Panchatantra Stories are what we all have grown up reading and listening to. I reckon as a child, they were my favorite stories. Not only did these stories entertained the child in me but also imparted valuable moral lessons to me.
How to be a good friend, how to differentiate between the right and the wrong and how to behave socially are some of the lessons which these stories taught me. And they remain with me even now, when I am all grown up and mother of a child. Perhaps, that is the reason I read these stories to my child as well.
History of Panchatantra
Panchatantra was written somewhere around 2nd– 3rdBC by Pundit Vishnu Sharma. This dated composition is still alive and published in various languages, speaks about it’s popularity and impact.
The history of Panchatantra is as interesting as the stories itself. According to belief Pt. Vishnu Sharma, along with other scholars, wrote Panchatantra to teach three Hindu princes principles and wise conduct of life.
The beauty of Panchatantra lies in the fact that this philosophy of life has remained the same across centuries. The deep-rooted values of life that Panchatantra embodies have stood the test of time and remained unshaken.
Panchatantra Stories for Kids
Panchatantra is a compound word comprising of two Sanskrit words:
Pancha: Meaning five
Tantra: The art or wise conduct of living
As evident from its title, Panchatantra comprises of 5 sections with each detailing specific life lessons.
Section 1: Mitra-Bheda
This is the first and the longest volume of Panchatantra. Mitra meaning ‘friend’ and Bheda meaning ‘differences’, this volume talks about friends and how to keep friendships through a series of tales.
1. Monkey and The Wedge
This story imparts lesson on the significance of not poking nose in other people’s businesses. Narrated through the character of a monkey, this story delivers the quintessential message.
2.The Jackal and the Drum
An interesting tale about overcoming our fears, this is a must read. The story revolves around a jackal who learns to conquer his fear and be brave.
3. The Crane and the Crafty Crab
This tale has been adapted in many languages and has many versions, all emphasizing the power of brain over muscle.
4. The Foolish Crane and the Mongoose
This is a lesser-known tale but delivers a strong message about strategy and foresightedness. It talks about a crane which takes the advice of a crab without completely realizing its consequences. Thus, bearing loss of its children.
5. The King and the Foolish Monkey
Another great story from Panchatantra that talks about the perils of a foolish friend. Like they say – A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend, this story emphasis on the significance of choosing friends wisely. A much needed lesson for growing children, especially teens.
Section 2: Mitra-lábha
The second volume of Panchatantra ‘Mitra-Labha’ comprises of stories ascertaining the value of friendship in life. Through its simple stories revolving around animals, this volume weaves its magic on children and helps them understand the essence of friendship. Stories to read from this volume:
6. Four Friends
A wonderful tale about four friends – a tortoise, a rabbit, a deer and a crow. Each one different with different strengths, but when trouble brews up, they all help each other. This story is a perfect for teaching the value of friendship and appreciating each other’s differences.
7. The Hermit and The Mouse
This story revolves around a hermit and a foolish, proud mouse. The kind sage blesses the mouse with a boon every time it is in trouble. But soon, the mouse tries to outsmart the sage and forgets it was the sage who bestowed powers on the mouse. The story ends with a beautiful lesson on how pride can be one’s own enemy.
8. The Talkative Tortoise
This is a very famous fable from Panchatantra. It is story of three friends, 2 swans and a very talkative tortoise. A very interesting story, this one teaches the lesson of holding on to your tongue and taking control over your habits.
Section 3: Kákolùkïyam – Of Crows and Owls
This is the third volume of Panchatantra. This volume presents the golden rules of friendship and helps identify friends from enemies.
9. The Elephants and the Hares
This story ascertains the value of choosing a wise leader. Once a group of elephants were causing menace to hares, destroying their homes. However, an intelligent hare thought of a wise trick and saved the day.
10. The Cunning Mediator
A story about how quarrelling does no one good to anyone. This short moral story talks about a sparrow and a rabbit that quarreled. Seizing an opportunity in their difference, a cat devoured them both.
11. The Brahmin and the Crooks
This is clever story of how three crooks fool a wise brahmin. The bhramin, who is carrying a goat, is fooled by three crooks who make comments on what the bhramin is carrying. This confuses the bhramin and makes him believe that he has lost his mind, thus abandoning the goat he was carrying.
Section 4: Labdhapranásam – Loss of Gains
The fourth part of Panchatantra highlights the power of remaining calm even in troublesome situations.
12. Monkey and Crocodile
This is a very famous fable from Panchatantra. It is based on the previous volume’s lesson of choosing friends wisely and how to act in a dire situation. It brings forth a strong lesson of staying calm when in danger.
13. Lion and The Foolish Donkey
A story about a lion, a clever jackal and a foolish donkey.This story revolves how a jackal fools a donkey not once but twice, finally costing the donkey it’s life. And not only that, the jackal also fools the lion with his clever, sweet words.
14. Washerman and His Donkey
This story illustrates how we can never hide our true nature how hard we try. It is a story of a washerman’s donkey who covers itself in tiger skin and feasts on farmer’s farm until the day it’s true identity is discovered.
15. The Jackal’s Strategy
A story about how wit and intelligence can help. This story talks about a Jackal who finds a dead elephant but does not know how to tear its hide and how it manipulates other animals to get what it wants.
Section 5. Aparïksitakárakam
This is the last volume of Panchatantra and talks about the moral teaching and conduct of life. It lists the stories on how recklessness can be dangerous.
16. The Brahmani and The Mongoose
This is a story of a Brahmin family who had a pet mongoose. This story illustrates how making a hasty decision can lead to grief and sorrow. It also illustrates that we should not let our predispositions to dictate our decisions.
17. The Lion Who Sprang to Life
This is a great story of wisdom and teaches that it is common sense, which is the greatest knowledge. Another important lesson it imparts is that it is not good to be proud.
18. Two Fishes and a Frog
A fable of wisdom, this story is about two fishes and a frog. When they hear the fishermen gossiping about catching the fish in the pond, the wise frog decided to leave. But against his advise the two fishes stay and meet their untimely end.
19. The Bird With Two Heads
Once there lives a bird with two heads. One day, one head got angry with the other which finally lead to their death. Moral of the Story – there is strength in harmony.
All the stories of Panchatantra impart a great moral lesson in the end. These moral stories do not only enlighten children but also adults. Each story has been composed with great care to help the reader understand its message.
Depiction of animals makes these stories easy to remember and fun for children. No wonder through these stories the three princes learned the conduct of life in a short span of six months.
These short stories for children make a perfect bedtime read. They also double up as moral stories for children. Panchatantra is definitely a must have for every family.
Panchtantra Books for Kids
A story for every day of the year, this book offers an exhaustive collection of Panchtantra tales. Targeted at younger children, this book features Panchtantra stories in short form. Colourful illustrations and easy to understand language makes it a hit with kids.
This title claims to have translated the original version into English. It comes commentaries, verses and references for every story. Suitable for older kids, this is great addition to any home library.
This version is great for younger readers as it has big font size and attractive pictures. It features selected tales from Panchtantra to make reading with younger kids easy.
This beautifully illustrated collection of Panchatantra stories is eye-catching. A great book to get children into the habit of reading, this collection features moral each story delivers.
Over time, Panchatantra has been translated into various languages. This set of moral stories for kids has travelled as far as Persia, Greece, Arabia, Japan and even European continent. This makes Panchatantra one of the most translated and adapted literacy works of all the time. Certainly a must read for all children and families