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File:Syrischer Maler von 1354 001.jpg

An illustration from a Syrian edition dated 1354. The rabbit fools the elephant king by showing him the reflection of the moon.

The Panchatantra (IAST: Pañcatantra, Sanskrit: पञ्चतन्त्र, 'Five Principles') is a collection of originally Indian animal fables in verse and prose. The original Sanskrit work, which some scholars believe was composed in the 3rd century BCE,[1] is attributed to Vishnu Sharma. However, it is based on older oral traditions, including "animal fables that are as old as we are able to imagine".[2] It is "certainly the most frequently translated literary product of India",[3] and these stories are among the most widely known in the world.[4] To quote Edgerton (1924):[5]

…there are recorded over two hundred different versions known to exist in more than fifty languages, and three-fourths of these languages are extra-Indian. As early as the eleventh century this work reached Europe, and before 1600 it existed in Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, English, Old Slavonic, Czech, and perhaps other Slavonic languages. Its range has extended from Java to Iceland… [In India,] it has been worked over and over again, expanded, abstracted, turned into verse, retold in prose, translated into medieval and modern vernaculars, and retranslated into Sanskrit. And most of the stories contained in it have "gone down" into the folklore of the story-loving Hindus, whence they reappear in the collections of oral tales gathered by modern students of folk-stories.

Thus it goes by many names in many cultures. In India itself, it had at least 25 recensions, including the Sanskrit Tantrākhyāyikā[6] (Sanskrit: तन्त्राख्यायिका) and inspired the Hitopadesha. It was translated into Pahlavi in 570 CE by Borzūya. This became the basis for a Syriac translation as Kalilag and Damnag[7] and a translation into Arabic in 750 CE by Persian scholar Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa as Kalīlah wa Dimnah[8] (Arabic: كليلة و دمنة‎). A Persian version from the 12th century became known as Kalila and Dimna[9] (Template:Lang-fa). Other names include Kalīleh o Demneh or Anvār-e Soheylī[10] (Template:Lang-fa, 'The Lights of Canopus') or The Fables of Bidpai[11][12] (or Pilpai, in various European languages) or The Morall Philosophie of Doni (English, 1570).



The evil jackal Damanaka meets the innocent bull Sañjīvaka. Indian painting, 1610.

The Panchatantra is an inter-woven series of colourful fables, many of which involve animals exhibiting animal stereotypes.[13] According to its own narrative, it illustrates, for the benefit of three ignorant princes, the central Hindu principles of nīti.[14] While nīti is hard to translate, it roughly means prudent worldly conduct, or "the wise conduct of life".[15]

Apart from a short introduction — in which the author, Vishnu Sarma, is introduced as narrating the rest of the work to the princes — it consists of five parts. Each part contains a main story, called the frame story, which in turn contains several stories "emboxed" in it, as one character narrates a story to another. Often these stories contain further emboxed stories.[16] The stories thus operate like a succession of Russian dolls, one narrative opening within another, sometimes three or four deep. Besides the stories, the characters also quote various epigrammatic verses to make their point.[17]

The five books are called:

  • Mitra-bheda: The Separation of Friends (The Lion and the Bull)
  • Mitra-lābha or Mitra-samprāpti: The Gaining of Friends (The Dove, Crow, Mouse, Tortoise and Deer)
  • Kākolūkīyam: Of Crows and Owls (War and Peace)
  • Labdhapraṇāśam: Loss Of Gains (The Monkey and the Crocodile)
  • Aparīkṣitakārakaṃ: Ill-Considered Action / Rash deeds (The Brahman and the Mongoose)

Indian version

Mitra-bheda, The Separation of Friends

In the first book, a friendship arises between the lion Piṅgalaka, the king of the forest, and Sañjīvaka, a bull. Karataka ('Horribly Howling') and Damanaka ('Victor') are two jackals that are retainers to the lion king. Damanaka, against Karataka's advice, breaks the friendship between the lion and the bull, out of jealousy. It contains around thirty stories, mostly told by the two jackals, and is the longest of the five books, making up roughly 45% of the work's length.[18]

Mitra-samprāpti, The Gaining of Friends

It tells of the story of the crow who upon seeing the favour the rat performed to free the dove (or pigeon) and her companions, decides to befriend the rat despite the latter's initial objections. The storyline evolves as this friendship grows to include the turtle and the fawn. They collaborate to save the fawn when he is trapped, and later they work together to save the turtle, who herself, falls in the trap. This makes up about 22% of the total length.[18]

File:Arabischer Maler um 1210 001.jpg

A page from the Arabic version of Kalila wa dimna dated 1210 CE illustrating the King of the Crows conferring with his political advisors.

