By Dr Vaidehi Nathan
The Panchatantra: Wisdom for Today from the Timeless Classic, Sunita Parasuraman, Jaico Books, Pp 270 (PB), Rs 295
Panchatantra has no parallel in any culture, any language. Written at least two thousand years ago, its various versions have travelled world over. It was first translated into English from the original Sanskrit in 1925 by Arthur Ryder. Sunita Parasurman, a corporate treasury professional has worked on Ryder’s translation, one of the finest, to make it contemporary and easy-to-read. Ryder was a Professor of Sanskrit at the University of California.
In his introduction Ryder said “The Panchatantra is a niti-shastra, or a textbook of niti. The word niti roughly translates as “the wise conduct of life.” Western civilization must endure a certain shame in realising 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.”
Sunita Parasuraman in The Panchatantra: Wisdom for Today from the Timeless Classic says “What is fascinating about The Panchatantra is that the book offers deep insights and wisdom that are as relevant today as they were when the book was written, several hundred years ago. Basic human nature has not changed at all through the passage of time. Only the setting is different; like the king in The Panchatantra is the boss at the office today.” She finds that the teachings give practical solutions to tricky situations which can be applied to modern day issues.
The volume has stories from all the five books that were originally thematically divided. Prose interspersed with verses makes reading pleasurable. Children hooked to illustrated stories should be introduced to this, to let them imagine the scene and spark off creativity.
(Jaico Publishing House, A-2, Jash Chambers, 7-A Sir Phirozshah Mehta Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400 001)