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World Folklore And Indian Connections

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World Folklore And Indian Connections

Gutenberg link: Hindu Dramatists R.N. Dutta
Honsol See post #16. Try this for example. Cut and post what you typed into MS word and run spell check and see the difference.

Thanks, ramana
<b>Roots in India, China!</b>
<b>'The roots of fables go back all the way to India, where they were associated with Kasyapa, a mystical sage, and they were subsequently adopted by the early Buddhists.'</b>

But there was no communication between Greece and India or China in the 6th century; this must be false. Unless 'roots' means there were fables in India and China too. Unless this is referenced soon, I'll take it out. Dast 08:37, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure there was communication between Greece and India and the 6th Century, by way of Persia; there was certainly trade. But that doesn't validate the claim made about the roots of these fables. thx1138 06:18, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

If we go by the dates of Aesop and the fact of Buddhist transmission, then Buddha's date would have to be pushed back. The western solution is to bracket indian influence to a later period.

<b>Many of the classic frame tale collections, such as the Arabian Nights, The Decameron, Canterbury Tales and others can be traced back to ancient India sometime in the first millennium BC, </b>when the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, Vishnu Sarma's Panchatantra, Syntipas' The Seven Wise Masters, and the fable collections Hitopadesha and Vikram and The Vampire were written.[1] <b>These frame tale collections gradually spread west through the centuries and were popular because of their inherent structure and flexibility</b>[citation needed]. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Story Notes


Source.--V. Fausboll, Five Jatakas, Copenhagen, 1861, pp. 35--8, text and translation of the Javasakuna Jataka. I have ventured to English Prof. Fausböll's version, which was only intended as a "crib" to the Pali. For the omitted Introduction, see supra.

Parallels.--I have given a rather full collection of parallels, running to about a hundred numbers, in my Aesop, pp. 232--4. The chief of these are: (1) for the East, the Midrashic version (" Lion and Egyptian Partridge "), in the great Rabbinic commentary on Genesis (Bereshithrabba, c. 64); (2) in classical antiquity, Phaedrus, i. 8 (" Wolf and Crane "), and Babrius, 94 ("Wolf and Heron"), and the Greek proverb Suidas, ii, 248 (" Out of the Wolf's Mouth"); (3) in the Middle Ages, the so-called Greek Aesop. ed. Halm; 276 b, really prose versions of Babrius and "Romulus," or prose of Phaedrus, i. 8, also the Romulus of Ademar (fl. 1030), 64; it occurs also on the Bayeux Tapestry, in Marie de France, 7, and in Benedict of Oxford's Mishle Shualim (Heb.), 8; (4) Stainhöwel took it from the " Romulus" into his German Aesop (1480), whence all the modern European Aesops are derived.

Remarks.--I have selected The Wolf and the Crane as my typical example in my "History of the Aesopic Fable," and can only give here a rough summary of the results I there arrived at concerning the fable, merely premising that these results are at present no more than hypotheses. The similarity of the Jataka form with that familiar to us, and derived by us in the last resort from Phaedrus, is so striking that few will deny some historical relation between them. I conjecture that the Fable originated in India, and came West, by two different routes. First, it came by oral tradition to Egypt, as one of the Libyan Fables which the ancients themselves distinguished from the Aesopic Fables. It was, however, included by Demetrius Phalereus, tyrant of Athens, and founder of the Alexandrian library c. 300 B.C., in his Assemblies of Aesopic Fables, which I have shown to be the source of Phaedrus' Fables c. 30 A.D. Besides this, it came from Ceylon in the Fables of Kybises--i.e., Kasyapa the Buddha--c. 50 A.D., was adapted into Hebrew, and used for political purposes, by Rabbi Joshua ben Chananyah in a harangue to the Jews, c. 120 A.D., begging them to be patient while within the jaws of Rome. The Hebrew form uses the lion, not the wolf, as the ingrate, which enables us to decide on the Indian provenance of the Midrashic version. It may be remarked that the use of the lion in this and other Jatakas is indirectly a testimony to their great age, as the lion has become rarer and rarer in India during historic times, and is now confined to the Gir forest of Kathiáwar, where only a dozen specimens exist, and are strictly preserved.

The verses at the end are the earliest parts of the Jataka, being in more archaic Pali than the rest: the story is told by the commentator (c. 400 AD) to illustrate them. It is probable that they were brought over on the first introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon, c. 241 B.C. This would give them an age of aver two thousand years, nearly three hundred years earlier than Phaedrus, from whom comes our Wolf and Crane.

Source.--Miss Stokes, Indian Fairy Tales, No. xxii. pp. 153--63, told by Mániyá, one of the ayahs. I have left it unaltered, except that I have replaced" God" by " Khuda," the word originally used (see Notes l. c., p. 237).

Parallels.--The tabu, as to a particular direction, occurs in other Indian stories as well as in European folk-tales (see notes on Stokes, p. 286). The grateful animals theme occurs in "The Soothsayer's Son" (infra, No. x.), and frequently in Indian folk-tales (see Temple's Analysis, III. i. 5--7; Wideawake Stories, pp.412--3). The thorn in the tiger's foot is especially common (Temple, l. c., 6, 9), and recalls the story of Androclus, which occurs in the derivates of Phaedrus, and may thus be Indian in origin (see Benfey,Panschatantra, i. 211,and the parallels given in my Aesop, Ro. iii.-1, p. 243). The theme is, however, equally frequent in European folk-tales: see my List of Incidents, Proc. Folk-Lore Congress, p. 91, s.v. "Grateful Animals" and "Gifts by Grateful Animals." Similarly, the " Bride Wager" incident at the end is common to a large number of Indian and European folk-tales (Temple, Analysis, p. 430; my List, l.c. sub voce). The tasks are also equally common (c.f. "Battle of the Birds " in Celtic Fairy Tales), though the exact forms as given in "Princess Labam" are not known in Europe.

Remarks.--We have here a concrete instance of the relation of Indian and European fairy-tales. The human mind may be the same everywhere, but it is not likely to hit upon the sequence of incidents, Direction tabu--Grateful Animals--Bride-Wager--Tasks, by accident or independently: Europe must have borrowed from India, or India from Europe. As this must have occurred within historic times, indeed within the last thousand years, when even European peasants are not likely to have invented, even if they believed, in the incident of the grateful animals, the probability is in favour of borrowing from India, possibly through the intermediation of Arabs at the time of the Crusades. It is only a probability, but we cannot in any case reach more than probability in this matter, just at present.


Source.--Steel-Temple, Wideawake Stories, pp. 69--72, originally published in Indian Antiquary, xii. 175. The droll is common throughout the Panjab.

Parallels.--The similarity of the concluding episode with the finish of the "Three Little Pigs" (Eng. Fairy Tales, No. xiv.). In my notes on that droll I have pointed out that the pigs were once goats or kids with "hair on their chinny chin chin." This brings the tale a stage nearer to the Lambikin.

Remarks.--The similarity of Pig No. 3 rolling down hill in the churn and the Lambikin in the Drumikin can scarcely be accidental; though, it must be confessed, the tale has undergone considerable modification before it reached England.

<b>IV. PUNCHKIN,</b>

Source.--Miss Frere, Old Deccan Days, pp. 1--16, from her ayah, Anna de Souza, of a Lingaet family settled and Christianised at Goa for three generations. I should perhaps add that a Prudhan is a Prime Minister or Vizier; Punts are the same, and Sirdars, nobles.

Parallels.--The son of seven mothers is a characteristic Indian conception, for which see Notes on "The Son of Seven Queens" in this collection, No. xvi. The mother transformed, envious stepmother, ring recognition, are all incidents common to East and West; bibliographical references for parallels may be found under these titles in my List of Incidents. The external soul of the ogre has been studied by Mr. E. Clodd in Folk-Lore Journal, vol. ii., "The Philosophy of Punchkin," and still more elaborately in the section, "The External Soul in Folk-Tales," in Mr. Frazer's Golden Bough, ii. pp. 296--326. See also 'Major Temple's Analysis, II. iii., Wideawake Stories, pp. 404 - 5, who there gives the Indian parallels.

