5 Panchatantra Stories Every Child Must Read

All children love listening to stories. They are a good way to teach values and life lessons to them. Here are some Panchatantra tales that are ideal to teach your child some key lessons in life.

By Amrita Gracias

5 Panchatantra Stories Every Child Must Read
A manuscript page from Panchatantra depicting the story of the talkative turtle

Folktales are stories or legends that originated among a particular group of people or folk and are believed to have been passed down from one generation to another. Each country or region is famous for its folktales, and for India, the Panchatantra tales are, perhaps, one of the most popular ones. They are believed to have been written primarily by a scholar named Vishnu Sharma somewhere around the 3rd century BCE. These short narratives are mostly stories based on animals and are perfect for children as they teach basic values and skills, and impart some essential life lessons. Although originally written in Sanskrit, these interesting stories have now been translated into several languages and are widely popular for their simplicity and wit.

5 Panchatantra Stories Every Child Must Read

1. The elephants and the mice

This story is about a herd of elephants who had to cross a village of mice to drink water from a lake. But every time they walked across, several mice got crushed under the elephants’ feet. So, the mice asked the king of the herd to change their route, promising them help in their time of need. The king agreed to the request, although he said that the mice being tiny could never help the giant animals. One day the herd of elephants were trapped by hunters in huge, strong nets. They tried to escape but in vain. When the mice heard of the elephants’ fate, they rushed to the spot. They quickly chewed on the ropes and set the elephants free. The elephants were grateful to the mice, and the king elephant realised that he shouldn’t have underestimated the power of the mice.

Moral of the story: Friends should stand by each other in times of need and it is important to keep up a promise. Also, one should not be judged based on his size alone.

2. The monkey and the crocodile

There was a monkey who lived on a jamun tree on the banks of a river. Once a crocodile came to rest under the jamun tree and the monkey offered him some of the sweet fruit from the tree. The crocodile enjoyed the fruit and he became good friends with the monkey. He often came back to visit the monkey and eat the sweet jamuns. One day he told the monkey he would take back some fruit to share with his wife. The crocodile’s wife devoured the fruit and told her husband to bring her the monkey’s heart because it would be sweeter since he ate the jamuns every day. The crocodile refused because the monkey was his friend. But when the wife insisted, the crocodile sadly agreed. He went to the monkey and told him that he would like to take him to meet his wife. The monkey happily agreed and jumped onto the crocodile’s back. As the crocodile took him deep into the waters, the monkey got scared. Seeing his fear, the crocodile confessed his plan. The quick-thinking monkey told the crocodile that he would gladly give his heart but that, unfortunately, he had left it safely in the hollow of the tree. So, he asked the crocodile to take him back to the tree. The foolish crocodile believed him. When they reached the tree, the monkey quickly climbed up and never came back down again. The crocodile realised he had been tricked and went away.

Moral of the story: It is important to think quickly when faced with a difficult or challenging situation instead of giving in to your fears.

3. The bird’s golden droppings

A poor hunter taking rest under a tree saw a bird’s droppings turn into gold. So, he set a trap and caught the bird. On his way home he decided to gift the bird to the king and take whatever the king offered him. But the king’s ministers said that it was impossible for a bird’s droppings to turn into gold and advised the king to free the bird and punish the hunter. The king agreed and set the bird free. The bird flew up and perched on a tree nearby and discharged some droppings, which turned into gold. The king and the ministers were shocked, but they couldn’t catch the bird again.

Moral of the story: Sometimes things that seem impossible can be true. It is important to put in some effort and test the theory rather than give up without trying.

5 Panchatantra Stories Every Child Must Read

4. The lion and the rabbit

Once there lived a ferocious lion in the jungle who mercilessly killed many animals to satisfy his hunger. The animals of the forest were worried that soon there would be no animals left. They decided that each day they would offer one animal for the lion to kill. When it was the turn for an old wise rabbit, he devised a clever plan. He took his own time to reach the lion, who was furious to have been kept waiting. He told the lion that on his way another ferocious lion who claimed to be the king of the jungle had eaten up five other rabbits who were to be the lion’s dinner. The lion was surprised that there could be another king and demanded to see this other lion. The rabbit took him to a well and told him that the other lion lived inside. The lion looked into the well and saw his own reflection in the water and believed it was the other lion. He jumped into the well to kill it, but only drowned in the water. The witty rabbit had saved all the animals of the jungle.

Moral of the story: It is important to focus on the solution rather than the problem. If you focus right, you can come up with a smart way to face the challenge.

5. The lion that sprang to life

Once there were four young men, one of whom had good common sense but wasn’t learned. The other three had no common sense but were very learned and had great knowledge. They decided to use their knowledge to earn money. As they passed through a forest, they came across the bones of a dead lion. The three learned men decided to test their knowledge and bring the lion back to life. The one with common sense tried to dissuade them but the others simply thought he was jealous of their knowledge. One created the lion’s skeleton and the second created the skin and flesh. Before the third could put life into the lion, the one with poor knowledge, but good common sense, climbed up a tree. The lion came to life, pounced on the three and killed them. The fourth man climbed down and returned home.

Moral of the story: Knowledge is powerful but without common sense it can be, at times, useless. You cannot succeed only with knowledge; common sense plays an important role too.

Share these stories with your child and teach him some key life lessons. Buy him age-appropriate books to encourage him to read. If your child is a toddler, you can buy him board books or picture books. 

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