Along with many of India’s great contributions to literature, Panchatantra ranks very high on the list. The Panchatantra is a legendary collection of short stories believed to be written by a great pundit by the name of Vishnu Sharma along with many other scholars. The work is in Sanskrit, and could have been written anytime between 100 BC and 500 AD though some of the tales contained in it can be traced as far back as 1500 BC to the Rig-Veda. The purpose behind the composition was to implant moral values and governing skills in the young sons of the king. The ancient Sanskrit text boasts of various animal stories in verse and prose.
The Panchatantra is the best guide to enroot moral values in children since each tale has a moral lesson in the end. It is a great book where plants and animals can speak and converse with human beings too. The etymology of the term ‘Panchatantra’ suggests that it is a combination of two words, ‘Pancha’ (five) and ‘Tantra’ (practice/ principle). So, the five principles or practices illustrated by Panchatantra are ‘Mitra Bhedha’ (Loss of Friends), ‘Mitra Laabha’ (Gaining Friends), ‘Suhrudbheda’ (Causing discord between Friends), ‘Vigraha’ (Separation) and ‘Sandhi’ (Union).
Unlike many of its contemporaries from other cultures and even the ones that were written many centuries later, the Panchatantra does not preach from a high point of view. The very reason for its success is its ability to imply the moral values without mentioning them. The method of learning is interactive, voluntary, reflective and open, which stays with the human mind long after the story has been read.