Remarks.--Both Mr. Clodd and Mr. Frazer regard the essence of the tale to consist in the conception of an external soul or "life-index," and they both trace in this a 'survival" of savage philosophy, which they consider occurs among all men at a certain stage of culture. But the most cursory examination of the sets of tales containing these incidents in Mr. Frazer's analyses shows that many, indeed the majority, of these tales cannot be independent of one another; for they contain not alone the incident of an external materialised soul, but the further point that this is contained in something else, which is enclosed in another thing, which is again surrounded by a wrapper. This Chinese ball arrangement is found in the Deccan (" Punchkin"); in Bengal (Day, Folk-Tales of Bengal); in Russia (Ralston, p. 103 seq., "Koschkei the Deathless," also in Mr. Lang's Red Fairy Book); in Servia (Mijatovics, Servian Folk-Lore, p. 172); in South Slavonia (Wratislaw, p. 225); in Rome (Miss Busk, p. 164); in Albania (Dozon, p. 132 seq.); in Transylvania (Haltrich, No. 34); in Schleswig-Holstein (Müllenhoff, p. 404); in Norway (Asbjörnsen, No. 36, ap. Dasent, Pop. Tales, p. 55, "The Giant who had no Heart in his Body"); and finally, in the Hebrides (Campbell, Pop. Tales, p. 10, cf. Celtic Fairy Tales, No. xvii., "Sea Maiden "). Here we have the track of this remarkable idea of an external soul enclosed in a succession of wrappings, which we can trace from Hindostan to the Hebrides.

It is difficult to imagine that we have not here the actual migration of the tale from East to West. In Bengal we have the soul "in a necklace, in a box, in the heart of a boal fish, in a tank"; in Albania "it is in a pigeon, in a hare, in the silver tusk of a wild boar"; in Rome it is "in a stone, in the head of a bird, in the head of a leveret, in the middle head of a seven-headed hydra"; in Russia "it is in an egg, in a duck, in a hare, in a casket, in an oak"; in Servia it is "in a board, in the heart of a fox, in a mountain"; in Transylvania "it is in a light, in an egg, in a duck, in a pond, in a mountain;"in Norway it is "in an egg, in a duck, in a well, in a church, on an island, in a lake"; in the Hebrides it is "in an egg, in the belly of a duck, in the belly of a wether, under a flagstone on the threshold." It is impossible to imagine the human mind independently imagining such bizarre convolutions. They were borrowed from one nation to the other, and till we have reason shown to the contrary, the original lender was a Hindu. I should add that the mere conception of an external soul occurs in the oldest Egyptian tale of "The Two Brothers," but the wrappings are absents


Source.--Pantschatantra, V. ix,, tr. Benfey, ii. 345--6.

Parallels.--Benfey, in § 209 of his Einleitung, gives bibliographical references to most of those which are given at length in Prof. M. Müller's brilliant essay on "The Migration of Fables" (Selected Essays, i. 500--76), which is entirely devoted to the travels of the fable from India to La Fontaine. See also Mr. Clouston, Pop. Tales, ii. 432 seq. I have translated the Hebrew version in my essay, "Jewish Influence on the Diffusion of Folk-Tales," pp. 6--7. Our proverb, "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched," is ultimately to be derived from India.

Remarks.--The stories of Alnaschar, the Barber's fifth brother in the Arabian Nights, and of La Perette, who counted her chickens before they were hatched, in La Fontaine, are demonstrably derived from the same Indian original from which our story was obtained. The travels of the "Fables of Bidpai" from India to Europe are well known and distinctly traceable. I have given a rough summary of the chief critical results in the introduction to my edition of the earliest English version of, the Fables of Bidpai, by Sir Thomas North, of Plutarch fame (London, D. Nutt, "Bibliothèque de Carabas," 1888), where I have given an elaborate genealogical table of the multitudinous versions. La Fontaine's version, which has rendered the fable so familiar to us all, comes from Bonaventure des Periers, Contes et Nouvelles, who got it from the Dialogus Creaturarum of Nicholaus Pergamenus, who derived it from the Sermones of Jacques de Vitry (see Prof. Crane's edition, No., li.), who probably derived it from the Directorium Humanae Vita of John of Capua, a converted Jew, who translated it from the Hebrew version of the Arabic Kalilah wa Dimnah, which was itself derived from the old Syriac version of a Pehlevi translation of the original Indian work, probably called after Karataka and Damanaka, the names of two jackals who figure in the earlier stories of the book. Prof. Rhys-Davids informs me that these names are more akin to Pali than to Sanskrit, which makes it still more probable that the whole literature is ultimately to be derived from a Buddhist source.

The theme of La Perette is of interest as showing the literary transmission of tales from Orient to Occident. It also shows the possibility of an influence of literary on oral tradition, as is shown by our proverb, and by the fact, which Benfey mentions, that La Fontaine's story has had influence on two of Grimm's tales, Nos. 164, 168.


Source.--A. Campbell, Santal Folk Tales, 1892, pp. 52 - 6, with some verbal alterations. A Bonga is the presiding spirit of a certain kind of rice land; Doms and Hadis are low-caste aborigines, whose touch is considered polluting. The Santals are a forest tribe, who live in the Santal Parganas, 140 miles N.W. of Calcutta (Sir W. W. Hunter, The Indian Empire, 57 - 60).

Parallels.--Another version occurs in Campbell, p. 106 seq., which shows that the story is popular among the Santals. It is obvious, however, that neither version contains the real finish of the story, which must have contained the denunciation of the magic fiddle of the murderous sisters. This would bring it under the formula of The Singing Bone, which M. Monseur has recently been studying with a remarkable collection of European variants in the Bulletin of the Wallon Folk-Lore Society of Liege (cf Eng. Fairy Tales, No. ix.). There is a singing bone in Steel-Temple's Wideawake Stories, pp. 127 seq. (" Little Anklebone ").

Remarks.--Here we have another theme of the common store of European folk-tales found in India. Unfortunately, the form in which it occurs is mutilated, and we cannot draw any definite conclusion from it.


Source.--The Baka-Jataka, Fausböll, No. 38, tr. Rhys-Davids, pp. 315--21. The Buddha this time is the Genius of the Tree.

Parallels.--This Jataka got into the Bidpai literature, and occurs in all its multitudinous offshoots (see Benfey, Einleilung, § 6o) among others in the earliest English translation by North (my edition, pp. 118--22), where the crane becomes "a great Paragone of India (of those that liue a hundredth yeares and neuer mue their feathers)." The crab, on hearing the ill news "called to Parliament all the Fishes of the Lake," and before all are devoured destroys the Paragon, as in the Jataka, and returned to the remaining fishes, who "all with one consent give hir many a thanke."

Remarks.--An interesting point, to which I have drawn attention in my Introduction to North's Bidpai, is the probability that the illustrations of the tales as well as the tales themselves, were translated, so to speak, from one, country to another. We can trace them in Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic MSS., and a few are extant on Buddhist Stupas. Under these circumstances, it may be of interest to compare with Mr. Batten's conception of the Crane and the Crab that of the German artist who illustrated the first edition of the Latin Bidpai, probably following the traditional representations of the MS., which itself could probably trace back to India.


Source.--Miss Stokes, Indian Fairy Tales, pp. 73--84. Majnun and Laili are conventional names for lovers, the Romeo and Juliet of Hindostan.

Parallels.--Living in animals' bellies occurs elsewhere in Miss Stokes' book, pp. 66, 124; also in Miss Frere's, 188. The restoration of beauty by fire occurs as a frequent theme (Temple, Analysis, III. vi. f. p. 418). Readers will be reminded of the dénouement of Mr. Rider Haggard's She. Resuscitation from ashes has been used very effectively by Mr. Lang in his delightful Prince Prigio.

Remarks.--The white skin and blue eyes of Prince Majnun deserve attention. They are possibly a relic of the days of Aryan conquest, when the fair-skinned, fair-haired Aryan conquered the swarthier aboriginals. The name for caste in Sanskrit is varna, "colour"; and one Hindu cannot insult another more effectually than by calling him a black man. Cf. Stokes, pp. 238--9, who suggests that the red hair is something solar, and derived from myth's of the solar hero.


Source.--Steel-Temple, Wideawake Stories, pp. 116--20; first published in Indian Antiquary, xii. p. 170 seq.

Parallels.--No less than 94 parallels are given by Prof. K. Krohn in his elaborate discussion of this fable in his dissertation, Mann und Fuchs (Helsingfors, 1891), pp. 38--60; to which may be added three Indian variants, omitted by him, but mentioned by Capt Temple, l.c.., p. 324 in the Bhdgavata Purana, the Gui Bakaoli and Ind. Ant xii. 177; and a couple more in my Aesop, p. 253: add Smeaton, Karens, p. 126.

