In the Theravāda tradition the classic Life of the Buddha story is contained in what is now known as the Jātakanidāna (the Introduction to the Jātaka), which appears to have been an addition made to provide background to the Jātaka collection.
There is a great retelling of the highlights of this story made in the 13th century poem by Ven Medhankara, entitled Jinacarita, which I have translated elsewhere as The Life of the Victorious Buddha.
The most succinct retelling of the story, though, occurs in the Dhammapada Commentary, as the eighth story of the collection, which retells the stories of the Two Chief Disciples, Sāriputta and Mahāmoggallāna.
The story also tells in brief form the past life aspirations of Añña Koṇḍañña, Yasa and his companions, the group-of-thirty companions and the three Kassapa brothers, so that this one story encompasses a wealth of information on the early life, and past lives of the Buddha and his great disciples.
I have just recorded the story, one of the longest in the collection – it comes to an hour and a half in length – and anyone wanting a synoptic view of these lives this is a great introduction, and probably the most essential story in the collection.
Buddha, Sāriputta and Mahāmoggallāna
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