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legendary material centring on the Buddha's explanations of events by a person's worthy deeds in a previous life. The Pali cognate of the term is Apadana. Avadana designates both the class of such stories scattered within the Vinaya Pitaka ("Basket of Discipline") and separate collections based upon them. Among the latter is an important anthology of the Sarvastivada ("Doctrine That All Is Real") school given the modern title Divyavadana ("Divine Avadana"), consisting of 38 legends, including some about the great Buddhist emperor Asoka. The most famous and largest work classified as Avadana is the Mahavastu ("Great Story"), a compilation from the Mahasanghika ("Great Community") school of ancient Buddhism of miraculous events in the life and former lives of the Buddha himself.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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