File:Syrischer Maler um 1310 001.jpg

From a Syrian painting. The owls are later burned to death.

Kākolūkīyam, Of Crows and Owls

It deals with a war between crows and owls. One of the crows pretends to be an outcast from his own group to gain entry into the rival owl group, and by doing so gains access to their secrets and learns of their vulnerabilities. He later summons his group of crows to set fire on all entrances to the cave where the owls live and suffocate them to death. This is about 26% of the total length.[18]

Labdhapraṇāśam, Loss Of Gains

It deals with the artificially-constructed symbiotic relationship between the monkey and the crocodile. The crocodile risks the relationship by conspiring to acquire the heart of the monkey to heal his wife; the monkey finds out about this and avoids this grim fate.

Aparīkṣitakārakaṃ, Hasty Action

A Brahman leaves his child with a mongoose friend of his, and upon returning and finding blood on the mongoose's mouth, he kills it. He later finds out that the mongoose actually defended his child from a snake.

File:Kelileh va Demneh.jpg

A page from Kelileh o Demneh dated 1429, from Herat, a Persian translation of the Panchatantra derived from the Arabic version — Kalila wa Dimna — depicts the manipulative jackal-vizier, Dimna, trying to lead his lion-king into war.

File:Kalila wa Dimna 001.jpg

From the same 1429 Persian manuscript. The bull is murdered unjustly.

Arabic versions

Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ translated the Panchatantra from Middle Persian as Kalīla wa Dimna, and this "is considered the first masterpiece of Arabic literary prose."[19] By the time the Sanskrit version migrated several hundred years through Pahlavi into Arabic, a few important differences arose.

The introduction and the frame story of the first book changed.[20]

The two jackals' names transmogrified into Kalila and Dimna. Further, perhaps because of the bulk of the first section, or because the Sanskrit word 'Panchatantra' as a Hindu concept could find no easy equivalent in Zoroastrian Pahlavi, their names (Kalila and Dimna) became the generic, classical name for the whole work.

A chapter was inserted by Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ after the first chapter, and tells of the trial of Dimna the jackal after he is suspected of intentionally leading to the death of the bull “shanzabeh” who is mentioned in the first chapter. The trial lasts for 2 days to no avail, until the tiger and the leopard come forward and accuse Dimna. He is subsequently put to rest.

The names of some animals are changed. The crocodile in the fourth chapter is changed to the Alghlim,[clarification needed] the mongoose is changed to the weasel, and the Brahman becomes a "hermit".

Morals are added to each chapter:[citation needed]

  1. One must not accuse others falsely, and strive to preserve friendships.
  2. (Added chapter) Truth is bound to be revealed, sooner or later.
  3. Friends are an integral part of life.
  4. Mental strength and deceit are stronger than brute force.
  5. One must never betray friends, and should stay vigilant at all times.
  6. One must never rush in making judgements.

Links with other fables

A strong similarity exists between a small number of stories in The Panchatantra and Aesop's fables. Examples are 'Ass in Panther's Skin' and 'Ass without Heart and Ears'.[21] 'The Broken Pot' is similar to Aesop's The Milkmaid and Her Pail,[22] and The Gold-Giving Snake is similar to Aesop's The Man and the Serpent.[23] Other famous stories include The Tortoise and The Geese and The Tiger, the Brahmin and the Jackal. Similar animal fables are found in most cultures of the world, although some folklorists view India as the prime source.[24][25] It is also considered the "chief source of the world's fable literature".[26]

The French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine famously acknowledged his indebtedness to the work in the introduction to his Second Fables:

"This is a second book of fables that I present to the public... I have to acknowledge that the greatest part is inspired from Pilpay, an Indian Sage".[27]

It is also the origin of several stories in Arabian Nights, Sindbad, and many Western nursery rhymes and ballads.[28]

Origins and function

In the Indian tradition, the Panchatantra is a nītiśāstra. Nīti can be roughly translated as "the wise conduct of life"[15] and a śāstra is a technical or scientific treatise; thus it is considered a treatise on political science and human conduct. Its literary sources are thus "the expert tradition of political science and the folk and literary traditions of storytelling". It draws from the Dharma and Artha śāstras, quoting them extensively.[29] It is also explained that nīti "represents an admirable attempt to answer the insistent question how to win the utmost possible joy from life in the world of men" and that nīti is "the harmonious development of the powers of man, a life in which security, prosperity, resolute action, friendship, and good learning are so combined to produce joy".[15]

