Panchatantra

The gift of ‘Sanskrut’ language, which can
make even a foolish man wise and mature

        The word ‘Panchatantra’ is derived from ‘Sanskrut’ language. ‘Pancha’ means five and ‘tantra’ means principle; thus, ‘Panchatantra’ means ‘Five principles’. These 5 principles can guide a King as well as a common man in his daily life. The guidance of how should a King rule his kingdom, how and whom should he befriend, how to select a true friend and how to behave in daily life, all this is given in this text in the form of stories.

How Panchatantra came into existence

         In ancient times, there was a King named ‘Amarshakti’ who ruled a place named ‘Mahilaropya’ in South Bharat. He was a just and dutiful ruler. This King had 3 sons named Bahushakti, Ugrashakti and Anantashakti; all of whom were very lazy and silly. The King was very worried about their future. The King had grown old and would always be worried thinking about who would be his successor and rule his kingdom after his death. While thinking about his sons, he would be constantly reminded of the following saying :

अजातमृतमूर्खेभ्यो मृतजातौ सुतौ वरम् ।
यतस्तौ स्वल्पदुःखाय यावज्जीवं जडो दहेत् ॥

Meaning : Among unborn, dead and foolish sons, the dead and unborn children are better, because the grief caused due to them is comparatively less. The foolish child always tortures the mind.

        The King had 500 learned scholars at his service. One day, the King called for these scholars and told them to do something that would make his children wise and intelligent. The scholars advised the king to take his sons to a scholar Brahman named Vishnu Sharma. The King called for this Vishnu Sharma and told him his wish. He also promised him to give all his wealth if he succeeded in doing so. Vishnu Sharma did not agree to sell his wisdom, but he promised the King that in 6 months, he would make his sons wise and mature and make them so capable that they could even win the King of Gods, Indra. So, the King sent his children with scholar Vishnu Sharma. Vishnu Sharma taught them the worldly knowledge through the medium of various stories.

        After 6 months, when the three boys returned, the King could not believe his eyes. In 6 months, they had become wise and knowledgeable. Instead of just giving knowledge to the Princes, Vishnu Sharma had also taught them how and when to use that knowledge. All this he did by telling the boys various stories about animals and birds. The stories told by scholar Vishnu Sharma to the Princes are divided into 5 parts. These stories are called ‘Panchatantra’. The 5 tantras (principles) are as follows:

1. Mitrabhed : With whom one should not make friendship.

2. Mitraprapti : Whom one should befriend

3. Kakolukiyam : The tale of enmity between a crow and owl.

4. Labdhapranashanam : How the things gained are lost or destroyed.

5. Aparikshit-karakam : What is the effect of the things done without proper thinking and planning?

An excellent medium to understand the great values of human life

        The Panchatantra was written 2000 years back, but it is still famous and guiding due to the moral values and knowledge in it. Initially it was written in the ‘Sanskrut’ language; but today it is available in many languages throughout the world. The Panchatantra consists of 87 stories and every story has a moral value hidden in it. It is an excellent medium to understand the great moral values of human life. Through these stories, one can understand psychology, worldly affairs and rules of politics. The Panchatantra thus has a prominent place in ‘Sanskrut’ literature.

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