Who Wrote The Panchatantra?

- October 6, 2020

Illustration: Pradeep Sathe

A long time ago, there was a king called Amarashakti. He ruled the kingdom of Mahilaropyam in southern India. He had three sons, Bhaushakti, Ugrashakti and Anantashakti, who were not the sharpest tools in the shed. This was something the king wanted to change, so that they would become worthy of ruling the kingdom someday. However, there was very little hope of this happening, as the three princes were quite averse to the idea of learning.

One day, the king heard of an Indian scholar named Vishnu Sharma. With hope in his eyes, the king approached him and asked if he would take on his sons as his students and teach them some valuable life lessons. Vishnu agreed to the king’s plea and promised to educate them in six months. When Vishnu started the princes’ education, he quickly realized that traditional modes of teaching will not work with them, given their rather limited attention span and tendency to get bored easily. So, in order to make them learn, Vishnu Sharma decided to leverage the power of storytelling. He wrote down simple moral stories, segregating them into five books that he called the Panchatantra, pancha meaning ‘five’ and tantra meaning ‘principles’. 

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