The Panchatantra shares many stories in common with the Buddhist Jataka tales, allegedly propounded by the historical Buddha before his death around 400BCE, but "It is clear that the Buddhists did not invent the stories. [...] It is quite uncertain whether the author of [the Panchatantra] borrowed his stories from the Jātakas or the Mahābhārata, or whether he was tapping into a common treasury of tales, both oral and literary, of ancient India."[29] Many scholars believe they were based on earlier folk traditions, although there is no conclusive evidence.[30] W. Norman Brown discussed this issue and found that in modern India, many folk tales are borrowed from literary sources and not vice-versa.[31]


The foolish carpenter of Sarandib, under the bed on which lie his wife and her lover. She notices his foot and contrives a story to prove her innocence. Persian illustration of the Kalileh and Dimneh, 1333.

One of the early Western scholars on the Panchatantra was Dr. Johannes Hertel, who viewed the book as having a Machiavellian character. Similarly, Edgerton noted that "The so-called 'morals' of the stories have no bearing on morality; they are unmoral, and often immoral. They glorify shrewdness and practical wisdom, in the affairs of life, and especially of politics, of government."[21] Other scholars dismiss this assessment as one-sided, and even view the stories as teaching dharma, or proper moral conduct.[32] Also:[33]

On the surface, the Pañcatantra presents stories and sayings which favor the outwitting of roguery, and practical intelligence rather than virtue. However, [..] From this viewpoint the tales of the Pañcatantra are eminently ethical. [...] the prevailing mood promotes an earthy, moral, rational, and unsentimental ability to learn from repeated experience[.]

As Olivelle observes:[29]

Indeed, the current scholarly debate regarding the intent and purpose of the Pañcatantra — whether it supports unscrupulous Machiavellian politics or demands ethical conduct from those holding high office — underscores the rich ambiguity of the text.

For instance, in the first frame story, it is the evil Damanaka ('Victor') who wins, and not his good brother Karataka. In fact, in its steady migration westward the persistent theme of evil-triumphant in Kalila and Dimna Part One, frequently outraged Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders — so much so, indeed, that Ibn al-Muqaffa carefully inserts (no doubt hoping to pacify the powerful religious zealots of his own turbulent times) an entire extra chapter at the end of Part One of his Arabic masterpiece, putting Dimna in jail, on trial and eventually to death.

The pre-Islamic original, The Panchatantra, contains no such dogmatic moralising. As Joseph Jacobs observed in 1888, "... if one thinks of it, the very raison d'être of the Fable is to imply its moral without mentioning it."[34]

Cross-cultural migrations

File:Pancatantra pedigree.png

Early history based primarily on Edgerton (1924).

File:Bidpai pedigree.png

Adaptations and translations from Jacobs (1888); less reliable for early history.

The work has gone through many different versions and translations from the sixth century to the present day.[35] The original Indian version was first translated into a foreign language by Borzūya in 570, then into Arabic in 750, and this became the source of all European versions, until Charles Wilkins's translation of the Sanskrit Hitopadesha in 1787.

Early cross-cultural migrations


A Panchatantra relief at the Mendut temple, Central Java, Indonesia.

The Panchatantra approximated its current literary form within the 4th–6th centuries CE, though originally written around 200 BCE. No Sanskrit texts before 1000 CE have survived.[36] According to Indian tradition, it was written by Pandit Vishnu Sarma, a sage. One of the most influential Sanskrit contributions to world literature, it was exported (probably both in oral and literary formats) north to Tibet and China and east to South East Asia by Buddhist monks on pilgrimage.[37] These led to versions in all Southeast Asian countries, including Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian, Javanese and Lao derivatives.[28]

How Borzuy brought the work from India

The Panchatantra also migrated westwards, during the Sassanid reign of Khosru I Anushiravan around 570 CE when his famous physician Borzuy translated it from Sanskrit into the Middle Persian language, transliterated as Karirak ud Damanak[38] or Kalile va Demne.[39]

