I wanted to open up a discussion on the word 'jati' and its various meanings across the Tipitaka.
A definition from the Pali Text Society dictionary (http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... li.1286022)...
Jāti (f.) [see janati & cp. Gr. genea/, ge/nesis; Lat. gens; Goth. kind -- ins]. -- Instr. jātiyā (Sn 423) & jaccā (D ii.8; J iii.395; Dh 393); abl. jātiyā (S i.88) & jātito (by descent: D ii.8); loc. jātiyaŋ (PvA 10) & jātiyā (PvA 78). -- 1. birth, rebirth, possibility of rebirth, "future life" as disposition to be born again, "former life" as cause of this life. Defined (cp. the corresp. expln of jarā) as: yā tesaŋ tesaŋ sattanaŋ tamhi tamhi satta -- nikāye jāti sañjāti okkanti abhinibbatti khandhānaŋ pātubhāvo āyataṇānaŋ paṭilābho D ii.305 =S ii.3=Nd2 257. -- Jāti is a condition precedent of age, sickness & death, and is fraught with sorrow, pain & disappointment. It is itself the final outcome of a kamma, resting on avijjā, performed in anterior births; & forms thus the concluding link in the chain of the Paṭicca -- samuppāda. Under the first aspect it is enumd in various formulae, either in full or abbreviated (see Nd2 258), viz, (a) as (1) jāti, (2) jarā, (3) vyādhi, (4) maraṇa, (5) sokaparidevadukkhadomanass' upāyāsa in the dukkhaŋ ariyasaccaŋ (the noble truth of what is misfortune) Vin i.10; A i.176; iii.416; ˚dhamma destined to be born, etc. M i.161 sq., 173; -- A v.216; Nd2 258, 304, 630, etc., in var. connections (referring to some dukkha). -- (b) as Nos. 1 -- 4: Nd2 254, 494b; J i.168, etc. -- (c) as Nos. 1, 2, 4 (the standard quotation, implying the whole series 1 -- 5): S v.224; A v.144; jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaŋ Vin i.1; D ii.31, 57, etc.; ˚ika A ii.11, 173; ˚īya M i.280; Nd2 40. -- (d) to this is sometimes added (as summing up) saŋsāra: Nd2 282f; cp. kicchaŋ loko āpanno jāyati ca jīyati ca mīyati ca cavati ca uppajjati ca D ii.30. -- (e) as Nos. 1+4: pahīna -- jātimaraṇa (adj.) (=free from life & death, i. e. saŋsāra) A i.162; ˚bhayassa pāraga A ii.15; ˚kovida Sn 484; atāri ˚ŋ asesaŋ Sn 355 (cp. 500); ˚assa pāraga Sn 32. -- (f)=e+saŋsāra (cp. d): sattā gacchanti saŋsāraŋ jātimaraṇagāmino A ii.12=52; jātimaraṇasaŋsāraŋ ye vajanti punappunaŋ . . . avijjāy' eva sā gati Sn 729. -- (g) as Nos. 1+2, which implies the whole series: atāri so jātijaraŋ A i.133= Sn 1048; jātijar' upaga Sn 725=It 106; saŋyojanaŋ jātijarāya chetvā It 42; -- Sn 1052, 1060; Dh 238, 348; cp. jāti ādinā nihīna PvA 198. -- Other phrases & applications: Various rebirths are seen by one who has perfect insight into all happening & remembers his former existences (D i.81; iii.50; A i.164; M ii.20). Arahantship implies the impossibility of a future rebirth: see formula khīṇā jāti (M i.139; Sn p. 16, etc.) and arahant ii.A: jātiyā parimuccati S i.88; jātiŋ bhabbo pahātuŋ A v.144 sq. -- antimā jāti the last rebirth D ii.15 (cp. carima); purimā j. a former existence PvA 1; atītajātiyaŋ in a former life (=pure) PvA 10. On jāti as dukkha see Vism 498 -- 501. <-> 2. descent, race, rank, genealogy (cp. fuh/, genus), often combd w. gotta. Two grades of descent are enumd at Vin iv.6 as hīnā jāti (low birth), consisting of Candāḷa, Veṇa, Nesāda, Rathakāra & Pukkusa; and ukkaṭṭhā j. (superior birth), comprising Khattiyas & Brāhmaṇas. -- The var. meanings of jāti are given by Bdhgh at Vism 498, 499 in the foll. classification (with examples) bhava, nikāya, sankhata -- lakkhaṇa, paṭisandhi, pasūti, kula, ariya -- sīla. -- Kiŋ hi jāti karissati? What difference makes his parentage? D i.121; jāti -- rājāno kings of birth, genuine kings J i.338; na naŋ jāti nivāresi brahmalok' ûpapattiyā Sn 139; jātiŋ akkhāhi tell me the rank of his father & mother Sn 421, 1004; cp. 462; na jaccā vasalo hoti Sn 136; 142; id. w. brāhmaṇo Sn 650; with nāma & gotta in the description of a man jātiyā nāmena gottena, etc. Vin iv.6; jātito nāmato gottato by descent, personal & family name D ii.8; cp. jāti -- gotta -- kula J ii.3. See also j. -- vāda. -- 3. a sort of, kind of (cp. jāta 3): catujātigandha four kinds of scent J i.265; ii.291. <-> 4. (jāti˚) by (mere) birth or nature, natural (opp. artificial); or genuine, pure, excellent (opp. adulterated, inferior), cp. jāta 1 (b): in cpds., like ˚maṇi, ˚vīṇā, etc.