Remarks.--Prof. Krohn comes to the conclusion that the majority of the oral forms of the tale come from literary versions (p. 47), whereas the Reynard form has only had influence on a single variant. He reduces the century of variants to three type forms. The first occurs in two Egyptian versions collected in the present day, as well as in Petrus Alphonsi in the twelfth century, and the Fabulae Extravagantes of the thirteenth or fourteenth: here the ingrate animal is a crocodile, which asks to be carried away from a river about to dry up, and there is only one judge. The second is that current in India and represented by the story in the present collection: here the judges are three. The third is that current among Western Europeans, which has spread to S. Africa and N. and S. America: also three judges. Prof. K. Krohn counts the first the original form, owing to the single judge and the naturalness of the opening, by which the critical situation is brought about. The further question arises, whether this form, though found in Egypt now, is indigenous there, and if so, how it got to the East. Prof. Krohn grants the possibility of the Egyptian form having been invented in lndia and carried to Egypt, and he allows that the European forms have been influenced by the Indian. The "Egyptian" form is found in Burmah (Smeaton, l.c., p. 128), as well as the Indian, a fact of which Prof. H. Krohn was unaware, though it turns his whole argument. The evidence we have of other folk-tales of the beast-epic emanating from India improves the chances of this also coming from that source. One thing at least is certain: all these hundred variants come ultimately from one source. The incident "Inside again" of the Arabian Nights (the Djinn and the bottle) and European tales is also a secondary derivate.


Source.--Mrs. Kingscote, Tales of the Sun (p. 11 seq.), from Pandit Natesa Sastri's Folk-Lore of Southern India, pt. ii., originally from Ind. Antiquary. I have considerably condensed and modified the somewhat Babu English of the original.

Parallels.--See Benfey, Pantschatantra, § 71, i. pp. 193--222, who quotes the Kama Jataka as the ultimate source: it also occurs in the Saccankira jataka (Fausböll, No. 73), trans. Rev. R. Morris, Folk-Lore jour. iii. 348 seq. The story of the ingratitude of man compared with the gratitude of beasts came early to the West, where it occurs in the Gesta Romanorum, c. 119., It was possibly from an early form of this collection that Richard Coeur de Lion got the story, and used it to rebuke the ingratitude of the English nobles on his return in 1195. Matthew Paris tells the story, sub anno (it is an addition of his to Ralph Disset),Hist. Major,ed. Luard, ii. 413--6, how a lion and a serpent and a Venetian named Vitalis were saved from a pit by a woodman, Vitalis promising him half his fortune, fifty talents. The lion brings his benefactor a leveret, the serpent "gemmam pretiosam," probably 'the precious jewel in his head" to which Shakespeare alludes (As You Like It, ii. 1, cf Benfey, I. c., p. 214, n.), but Vitalis refuses to have anything to do with him, and altogether repudiates the fifty talents. "Haec referebat Rex Richardus munificus, ingratos redarguendo."

Remarks.---Apart from the interest of its wide travels, and its appearance in the standard mediaeval History of England by Matthew Paris, the modern story shows the remarkable persistence of folk-tales in the popular mind. Here we have collected from the Hindu peasant of today a tale which was probably told before Buddha, over two thousand years ago, and certainly included among the Jatakas before the Christian era. The same thing has occurred with The Tiger, Brahman and jackal (No. ix. supra).


Source .--Somadeva, Kathit-Sarit.-Sagara, trans. Tawney (Calcutta, 1880), i. pp. 272--4. I have slightly toned down the inflated style of the original.

Parallels.--Benfey has collected and discussed a number in Orient and Occident, i. 371 seq.; see also Tawney, ad loc. The most remarkable of the parallels is that afforded by the Grimms' "Doctor Aliwissend" (No. 98), which extends even to such a minute point as his exclamation, "Ach, ich armer Krebs," whereupon a crab is discovered under a dish. The usual form of discovery of the thieves is for the Dr. Knowall to have so many days given him to discover the thieves, and at the end of the first day he calls out, "There's one of them," meaning the days, just as one of the thieves peeps through at him. Hence the title and the plot of C. Lever's One of Them.


Source.--Knowles, Folk-Tales of Kashmir, pp. 20-8.

Parallels.--The incident of the Aiding Animals. is frequent in folk-tales; see bibliographical references, sub voce, in my List of Incidents, Trans. Folk-Lore Congress, p. 88; also Knowles, 21, n.; and Temple, Wideawake Stories, pp. 401, 412. The Magic Ring is also "common form" in folk-tales; cf Köhler ap. Marie de France, Lais, ed. Warncke, p. lxxxiv. And the whole story is to be found very widely spread from India (Wideawake Stories, pp. 196--206) to England (Eng. Fairy Tales, No. xvii., "Jack and his Golden Snuff-box," cf. Notes, ibid.), the most familiar form of it being "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp."

Remarks.--M. Cosquin has pointed out (Contes de Lorraine,p.xi. seq.) that the incident of the rat's-tail-up-nose to recover the ring from the stomach of an ogress, is found among Arabs, Albanians, Bretons, and Russians. It is impossible to imagine that incident--occurring in the same series of incidents--to have been invented more than once, and if that part of the story has been borrowed from India, there is no reason why the whole of it should not have arisen in India, and have been spread to the West. The English variant was derived from an English Gipsy, and suggests the possibility that for this particular story the medium of transmission has been the Gipsies. This contains the incident of the loss of the ring by the faithful animal, which again could not have been independently invented.


Source.--The Kacchapa Jataka, Fausböll, No. 215 also in his Five Jatakas, pp. 16, 41, tr. Rhys-Davids, pp. viii.--x.

Parallels.--It occurs also in the Bidpai literature, in nearly all its multitudinous offshoots. See Benfey, Einleitung, § 84; also my Bidptai, E, 4. a; and North's text, pp. 170 - 5, where it is the taunts of the other birds that cause the catastrophe: "O here is a brave sight, looke, here is a goodly ieast, what bugge haue we here," said some. "See, see, fhe hangeth by the throte, and therefor fhe fpeaketh not," saide others; "and the beast flieth not like a beast;" so she opened her mouth and "pafhte hir all to pieces."

Remarks.--I have reproduced in my edition the original illustration of the first English Bidpai, itself derived from the Italian block. A replica of it here may serve to show that it could be used equally well to illustrate the Pali original as its English great-great-great-great-great-great grand-child.


Source--Knowles, Folk-Tales of Kashmir, pp. 32--4I. I have reduced the pieces of advice to three, and curtailed somewhat.

Parallels - See Celtic Fairy Tales, No. xxii., "Tale of Ivan," from the old Cornish, now extinct, and notes ibid. Mr. Clouston points out (Pop. Tales, ii. 3:9) that it occurs in Buddhist literature, in "Buddaghoshas Parables," as "The Story of Kulla Pauthaka."

Remarks.--It is indeed curious to find the story better told in Cornwall than in the land of its birth, but there can be little doubt that the Buddhist version is the earliest and original form of the story. The piece of advice was originally a charm, in which a youth was to say to himself, "Why are you busy? Why are you busy?" He does so when thieves are about, and so saves the king's treasures, of which he gets an appropriate share. It would perhaps be as well if many of us should say to ourselves, " Ghatesa, ghatesa, kim karana?"

Source.--Pantschatantra, III. v., tr. Benfey, ii. 244--7.

Parallels given in my .Aesop, Ro. ii. 10, p. 40. The chief points about them are--(1) though the tale does not exist in either Phaedrus or Babrius, it occurs in prose derivates from the Latin by Ademar, 65, and "Romulus," ii. 10, and from Greek, in Gabrias, 45, and the prose Aesop, ed. Halm, 96; Gitlbauer has restored the Babrian form in his edition of Babrius, No. 160. (2) The fable occurs among folk-tales Grimm, 105; Woycicki, Poln. Mähr. 105; Gering, Islensk. Aevent. 59, possibly derived from La Fontaine, x. 12.

Remarks.--Benfey has proved most ingeniously and conclusively (Einl. i. 359) that the Indian fable is the source of both Latin and Greek fables. I may borrow from my Aesop, p. 93, parallel abstracts of the three versions, putting Benfey's results in a graphic form, series of bars indicating the passages where the classical fables have failed to preserve the original.


A Brahmin once observed a snake in his field, and thinking it the tutelary spirit of the field, he offered it a libation of milk in a bowl. Next day he finds a piece of gold in the bowl, and he recieves this each day after offering the libation. One day he had to go else-where, and he sent his son with the libation. The son sees the gold, and thinking the serpent's hole full of treasure determines to slay the snake. He strikes at its head with a cudgel, and the enraged serpent stings him to death. The Brahmin mourns his son's death, but next morning as usual brings the libation of milk (in the hope of getting the gold as before). The serpent appears after a long delay at the mouth of the lair, and declares their friendship at an end, as it could not forget the blow of the Brahmin's son, nor the Brahmin his son's death, from the bite of the snake.
Pants. III. v. (Benf. 244 - 7)


... A good man had become friendly with the snake, who came into his house and brought luck with it, so that the man became rich through it ... One day he struck the serpent, which disappeared, and with it the man's riches. The good man tries to make it up, but the serpent declares their friendship at an end, as it could not forget the blow. ...
Phaed. Dressl. VII. 28 (Rom. II. xi.)

