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Panchatantra (pŭnˌchətŭnˈtrə) [Sanskrit,=five treatises], anonymous collection of animal fables in Sanskrit literature, probably compiled before A.D. 500 (see Bidpai). The work, derived from Buddhistic sources, was intended as a manual for the instruction of sons of the royalty. The fables are in prose, with interspersions of aphoristic verse. The stories in the Panchatantra appear to have entered European literature circuitously through an Arabic version (c.A.D. 750) of the translation into Syriac of the Pahlavi (literary Persian) translation (c.A.D. 550) from the original. A variant spelling is Pancatantra.


See the translation from the Sanskrit by A. W. Ryder (1925, repr. 1956).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a monument of Sanskrit narrative literature dating from the third or fourth century A.D.

The books of fables and didactic short stories comprising the Panchatantra belong to the frame-story genre. The work, with its beast fables and folkloric plots, allegorically depicts Hindu society, satirically mirroring social relations.

Because of its popular orientation, the Panchatantra was widely distributed and had an important influence on world literature. In the mid-sixth century it was translated into Old Persian. This translation, which has not survived, was the basis for an Arabic version, known as Kalila and Dimna (about A.D. 750). Through the intermediary of a Hebrew translation completed between the 13th and 16th centuries, the Arabic version in turn was the basis of numerous translations into European languages. A Greek adaptation of the Arabic version entitled Stephanites kai Ichnelates (1081) gave rise to versions in the Slavic languages.

There are approximately 200 translations of the Panchatantra in existence in over 60 European and Asian languages, including numerous versions in modern Indian languages. There also exist late Sanskrit recastings of the work, among them the 12th-century collection of fables the Hitopadesa.


Panchatantra. Moscow, 1958. (Translation from Sanskrit and commentary by A. Ia. Syrkin.)
The Panchatantra Reconstructed: Text, Critical Apparatus, Introduction and Translation by F. Edgerton, vols. 1–2. New Haven, Conn., 1924.
Pañcatantra: Traduit du sanscrit et annoté par E. Lanceren. [Paris] 1965.


Grintser, P. A. Drevneindiiskaia proza. Moscow, 1963.
Hertel, J. Das Pañcatantra, seine Geschichte und seine Verbreitung. Leipzig-Berlin, 1914.
Ruben, W. Das Pañcatantra und seine Morallehre. Berlin, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Intertwined in our lives has been the passive or active consumption of content such as religious narratives, poetry, stories of Premchand, Panchatantra, and stories across vernacular languages in general," he said.
It is common knowledge that stories like those of the Panchatantra (1) with their device of the frame story travelled west and influenced Western literature including Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
It originates in the Panchatantra, an ancient Indian collection of animal fables dating from the 2nd century BC.
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These art forms included the genre of framed tales that gave advice to princes and that was channeled into 1001 Nights through its main source text, the Persian Hazar afsan[e], translated as A Thousand Tales (itself perhaps influenced by the Indian collection Panchatantra).
Popular Mankada-Kumbhira (monkey-crocodile) game has emanated from the ancient Sanskrit text Panchatantra. In addition to this, players of traditional games also sing various lovely short poems and Dhaga Dhamali during every stage of the games to make it more lively and aesthetic.
The prehistory of micro-narratives lies in the first written words, recorded from oral tales; in folk forms such as fables (notably Aesop's fables in the West) as well as worldwide parables laden with socio-cultural content (as in the Panchatantra and Jataka tales in India).
In "A History of Children's Books in 100 Books" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to take a global perspective and trace the development of the children's book genre from ancient stories, such as Aesop's Fables and the Indian Panchatantra, through the Puritan primers of the 17th century to the Harry Potter series and books as technology.
Blending folk and classical techniques, his Marionette Ramayana production with dancers made to move like puppets with faces covered behind masks of great originality, and dance-drama productions like Bhuka Hai Bengal, Discovery of India and Panchatantra were all examples of remarkable creative imagination.
Or further afield to collections such as the Persian Hasht-Bihisht or the Sanskrit Panchatantra?