The Divyāvadāna or "Divine narratives" is a Sanskrit anthology of Buddhist tales, many originating in Mūlasarvāstivādinvinaya texts. It may be dated to 2nd century CE. The stories themselves are therefore quite ancient and may be among the first Buddhist texts ever committed to writing, but this particular collection of them is not attested prior to the seventeenth century. Typically, the stories involve the Buddha explaining to a group of disciples how a particular individual, through actions in a previous life, came to have a particular karmic result in the present. A predominant theme is the vast merit (puṇya) accrued from making offerings to enlightened beings or at stupas and other holy sites related to the Buddha.
The anthology contains 38 stories in all, including the well-known Aśokāvadāna "Legend of Aśoka", which was translated into English by John Strong (Princeton, 1983). The collection has been known since the dawn of Buddhist studies in the West, when it was excerpted in Eugène Burnouf's history of Indian Buddhism (1844). The first Western edition of the Sanskrit text was published in 1886 by Edward Byles Cowell and R.A. Neil. The Sanskrit text was again edited by P. L. Vaidya in 1959.