Panchatantra is an extremely popular collection of short stories from the historical land of India. Written by a sage known as Vishnu Sharma around 200 B.C., Panchatantra comprises of five volumes.
The Loss of Friends
The Winning of Friends
Crows and Owls
Loss of Gains
The five volumes contain a number of stories that serve as a guidance regarding different facets of life and living. Vishnu Sharma created these stories while being asked by the King to impart important moral values to his three sons. Panchatantra is made of two words, Panch (five) and Tantra (Principles). The important principles of life have been combined in form of interesting stories.
These stories are great source of education, values and lessons for children. The actual texts were in Sanskrit but to make them more readable to the common people different scholars have tried to represent these fables in simple forms. All the stories have been accompanied by some moral lessons.
The Gold Giving Serpent
Long time ago there was a Brahmin named Haridatta. He was a very hard working person yet very poor. One fine day, while resting in the shadow of the tree after the tiring working hours, he saw an anthill in his field that housed a big snake. Assuming that the serpent must be the guardian deity of the field and he had never paid respect to it, he brought some milk and offered it to the serpent. He also asked for forgiveness from the snake for not offering anything before prior to that day.
Next day, he found a gold coin in the milk bowl. Soon enough, this became a regular practice. Brahmin used to offer milk to the snake and found a gold coin every time in the bowl. During one of those days, Brahmin had to go to the town so he instructed his son to take care of the serpent by feeding him the milk. Next day, when son found the gold coin in the bowl he assumed this anthill must be full of gold coins. So why not kill the serpent and take out all the gold coins? His greed made him come up with a plan next day.
Next day, he came up with a stick along with milk. When the serpent came out for milk, Brahmin’s son attacked him with the stick. The snake managed to escape the blow and attacked boy who died instantly. Two days later when the Brahmin returned he came to know about his son’s death. He figured out the entire incident and yet tried serving the milk to the serpent.
The snake came out of the anthill and said, ‘Brahmin you have not come here for offering milk alone. You forgot your son’s grief and have come here for the fulfilment of your greed. This is the end of our friendship. Never come to me again.’
The moral of the story is that excess of the greed is always harmful.
The Musical Donkey
This one is another interesting story that tells moral lesson of ‘think before you act’. Once upon a time, there was a thin donkey by the name of Udhata who used to work with a washer man. Donkey used to carry loads of bundled clothes to the river bank every day. He was made to toil real hard. After such heavy work load, donkey needed to be fed well but he was not satisfied with the food offered by washer man. So, Udhata wandered around in the nearby fields and eat crops sneakily. During one of those nights, he met a jackal and both of them became friends.
Now, it became a routine affair for both friends to stealthily wander in nearby fields and eat cucumbers to their full. Soon, the donkey started to appear fat and healthy. One night, after eating cucumbers the donkey felt extremely happy and satisfied. He expressed a desire to his friend jackal about how he wanted to sing a song. The jackal, being the smarter one cautioned him against any such expression. He warned Udhata about guards sleeping in the fields. But donkey had none of jackal’s arguments.
Jackal tried real hard to persuade him about the consequences but donkey was in no mood to listen to him. Jackal knowing the dire consequences jumped over to the other side of the fence and decided to wait. Donkey started to sing or bray for that matter. On hearing his irritating voice, a guard woke up and came rushing to the donkey in sheer anger.
Guard beat the donkey black and blue and he was left on ground in poor condition. After some time, Udhata managed to drag himself out of the ground where he found jackal waiting for him. Jackal repeated his earlier statements about the lurking dangers and then donkey realised his mistake.
What is Panchatantra ?