As Wikipedia will inform you The Panchatantra (Five Principles’) is an ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose, in a frame story format. What I am attempting to do is to treat these in a modern verse format while, hopefully, retaining the original spirit of the stories. I realise this is a daunting exercise, but it is an interesting challenge for me!
Once upon a time, a long time ago
There was a kingdom in south Indi-a
King Amar-a-sakti ruled it, you know
Mahi-la-ro-pyam of South Indi-a.
And what made it famous, most people know
Were the Pancha-tan-tara tales of old!
All those hundreds of years, so long ago
And this my friends is how they first were told
The king had three sons who were witless bums
So he called his ministers one fine day
As he hung his head and he looked quite glum,
He gathered them around and this did say:
“Better no son, than one who’s a dimwit
My sons will all bring dishonour to me
Oh what shall I do? I can’t think a bit
I worry about all my sons, you see.”
One of the ministers, a smart young man
Said, “I know a scholar, known to be wise
He goes by the name of Vishnu Sharman
The best possible tutor for these guys.”
Vishnu Sharman came before the great king
“Oh, venerable scholar, please pity me,
If my sons you can train to rule like kings
One hundred villages, I’ll give to thee.”
But Vishnu Sharman didn’t want riches
And Vishnu Sharman, he didn’t want fame
“Don’t tempt me with a hundred villages,”
Said he, “If they don’t change, I’ll change my name.”
“Six months from today, great scholars, they’ll be,
Come along boys now to my monastery.”
And true to his word, in six months made he
The princes to learn the five strategies.
And these five strategies are what we know
As the Pancha-tan-tra of long ago
Yeah, the Pancha-tan-tra of long ago!