According to the story told in the Shāh Nāma (The Book of the Kings, Persia's late 10th century national epic by Ferdowsi), Borzuy sought his king's permission to make a trip to Hindustan in search of a mountain herb he had read about that is "mingled into a compound and, when sprinkled over a corpse, it is immediately restored to life."[40] When he reached there, he did not find the herb, and was instead told by a wise sage of "a different interpretation. The herb is the scientist; science is the mountain, everlastingly out of reach of the multitude. The corpse is the man without knowledge, for the uninstructed man is everywhere lifeless. Through knowledge man becomes revivified." The sage pointed to the book Kalila, and he obtained the king's permission to read the book and translate it, with the help of some Pandits.[40]

The Arabic classic by Ibn al-Muqaffa

Borzuy's 570 CE Pahlavi translation (Kalile va Demne, now lost) was soon translated into Syriac, and nearly two centuries later into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa around 750 CE[41] under the Arabic title, Kalīla wa Dimma.[42] After the Muslim invasion of Persia (Iran) Ibn al-Muqaffa's version (by now two languages removed from its pre-Islamic Sanskrit original) emerges as the pivotal surviving text that enriches world literature.[43] Ibn al-Muqqaffa's work is considered a model of the finest Arabic prose style,[44] and "is considered the first masterpiece of Arabic literary prose."[19]

Some scholars believe that Ibn al-Muqaffa's translation of the second section, illustrating the Sanskrit principle of Mitra Laabha (Gaining Friends), became the unifying basis for the Brethren of Purity (Ikwhan al-Safa) — the anonymous 9th century CE Arab encyclopedists whose prodigious literary effort, Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Sincerity, codified Indian, Persian and Greek knowledge. A suggestion made by Goldziher, and later written on by Philip K. Hitti in his History of the Arabs, proposes that "The appellation is presumably taken from the story of the ringdove in Kalilah wa-Dimnah in which it is related that a group of animals by acting as faithful friends (ikhwan al-safa) to one another escaped the snares of the hunter." This story is mentioned as an exemplum when the Brethren speak of mutual aid in one risaala (treatise), a crucial part of their system of ethics.


The bird lures fish and kills them, until he tries the same trick with a crab. Illustration from the editio princeps of the Latin version by John of Capua.

Spread to the rest of Europe

Almost all pre-modern European translations of the Panchatantra arise from this Arabic version. From Arabic it was re-translated into Syriac in the 10th or 11th century, into Greek in 1080, into 'modern' Persian by Abu'l Ma'ali Nasr Allah Munshi in 1121, and in 1252 into Spain (old Castilian, Calyla e Dymna).

Perhaps most importantly, it was translated into Hebrew by Rabbi Joel in the 12th century. This Hebrew version was translated into Latin by John of Capua as Directorium Humanae Vitae, or "Directory of Human Life", and printed in 1480, and became the source of most European versions. A German translation, Das Der Buch Beyspiele, of the Panchatantra was printed in 1483, making this one of the earliest books to be printed by Gutenberg's press after the Bible.[28]

The Latin version was translated into Italian by Antonio Francisco Doni in 1552. This translation became the basis for the first English translation, in 1570: Sir Thomas North translated it into Elizabethan English as The Fables of Bidpai: The Morall Philosophie of Doni (reprinted by Joseph Jacobs, 1888).[11] La Fontaine published The Fables of Bidpai in 1679, based on "the Indian sage Pilpay".[28]

Modern era

It was the Panchatantra that served as the basis for the studies of Theodor Benfey, the pioneer in the field of comparative literature.[45] His efforts began to clear up some confusion surrounding the history of the Panchatantra, culminating in the work of Hertel (Hertel 1908, Hertel 1912 harvnb error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFHertel1912 (help), Hertel 1915) and Edgerton (1924).[28] Hertel discovered several recensions in India, in particular the oldest available Sanskrit recension, the Tantrakhyayika in Kashmir, and the so-called North Western Family Sanskrit text by the Jain monk Purnabhadra in 1199 CE that blends and rearranges at least three earlier versions. Edgerton undertook a minute study of all texts which seemed "to provide useful evidence on the lost Sanskrit text to which, it must be assumed, they all go back", and believed he had reconstructed the original Sanskrit Panchatantra; this version is known as the Southern Family text.

