Indian Fables
Rich Lessons from Ancient Texts


Indian fables from the Panchatantra, Hitopadesa, and Kathasaritsagara


See the fables.

There are thousands of fables from India. My goal here is just to give you a taste and let you go on to discover more on your own. Indian fables come from a variety of classic sources. Like many familiar fables, they often feature talking animals.

The Panchatantra (The Five Principles) dates to around 200 B.C. and consists largely of animal fables in the original Sanskrit. At least a couple of Aesop's Fables appear descended from The Panchatantra.

Some fifteen centuries later The Hitopadesa emerged. Containing some fables that appear in The Panchatantra, The Hitopadesa is the 2nd most purchased religious text in India after the Bhagavad Vita.

from How the Raja's Son Won the Princess Labam

The Kathasaritsagara is a huge work consisting of fairy tales, stories and verse. The Jataka contains stories and fables of a Buddhist nature.

Indian fables versus Western fables

I think you'll find more subtlety and more lessons of character in fables from India than in the fables of Aesop.

The creatures seem more able to learn from their mistakes, and the lessons strike me as much less lethal. Whereas the characters in Aesop often don't seem to survive the tale, the characters in fables from India more often have an opportunity to learn from their experiences.

Fables, listed by moral

The samples listed below are drawn from Indian Fables by P. V. Ramasvami Raju. The book is available in its entirety on Google Books.

Fables from India on Amazon.

More fables.

Storytelling to improve behavior.

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