Despite my own strong conviction that the Panchatantra has a vital message for the world today, I would probably never have undertaken the translation of the Panchatantra into English and German had it not been for the encouragement of my "guru", Prof. Dr. S.B.Hudlikar (Heidelberg. W. Germany).
Perhaps similar attempts have been made by men of superior talent and wisdom, but I have made a modest attempt, working on the text for seven years, to bring out a translation in modern English which would remain true to the spirit of the Sanskrit text, though I have been highly conscious of my own inadequacies in the face of such a task.
The present form of the Sanskrit text, subjected as it has been, over the ages, to constant revision and adaptation, presents a sizeable problem to any would-be translator.
Several illogicalities and non - sequiturs seem to have crept into the text with the passage of time, naturally enough,
When one considers that, until modern times, these stories have been for telling, rather than reading, and they have been told time and again all over India and in many parts of the world, each story-teller using his own particular artistry to beguile his listeners, adding a little detail here and there, as he thought fit. So it is that, from the reader's point of view, sometimes the construction of the test is weak (for instance, the fifth Tantra is loosely constructed and incomplete; Chakradhara's story ends abruptly and we never do return to the Brahmin's wife or the judges who were telling these stories).
The present translation attempts to reproduce as accurately as possible the Sanskrit text in English but in a logical and readable form. In the interests of continuity, short sections have been omitted, sentences rearranged has to keep such amendments to the minimum, though keeping in view, at the same time, to retain the flavour of the original text, which is both artistic and elegant.
All the Sanskrit names, designations and exclamations have been retained in the translation to preserve the Indian atmosphere and tradition of the book. The writer, Pandit Vishnu Sharma, seems to have chosen the names with great care, for everywhere they have got some definite relationship to the character or incident in the story. At several places, there is a distinct significance in the meaning of the Sanskrit names. I would therefore request the reader to refer to glossary. I hope it will help him towards a thorough understanding of this ancient Indian Classic and enable more enjoyable reading.
The glossary has been provided for reference at the end of the book. The pronunciations of the Sanskrit words are comparatively simple if each word is split into syllables and then pronounced.
My desire is to establish a direct relationship with the reader. I would welcome comments and criticisms - they will help me to improve upon the present translation when bringing out the next edition.
The present translation is the result of the talent, excellent team-work and experience of my friends who have affectionately guided me. They are all experts in their own respective fields.
Above all, Goddess Saraswati has smiled on me, and it is to her that I humbly dedicate this book.
For my own part, L claim no credit. I have simply performed the task of a bee that collects honey from fragrant flowers.