Once upon a time, in the southern country, there was a city called Mahila-Ropya, which King Amara-Sakti, a man of great glory, ruled.
His three sons were utter fools, and the King was greatly grieved. Sadly he summoned his counsellors and spoke to them thus:
“O wise ones! You’re aware of the foolish demeanour of my sons. Devoid of education and culture, they’ve become the world’s laughingstock and a cause of worry to me.
“It is this sad to have no sons and more painful to lose them. But the lowest of all is having ones who are fools and forever a shame.
“So then, what is the way to make them more intelligent? Ponder well, rid me of this worry and make me happy.
“There are five hundred of you pandits eating my salt. Let me hear how you propose to teach these boys the sciences.”
Having heard these words, the wise counsellors looked at one another when one of them said, “Is it easy, sire, to study the sciences? It takes years to learn even a little. A dozen years are required to study the intricacies of Grammar alone. What to speak of other sciences?”
Then the Chief Minister, Sumati, rose and gently said to the King, “It’s not wise at this juncture to spend so much time over all those sciences. Life is short, and Knowledge is endless. One may not know when the end is and what the obstacles are.
“So, sire, find a way of devising an Epitome of Knowledge and have it taught. There is a Brahman named Vishnu-Sharma, wise in all sciences. Send for him and engage him to teach your sons. He’ll make them intelligent in no time. There is no doubt of it.”
Accordingly, the King sent for Vishnu-Sharma and asked. He teaches wisdom to his sons. He offered in advance to the Brahman a hundred estates. He repeated the offer three times.
Vishnu-Sharma heard the King and replied thus:
“Let me be frank, O King. For the estates you offer, I shall not teach your sons. But give me six months, and I’ll make them competent. I am eighty years old and past all desires. I do not care for wealth. What is wealth to me?
“But since you request me, I shall teach the boys about neeti within six months. If I fail, may you call me by any other name!”
Mightily pleased was the King at these brave words. And then Vishnu-Sharma wrote PANCHA- TANTRA and, with its help, taught the boys wisdom. He taught them the essence of all the sciences. The King was pleased to find his worth-less sons masters of neeti at the end of the six months. And since then, this great work has acquired an excellent, comprehensive nan.
You’ll see how this book can teach boys and girls a diversity of things wise. Those who patiently read PANCHATANTRA are forever free from all troubles.