A serpent stung a farmer's son to death. The father pursued the serpent with an axe, and struck off part of its tail. Afterwards fearing its vengence he brought food and honey to its lair, and begged reconciliation. The serpent, however, declares friendship impossible, as it could not forget the blow ... nor the farmer his son's death from the bite of the snake.
Aesop, Halm 96b (Babrius-Gitlb. 160)

In the Indian fable every step of the action is thoroughly justified whereas the Latin form does not explain why the snake was friendly in the first instance, or why the good man was enraged afterwards; and the Greek form starts abruptly, without explaining why the serpent had killed the farmer's Son. Make a composite of the Phaedrine and Babrian forms, and you get the Indian one, which is thus shown to be the original of both.


Source.--Steel-Temple, Wideawake Stories, pp. 98--110, originally published in Ind. Antiq. x. 147 seq.

Parallels.--A long variant follows in Ind. Antiq., l. c. M. Cosquin refers to several Oriental variants, I. c. p. xxx. n. For the direction tabu, see Note on Princess Labam, supra, No. ii. The "letter to kill bearer" and "letter substituted" are frequent in both European (see my List, s. v.) and Indian Folk-Tales (Temple, Analysis, II. iv. b, 6, p. 410). The idea of a son of seven mothers could only arise in a polygamous country. It occurs in "Punchkin," supra, No. iv.; Day, Folk-Tales of Bengal, 117 seq.; Ind. Antiq. i. 170 (Temple, l. c., 398).

Remarks.--M. Cosquin (Contes de Lorraine, p. xxx.) points out how, in a Sicilian story, Gonzenbach (Sizil. Mähr. No. 80), the seven co-queens are transformed into seven step-daughters of the envious witch who causes their eyes to be taken out; It is thus probable, though M. Cosquin does not point this out, that the "envious stepmother" of folk-tales (see my List, s. v.) was originally an envious co-wife. But there can be little doubt of what M. Cosquin does point out--viz., that the Sicilian story is derived from the Indian one.


Source.--Rajovada Jataka, Fausböll, No. 151, tr. Rhys-Davids, pp. xxii.--vi.

Remarks.--This is one of the earliest of moral allegories in existence. The moralising tone of the Jatakas must be conspicuous to all reading them. Why, they can moralise even the Tar Baby (see infra, Note on "Demon with the Matted Hair," No. xxv.).


Source.--Kingscote, Tales of the Sun. I have changed the Indian mercantile numerals into those of English "back-slang," which make a very good parallel.


Source.--Steel-Temple, Wideawake Stories, pp. 247 - 80, omitting "How Raja Rasalu was Born," "How Raja Rasalu's Friends Forsook Him," "How Raja Rasalu Killed the Giants," and "How Raja Rasalu became a Jogi." A further version in Temple, Legends of Panjab, vol. i. Chaupur, I should explain, is a game played by two players with eight men, each on a board in the shape of a cross, four men to each cross covered with squares. The moves of the men are decided by the throws of a long form of dice. The object of the game is to see which of the players can first move all his men into the black centre square of the cross (Temple, l. c., p. 344, and Legends of Panjab, i. 243--5). It is sometimes said to be the origin of chess.

Parallels.--Rev. C. Swynnerton, "Four Legends about Raja Rasalu," in Folk-Lore Journal, p. 158 seq., also in separate book much enlarged, The Adventures of Raja Rasalu, Calcutta, 1884. Curiously enough, the real interest of the story comes after the end of our part of it, for Kokilan, when she grows up, is married to Raja Rasalu, and behaves as sometimes youthful wives behave to elderly husbands. He gives her her lover's heart to eat, á la Decameron, and she dashes herself over the rocks. For the parallels of this part of the legend see my edition of Painter's Palace of Pleasure, tom. i. Tale 39, or, better, the Programm of H. Patzig, Zur Geschichte der Herzmare (Berlin, 1891). Gambling for life occurs in Celtic and other folk-tales; cf. my List of Incidents, s. v. "Gambling for Magic Objects."

Remarks.--Raja Rasalu is possibly an historic personage, according to Capt. Temple, Calcutta Review, 1884, p. 397, flourishing in the eighth or ninth century. There is a place called Sirikap ka-kila in the neighbourhood of Sialkot, the traditional seat of Rasalu on the Indus, not far from Atlock.

Herr Patzig is strongly for the Eastern origin of the romance, and finds its earliest appearance in the West in the Anglo-Norman troubadour, Thomas' Lar Guirun, where it becomes part of the Tristan cycle. There is, so far as I know, no proof of the earliest part of the Rasalu legend (our part) coming to Europe, except the existence of the gambling incidents of the same kind in Celtic and other folk-tales.


Source.--The Siha Camma Jataka, Fausböll, No. 189, trans. Rhys-Davids, pp. v. vi.

Parallels.--It also occurs in Somadeva, Katha .Sarit Sagara, ed. Tawney, ii. 65, and n. For Aesopic parallels, cf. my Aesop, Av. iv. It is in Babrius. ed. Gitlbaur, 218 (from Greek prose Aesop, ed. HaIm, No. 323), and Avian, ed. Eilis, 5, whence it came into the modern Aesop.

Remarks.--Avian wrote towards the end of the third century; and put into Latin mainly those portions of Babrius which are unparalleled by Phaedrus. Consequently, as I have shown, he has a much larger proportion of Eastern elements than Phaedrus. There can be little doubt that the Ass in the Lion's Skin is from India. As Prof. Rhys-Davids remarks, the Indian form gives a plausible motive for the masquerade which is wanting in the ordinary Aesopic version.


Source.--Steel-Temple, Wideawake Stories, pp. 215--18.

Parallels enumerated in my Aesop, Av. xvii. See also Jacques de Vitry, Exempla, ed. Crane, No. 196 (see notes, p. 212), and Bozon, Contes moralisés, No. 112. It occurs in Avian. ed. Ellis, No. 22. Mr. Kipling has a very similar tale in his Life's Handicap.

Remarks.--Here we have collected in modern India what one cannot help thinking is the Indian original of a fable of Avian. The preceding number showed one of his fables existing among the Jatakas, probably before the Christian era. This makes it likely that we shall find an earlier Indian original of the fable of the Avaricious and Envious, perhaps among the Jatakas still untranslated.


Source.--Miss Stokes' Indian Fairy Tales, No. 20, pp. 119 - 137.

Parallels to heroes and heroines in European fairy tales, with stars on their foreheads, are given with some copiousness in Stokes, l. c., pp. 242--3. This is an essentially Indian trait; almost all Hindus have some tribal or caste mark on their bodies or faces. The choice of the hero disguised as a menial is also common property of Indian and European fairy tales: see Stokes, l.c., p. 231, and my List of Incidents (s. v. "Mental Disguise").


Source.--Kindly communicated by Mr. .M. L. Dames from his unpublished collection of Baluchi tales.

Remarks.- Unholy fakirs are rather rare. See Temple, Analysis, I. ii. a, p. 394.


Source.--Knowles, Folk-Tales of Kashmir, pp 484--90.

Parallels.--The latter part is the formula of the Clever Lass who guesses riddles. She has been bibliographised by Prof. Child, Eng. and Scotch' Ballads, i. 485; see also Benfey, Kl. Schr. ii. 156 seq. The sex test at the end is different from any of those enumerated by Prof. Kohler on Gonzenbach, Sezil. Mahr. ii. 216.

Remarks.--Here we have a further example of a whole formula, or series of incidents, common to most European collections, found in India, and in a quarter, too, where European influence is little likely to penetrate. Prof. Benfey, in an elaborate dissertation (" Die Kluge Dime," in Ausland, 1859, Nos. 20--25, now reprinted in Kl. Sckr. ii. 156 seq.), has shown the wide spread of the theme both in early Indian literature (though probably there derived from the folk) and in modern European folk literature.


Source.--The Pancavudha-Jataka, Fausböll, No. 55, kindly translated for this book by Mr. W. H. D. Rouse, of Christ's College, Cambridge. There is a brief abstract of the Jataka in Prof. Estlin Carpenter's sermon, Three Ways of Salvation, 1884, p. 27, where my attention was first called to this Jataka.

