Ancient folk-literature from North-Eastern Tibet: (Introductions, Texts, Translations and Notes)

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  1. With Additonal Materials
  2. Bibliography
  3. Thomas, Frederick William 1867-1956
  4. Old Tibetan Documents Online

With Additonal Materials

For the English cricketer, see David Snellgrove cricketer. Contents [ show ]. Retrieved 27 April Snellgrove's Contribution to Indo-Tibetan Studies. Tring: Institute of Buddhist Studies. Categories :. Cancel Save. Snellgrove in London, May Lusernetta , Italy. This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia view authors.

Book 4, along with Book 5, is very short. The book five of the text is, like book four, a simpler compilation of moral-filled fables. These also present negative examples with consequences, offering examples and actions for the reader to ponder over, avoid, to watch out for. The messages in this last book include those such as "get facts, be patient, don't act in haste then regret later", "don't build castles in the air". According to Olivelle, this may be by design where the text's ancient author sought to bring the reader out of the fantasy world of talking and pondering animals into the realities of the human world.

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The fifth book contains twelve fables about hasty actions or jumping to conclusions without establishing facts and proper due diligence. One of the fables in this book is the story about a woman and a mongoose. She leaves her child with a mongoose friend.

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When she returns, she sees blood on the mongoose's mouth, and kills the friend, believing the animal killed her child. The woman discovers her child alive, and learns that the blood on the mongoose mouth came from it biting the snake while defending her child from the snake's attack. She regrets having killed the friend because of her hasty action.

The fables of Panchatantra are found in numerous world languages. It is also considered partly the origin of European secondary works, such as folk tale motifs found in Boccaccio , La Fontaine and the works of Grimm Brothers.


Sanskrit literature is very rich in fables and stories; no other literature can vie with it in that respect; nay, it is extremely likely that fables, in particular animal fables, had their principal source in India. This monocausal hypothesis has now been generally discarded in favor of polygenetic hypothesis which states that fable motifs had independent origins in many ancient human cultures, some of which have common roots and some influenced by co-sharing of fables.

The shared fables implied morals that appealed to communities separated by large distances and these fables were therefore retained, transmitted over human generations with local variations. According to Niklas Bengtsson, even though India being the exclusive original source of fables is no longer taken seriously, the ancient classic Panchatantra , "which new folklore research continues to illuminate, was certainly the first work ever written down for children, and this in itself means that the Indian influence has been enormous [on world literature], not only on the genres of fables and fairy tales, but on those genres as taken up in children's literature".

Scholars have noted the strong similarity between a few of the stories in The Panchatantra and Aesop's Fables. Similar animal fables are found in most cultures of the world, although some folklorists view India as the prime source. The French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine acknowledged his indebtedness to the work in the introduction to his Second Fables:.

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The Panchatantra is the origin also of several stories in Arabian Nights , Sindbad , and of many Western nursery rhymes and ballads. Its literary sources are "the expert tradition of political science and the folk and literary traditions of storytelling". The Panchatantra shares many stories in common with the Buddhist Jataka tales , purportedly told by the historical Buddha before his death around BCE. As the scholar Patrick Olivelle writes, "It is clear that the Buddhists did not invent the stories.

Norman Brown found that many folk tales in India appeared to be borrowed from literary sources and not vice versa. An early Western scholar who studied The Panchatantra was Dr. Johannes Hertel , who thought the book had a Machiavellian character. Similarly, Edgerton noted that "the so-called 'morals' of the stories have no bearing on morality; they are unmoral, and often immoral.


They glorify shrewdness and practical wisdom, in the affairs of life, and especially of politics, of government. However, [.. The Panchatantra, states Patrick Olivelle , tells wonderfully a collection of delightful stories with pithy proverbs, ageless and practical wisdom; one of its appeal and success is that it is a complex book that "does not reduce the complexities of human life, government policy, political strategies, and ethical dilemmas into simple solutions; it can and does speak to different readers at different levels.

The text has been a source of studies on political thought in Hinduism, as well as the management of Artha with a debate on virtues and vices. The Sanskrit version of the Panchatantra text gives names to the animal characters, but these names are creative with double meanings. For example, the deer characters are presented as a metaphor for the charming, innocent, peaceful and tranquil personality who is a target for those who seek a prey to exploit, while crocodiles are presented as a symbolism for those with dangerous intent hiding beneath welcoming ambiance waters of a lotus flower-laden pond.

