‘Once Upon A Time’ how it all started…

Dear children!

Long ago, there was a city named Pataliputra on the banks of Ganges. King Sudarshan was ruling it. There were many learned men, poets, scholars and eminent luminaries in his kingdom. Once in the court during a conversation poet mentioned

“youvvanam dhanasampathihi prabhuthvam avive:kitha:!
ekaika mapyanarttha:ya kimu yathra chathushtayam!!”


Youthfulness, abundant money, power, foolishness – any one of these is enough for one’s downfall. Imagine a situation if someone has all these at a time

This conversation set the king thinking. He remembered the state of affairs with his three sons. Devoid of proper education, always inclined towards playful activities they were acting foolishly being useful to none. Parents will be happy if children get educated well and become resourceful earning respect and goodwill from the society. Children acting otherwise are a burden for the earth. The king’s thoughts were dwelling on these lines.

Fortunately he also realised, if children are getting off-track parents are responsible to get them back on track, through proper education and counselling. Immediately he remembered a wise man in his court Pandit Vishnusarma, one who is well versed in scriptures and intelligent enough to distinguish right and appropriate actions from the inappropriate ones. He summoned the Pandit to meet him in the royal chambers.

“Devoid of proper education, my children are always playful and going haywire. I request your good-self to set them on the path of right by educating them on the right way of living and conduct through Nitisahstra”. Accepting the King’s request Vishnusarma took the three princes along with him to the Gurukul.

On arriving at the Gurukul, he assembled them and said, ‘Children, I will tell some beautiful stories to you that are enjoyable. Apart from being enjoyablethey will also make you knowledgeable and intelligent.

– I will tell you the benefits of being friendly with others. This art is called as mitra-labham.

– I will also tell you how one can create differences between friends and make them weak. This art is called as mitra-bhedam.

– I will teach you, how we can win over two people, who are absolute strangers to each other, by creating differences between them? This is the art of vigraham

– I will tell you how one can benefit by aligning with someone stronger and powerful, rather than confronting. This is the art of sandhi

– Finally I will tell you how one will end up in trouble, by acting without thinking through. This is called as asmi:ksha ka:ritvam

You will learn about these five concepts through these stories. Together they are referred as Pancha tantra, the magical five.

First among these is Mitra labham, benefit of friendship. How do a crow, a tortoise, a rat and a deer overcome their difficulties and benefited by befriending with each other forms the essence of the first story. Do you want to know about this story”? he
asked the princes.

“A story of birds and animals, and friendship among them?” they were curious. “How did they forge friendship? How did they overcome their difficulties because of their friendship? This looks very interesting. Can you explain this in more detail?’ they opened up.

Thus Vishnusarma, after arousing curiosity and interest to learn in the children, started narrating the story.

Come let’s learn about it next month. Bye! For now.

– By M. Krishnapriya, India, translated by
Balaji Gorantla, Chennai