Parallels.--Most readers of these Notes will remember the central episode of Mr. J. C. Harris' Uncle Remus, in which Brer Fox, annoyed at Brer Rabbit's depredations, fits up "a contrapshun, what he calls a Tar Baby." Brer Rabbit coming along that way, passes the time of day with Tar Baby, and, annoyed at its obstinate silence, hits it with right fist and with left, with left fist and with right, which successively stick to the "contrapshun," till at last he butts with his bead, and that sticks too, whereupon Brer Fox, who all this time had "lain low," saunters out, and complains of Brer Rabbit that lie is too stuck up. In the sequel Brer Rabbit begs Brer Fox that he may "drown me as deep ez you please, skin me, scratch out my eyeballs, tar out my years by the roots, en cut off my legs, but don't fling me in dat brier patch;" which, of course, Brer Fox does, only to be informed by the cunning Brer Rabbit that he had been "bred en bawn in a brier patch." The story is a favourite one with the negroes: it occurs in Col. Jones' Negro Myths of the Georgia Coast (Uncle Remus is from S. Carolina), also among those of Brazil (Romero, Contos do Brazil), and in the West Indian Islands (Mr. Lang, "At the Sign of the Ship, Longman's Magazine, Feb. 1889). We can trace it to Africa, where it occurs in Cape Colony (South African Folk-Lore Journal; vol. i.).

Remarks.--The fivefold attack on the Demon and the Tar Baby is so preposterously ludicrous that it cannot have been independently invented, and we must therefore assume that they are casually connected, and the existence of the variant in South Africa clinches the matter, and gives us a landing-stage between India and America. There can be little doubt that the Jataka of Prince Five Weapons came to Africa, possibly by Buddhist missionaries, spread among the negroes, and then took ship in the holds of slavers for the New World, where it is to be found in fuller form than any yet discovered in the home of its birth. I say Buddhist missionaries, because there is a certain amount of evidence that the negroes have Buddhistic symbols among them, and we can only explain the identification of Brer Rabbit with Prince Five Weapons, and so with Buddha himself, by supposing the change to have originated among Buddhists, where it would be quite natural. For one of the most celebrated metempsychoses of Buddha is that detailed in the Sasa Jataka (Fausböll, No. 316, tr. R. Morris, Folk-Lore Journal, ii. 336), in which the Buddha, as a hare, performs a sublime piece of self-sacrifice, and as a reward is translated to the moon, where he can be seen to this day as "the hare in the moon." Every Buddhist is reminded of the virtue of self-sacrifice whenever the moon is full, and it is easy to understand how the Buddha became identified as the Hare or Rabbit. A striking confirmation of this, in connection with our immediate subject, is offered by Mr. Harris' sequel volume, Nights with Uncle Remus. Here there is a whole chapter (xxx.) on "Brer Rabbit and his famous Foot," and it is well known how the worship of Buddha's foot developed in later Buddhism. No wonder Brer Rabbit is so 'cute: he is nothing less than an incarnation of Buddha. Among the Karens of Burmah, where Buddhist influence is still active, the Hare holds exactly the same place in their folk-lore as Brer Rabbit among the negroes. The sixth chapter of Mr. Smeaton's book on them is devoted to "Fireside Stories," and is entirely taken up with adventures of the Hare, all of which can be paralleled from Uncle Remus.

Curiously enough, the negro form of the fivefold attack--" fighting with five fists," Mr. Barr would call it--is probably nearer to the original legend than that preserved in 'the Jataka, though 2000 years older. For we may be sure that the thunderbolt of Knowledge did not exist in the original, but was introduced by some Buddhist Mr. Barlow, who, like Alice's Duchess, ended all his tales with: "And the moral of that is--" For no well-bred demon would have been taken in by so simple a "sell" as that indulged in by Prince Five-Weapons in our Jataka, and it is probable, therefore, that Uncle Remus preserves a reminiscence of the original Indian reading of the tale. On the other hand, it is probable that Carlyle's Indian god with the fire in his belly was derived from Prince Five-Weapons.

The negro variant has also suggested to Mr. Batten an explanation of the whole story, which is extremely plausible, though it introduces a method of folk-lore exegesis which has been overdriven to death. The Sasa Jataka identifies the Brer Rabbit Buddha with the hare in the moon. It is well known that Easterns explain an eclipse of the moon as due to its being swallowed up by a Dragon or Demon. May not, asks Mr. Batten, the Pancavudha-Jataka be an idealised account of an eclipse of the moon? This suggestion receives strong confirmation from the Demon's reference to Rahu, who does, in Indian myth, swallow the moon at times of eclipse. The Jataka accordingly contains the Buddhist explanation why the moon--i.e. the hare in the moon, i.e. Buddha--is not altogether swallowed up by the Demon of Eclipse, the Demon with the Matted Hair. Mr. Batten adds that in imagining what kind of Demon the Eclipse Demon was, the Jataka writer was probably aided by recollections of some giant octopus, who has saucer eyes and a kind of hawk's beak, knobs on its "tusks," and a very variegated belly (gasteropod). It is obviously unfair of Mr. Batten both to illustrate and also to explain so well the Tar Baby Jataka--taking the scientific bread, so to speak, out of a poor folk-lorist's mouth--but his explanations seem to me so convincing that I cannot avoid including them in these Notes.

I am, however, not so much concerned with the original explanation of the Jataka as to trace its travels across the continents of Asia, Africa, and America. I think I have done this satisfactorily, and will have thereby largely strengthened the case for less extensive travels of other tales. I have sufficient confidence of the method employed to venture on that most hazardous of employments, scientific prophecy. I venture to predict that the Tar Baby story will be found in Madagascar in a form nearer the Indian than Uncle Remus, and I will go further, and say that it will not be found in the grand Helsingfors collection of folk-tales, though this includes 12,000, of which 1000 are beast-tales.


Source.--Knowles, Folk-Tales of Kashmir, pp. 211--25, with some slight omissions. Gulizar is Persian for rosy-checked.

Parallels.--Stokes, Indian Fairy Tales, No. 27. "Panwpatti Rani," pp. 208--15, is the same story. Another version in the collection Baital Pacidsi, No. 1.

Remarks.--The themes of love by mirror, and the faithful friend, are common European, though the calm attempt at poisoning is perhaps characteristically Indian, and reads like a page from Mr. Kipling.


Source.--Miss Frere, Old Deccan Days, No. 10, pp. 153--5.

Remarks.--Miss Frere observes that she has not altered the traditional mode of the Moon's conveyance of dinner to her mother the Star, though it must, she fears, impair the value of the story as a moral lesson in the eyes of all instructors of youth.


Source.--Knowles, Folk-Tales of Kashmir, pp. 241--2.

Parallels.--A Gaelic parallel was given by Campbell in Trans. Ethnol. Soc., ii. p. 336; an Anglo-Latin one from the Middle Ages by T. Wright in Latin Stories (Percy Soc.), No. 26; and for these and points of anthropological interest in the Celtic variant see Mr. Gomme's article in Folk-Lore, i. pp. 197--206, "A Highland Folk-Tale and its Origin in Custom."

Remarks.--Mr. Gomme is of opinion that the tale arose from certain rhyming formulae occurring in the Gaelic and Latin tales as written on a mallet left by the old man in the box opened after his death. The rhymes are to the effect that a father who gives up his wealth to his children in his own lifetime deserves to be put to death with the mallet Mr. Gomme gives evidence that it was an archaic custom to put oldsters to death after they had become helpless. He also points out that it was customary for estates to be divided and surrendered during the owners' lifetime, and generally he connects a good deal of primitive custom with our story. I have already pointed out in Folk-Lore, p. 403, that the existence of the tale in Kashmir without any reference to the mallet makes it impossible for the rhymes on the mallet to be the source of the story. As a matter of fact, it is a very embarrassing addition to it, since the rhyme tells against the parent, and the story is intended to tell against the ungrateful children. The existence of the tale in India renders it likely enough that it is not indigenous to the British Isles, but an Oriental importation. It is obvious, therefore, that it cannot be used as anthropological evidence of the existence of the primitive customs to be found ip it. The whole incident, indeed, is a striking example of the dangers of the anthropological met-hod of dealing with folk-tales before some attempt is made to settle the questions of origin and diffusion.


Source.--The Lola Jataka, Fausböll, No. 274, kindly translated and slightly abridged for this book by Mr. W. H. D. Rouse.

Remarks.--We began with an animal Jataka, and may appropriately finish with one which shows how effectively the writers of the Jatakas could represent animal folk, and how terribly moral they invariably were in their tales. I should perhaps add that the Bodhisat is not precisely the Buddha himself but a character which is on its way to becoming perfectly enlightened, and so may be called a future Buddha.
Thanks dhu. This is very good.

Grimms' Fairy Tales, the supposed german-origin folk stories are also full of Indian origin.

Grimms and later their followers undertook efforts to "indegenize" or "Germanize" these folk tales like replacing the Asian creatures with European ones etc, and later were alse added Euro-contextual racial colour to these.