Thus, the names of the animals evoke layered meaning that resonates with the reader, and the same story can be read at different levels. The work has gone through many different versions and translations from the sixth century to the present day. This Arabic version was translated into several languages, including Syriac, Greek, Persian, Hebrew and Spanish, [70] and thus became the source of versions in European languages, until the English translation by Charles Wilkins of the Sanskrit Hitopadesha in The Panchatantra approximated its current literary form within the 4th—6th centuries CE, though originally written around BCE.

No Sanskrit texts before CE have survived. The herb is the scientist; science is the mountain, everlastingly out of reach of the multitude. The corpse is the man without knowledge, for the uninstructed man is everywhere lifeless. Through knowledge man becomes revivified. The sage pointed to the book, and the visiting physician Borzuy translated the work with the help of some Pandits Brahmins. Borzuy's translation of the Sanskrit version into Pahlavi arrived in Persia by the 6th century, but this Middle Persian version is now lost. The book had become popular in Sassanid, and was translated into Syriac and Arabic whose copies survive.

It is the 8th-century Kalila wa Demna text, states Riedel, that has been the most influential of the known Arabic versions, not only in the Middle East, but also through its translations into Greek, Hebrew and Old Spanish. This is considered the first masterpiece of "Arabic literary prose.

The introduction of the first book of Kalila wa Demna is different than Panchatantra , in being more elaborate and instead of king and his three sons studying in the Indian version, the Persian version speaks of a merchant and his three sons who had squandered away their father's wealth. The Persian version also makes an abrupt switch from the story of the three sons to an injured ox, and thereafter parallels the Panchatantra. The two jackals' names transmogrified into Kalila and Dimna in the Persian version.

Perhaps because the first section constituted most of the work, or because translators could find no simple equivalent in Zoroastrian Pahlavi for the concept expressed by the Sanskrit word 'Panchatantra', the jackals' names, Kalila and Dimna, became the generic name for the entire work in classical times. The trial lasts for two days without conclusion, until a tiger and leopard appear to bear witness against Dimna. He is found guilty and put to death. The political theorist Jennifer London suggests that he was expressing risky political views in a metaphorical way.

Al-Muqaffa' was murdered within a few years of completing his manuscript. London has analysed how Ibn al-Muqaffa' could have used his version to make "frank political expression" at the 'Abbasid court see J. A suggestion made by Goldziher, and later written on by Philip K. Hitti in his History of the Arabs , proposes that "The appellation is presumably taken from the story of the ringdove in Kalilah wa-Dimnah in which it is related that a group of animals by acting as faithful friends ikhwan al-safa to one another escaped the snares of the hunter.

Thomas, Frederick William 1867-1956

Almost all pre-modern European translations of the Panchatantra arise from this Arabic version. Perhaps most importantly, it was translated into Hebrew by Rabbi Joel in the 12th century. The Latin version was translated into Italian by Antonfrancesco Doni in It was the Panchatantra that served as the basis for the studies of Theodor Benfey , the pioneer in the field of comparative literature.

Edgerton undertook a minute study of all texts which seemed "to provide useful evidence on the lost Sanskrit text to which, it must be assumed, they all go back", and believed he had reconstructed the original Sanskrit Panchatantra; this version is known as the Southern Family text. Among modern translations, Arthur W. Ryder 's translation Ryder , translating prose for prose and verse for rhyming verse, remains popular. Olivelle's translation was republished in by the Clay Sanskrit Library. The spread of tantric traditions quickly followed their development in India.

Over the course of this millennium Hinduism went through a remarkable series of transformations, transitioning from the ancient Vedic tradition into the classical traditions of Hinduism.

Old Tibetan Documents Online

This period saw the rise of both the tantric and the Bhakti devotional movements. While the latter drew from the tendency toward monotheism seen in late Vedic literature, Tantrism developed from Vedic ritual traditions as well as from the yogic and meditative traditions that developed both within ancient Hinduism as well as in rival Buddhist and Jain traditions.

Hinduism as currently practiced is a product of the intermixture of tantric and devotional approaches to practice that developed during the first millennium ce.