The Panchatantra: Morality via Death

Violent PanchaTantra
Westerners often romanticize the myths of other lands while belittling their own scriptures. As I wrote here, the Hindu Mahabharata has far more death than the Jewish Tanakh (the “Old Testament”).  And in this illustration I show a few of the many stories from the Panchatantra, that use death and cruelty to teach morality. Ancient writers had a different world than ours – death was always a threat.

When I first began to explore the Panchatantra, I read these stories to my daughter.  She was quick to point out how horrible all the murder morality was and didn’t want to hear any more. So now I am alone to explore this book academically. 🙂



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “The Panchatantra: Morality via Death

  1. Interesting post. Kind of disturbing (regarding the violent history of the world) but they way to bring it all to light is quite humorous. Thanks for making me have to think a little. 🙂

    Also, many thanks for visiting my blog. Have a great day.

  2. @Justin: Glad you enjoyed

  3. I also used to believe Eastern religion was exotic and and romantic. The Hindu epics and Buddhist scriptures are full of death, destruction, and sinister characters. Westerners romanticize way too much about these tales forgetting the dark-side.

    Sometimes there are instructive morals from these tales but I think we can do better when educating our children. Learning about different cultures, religions, and societies, seems valuable to a young person’s education.

    I’m curious–since you stopped sharing these tales with your daughter–what “morality tales” do you share with her? Or, what would you recommend?

  4. @Scott,
    I am glad we share experiences on this.
    I am not reading morality stories to my daughter, just stories.
    But recently we are enjoying poems.
    The best morality lessons are by example — both from me and her peers. Choosing peers or guiding peers is tough.
    Then there is damn luck. 😉

  5. Earnest

    As brutal as these stories might be, the reality that the children hearing them were growing into was probably equally predatory and vicious. Children who digested the message and changed their behavior to stay out of trouble were probably less likely to die. Your daughter is lucky that she was born in a place and time when she could ignore these stories and not change her survival statistics.

  6. One thing is for sure, a story with emotion in it (murder or death) is easy to remember — maybe it is only a way to make the moral memorable.

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