The Panchatantra: an introduction


The many casual Christians I know are far more familiar with Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1812) than they are with Bible stories. For instance, here are just some of the brothers’ stories:

Similarly, better than their classic religious texts, most Indians are probably more familiar with the moral animal tales from the Panchatantra (~200 BCE). In fact, the Panchatantra (Sanskrit for “5 Books”) influenced the famous Arabic book “One Thousand and One Nights” (circa 1000 CE). And it seems that the brothers Grimm themselves also borrowed some of their stories from the Panchatantra. All to say, Western kids may indirectly know this ancient Indian text better than they do their Bible.

The Panchatantra (like Machiavelli’s “The Prince“, 1513) was written to educate future rulers in morality, wisdom and sly states craft.  But most of us have never heard of this ancient Indian text, yet alone of these deep connections. So I will do a series of posts on the Five Books, to remedy that situation for a few of you!

Here are my Panchatantra posts: