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The Pancatantra (Penguin Classics)by Visnu Sarma
Synopses & Reviews
Ascribed by legend to the celebrated half-mythical teacher Visnu Sarma, the fables of The Pancatantra were first recorded 1,500 years ago but date back to India?s robust oral tradition. Widely translated, they have influenced a vast number of works in India, the Arab world, and Europe, including the Arabian Nights, the Canterbury Tales, and the Fables of La Fontaine.
The Pancatantra is one of the earliest books of fables and its influence can be seen in the Arabian Nights, the Decameron, the Canterbury Tales and most notably in the Fables of La Fontaine... Tradition ascribes this fabulous work to Visnu Sarma, whose existence has not been conclusively established. Faced with the challenge of educating three unlettered princes, to awaken their intelligence, Visnu Sarma evolved a unique pedagogy - for his aim was to teach the princes how to think not what to think - and it was thus that these entertaining and edifying stories came to be composed. The Pancatantra started travelling from the land of its origin before AD 570, as a version in Pehlevi. Since then more than 200 versions have been executed in more than fifty languages. Chandra Rajan, a noted Sanskrit scholar, has based her translation on the Purnabhadra recension (AD 1199). While remaining faithful to the original, she breathes new life into the stories, skillfully combining prose and verse to give us an eminently readable translation.
About the Author
Visnu Sarma is thought to have been a celebrated teacher who, at the age of eighty, composed the stories of The Pancatantra to educate three idle princes in the art of governance.
Chandra Rajan studied English and Sanskrit at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and has taught English at Delhi University and the University of Western Ontario.
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