Classic Children’s Stories: The Tales Of Panchatantra
The fourth article in our series of classic children’s books reviews the Indian children’s stories called the Panchatantra, a legendary collection of Indian short-stories that have been adapted from ancient Sanskrit scriptures.
These beautifully woven tales appeal to people across all ages and are recommended as a one-stop solution for parents who would like to instill cultural values in their kids at an early age.
Author: Vishnu Sharma and many other scholars (2nd century BC)
There are few Indian adults who can claim to have had a “Panchatantra-less” childhood. And those who can, have clearly missed out on something very precious. Traditionally Indian to the core, the Panchatantra tales are a league apart from the pop-lit books that swarm the shelves today.
They are also one of the few literary gems in Indian English (albeit translated) literature for children. The Panchatantra collection is a one-stop solution for parents who would like to instill cultural values in their kids at an early age. As ancient as they are, the tales embody universal emotions and the evident depth in the messages transcends all barriers of time and space.
What it’s about
For those who don’t know yet, the Panchatantra is a legendary collection of Indian short-stories that have been adapted from ancient Sanskrit scriptures. Spanning over five volumes, these stories believed to have been composed by a group of scholars for a King who wanted to inculcate moral values and strength of character in his sons.
Essentially beginning with “Once upon a time…” the tales have people, plants and animals talking and interacting over the nuances of life, relationships, courage, duty and honesty. Each delivers a subtle social message without being “bookish” or “preach-ish” and ends with a moral lesson.
The term ‘Panchatantra’ is a blend of two Sanskrit words- ‘Pancha’ (five) and ‘Tantra’ (practice/ principle). The five principles or practices illustrated by Panchatantra are ‘Mitra Bhedha’ (Loss of Friends), ‘Mitra Laabha’ (Gaining Friends), ‘Suhrudbheda’ (Discord), ‘Vigraha’ (Separation) and ‘Sandhi’ (Union).
Why the kids will love it
For one thing, these short stories are really short – which means even non-readers will not cringe at giving them a go.
They can be picked up randomly and do not need a “flow” to understand plots and characters. They also make fun bed-time read-alouds for little ones.
The language is extremely simplistic and easy to understand. The magic-realism and the human-like portrayal of plants and animals have enchanted children across all ages for centuries.
These beautifully woven tales appeal to people across all ages and are worth any number of re-reads. I strongly recommend a personal copy for every family.
Why you will love it
There is probably no better way than this to infuse positive values and life skills in your children without sounding authoritative and (I dare say it) boring!
Anyone who is a fan of “Art of Living” will be happy to know that most of that jazz has its humble origins in the Panchatantra.
The stories allow young minds to connect with their rich heritage and cultural past- an opportunity most modern-age kids seem to be deprived of.
The lessons delivered serve as a primer for life’s experiences to come. The stories combine old-world charm with a message that is as relevant today as it was ages ago.
Where to get them
You can buy Panchatantra: The Complete Version from Rupa & Co. For younger kids, check out the Panchatantra Tales collection, a comic-book version of these much-loved Indian tales from Amar Chitra Katha.
Also in the series
In case you can’t seem to get enough of these “moral stories”, try any (or all) of the “Hitopdesha” volumes.
© Shuchi Kalra
Shuchi Kalra is a freelance writer based in India. Her works have been published several online and print publications- both in India and abroad. She also writes content for websites, businesses and portals. She is currently working on a short-story anthology.
This article may be reprinted with the complete author bio and a live link back to http://www.lovingyourchild.com
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