Panchatantra in verse


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!

The Prologue

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!


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