But the narrative of tales is amazing to read.
There was vast resisitance after the Christianising of Europe as the Church leaders were offended that animals could talk and be vehicles to convey wisdom. That is why we see a big gap between Aesop's tales and the emergence of folk tales from Charles Perrault and Brothers Grimm and that period correpsonds to dawn of Enlightenment!
<b>Did the Hindus Help Write the Bible and Give the Ancient Mexicans Their Religious Traditions?</b>

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->More than twenty years ago, when I first started investigating these matters, some Fundamentalist Christians scolded me: "What can you gain by proving that all the religions and cultures of the world copied their religious traditions from the Hindus?"

I answered, "Well, you're always saying that someone should go to India and save the Hindus' poor lost souls. O.K, you win. I'm doing it!"

This is an important question: What is particular and what is universal about the Indic? Also, is a given item (e.g. caste, cows, curry, dowry) an 'essence', or resulting from historical dynamics that Indians as agents participate in and can change? This is a major topic not adequately covered in a small space. In general, my position is that 'essentializing' a selective portrayal of negatives seen as being distinctly Indian has become a common mistake. However, the specific item I had raised is an opposite problem: that the history of universal ideas does not do justice to the Indic. Hence, to de-contextualize Yoga first into neutral space, and then (more dangerously) to re-contextualize it into Christianity/'western' science is problematic. We don't sacrifice the universality of Plato by acknowledging it as part of Greek thought, or sacrifice the universality of Newtonian Laws by acknowledging their British history.

To those who have considered Europe as having no Eurocentrism, I have a question: <b>How many well-educated Italians know that Boccacio's Decameron are Indian stories? </b>How many would believe this when told, considering that these are central items in the Italian Renaissance, the foundation of the so-called 'miracle of Europe', and to admit that it was based on borrowed ideas (not even acknowledged) might be disturbing? Please don't send me an isolated reference of some scholar who already wrote about it. That's not the point. But do let me know if you have data on how many Italian college curricula on the Renaissance explain the Indic origins of such items, how many school textbooks discuss it. Gary Tubb (at Columbia) has studied these literary knowledge transfers from India to Europe for the past decade, and many persons are hoping that he publishes his papers and talks.<b> He has also researched how linguistics was an Indic influence on Europe, and the idea of thesaurus came from India. So did Chaucer's famous Tales. </b>Some scholars know these things but these ideas are discouraged from becoming mainstream.

Should Indology also include influence out of India, or remain one-sided only focusing into India? Should the program of globalization also include the globalization of the history of ideas, the acknowledgment of others' including knowledge property?

Rajiv Malhotra<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->HISTORY OF MIGRATION OF PANCHATANTRA AND WHAT IT CAN TEACH US - Speech by Prof Vijay Bedekar


There is hardly any other secular work in the World which has penetrated so deeply in many cultures encompassing practically every continent of the World. During the last 1500 years there are at least 200 translations of Panchatantra in about 60 languages of the World. Aesop fables (2), Arabian Nights(3), Sindbad(4) and more than 30 to 50% of Western nursery rhymes and Ballads have their origin in Panchatantra and Jataka stories(5). In European countries there is so much of migration and borrowing of stories from one another over many centuries, making it difficult to finalize their origin at one location in Europe. However, most of the times their Indian origin is not in dispute (6). Much of the confusion started settling(7)after the works of Theodor Benfey in 1859(8), Johannes Hertel’s various articles and his seminal work Panchatantra- text of Purnabhadra in 1912(9), and finally Franklin Edgerton’s two volumes of The Panchatantra reconstructed in 1924(10).   Traditionally in India it is believed that Panchatantra was composed around 3rd century BC (11). Modern scholars depending on references to earlier Sanskrit works in Panchatantra assign the period of 3rd to 5th Century CE. for it's composition in today's form (12). The author of Panchatantra is not known.

Panchatantra migrated to Iran in the 6th century CE (13). The story is well known. Burzoe, a physician (Figure 1) at the court of Sassanian king Anushirvan (531-571 c.CA), was sent to India in search of Sanjivani herb. In search of this medicine he traveled a lot in India and brought Panchatantra to Iran, which he translated into Pahlavi, titled Kalilah wa Dimnah, with the help of some Pundits (14). This is the first known translation of Panchatantra into any foreign language. It is not available now but translation done into old Syrian language in 570CE by a Nestorian Christian called Bud, was discovered in a monastery in Mardin, Turkey in 1870CA (15). The title of this book is Kalilag and Damanag, which is the Syrian version of Karataka and Damanaka, of the two jackals in the first Tantra of Sanskrit Panchatantra. This Syrian version was edited and translated into German in 1876 CE by Bickell and then again by Schulthess in 1911CE. Syrian translation is very close to Tantrakhyayika in many respects. The third important translation of Panchatantra was done after two centuries in Baghdad in 750 CE. Abdallah ibn al-Moquaffa a Zoroastrian converted to Islam; working in the court of Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur translated it from Pahlavi. Moquaffa is credited with intellectual and literary development of Arabic prose. His Panchatantra translation enjoyed great popularity and is considered as master piece of Arabic narrative literature (16). Almost all pre-modern translations of Panchatantra in Europe have their roots in his Arabic translation. From Arabic it got again translated to Syrian language in 10th/11th century CE (17) and into Greek in the 11th century CE. 12th century CE Hebrew translation by Rabbi Joel further got translated into Latin by John of Capua around 1263-1278 CE which got printed in 1480 CE. From this Latin translation Doni translated it into Italian which got printed in 1552 CE. La Fontaine’s collection of fables titled ‘Fables of Bidpai’ in French got published in 1678-9 CE in four volumes. In the introduction of his second volume he has acknowledged his indebtedness to Indian Sage Pilpay for inspiration (18). Many Subhashitas and Jataka stories have migrated to West and have formed an inseparable part of European secular and religious literature including Bible (19). Panchatantra in its German translation was the first Indian and probably second book after Bible published by Gutenberg press in 1483 CE. Panchatantra had earlier migrated to Tibet, China and Mongolia and almost all South Eastern countries. In Java there are versions available in old Javanese language known as Tantri Kamandaka, composed in 1031 CE (20). In the reign of Photisarath (1500-1550) and Sai Setthathirat (1550-1571) Lao version of Panchatantra was composed along with Jataka tales, most of them unique to Laos. Relatively less work and critical study is available on these works.


Panchatantra has inspired many artists and there are many Persian and Arabic miniatures, wall paintings and Vases decorated with stories from Panchatantra or various versions of Kalilah wa Dimnah. In Sri-Lanka, a fragment of second or third century CE Indian red polished ware exhibiting crocodile-monkey story has been unearthed. Seventh century CE Mamallapuram rock relief has Panchatantra stories and tenth century Bengal Temple has them on molded terra cotta plaques. A 12th century CE Vishnu temple ceiling at Mandapur also is decorated with Panchatantra stories. In Central Asia, at Panjikent 7th and 8th century CE Soghdian artists have decorated walls of their houses with Panchatantra and Aesop’s fables. The artistic penetration of Jataka/Panchatantra tales and their translated versions is fascinating and textual and artistic expressions should be studied together. It may surprise many that in the preface of Kalila wa Dimnah, Ibn al Muqaffa mentions the reasons for paintings in his text i.e. to provide pleasure to the reader and also to make the reader more mindful of the book’s value. We do not have these early copies now (21). Another work of art which became very popular was created by Husain bin ‘Ali-al-Waiz al Kashifi, titled Anwar-i-suhaili at Herat in 1504 CE. This work was very popular in Persian intellectuals then. For some time this Text was taught to British officials of the East India Company at the East India College, Haileybury during the second half of the 19th century. Abul Fazl in 1588 CE under the instructions of Mughal Emperor Akabar produced another Persian version titled, Iyar-i-Danish (Criterion of Knowledge).Miniatures based on these works are very popular (22). 12th century CE Shuka Saptati, another Katha literature, of classical Sanskrit was adapted into Persian in 1329 CE. Author Ziya al-din Nakhshabi titled his translation as Tutinamah. It was translated into German in 1822 CE and subsequently into many other European languages including English by F.Gladwin at the end of the last century (23). Cleveland Museum of Art has some of the best paintings of Tutinama manuscript (24). In India, Panchatantra stories have become the part of temple architecture along with Ramayana and Mahabharata stories (25). 