-- kkhaya the destruction of the chance of being reborn S v.168; A i.167; Sn 209, 517, 743; Dh 423. -- khetta the realm of rebirth PvA 138 (=dasa cakkavāḷasahassāni); -- thaddha conceited, proud of birth Sn 104 (+dhanatthaddha, gotta˚: proud of wealth & name); -- thera a Th. by rank D iii.218; -- nirodha the extermination of (the cause of) rebirth Vin i.1≈; -- pabhava the origin or root of existence Sn 728; -- puppha nutmeg J vi.367; -- bhaya the fear of rebirth A ii.121; -- bhūmi natural ground, in ˚bhūmaka, ˚bhūmika, ˚bhūmiya living on nat. gr. (vassaŋ vasati) M i.145; A iii.366; -- maṇi a genuine precious stone J ii.417; -- maya constituting birth, being like birth ThA 285; -- vāda reputation of birth, character of descent, parentage. The 1st of the 5 characteristics constituting a "well -- bred" brahmin: yāva sattamā pitāmahāyugā akkhitto anupakkuṭṭho jātivādena "of unblemished parentage back to the 7th generation" D i.120, etc. (=DA i.281); A i.166; iii.152, 223; Sn 315, 596. Cp. gotta -- vāda (e. g. D i.99); -- vibhanga a characteristic of birth, a distinction in descent Sn 600; -- vīṇā a first -- class lute J ii.249; -- sampanna endowed with (pure) birth (in phrase khattiyo muddhâvasitto j.˚) A iii.152; -- sambhava the origin of birth A i.142; iii.311; J i.168; -- sambheda difference of rank DhA i.166; -- saŋsāra the cycle of transmigration, the saŋsāra of rebirths (see above 1 d. f.): pahīna left behind, overcome (by an Arahant) M i.139; A iii.84, 86; ˚ŋ khepetvā id. Th 2, 168; vitiṇṇo j.˚ n' atthi tassa punabbhavo Sn 746; -- sindhava a well -- bred horse J ii.97; -- ssara the remembrance of (former) births (˚ñāṇa) J i.167; iv.29; DhA ii.27; iv.51; cp. cutûpapāta -- ñāṇa); -- hingulaka (& hingulikā) natural vermilion J v.67; VvA 4, 168, 324.
In Abhidhamma, jati doesn't refer to literal birth or rebirth, rather it points to the classification of a very momentary 'citta', as per Nina van Gorkom's "Abhidhamma In Daily Life" (http://www.zolag.co.uk/adlc1.html)
Cittas can be classified by way of jati (jati literally means birth or nature). There are four jatis:
Both kusala vipaka ( the result of a wholesome deed) and akusala vipaka (the result of an unwholesome deed) are one jati, the jati of vipaka.
In the context of paticcasamuppada (dependent origination) it is understood by the commentaries to refer to rebirth, but there are non-commentarial interpretations that give it a flavour closer to that of its application in the Abhidhamma, whereas in the Abhidhamma its duration would be momentary, it can for dependent origination be understood as 'birth of the "I" concept'.
I put this in this forum because it's a controversial subject, and one's understanding of what jati means significantly impacts how someone views the Buddha's teachings.