Wednesday, March 31, 2010

'Kalila and Dimna'

I got a chance to read this lovely book by Ramsay Wood.It is the Panchatantra retold in a very interesting way.All Indians have grown up listening to the stories of Panchatantra.What I particularly like about these simple and easy to understand stories are the lessons that you learn from them.Panchatantra has lessons/morals not just for kids but also the grown ups, there is a lot to learn from these ancient texts.

There are many versions as to how the Panchatantra came to be written ..the one this book follows is that of King Dabschelim who was a no good ruler who came across a wise and incorruptible sage named Bidpai.So Bidpai helps the king follow the right and judicious path by telling him these animal fables which are simple to understand and carry a lot of valuable learning for the king.

The other popular version is that Kalila and Dimna was originally written in Sanskrit,some time in the fourth century A.D. In Sanskrit it was called the Panchatantra, or "Five Discourses." It was written for three young princes who had driven their tutors to despair and their father to distraction. Afraid to entrust his kingdom to sons unable to master the most elementary lessons, the king turned over the problem to his wise wazir, and the wazir wrote the Panchatantra, which concealed great practical wisdom in the easily digestible form of animal fables. Six months later the princes were on the road to wisdom and later ruled judiciously.

The original Kalila and Dimna has 13 sections which are The Separation of Friends,The winning of friends,War and Peace,The Loss of One's Gains,The rewards of Impatience and so on so forth.What Ramsay Wood has managed to do is made the stories more contemporary,racy and full of zest.

The book successfully manages to introduce us to a global Indian classic through this illustrated book.

If you are a fan of Panchatantra you must read this book!

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