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. The different Panchatantra stories and their short summaries are given below.
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.