Among modern translations, Arthur W. Ryder's translation (Ryder 1925), translating prose for prose and verse for rhyming verse, remains popular.[46]In the 1990s two English versions of the Panchatantra were published, Chandra Rajan's translation (based on the Northwestern text) by Penguin (1993), and Patrick Olivelle's translation (based on the Southern text) by Oxford University Press (1997). Olivelle's translation was republished in 2006 by the Clay Sanskrit Library.[47]

Recently Ibn al-Muqaffa's historical milieu itself, when composing his masterpiece in Baghdad during the bloody Abbasid overthrow of the Umayyad dynasty, has become the subject (and rather confusingly, also the title) of a gritty Shakespearean drama by the multicultural Kuwaiti playwright Sulayman Al-Bassam.[48] Ibn al-Muqqafa's biographical background serves as an illustrative metaphor for today's escalating bloodthirstiness in Iraq — once again a historical vortex for clashing civilizations on a multiplicity of levels, including the obvious tribal, religious and political parallels.

The novelist Doris Lessing notes in her introduction to Ramsay Wood's 1980 "retelling" of the first two of the five Panchatantra books,[49] that

"… it is safe to say that most people in the West these days will not have heard of it, while they will certainly at the very least have heard of the Upanishads and the Vedas. Until comparatively recently, it was the other way around. Anyone with any claim to a literary education knew that the Fables of Bidpai or the Tales of Kalila and Dimna — these being the most commonly used titles with us — was a great Eastern classic. There were at least twenty English translations in the hundred years before 1888. Pondering on these facts leads to reflection on the fate of books, as chancy and unpredictable as that of people or nations."

