All of us, the people of India are surely acquainted with the name “Panchatantra” and most of us have read Panchatantra fables in our childhood. It is believed to have been written by a great scholar knows as Pandit Vishnu Sharma. The exact time of composition is not precisely known but it is estimated to have been written between 1200 BCE to 300 BCE. It has been translated into many languages. In fact, in the category of non-religious books, Panchatantra is the one that has been translated into a maximum number of languages. It contains stories related to nitishastra, which means moral and conduct. Every tale of this book has animals as an integral part of the story.
Panchatantra actually means five books and each part contains a story with a main central theme and in that are various stories related to that particular theme.
The first book is named Mitra Bheda or The Separation of friends. There are many stories in this book, one of them being the famous story of the monkey and the Suchimukh which has a moral that it is worthless to preach in front of a fool. The stories of this book are narrated by a pair of jackals named Karataka and Damanaka. The stories revolve around a king and his three sons. The sons being incapable of becoming the future kings are sent to learn in Pandit’s Ashrama. This first book is the longest of all the five books and it contains around thirty stories.
The second book is Mitra Labha or The Gaining of Friends. The main theme of this book is that how important is it to have friends and how all of us working together can do something which an alone person cannot.
The third book is Kakoolukiyam or Of Crows and Owls. It is said that the crows and the owls are not friends and this is what is told in this part as of how their enmity grows and finally the owls are burnt off by the crows.
The fourth book is Labdhapransam or Loss of Gains. It deals with the relationship of a monkey and a crocodile. Initially, the duo is inseparable but when the monkey gets acquainted with the plans of the crocodile, it tries to save itself.
The fifth which is the last book is Apariksitakaram or Hasty Action. It contains the very famous story of “The Brahmin and the Mongoose.” This story has been read by all at least once in their lifetime. The book gives a very important message that how hasty action can have perilous consequences.
As mentioned earlier the stories have been narrated by Pandit Vishnu Sharma to teach the sons of King Amar Singh to make them intellectual and capable of becoming kings. Although, the book is written in simple language and has such tales which we can read without much loss of time, on a deeper look each story teaches us such great lessons that we might never think of otherwise.