A three-day international seminar on “Arabic Panchatantra and
Indo-Arab Cultural Relations” is starting here in Bhopal from
January 12. Two Kuwaiti lady professors will be participating in the
seminar amongst others.
The seminar is being organised by Barkatullah University, Bhopal and
its inaugural function will be presided over by Barkatullah
University Vice Chancellor Prof. Ravindra Jain. The keynote address
will be delivered by Prof. Abdul Ali of Aligarh Muslim University,
(AMU), while Maulana Mohammad Saeed Mujaddadi (Peer Saeed Miyan),
Rector Dar-ul-Uloom Taj-ul-Masajid, Bhopal will be the chief guest
at the inaugural function.
According to Prof. Aisha Rais, Convenor of the seminar, the lady
professors from Kuwait coming to participate in the seminar are
Prof. Laila Usman and Prof. Sab’aan. Apart from this about one half
a dozen outstation scholars and about 10-15 local scholars would be
presenting their papers in the seminar.
Prof. Mohammad Hassan Khan, Director of the seminar, talking to this
Correspondent said among the Indian scholars who would be presenting
papers include Prof. Abdul Qadir , Prof. Fayyaz-ul-Huq (both
Allahabad), Prof. Manzoor Ahmad (Kashmir), Prof. Kafeel Ahmad (AMU),
Prof. Mustafa Shareef (Osmania University), Prof. Abdul Majeed,
Prof. Jameel, Prof. Iqbal Hussain & Dr. Jahangeer (both Hyderabad)
It may be mentioned here that the original text, of the Panchatantra
in Sanskrit was probably written about 200 B.C. by a great Hindu
scholar, Pandit Vishnu Sharma. But some of the tales themselves must
be much older, their origin going back to the period of the Rig-Veda
and Upanishads (from 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C.).
According to some scholars of the Indo-European languages, the Panchatantra is the oldest collection of Indian fables surviving. In
course of time, travellers took these stories with them to Persia
and Arabia and finally through Greece, they reached Europe. It is
surmised that a version of the Panchatantra was composed in the
Pahlavi language of pre-Islamic Iran sometime in the 6th century
A.D., being followed by an Arabic one in the 8th century A.D. The
Greek translation was made towards the close of the 11th century A.D,
from which it was translated into various European languages. This
accounts for the fact that to many Westerners, some of the stories
have a familiar ring. So far it has been translated into 50 or more
languages of the world. The gypsies, whose Indian origin is well
established, also helped in spreading these tales in Europe.
The Panchatantra. is essentially connected with one of the branches
of science known by the Indians as the 'Nitishastra' which in
Sanskrit means 'A book of wise conduct in life'. It attempts to
teach us, how to understand people, bow to choose reliable and
trustworthy friends, how to meet difficulties and solve problems
through tact and wisdom, and how to live in peace and harmony in the
face of hypocrisy, deceit and many pitfalls in life.
The Panchatantra is woven round the frame of a tale of a king who
entrusts his three 'dud' sons to a learned man, a Brahmin, called
Pandit Vishnu Sharma, to enlighten their minds within six months.
The Brahmin promises to educate them and takes them to his 'ashrama'
(hermitage). There he recites to them his specially composed tales
divided into five tantras (in Sanskrit: Pancha=five and tantra=systems
or parts) of how to deal with people in life.
The language of the author is both artistic and elegant. The tale is
narrated in prose while the exposition of a philosophical and moral
theme is put in verse, maxims or wise sayings are also expressed in
verse, which either sums up the narration or introduces the next
The story-teller's art sugars the pill of his sober philosophy. He
sets story within story and keeps us waiting for the sequels and so
leads us on through the five 'tantras.' As one fable follows
another, people and animals are constantly changing places and they
share the same characteristics of love and hatred, compassion and
wit, selfless courage and base cowardice, generosity and meanness.
Each story has a moral and philosophical theme which has stood the
test of time and so is true even in modern times - an age 'of atomic
fear and madness.
The Panchatantra is a rare book, for in no book will one find
philosophy, psychology, politics, music, astronomy, human
relationship, etc., all discussed together in such a simple and yet
elegant style. This is exactly what Pandit Vishnu Sharma had in
mind, to give as much knowledge to the princes as possible. And no
doubt not only the princes but also millions of listeners and
readers for the last 2,200 years have benefited from this most