See also

  • Arthashastra
  • Katha (storytelling format)
  • Kathasaritsagara


  1. Jacobs 1888, Introduction, page xv; Ryder 1925, Translator's introduction, quoting Hertel: "that the original work was composed in Kashmir, about 200 B.C. At this date, however, many of the individual stories were already ancient."
  2. Problems, Myths and Stories by Doris Lessing, Institute for Cultural Research Monograph Series No. 36, p 13, London 1999
  3. Introduction, Olivelle 2006, quoting Edgerton 1924.
  4. Ryder 1925, Translator's introduction: "The Panchatantra contains the most widely known stories in the world. If it were further declared that the Panchatantra is the best collection of stories in the world, the assertion could hardly be disproved, and would probably command the assent of those possessing the knowledge for a judgment."
  5. Edgerton 1924, p. 3. "reacht" and "workt" have been changed to conventional spelling.
  6. Hertel 1915
  7. Falconer 1885
  8. Knatchbull 1819
  9. Wood 2008
  10. Eastwick 1854, Wollaston 1877, Wilkinson 1930
  11. 11.0 11.1 Jacobs 1888
  12. The Fables of Pilpay, facsimile reprint of the 1775 edition, Dwarf Publishers, London 1987
  13. Ryder 1925, Translator's introduction: "Thus, the lion is strong but dull of wit, the jackal crafty, the heron stupid, the cat a hypocrite. The animal actors present, far more vividly and more urbanely than men could do, the view of life here recommended—a view shrewd, undeceived, and free of all sentimentality; a view that, piercing the humbug of every false ideal, reveals with incomparable wit the sources of lasting joy." See also Olivelle 2006, pp. 26–31
  14. For this reason, Ramsay Wood considers it an early precursor of the mirrors for princes genre.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Ryder 1925, Translator's introduction: "The Panchatantra is a niti-shastra, or textbook of niti. The word niti means roughly “the wise conduct of life.” Western civilization must endure a certain shame in realizing that no precise equivalent of the term is found in English, French, Latin, or Greek. Many words are therefore necessary to explain what niti is, though the idea, once grasped, is clear, important, and satisfying."
  16. Edgerton 1924, p. 4
  17. Ryder 1925, Translator's introduction: "These verses are for the most part quoted from sacred writings or other sources of dignity and authority. It is as if the animals in some English beast-fable were to justify their actions by quotations from Shakespeare and the Bible. These wise verses it is which make the real character of the Panchatantra. The stories, indeed, are charming when regarded as pure narrative; but it is the beauty, wisdom, and wit of the verses which lift the Panchatantra far above the level of the best story-books."
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Olivelle 2006, p. 23
  19. 19.0 19.1 Lane, Andrew J. (2003), Review: Gregor Schoeler's Écrire et transmettre dans les débuts de l’islam, Cambridge: MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies 
  20. François de Blois (1990), Burzōy's voyage to India and the origin of the book of Kalīlah wa Dimnah, Routledge, pp. 22–23, ISBN 9780947593063 
  21. 21.0 21.1 The Panchatantra translated in 1924 from the Sanskrit by Franklin Edgerton, George Allen and Unwin, London 1965 ("Edition for the General Reader"), page 13
  22. They are both classified as folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1430 "about daydreams of wealth and fame".
  23. They are both classified as folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 285D.
  24. K D Upadhyaya, The Classification and Chief Characteristics of Indian (Hindi) Folk-Tales : "It is only in the fitness of things that Professors Hertel and Benfey should regard this land as the prime source of fables and fiction."
  25. Anne Mackenzie Pearson (1996), Because it gives me peace of mind: ritual fasts in the religious lives of Hindu women, SUNY Press, p. 279, ISBN 9780791430378 
  26. Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend (1975), p. 842
  27. ("Je dirai par reconnaissance que j’en dois la plus grande partie à Pilpay sage indien") Avertissement to the Second Compilation of Fables, 1678, Jean de La Fontaine
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 Vijay Bedekar, History of the Migration of Panchatantra, Institute for Oriental Study, Thane
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Olivelle 2006, p. 18
  30. Bedekar: "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."
  31. Brown, Norman W. 1919. The Panchatantra in Modern Indian Folklore, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol 39, pp 1 &17: "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. [...] This table affords considerable evidence in support of the theory that it is the folk tales and not the literary tales that are borrowed.
  32. Falk, H. (1978), Quellen des Pañcatantra, pp. 173–188 
  33. Roderick Hindery (1996), Comparative ethics in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., p. 166, ISBN 9788120808669 
  34. Jacobs 1888, p.48
  35. See:
    • Kalila and Dimna, Selected fables of Bidpai, retold by Ramsay Wood (with an Introduction by Doris Lessing), Illustrated by Margaret Kilrenny, Alfred A Knopf, New York 1980
    • Kalila and Dimna, Tales for Kings and Commoners, Selected fables of Bidpai, retold by Ramsay Wood, Introduction by Doris Lessing, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, USA 1986
    • Tales of Kalila and Dimna, Classic Fables from India, retold by Ramsay Wood, Introduction by Doris Lessing, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, USA 2000, This is the same book as the 1986 one, repackaged with a fresh title and a new cover.
    • "Kalile e Dimna, Fiable indiane di Bidpai", cura di Ramsay Wood, Neri Pozza, Venice 2007,
    • Animal Tales of the Arab World by Denys Johnson-Davies, Hoopoe Books, Cairo 1995
    • Kalila und Dimna, oder die Kunst, Fruende zu gewinnen, Fabeln des Bidpai, erzahlt von Ramsay Wood, Vorwort von Doris Lessing, translated by Edgar Otten, Herder/Spektrum, Freiberg 1996
    • Kalila y Dimna, Fabulas de Bidpai, Contadas por Ramsay Wood, Introduccio de Doris Lessing , translated from the English by Nicole d'Amonville Alegria, Kairos, Barcelona 1999
    • Kalila wa Dimna or The Mirror for Princes by Sulayman Al-Bassam, Oberon Modern Plays, London 2006,
    • Kalila et Dimna, Fables indiennes de Bidbai, choisies et racontées par Ramsay Wood, Albin Michel, Paris 2006
  36. Edgerton 1924, p. 9
  37. For a sense of how at least some of these monks must have travelled in ancient time, see Tarquin Hall's review of Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron, Chatto & Windus, London 2006 at
  38. See article entitled "Kalila wa Dimna" by Dr Fahmida Suleman in Medieval Islamic Civilization, An Encyclopaedia, Vol. II, p. 432-433, ed. Josef W. Meri, Routledge (New York-London, 2006)
  39. Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub, Naqde adabi, Tehran 1959 pp:374-379. (See Contents 1.1 Pre-Islamic Iranian literature)
  40. 40.0 40.1 The Shāh Nãma, The Epic of the Kings, translated by Reuben Levy, revised by Amin Banani, Routledge & Keegan Paul, London 1985, Chapter XXXI (iii) How Borzuy brought the Kalila of Demna from Hindustan, pages 330 - 334
  41. The Fables of Kalila and Dimnah, translated from the Arabic by Saleh Sa'adeh Jallad, 2002. Melisende, London, ISBN 1-901764-14-1
  42. Muslim Neoplatonist: An Introduction to the Thought of the Brethren of Purity, Ian Richard Netton, 1991. Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0-7486-0251-8
  43. See fourteen illuminating commentaries about or relating to Kalila wa Dimna under the entry for Ibn al-Muqqaffa in the INDEX of The Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature by Rober Irwin, Penguin Books, London 2006
  44. James Kritzeck (1964) Anthology of Islamic Literature, a Meridian Book published by New American Library, New York, page 73:

