According to Indian tradition, the Panchatantra was written around 200 BCE by Pandit Vishnu Sarma, a sage. However, based as it is on older oral traditions, its antecedents among storytellers probably hark back to the origins of language. One of the most influential Sanskrit contributions to world literature, it is “certainly the most frequently translated literary product of India” and there are over 200 versions in more than 50 languages.
In the Indian tradition, the Panchatantra is a nitisastra, a treatise on political science and human conduct, or niti. It is said that Vishnu Sarma’s objective was to instruct three dull and ignorant princes in the principles of polity, by means of stories. Panchatantra consists of five books, which are called:
1. Mitra Bhedha (The Loss of Friends)
2. Mitra Laabha (Gaining Friends)
3. Kakolukiyam (Crows and Owls)
4. Labdhapranasam (Loss Of Gains)
5. Aparikshitakarakam (Ill-Considered Action)