The Great Panchatantra Tales(For more than two and a half millennia, the Panchatantra tales have regaled children and adults alike witha moral at the end of every story. Some believe that they are as old as the RigVeda. There is also anotherstory about these fables. According to it, these are stories Shiva told his consort Parvati. The present seriesis based on the Sanskrit original. )A king, worried that his three sons are without the wisdom to live in a world of wile and guile, asks a learnedman called Vishnu Sharman to teach them the ways of the world.Since his wards are dimwits, Vishnu Sharman decides to pass on wisdom to them in the form of stories. Inthese stories, he makes animals speak like human beings. Panchatantra is a collection of attractively toldstories about the five ways that help the human being succeed in life. Pancha means five and tantra meansways or strategies or principles. Addressed to the king's children, the stories are primarily about statecraft andare popular throughout the world. The five strategies are:1. Discord among friends2. Gaining friends3. Of crows and owls4. Loss of gains5. ImprudenceThe stories have been translated into nearly every language in the world that has a script. The story formappeals to children while the wisdom in them attracts adults. The Panchatantra collection represents theearliest folk tale form in the world of literature. There are several versions of Panchatantra tales in circulationin the world but the one that is popular in India is the Sanskrit original of Vishnu Sharman.Very soon, Hamarashehar.Com will bring to netizens the oldest collection of tales in the world as told by an80-year-old teacher to his royal wards. The translation seeks to be as close to the Sanskrit original as possiblein spirit.The stories will appear in five sections, each representing a strategy for getting over problems in life. Theyare of interest not just for the ruling class but also for every person. They are all about survival in acomplicated world and the several ways to get over problems. The stories based as they are on human naturehave an eternal relevance.The series begins with a parent story that unfolds story after story; each strung to the other by a narrator.
Now, it is your turn to enjoy these stories as immortal and fragrant as the soil of India.The Loss of FriendsOnce upon a time, Amarasakti ruled the city-state of Mahilaropyam in the south of India. He had threewitless sons who became a matter of endless worry for him. Realizing that his sons had no interest inlearning, the king summoned his ministers and said:“You know I am not happy with my sons. According to men of learning an unborn son and a stillborn son arebetter than a son who is a dimwit. What good is a barren cow? A son who is stupid will bring dishonour tohis father. How can I make them fit to be my successors? I turn to you for advice.”One of the ministers suggested the name of Vishnu Sharman, a great scholar enjoying the respect of hundredsof his disciples. “He is the most competent person to tutor your children. Entrust them to his care and verysoon you will see the change.”The king summoned Vishnu Sharman and pleaded with him “Oh, venerable scholar, take pity on me andplease train my sons into great scholars and I will make you the lord of hundred villages.”Vishnu Sharman said “Oh, king, listen to my pledge. Hundred villages do not tempt me to vend learning.Count six months from today. If I do not make your children great scholars, you can ask me to change myname.”The king immediately called his sons and handed them to the care of the learned man. Sharman took them tohis monastery where he started teaching them the five strategies (Panchatantra). Keeping his word, hefinished the task the king entrusted him in six months. Since then, Panchatantra became popular all over theworld as children's guide in solving problems of life.Now begins the Loss of Friends (first of the five strategies) series. These are stories that figure in a dialoguebetween two jackals named Karataka and Damanaka.Long, long ago, a merchant named Vardhaman lived in a town in the south of India. As he was resting on hisbed one day it struck him that money was the axis of the world and that the more he had of it the more hewould be powerful. Even enemies seek the friendship of a rich man, he told himself. The old become youngif they have riches and the young become old if they do not have wealth. Business is one of the six ways thathelp man amass wealth. This was his logic.Mobilizing all his wares, Vardhaman set out on an auspicious day for Madhura in search of markets for hisgoods. He began his travel in a gaily-decorated cart drawn by two bullocks. On the way, tired of the longhaul, one of the bullocks named Sanjeevaka collapsed in the middle of a jungle near river Jamuna. But themerchant continued his journey asking some of his servants to take care of the animal. But the servants
