Panchatantra stories are Indian fables with great moral lessons. Children easily imbibe the lessons that they learn through light-hearted, playful stories. Therefore, storytelling is encouraged as a fun learning tool for young children. Fantastical stories spark their imagination. They learn new words and their listening and comprehension skills improve.
Stories are also a great way to introduce children to moral values. Empathy, kindness, compassion and love are abstract ideas that kids may not be able to relate to. But when introduced to them through characters and stories, their imagination is engaged and it becomes easier for them to learn these virtues.
Originally written in Sanskrit many ages ago, Panchatantra tales have since been translated and made available in many languages. The central characters are often animals and birds who find themselves in situations that end up teaching them important life lessons. So the narration is fun and easy for children to get engrossed in.
Five Tantras of Panchatantra
The name Panchatantra is a compound of two words: Pancha, means five; and Tantra, means principles. This is because the Panchatantra is a book with 5 chapters. Each chapter revolves around a principle or theme that teaches the readers valuable morals to live life by. It is interesting to note that each chapter ends with a hint of the next one! The 5 principles of Panchatantra are:
- Mitra Bheda (losing friends): These cautionary tales warn children about how they can lose friends.
- Mitra Labha (gaining friends): These stories teach children about the values they should have to win friends.
- Suhrud Bheda (discord between friends): Another set of tales to warn children about what may cause conflict among friends.
- Vigraha (separation): Stories about separation from friends and loved ones.
- Sandhi (union): Stories about reuniting with loved ones.
Panchatantra stories for kids are meant to impart practical life lessons to them in the light-hearted manner of a story. Here are some Panchatantra tales that you can read to your child at bedtime and send them to sleep with good thoughts.
12 Best Tales From Panchatantra For Kids
Read these 12 essential tales from the Panchatantra along with your kids to learn its best teachings.
1. Crocodile And The Monkey
Probably the most famous of all Panchatantra stories for kids, this is a tale of a friendship gone sour between a crocodile and monkey. While the monkey trusts the crocodile, he soon finds out that the crocodile’s wife plans on eating his heart! He acts just in time and tricks the crocodile to take him back to safety. This story will teach the children to choose their friends wisely and to put their brains to work quickly.
2. Stork And The Crab
The stork gets old and finds it difficult to hunt fish. So, he uses his charm to lure them with the promise of taking them to a bigger, beautiful lake. When the naive fish go with him, he eats them instead. But he is soon out-witted by a smart crab who not only saves himself but also warns the other fish. From this story, children will learn to not trust every sweet talker blindly, and that a quick mind is an asset.
3. Strength In Unity
No story is a better example of collective strength than this one. When a flock of birds get trapped under a hunter’s net, they realise that individually they may be small and weak, but together they have the strength to fly away with the net. So coordinated effort helps the birds to set themselves free. The moral of this story will help kids learn the importance of effective teamwork.
4. Talkative Tortoise
Kambugriva, the tortoise was friends with two swans and they lived near a lake. One summer when the lake began to dry up, the friends decided to relocate. It was decided that the swans would carry a stick that Kambugriva can hold between his teeth, and they can fly off to another lake together. The only condition was that the tortoise couldn’t open its mouth on the way or he would fall. However, the foolish tortoise began to talk mid-air and fell off from the stick. This story will teach children to be careful that while talking to friends is fun, one needs to be careful about what they say and when.
5. Elephants And The Mice
This story is a great lesson in the virtue of helpfulness. In the search of water, a herd of elephants passed through a city of mice. Fearing that the mighty beasts might trample their homes, the mice requested them to change their path. The elephants, despite being bigger creatures, graciously agreed. The mice remembered this gesture and promptly came to the elephants’ aid when they were trapped by a hunter a few days later. It truly is one of the finest Panchatantra stories.
6. Foolish Lion, Smart Rabbit
Terrified of their ruthless lion king, the animals in a forest decide to offer themselves one by one so that the lion does not kill them all at once. When it is the turn of a clever rabbit, he tricks the lion into believing that a much stronger lion has challenged him. Maddened by his ego, the foolish lion falls for this trap, which ends with his death. The moral here is that sometimes a cleverness outweighs brute strength.
7. Loyal Mongoose
A family adopts a mongoose and keeps it as a pet. The mongoose too loves the family and is very loyal to them. One day, the mother goes to fetch water, asking the mongoose to look after the baby. While she is away, a snake creeps into the baby’s room. Sensing the danger, the mongoose attacks and kills the snake. When the mother comes back, she is horrified to see blood on the mongoose and assumes that he killed the baby. Without checking to make sure, she kills the mongoose in rage. On discovering what had happened, she curses herself at the loss of her loyal mongoose. This story teaches us that acting hastily and jumping to conclusions can be very dangerous.
8. Blue Jackal
Popular in most Indian households by the name of ranga siyar, this is the story of a jackal who wanders into a town while looking for food. There he was chased by the street dogs. Trying to save himself, he reaches the house of a washerman and jumps into a tub full of indigo. Dyed all blue, he wanders back into the jungle. The animals were astonished to see this new blue creature and began worshipping him. The jackal too did not tell them the truth and continued his ruse. One night, the other jackals began howling. The blue jackal couldn’t resist and began howling as well. The other animals realised what had happened and angry with the jackal, banished him from the jungle. So this is a cautionary tale against the dangers of lying.
9. Musical Donkey
A washerman’s donkey befriends a fox and tells him that the washerman does not treat him well. The fox asks the donkey to run away to a field with him where they can eat to their hearts’ content. They escape at night and chomp away at the crop in the field. The donkey becomes very happy and tells the fox that he wants to sing. The fox warns him against it, but the donkey doesn’t listen. He begins to bray loudly, awakening the farmer who rushes to the field and beats up the donkey. The lesson to be learned here is that we should listen to the wise advice of our friends.
10. Greedy Dog
Once while walking through the woods, a dog found a bone. He was stoked and began to look for a place to eat where he wouldn’t have to share with anyone. While walking on a bridge while carrying the bone, he saw his reflection in the water. The foolish dog mistook the bone in the reflection to be a second one. In the greed to have two instead of one bone, he barked at the reflection and the bone fell into the water. The greedy dog’s mistake teaches us that one should be thankful for what they have and not be greedy.
11. Clever Monkey
Two cats were best friends and did everything together. One day, they set out to find food. Both of them chanced upon the same roti and a quarrel broke out among them as to who should have it. Just then a monkey arrived there. Sensing an opportunity to take advantage of the fight, the monkey offered to help them decide by dividing the roti equally. However, he tricked them and kept eating pieces of roti to make equal halves. In the end, nothing was left and the cats went hungry. So, one should resolve disputes with friends amicably and not let others interfere.
12. The Wolf And The Crane
The wolf had a bad reputation in the jungle as untrustworthy and all animals kept away from him. Once he got a bone stuck in his throat and no one came to help. A crane took pity on him and agreed to help in exchange for a reward. The wolf agreed and the crane helped him out. But once the bone was out, the wolf refused to keep his promise. The crane became angry and warned all others about what a cheater the wolf had been. This story teaches us to never trust cunning people.
Moral Of The Story
Panchatantra stories are a treasure trove of ancient wisdom. They have passed down over generations, keeping alive the tradition of oral storytelling. Storytelling at home through these tales, not only continues the practice but also gives your child an easy way to adopt moral values in their life. It can be a calming, fun bedtime routine as well. Plus, your child shall carry these stories and their lessons forever.