In the Colonial period it obviously began with Sir William Jones. He used the Sanskrit text of Hitopadesha for learning Sanskrit and translation practice, as he was familiar with the Turkish version which was translated into French language also (26). He mentions Panchatantra and Niti Shastra in his address given to Asiatic society of Bengal in the year 1786 CE which was founded by him in the year 1784 CE. His translation of Hitopadesha was published posthumously in his Works (27). However, Wilkins’ English translation of Hitopadesha got published earlier in the year 1787 CE (28). H.H. Wilson wrote on Hindu Fiction but not on Panchatantra or Hitopadesha specifically (29). We owe our debt to Max Muller (30), Buhler (31), and Kielhorn (32) for their valuable contribution to some facets of this literature and also to Sternbach (33) for his valuable contributions to Subhashitas. Many Indian, German, English and American scholars have critically edited and helped to preserve this voluminous literature for posterity.

However, Panchatantra was translated into English by Sir Thomas North in 1570 CE from an Italian translation done by Doni in 1552 CE. Joseph Jacobs in his introduction to North’s English translation mentions about twenty translations of various versions of Panchatantra in Europe (34). British Library catalog lists about nine popular editions of the Fables of Pilpay published during seventeenth and eighteenth centuries CE and only three in the nineteenth century CE indicating decline in its popularity (35).


Some issues like its name, time of composition, name of the author, its unique structure of frame story and embedded stories(36) etc has been addressed and studied at length, though we do not have final answers yet.

Its probable relation to early folk and oral tradition of story telling in India has been suggested by many. Rather, it is fashionable to make such statements that Panchatantra and allied Katha literature in India had their origin in early folk stories. However, not a single credible evidence has been produced till this date, other than lengthy discussions on hypothetical assumptions. Norman Brown has very elaborately discussed this issue at length taking into consideration almost all documented Folk story literature available to him then. While not denying this possibility in early times, he says

It is doubtless true that in the remote past many stories had their origin among the illiterate folk, often in pre-literary times, and were later taken into literature. It is also just as true that many stories that appear in literature existed there first and are not indebted to the folklore for their origin. But leaving aside questions concerning the early history of Hindu stories and dealing strictly with modern Indian fiction, we find that folklore has frequently taken its material from literature. This process has been so extensive that of the 3000 tales so far reported, all of which have been collected during the past fifty years, at least half can be shown to be derived from literary sources….

Norman Brown, after analyzing and comparing many stories of Panchatantra and folklore, comes to the conclusion,

This table affords considerable evidence in support of the theory that it is the folk tales and not the literary tales that are borrowed. (37)


Study of Panchatantra is multi layered i.e. cultural, social, anthropological, didactical, comparative literature, moralistic, polity and administration and last but not the least, artistic. Scholars during last 1500 years have worked on almost all facets of   Panchatantra. Still there are many areas not explored adequately .M.R. Kale in the preface of his Panchatantra book states,

Vishnusarman, as the quotations show, was well acquainted with politics, the aphorisms of Vatsyayana, ancient history and the science of astronomy (38).

We know about Kautilya’s writings in Panchatantra, little of Vatsyayana, through Ludwik Sternbach about Dharmashastra (39), but nothing about science of astronomy is known. Panchatantra was composed prior to 5th Century CE. That is the period around which Siddhanta writers and Aryabhata wrote their texts of mathematical astronomy. We know the story of two fishes and the frog in the 5th tantra, and their names are Shatabuddhi, Sahasrabuddhi and Ekabuddhi respectively, indicating definitely the knowledge of decimal system in the society then. Study of astronomical references in Panchatantra may throw light on many dark corners of the history of mathematics.

Characterizing animal behavior and making it popular in our gnomic literature will have to be credited to Panchatantra. We know very recently about self recognition ability of some animals, like humans. Self recognition is the understanding that one’s own mirror reflection does not represent another individual but oneself. Very few animals like apes, dolphins and Asian elephants are capable of this ability. Recently Gallup published his seminal article in the issue of science (1970, Vol.167:86-87) on Chimpanzees: self recognition. In a very recent article in PLoS (Biol 6(8), August 19, 2008) this ability is confirmed with Magpie, a songbird species from the crow family. Mirror and the mark is the standard test used now to know this ability in animals.  Lions do not have this ability. The story of lion (tantra I) getting misled by his image in water is a classic example of lack of this ability in lions. Selection of animals for particular story is not accidental but seems to be an outcome of keen observation of surrounding, especially animal kingdom.


Panchatantra was not the only text translated in the sixth century CE. It was the beginning of the translation era. Chess (40), medical, toxicological (41) and literally many mathematical Sanskrit texts were translated to Persian and Arabic languages (42). This knowledge enrichment movement lasted till 12th to 13th Century CE. It started in 5th & 6th Century CE at Jundishapur (Figure 2), Iran in pre-Islamic times, continued in Umayyadi Damascus, Syria and further in Abbasid Baghdad in Iraq in 8th to10th Century CE with the formation of Bait al-Hikma (House of Wisdom). Along with Sanskrit texts many Greek texts were also translated into Persian and Arabic. This was a golden period of Islamic civilization while Europe was in dark period. In 14th Century CE at Toledo, Spain started latinization of this knowledge, which helped Europe for her scientific revolution in 16th Century CE and also laid the foundation of Renaissance. This was also the beginning of Westernization and Hellenization of Sciences (43) and further of Orientalism in history writing (44). This transfer of knowledge to Europe from India via Persia/Syria/ Iraq route is known, documented but not well communicated or reflected satisfactorily in today’s encyclopedias and knowledge books of all sciences. These translations and borrowings were not without additions, deletions and cultural corrections. Today’s insistence on universality or unity of science may be politically correct but such assumptions or presuppositions numb our inquiry apparatus towards earlier non European civilizations. It also blinds us towards cultural moorings of science on which was founded the epistemology of science of those respective cultures (45). Study of Subhashitas and Panchatantra is no exception to this.


The Message of Panchatantra is loud, clear and universal. For Arabs and Europeans, its moralistic tone was appealing. They made alterations when they found shrewdness of Panchatantra unpalatable. However, the message of Panchatantra is explicitly visible in its Kathamukha. Even a stupid or idiot can be made into an adept, only and only if he submits or is lucky to get a creative Guru (Master). Today we talk of knowledge society. There are no better justifications known to us today for the value of knowledge to a sustainable society than the preamble of Panchatantra.  The message is simple, practical and down to earth.

The material available on Panchatantra is in many languages and is so vast that it is practically impossible to review and grasp this for one individual, and a team of scholars, expert in many languages is required for this purpose. This justifies, at least in India, a special chair for the study of Panchatantra and Katha literature. It also must be included in sciences and humanities curricula of schools and colleges.

Thank You.
Vijay Bedekar
Institute for Oriental Study, Thane.

1)      Visit institutes web site:  (Appeal)

2)      Joseph Jacobs is of the opinion that many of Aesop’s fables have striking similarity with Jataka tales, which he has discussed in considerable length in the introductory volume of Caxton’s Esope, edited by him. (London, D.Nutt, Bibliotheque de Carabas, 1889). However, Edgerton is not of this opinion. He could trace very few stories to Indian origin (The Panchatantra published by George Allan & Unwin Ltd, 1965. Introduction, pp.13.)

3)      MacDonald, D.B. 1924. The Early History of the Arabian Nights, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. pp:371-376; Abbott, N. 1949. A Ninth Century Fragment of the ‘Thousand and One Nights’: New Light on the Early History of the Arabian Nights, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, viii, pp. 157-178.

4)       Sindbad stories are known to Europe as Seven Sages of Rome and again Joseph Jacobs is of the opinion that they have Indian origin.

5)      For Indic origin of Ballads see Dundes, Alan. Indic Parallels to the Ballad of the “Walled-up Wife” Reveal the Pitfalls of Parochial Nationalistic Folkloristics. The Journal of American Folklore 1995; Vol.108, No. 427, pp. 38-53.

6)      McKenzie, Kenneth. An Italian Fable, Its Sources and Its History. Modern Philology 1904; Vol.1, No.4, pp. 497-524.

7)      Edgerton, Franklin. The Hindu Beast Fable in the light of Recent Studies. The American Journal of Philology 1915; Vol. 36, No.1, pp. 44-69.

8)      Benfey, Theodor S. 1859; Pantschatantra. 2 Volumes. Leipzig, F.W. Brockhaus.

9)      Hertel, Johannes. 1912. The Panchatantra-Text of Purnabhadra. Cambridge, Harvard University.

10)  Edgerton, Franklin. 1924. The Panchatantra Reconstructed 2 Volumes. New Haven, American Oriental society.

11)  Jacobs, Joseph. 1888. The earliest English Version of the Fables of Bidpai, Introduction, pp. xv: “The latest date at which the stories were thus connected is fixed by the fact that some of them have been sculpted round the sacred Buddhist shrines of Sachi, Amaravati, and the Bharhut, in the last case with the titles of the Jatakas inscribed above them. These have been dated by Indian archaeologist as before 200BCE, and Mr. Rhys-Davis produces evidence which would place the stories as early as 4oo BCE and 200 BCE, many of our tales were put together in a frame formed of the life and experience of the Buddha.’

