3 amazing Panchatantra stories that teach kids the importance of friendship
Panchatantra is a popular collection of fables that essentially teaches important life-lessons by using animals as their central characters
For a child starting school, making new friends can be quite a challenge. I remember my four-year-old niece came home crying after her first day, because she didn't have any friends there.
But it's not unusual for young children to have initial apprehensions. The cornerstone of childhood interactions like sharing a toy or playing together might elude some children.
So while parents cannot force their kids into friendships, they can help them develop and practice social skills.
And the best way to do this is through storytelling. Our culture is replete with legends and myths that not only teach children the importance of friendship, but also how to make friends easily. One such collection of fables that teaches the same is the Panchatantra.
The stories of Panchatantra
You may recall Panchatantra as a collection of fables that essentially teaches important life-lessons by using animals as their central characters. They are believed to be written by Sanskrit scholar Vishnu Sharma.
Legend has it that King Amarashakti, who used to rule Mahilaropya in southern India asked Sharma to teach his three dull-headed sons. After realising that conventional techniques do not work on them, the scholar decided to use storytelling as a means to teach them new things.
He wrote almost 50 stories and divided them into five volumes, and hence the name Panchatantra (here, ‘pancha’ means five and ‘tantra’ means systems). One such volume called mitra labha teaches the reader about ways to make new friends.
Let's take a look at these amazing stories that you must teach your 4-6 year-olds.
#1 Four friends and a hunter
Once, there were four good friends- a rat, a deer, a turtle and a crow. All of them lived happily in the jungle. But one day, a hunter came running after the deer. He hit the deer with a net and captured him in it. When the deer's friends saw him lying on ground, motionless, they decided to come to his rescue.
While the crow sat on him and pecked on his body (as they do when an animal is dead), the rat quickly chewed open the net. In all this, the turtle distracted the hunter and made him run after him, as opposed to kill the deer.
As soon as the deer was free, the crow flew away and picked up the turtle, saving him as well. This way, all the friends came to each other's rescue and became each other's heroes.
Moral: Working together as a team can help overcome all obstacles.
Continue reading to see the other two panchatantra stories.
#2 The hermit and the mouse
There was once a hermit who dedicated his live to the service of a small village temple. He would often take alms and distribute it between those who helped him take care of the temple. However, they all faced a common problem- a naughty mouse.
The mouse would steal their food and the hermit was unable to get rid of him. So the mouse continued to steal their food and make a stockpile of it. The mouse used this pile to climb up to the top to steal food from an earthern pot that was hung from the roof.
Desperate to get rid of the mouse, the hermit asked his friend for a suggestion. The friend suggested that the hermit should destroy the mouse's food pile by burning it to the ground. The hermit followed his friends' advice and burnt the stockpile. This left the mouse without anything to eat and he was forced to leave the temple.
Moral: Turn to your friends for advice because they will tell you what's best for you
#3 The foolish weaver
There was once a weaver who lived in a small village with his wife. One day, his loom broke and so he decided to get some wood for its repair from the jungle. As he reached the jungle, he saw a genie appear before him. The genie asked him about his trip to the jungle, to which the weaver explained that he needed some wood to repair his broken loom.
The genie then requested the weaver to not chop the trees where he lived and instead ask for anything and genie would give it to him.
So the weaver went back home to discuss this with his wife, who thought this to be a golden opportunity. She asked him to ask the genie to gift him two more hands and one more head. This would help him think more and work harder.
When the genie granted the weaver's wish and he cam back to his village, the village folk thought that the weaver was a monster and sadly, beat him to death.
Moral: Choose your friends wisely, because a bad judgment could cost you big opportunities.
Vishnu Sharma's Panchatantra included these three stories in his volume of mitra labh because he wanted to demonstrate what it is like to have helpful and not so helpful friends.
He indirectly emphasises on the importance of making new friends but also on choosing them wisely- something we all need to teach our kids.
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