abandoned the bullock soon after their master had left. Joining him later, they told him that the bullock wasdead.In fact, Sanjeevaka was not dead. Feeding on the abundant fresh and tender grass in the forest, he regainedstrength and began to merrily explore the jungle, dancing and singing in joy. In the same forest livedPingalaka, the lion. Sanjeevaka, content with his new life in the jungle would waltz and sing uproariouslywith joy. One day, Pingalaka and other animals were drinking water in the Jamuna when the lion heard thefrightening bellow of the bullock. In panic, the lion withdrew into the forest and sat deeply lost in thoughtand surrounded by other animals.Sensing the predicament of their king, two jackals, Karataka and Damanaka, sons of two dismissed ministers,were clueless as to what had happened to their king.“What could have happened to the lord of the forest,” asked Damanaka.“Why should we poke our nose into affairs that are not our concern? Haven't you heard the story of themonkey which pulled out the wedge from the log,” asked Damanaka.“Sounds interesting. Why don't you tell me what happened to the monkey,” pleaded Damanaka.“Now, listen,” said Damanaka and began narrating the story of the monkey.1.The Monkey And The WedgeA merchant once started building a temple in the middle of his garden. Many masons and carpenters wereworking for the merchant. They took time off every day to go to the town for their lunch. One day, when theworkers left for lunch a batch of monkeys landed at the temple site and began playing with whatever caughttheir fancy. One of the monkeys saw a partly sawed log of wood and a wedge fixed in it so that it does notclose up.Curious to know what it is, the monkey began furiously tugging at the wedge. At last the wedge came off, notbefore trapping the legs of the monkey into the rift of the log. Very soon, not able to get his legs out of theclosed wood, the monkey died.“Therefore,” Karataka told Damanaka, “it is not wise to poke our nose into affairs that are not our concern.We have a food store. Why should we bother ourselves about this lion?”
Damanaka retorted, “Food is not the centre of our life. The elders have said that wise men seek the help ofthe king to help friends and harm foes. There are hundred ways of collecting food. What matters is a life fullof learning, courage and wealth. If living somehow is the goal, even the crow lives long eating leftovers.”“True, but we are not ministers any more. The elders have always said that the stupid person who offersuncalled for advice to the king invites not only insult but also deceit,” said Karataka.“No,” Damanaka said, “anyone who serves the king with devotion is bound to earn his favour in the long run.The one who does not remains where he is. Those who understand why the king is angry or generous willone-day rise in office. It is necessary to be in the good books of the king.'“Okay, what do you want to do now?” asked Karataka.“You know the king is scared now. We will ask him what frightens him and using the six ways of diplomacyget close to him.”“How do you know the king is scared?”“Changes in posture, signs, pace, actions, conversation, looks and expression indicate the working of themind. I will approach the fear-struck king today and with my intelligence, I will dispel his fear and onceagain become his minister,” said Damanaka.“How can you do it when you do not know principles of service?” asked Karataka.Damanaka told him all he knew and learnt about what makes a good and loyal servant in the service of theking.“In that case, I wish you all good luck,” said Karataka.Taking leave of Karataka, Damanaka then called on the king. Recognizing that he was the son of his oldminister, King Pingalaka told his sentry to bring him into his presence. Damanaka came down on his knees topay respects to the king.“We haven't seen you for a long time,” the king said.“I don't know of what use I can be to you, my lord. Yet, according to the learned, there are occasions whenevery person however high or low will be of use to the king. For generations we have served the king withdevotion. Yet I am out of your majesty's favour.”“All right, competent or incompetent you are the son of our old minister. Go ahead and tell me whatever youhave in your mind,” the king ordered Damanaka.
