Panchatantra was written around 200 B.C. by a sage called Vishnu Sharma. He was asked by the king to teach some important morals to his three sons. Thus, Vishnu Sharma taught them the important lessons of life in the form of these interesting tales. The best part about these tales are the important morals they have at the end that are essential to live a content life. The Panchatantra tales are divided into 5 parts, hence the name Panchatantra (Panch means five). These five manuals were safeguarded henceforth as they were considered important guidelines for a future King. To know more about Panchtantra, continue to read this insightful article on it.
History Of Panchtantra
In the prelude of Panchatantra, it is mentioned that Vishnu Sharma is the original author of the book. But there are no other external sources to prove that it is, in fact, Sharma himself who has written the book. After the thorough analysis of the book by various historians it is figured out that Panchatantra was written in the valleys of Kashmir as all the geographical features, animals, etc. described in the book seem to belong to the place. It is said that there was a king called Sudarshan who used to rule the city of Patliputra and he had three sons: Bahushakti, Ugrashakti and Anantshakti. The king himself was proficient in knowledge and art forms but his sons had an inability to learn anything. He consulted his ministers and came to a conclusion that his sons must be taught wisdom and Vishnu Sharma was chosen to fulfill this task. Vishnu accepted the task and he employed the technique of storytelling to teach his sons the age old wisdom of the Indian culture. And in the process of teaching his sons, he penned down Panchtantra.
Popular Tales Of Panchtantra
The Merchant and his Iron: In a town, there are two friends. One of them is undertaking a journey and requests his friend to keep his share of iron with himself. He tells his friend that if he returns home unsuccessful, he shall atleast sell the iron to make some money. In his absence, the other friend sells off the iron to pay off his own debts, as he believes the merchant will never return. After some days, the merchant comes back and asks for his iron. Feeling guilty, the friend lies that he had locked the iron up in room, but rats ate them all. The Merchant pretends to believe his story and walks off. Some days later, he meets a child of the friend and locks him up in a room. When the merchant pays him a visit, he finds the friend in a distressed state due to he absence of his son. The merchant says he saw a hawk carrying a child in its claws and it looked like his child. When the friend says he does not believe this, the merchant says, anything is possible in a city where rats eat up iron. The moral of the story is based on tit for tat.
The Carpenter and the Ape: This story tells about the fact that one should not interfere in others business. A carpenter is working on wooden wedges outside his house. Sitting on a nearby tree is a monkey who watches him carefully. When the carpenter leaves to eat food, the monkey comes there and starts experimenting with the wooden wedges. While meddling with it, his tail gets caught between two pieces. Unable to free himself, he sits there moaning and groaning till the carpenter came. The monkey was then beaten severely by the carpenter for meddling with his work. Moral of the story is, never interfere with someone else's work and invite trouble.
The Crane and the Crab: This story tells about the bad effects of too much greed and emphasizes on the fact that greedy people have to pay a heavy price in the end. Once there was a crane that lived on a lake and daily caught fish for many years till she grew old. Now, fragile and old, she couldn't hunt any longer. One day she spotted a crab and tricked it that she had heard some fishermen saying that they would catch all the fish of this lake soon. No sooner, the crab heard the news, it swam to the bottom of the lake to inform the fish about this bad news. The fish came to the surface and begged the crane to think of a plan to save them. The crane seized this opportunity and told them that she knows a lake nearby and she would take 3-4 fish with her and drop them there. The next day, the crane takes some fish in his beak and flies off. When she is out of sight, she eats up the fish. This continues for many days, till she ate them all up. Now she asks the crab to cling to her neck so that she may transfer it to the lake. But when they come near the place, the crab sees the bones of the dead fish and realizes what the crane had done. The crab clenches the crane's throat and she finally drops dead.
The Lion and the Hare: This story is about a lion and a hare that has an important moral that, nothing is impossible for the wise. A lion goes around killing hapless creatures in a forest. The creatures get tired of living in fear all the time and gather courage to go to the lion with a solution. They tell him that daily one creature would be sent to him as food. The lion is pleased and agrees. The animals now decide that the creature whose numbers are the maximum shall be sent one by one. The hare turns out to be the biggest in number and is sent to the lion. Reluctant to go to the lion, he wanders in the forest and finds an ancient well. When the lion becomes impatient after waiting for a long time, he goes out in search of food. The hare tells him that he was going to come to him, but was topped by another lion who claimed to be the king of jungle. The lion gets infuriated when he hears this and demands to meet the other lion. The hare takes him to the well and tells the lion to look inside. The lion sees his own reflection and in anger, jumps inside the well to kill the other lion and dies.
The Tortoise and the Goose: This story has a very important moral. It emphasizes that silence is golden. A tortoise and a goose live together in a lake. After some years, the lake starts to dry up and the goose readies to fly somewhere else. The tortoise begs him to take him along. The goose tells him that he should grasp the end of a stick in his mouth and at no cost should he open his mouth. The tortoise agrees and goose carries the stick with the tortoise and flies off. While passing over a village, they are spotted by the villagers who laugh at the sight of the tortoise flying. Infuriated, the tortoise opens his mouth to answer back at them, but he loses grip and falls to the ground and dies.