12)  Olivelle, Patrick. 1997. The Panchatantra The Book of India’s Folk Vision, Introduction xii, Oxford world’s Classics, OUP.

13)   de Blois, Francois. 1990. Burzoy’s Voyage to India and the Origin of the Book of Kalilah Wa Dimnah. Prize Publication Fund volume. XXIII. London; Royal Asiatic Society.

14)  The details of this story we get in: The Shah Nama, The Epic of the Kings, translated by Reuben Levy, revised by Amin Banani, Published by Routledge & Keegan Paul, London 1985. Chapter xxxi (iii): How Burzoe brought the Kalila of Demna from Hindustan, pp. 330-334.

15)  Yuka, Iwase. 1999. Development of Selected Stories from Panchatantra/Kalilah we Dimnah: Genealogical Problems Reconsidered On the Basis of Sanskrit and Semitic Texts, Introduction P.8. A Doctoral Dissertation, Graduate School of Integrated Studies in Language and Society. Osaka University of Foreign Studies. See also: The Fall of the Idigo Jackal: the Discourse of Division and Purnabhandra’s Panchatantra by McComas Taylor, Introduction, p. 10

16)   Irwin, Rober. 2006. The Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature, Penguin books, London has 14 entries to Kalila wa Dimna under Ibn al-Muqaffa in the index; See also: The Fables of Kalilah and Dimnah, translated from the Arabic by, Saleh Sa’adeh Jallad. 2004. Rimal/Melisende, Cyprus/UK; Chandra Rajan in her translation of Panchatantra published by Penguin Books informs us: ‘It is conjectured that al-Muqaffa who rendered Burzoe’s Pehlavi version of the Panchatantra into Arabic (Kalilah wa Dimnah) in AD 750, also used an earlier Arabic version of the work by a Jew who knew both Sanskrit and Arabic’.

17)  Keith-Falconer,Ion G.N., 1885 tr. Kalilah and Dimnah or the Fables of Bidpai: an English Translation of the Latter Syriac Version after the text Originally edited by William Wright, with Critical notes and Variant Readings Preceded by an Introduction, Being an Account of their literary and Philological History. Cambridge (Repr. Amsterdam: Philo Pres 1970.)

18)   For extensive details on La Fontaine and Bidpai see: Till, A. 1939 La Fontaine and Bidpai, The Modern Language Review, Vol.34, No.1, pp. 29-39

19)  Sternbach, Ludwik. 1981. Indian Wisdom and Its Spread beyond India, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 101, No. 1. pp. 120-123

20)  Venkatasubbiah, A. 1966, A Javanese Version of the Panchatantra, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. XLVII.

21)  Robinson, B.W. 1958. The Tehran Manuscript of Kalila Wa Dimna a reconsideration, Reprinted from Oriental Art, New Series Vol. IV.No.3, The Oriental Art Magazine Ltd. See also Cowen, Sanchia Jill. 1989. Kalila Wa Dimna, An animal Allegory of the Mongol Court, The Istanbul University Album. OUP

22)  Qaisar, A.Jan; S.P. Verma, edt. Art and Culture Painting and Perspective pp. 35

23)  Haksar A.N.D., 2000. Shuka Saptati Seventy Tales of the Parrot. Harper Collins, India. Introduction: xvi & xvii.

24)  Seyller, John, 1992. Overpainting in the Cleveland Tutinama. Artibus Asiae, Vol.52 No.3/4 pp.283-318

25)  Patil, Channabasappa S. 1995. Panchatantra in Karnataka Sculptures. Karnataka State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Mysore.

26)  Murray, Alexander. Ed. With Introduction by Richard Gombrich. 1998. Sir William Jones 1746-1794 a Commemoration, pp. 132. OUP.

27)  Ibid. 132

28)  Wilkins, Charles. 1787. tr. Fables and Proverbs from Sanskrit Being the Hitopadesa. George Routledge and Sons Ltd, London.

29)  Wilson, H.H. 1864. Works by the Late Horace Hayman Wilson. Vol. III. ( Hindu Fiction Vol. II pp. 156-268).

30)  Muller, F. Max. 1895. On the Migration of Fables. Chips from the German Workshop. New edn. Vol.IV: Essays on Mythology and Folk-lore.pp.412-489. London.

31)  Buhler, G., 1891 a&b resp. ed. Panchatantra II,III IV & V. Bombay Sanskrit Series No.1&3. Bombay.

32)  Kielhorn, F., 1896.ed. Panchatantra I. Bombay Sanskrit Series No.4. Bombay.

33)  Sternbach, Ludwik.1974. Subhashita, Gnomic and Didactic Literature. A History of Indian Literature (Part of Vol.IV).edited By Jan Gonda. Otto Harrassowitz. Wiesbanden. Also see; Sternbach, Ludwik. 1960. The Hitopadesha and its Sources. American Oriental Society, New Haven.

34)  Jacobs, Joseph. 1888. edt. The Earliest English Version of the Fables of Bidpai; the Morall Philosophie of Doni, By Sir Thomas North. D.Nutt. London

35)  McComas, Taylor. The Fall of the Idigo Jackal: the Discourse of Division and Purnabhandra’s Panchatantra by, Introduction, p.5.

36)  Gittes, Katharine Slater. 1983. The Canterbury Tales and the Arabic Frame Tradition, PMLA, Vol, 98.No.2 pp.237-251. Reply to her conclusions was given by Ibrahim Dawood of Yarmouk University of Jordan and Julie Scott Meisami of Berkeley, California in the next volume 99 of PMLA, pp. 109-112. Also see: Witzel, M. 1987. On the Origin of the History Device of the ‘Frame Story’ in Old Indian Literature. Hinduism and Buddhism. Freiburg. Pp.380-414.

37)  Brown, Norman W. 1919. The Panchatantra in Modern Indian Folklore. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 39, pp. 1&17.(1-54). Incidentally, subject of Norman Brown’s Doctoral Dissertation (1916) was Modern Indian folklore and its relation to literature.Part I: The Panchatantra in modern Indian folklore….

38)  Kale, M.R. 2005(first printed in 1912 at Bombay)) Panchatantra of Visnusarman , Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi.

39)  Sternbach, Ludwik. Indian Tales Interpreted from the point of View of the Smritis: Panchatantra 1.13, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol.68, No.2, pp. 84-91

40)   Murray, H.J. 1913, A history of Chess. Oxford; Gamer, Helena M. 1954. The Earliest Evidence of Chess in Western Literature: The Einsiedeln verses, Speculum, Vol.29 No. 4 pp. 734-750; Wilkinson, Charles K. 1943. Chessman and Chess, The Metropolitan Museum of Art bulletin, New series, Vol.1 No.9. pp. 271-279; Antin, David. 1968 Caxton’s the game and Playe of the Chess, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol.29, No.2, pp. 269-278; Topsfield, Andrew. 1985. The Indian game of Snakes and Ladders, Artbus Asiae, Vol.46, No.3. pp.203-226.

41)  Levey, Martin. 1966.  Medieval Arabic Toxicology: The book on Poisons of ibn Wahshiya and Its Relation to Early Indian and Greek Texts, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Ser., Vol 56, No.7, pp 1-130.

42)  Ernst, Carl W. 2003. Muslim Studies of Hinduism? A Reconsideration of Arabic and Persian Translations from Indian Languages, Iranian Studies, Vol. 36, No.2 pp. 173-195. A list of all known titles and manuscripts of Indian texts translated into Arabic is found in Fuat Sezgin. 1969 Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, Leiden. E.J.Brill.

43)  Bernel, Martin. 1991. Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. 1: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, Vintage.

44)  Said, Edward W. 1978, Orientalism Western Concept of The Orient, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd; Inden, Ronal B, 1990. Imagining India. Cambridge, Ma: Blackwell; Joseph, George Gheverghese. 2000 (2nd Edition). The Crest Of The Peacock-Non European roots of Mathematics, Penguin Books, London.

45)  Raju C.K. 2007. Cultural Foundation of Mathematics The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of the Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. CE, History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization Gen.Edt.D.P. Chattopadhyaya Vol.10 part 4. Published by PEARSON Longman.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<!--QuoteBegin-ramana+Jul 17 2009, 09:08 PM-->QUOTE(ramana @ Jul 17 2009, 09:08 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Here is Joseph Jacobs book on Indian Fairy tales.

Read in particular his Preface and the Notes section where he discusses the origins of the folklore literature of Europe and Africa.

So not only the Chinese but the "West" owes a great debt of imagination to the Indics.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

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