“May I ask you humbly, my lord, what made you come back from the lake without drinking water,” askedDamanaka reluctantly.“O' Damanaka, haven't you heard the great and frightening sounds in the distance? I want to leave this forest.The strange animal that could make such sounds ought to be as powerful as the sounds he makes.”“Your majesty, if it is only sound that is your problem; I wish to submit that sounds are misleading. I can tellyou the story of the jackal, how it overcame the fear of sound.”Let us hear it, said the king.2.The Jackal And The DrumA hungry jackal set out in search of food and ended up at an abandoned battlefield whence he heard loud andstrange sounds. Scared, he thought, “I must disappear from here before the man who is making these soundsgets me.” After a while he told himself, “I must not run away like that. Let me find out what really the soundsare and who is making them because whether it is fear or happiness one must know its cause. Such a personwill never regret his actions. So, let me first look for the source of these noises.”Warily, the jackal marched in the direction of the sounds and found a drum there. It was this drum, whichwas sending the sounds whenever the branches of the tree above brushed against it. Relieved, the jackalbegan playing the drum and thought that there could be food inside it. The jackal entered the drum bypiercing its side. He was disappointed to find no food in it. Yet he consoled himself saying that he rid himselfof the fear of sound.“Therefore”, Damanaka told king Pingalaka, “your majesty should not be afraid of sounds. I seek yourpermission to go and see what the sounds are.”“Okay,” said the king. Taking leave of the king, Damanaka proceeded in the direction of the sound.The king now began worrying himself about Damanaka's intentions. “He may have a grudge against me fordismissing him once. Such persons seek revenge. I should not have taken him into confidence. Let me keepan eye on him. Wise men have always maintained that it is difficult to kill even a weak man who does noteasily trust others but easy to kill a strong man who readily trusts others,” the king thought.As the king kept an eye on him, Damanaka moved slowly towards Sanjeevaka, the bullock, and found that hewas after all an animal and thought, “This is a good omen. This will help me to get back into the good booksof the king. Kings never follow the advice of their ministers unless they are in peril or grief. Just as a healthyman never thinks of a doctor, a strong and secure king also never remembers the need for a minister.”
Assured that what he saw was only a bullock, Damanaka returned to the king and told him what he saw.“Is it true?” the king asked.“The king is God. The man who lies to a king perishes. He alone has the power to grant favors.”“I believe you. Great men do not harm weaker people. They take on only their equals. That is what is uniqueabout brave people.”“What your majesty says is true. Sanjeevaka is great. If your lordship permits me, I will persuade him to beone of your servants.”“All right, I am taking you back as a minister,” said the king, pleased.Damanaka at once hurried back to Sanjeevaka and told him to stop bellowing and come and meet his king.But the bullock wanted who this Pingalaka was. “What? You do not know our lord? Wait, you will knowshortly the cost of this ignorance. There he is, surrounded by his retinue under the banyan tree.” Sanjeevakathought his days were numbered and pleaded with Damanaka, “Sir, you seem to be a man of great wisdomand wit. You alone can save me. I can come only if you can assure me that no harm will come to me.”Damanaka told the bullock to wait for the right time to meet the king.Returning to the king, Damanaka told him “My lord, he is not an ordinary being. He is the vehicle of LordShiva. He told me that Lord Shiva had permitted him to feed on the tender grass in the neighborhood ofJamuna. But I told him that the forest belonged to our lion king who is the vehicle of goddess Chandika. Youare our guest. You can see our king and seek a separate space for you to graze. He agreed to this planprovided he has an assurance from your majesty.”“Yes, certainly. But I will need assurance from him in return. Bring him here,” the king told Damanaka.Going back to the bullock Damanaka advised him, “You have the assurance of the king. But this newposition should not go to your head. We have to work together. That is how we can prosper. Otherwise, hewho does not respect everyone, however high or low, will forfeit the favour of kings like Dantila.”“What about Dantila?” asked Sanjeevaka.3.The Fall And Rise Of A MerchantIn the city of Vardhaman, there li