Panchatantra is one of the most legendary collections of numerous short stories that originated in India around 2nd century B.C. It is said to be composed by Vishnu Sharma and several other scholars of the time. It came into being with a prime focus of instilling moral values and ethics in young sons of the kings. Standing true to its purpose, the stories incorporated in Panchatantra collection are still used to educate young girls and boys about certain kind of morality and manners.
Form and Content of Panchatantra stories
Panchatantra tales: It is a collection of a number of short stories which were originally written in Sanskrit but translators and writers have revisited them time and again to make it more accessible to people through the ages. These stories have animal characters who are personified with different human attributes and often carry a simple yet eminent moral message like ‘one should not lie’ and ‘slow and steady wins the race.’
These stories are primarily a text form of various moral stories that circulated in India before written text came into being.
Importance of Panchatantra Tales
- Animal characters and jungle settings make the stories fantastical and fun for children, who go back to them for enjoyment.
- These stories also act as a solid stepping stone towards developing a consistent habit of reading in your children.
- Due to the animated nature of the stories, they can also be orally narrated with voice changes and drama that can be very entertaining for kids who are not yet of reading age.
- The tinge of Indian ethics, morality, and mannerisms that run throughout the collection give a glimpse of India’s culture and populous to the kids from a very young age.
- These stories are translated in many languages as a very simple text which is easy to read and understand. Hence, they are available effortlessly and
Some tales from Panchatantra collection that have stood the test of time and are still read or narrated especially throughout India.
I remember my excitement when my parents got me small booklets of stories from Panchatantra tales and how I finished my homework really fast to get to reading them as soon as possible. Here I would recount some very famous tales that originated from Panchatantra stories:
- The Jackal and the Drum: It is a story of a jackal who tries to break open a drum to find another animal inside who would serve as a meal for it. He tells a lion about this and asks it to tear the drum open to get a good meal. On tearing the drum when there is no meal to be found, the lion gets furious for wasting it’s time and eats the Jackal instead.
Moral: Greed is always harmful
The Crow and the Serpent: It is a story about a pair of crows whose babies are eaten by a serpent regularly. They are in great distress when a fox suggests a plan to get the serpent killed by the humans. He tells them to take a necklace from the humans and drop it near the serpent. To retrieve the necklace and save themselves the humans would kill the serpent. It happens as the fox suggests and the crow couple lives happily.
Moral: Intelligence is greater than strength.
- The Mongoose and the Brahmin’s wife: This story is about a Brahmin couple who keeps a mongoose as their own child in their house. One day, the couple leaves their own child and mongoose in the house when a snake tries to attack the kid. The mongoose combats the snake and kills it. When the couple returns, they assume by seeing the mongoose’s bloody mouth that he had hurt their kid. The Brahmins wife kills it. Later they realize that the mongoose had saved their kid instead, they repent their hasty behavior.
Moral: Don’t be too hasty to judge anyone’s actions.
The collection is filled with such simple yet interesting reads so get your kid some copies!