the theme of ‘friendship.’ They deal with three different forms of friendship as experienced in medieval Indian and Sri Lankan societies.