    On the surface of the matter it may seem strange that the oldest work of Arabic prose which is regarded as a model of style is a translation from the Pahlavi (Middle Persian) of the Sanskrit work Panchatantra, or The Fables of Bidpai, by Ruzbih, a convert from Zoroastrianism, who took the name Abdullah ibn al-Muqaffa. It is not quite so strange, however, when one recalls that the Arabs had much preferred the poetic art and were at first suspicious of and untrained to appreciate, let alone imitate, current higher forms of prose literature in the lands they occupied.

    Leaving aside the great skill of its translation (which was to serve as the basis for later translations into some forty languages), the work itself is far from primitive, having benefited already at that time 750 CE from a lengthy history of stylistic revision. Kalilah and Dimnah is in fact the patriarchal form of the Indic fable in which animals behave as humans — as distinct from the Aesopic fable in which they behave as animals. Its philosophical heroes through the initial interconnected episodes illustrating The Loss of Friends, the first Hindu principle of polity are the two jackals, Kalilah and Dimnah.

    It seems unjust, in the light of posterity's appreciation of his work, that Ibn al-Muqaffa was put to death after charges of heresy about 755 CE.

    See also pages 69 - 72 for his vivid summary of Ibn al-Muqaffa's historical context.
  45. Harvard Oriental Series
  46. Ahsan Jan Qaisar; Som Prakash Verma, eds. (2002), Art and culture: painting and perspective, Abhinav Publications, p. 33, ISBN 9788170174059 : "it became the most popular and easily accessible English translation, going into many reprints."
  47. Rajan (1993), Olivelle (1997), Olivelle (2006).
  48. Kalila wa Dimna or The Mirror for Princes by Sulayman Al-Bassam, Oberon Modern Plays, London 2006
  49. Kalila and Dimna, Selected fables of Bidpai, retold by Ramsay Wood (with an Introduction by Doris Lessing), Illustrated by Margaret Kilrenny, A Paladin Book, Granada, London, 1982

Editions and translations

(Ordered chronologically.)

Sanskrit texts

Critical editions

Translations in English

Further reading

  • N. M. Penzer (1924), The ocean of story, being C.H. Tawney's translation of Somadeva's Katha sarit sagara (or Ocean of streams of story): Volume V (of X), Appendix I: pp. 207–242
  • Burzoy's Voyage to India and the Origin of the Book of Kalilah wa Dimnah Google Books, Francois de Blois, Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1990
  • On Kalila wa Dimna and Persian National Fairy Tales, Dr. Pavel Basharin [Moscow], Tansoxiana 12, 2007
  • The Past We Share — The Near Eastern Ancestry of Western Folk Literature, E. L. Ranelagh, Quartet Books, Horizon Press, New York, 1979
  • In Arabian Nights — A search of Morocco through its stories and storytellers by Tahir Shah, Doubleday, 2008. This is a book that explores the ancient living tradition of storytelling that bridges East and West, yet somehow seems to survive at much more pervasively vibrant levels in contemporary Moroccan culture.
  • Ibn al-Muqaffa, Abdallah. Kalilah et Dimnah. Ed. P. Louis Cheiko. 3 ed. Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1947.
  • Ibn al-Muqaffa, Abd'allah. Calila e Dimna. Eds. Juan Manuel Cacho Blecua and María Jesus Lacarra. Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1984.
  • Keller, John Esten, and Robert White Linker. El libro de Calila e Digna. Madrid Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1967.
  • Latham, J.D. "Ibn al-Muqaffa` and Early `Abbasid Prose." `Abbasid Belles-Lettres. Eds. Julia Ashtiany, et al. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989. 48-77.
  • Parker, Margaret. The Didactic Structure and Content of El libro de Calila e Digna. Miami, FL: Ediciones Universal, 1978.
  • Penzol, Pedro. Las traducciones del "Calila e Dimna". Madrid,: Impr. de Ramona Velasco, viuda de P. Perez,, 1931.
  • Wacks, David A. "The Performativity of Ibn al-Muqaffas Kalîla wa-Dimna and Al-Maqamat al-Luzumiyya of al-Saraqusti." Journal of Arabic Literature 34.1-2 (2003): 178-89.

External links

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