The Price of Indiscretion (stories from Panchatantra)

Koula Riga *

Panchatantra is a collection of teaching myths of Indian prose and poetry, starring mainly animals. The original text is in Sanskrit for Hindus and Pali for the Buddhists. The collection attributed to Pandit Vishnu Sharma dates back to most scholars around the 3rd century BC. Is based on an earlier oral tradition. Through cross-border mutations, adaptations, and translations, Patsatadra expanded by accepting many influences from other folktales of central Asia. But it continues to be the most popular moral-teaching work of Indian literature, which can only be compared to the myths of Aesop. Through the myths of Panchatantra, Indian and universal values ​​and teachings are expressed about for a wise behavior in life.

The Hellenic-Indian Society for Culture and Development publishes below the first story of Patsatantra in translation and adaptation from the original by Koula Riga.  Figures: Koula Riga

Ujjwalaka was a cart-maker, who was very poor due to lack of orders for cart-making. 

One day, he was fed-up with his poor condition, and thought, “I languish in this poverty, when all other people have some work or the other that pays them. I don’t have a proper home, or proper clothing, or proper food. There is no point in staying here; I shall go somewhere else to seek success.” 

Thus, the cart-maker took his family and left the town. As he was going through the jungle, he saw a female camel in pain. 

He noticed that the female camel was left behind by a caravan due to her labour pains. He gave her water, and grass and she recovered. She also gave birth to a baby camel. 

Next morning, he took the camel and the baby camel under his patronage, and took them to his home. This became the new home for the camels. 

The camels were very happy. Over time, the baby camel grew taller, and the cart-maker locingly tied a bell around the young camel’s neck. 

He started selling the female camel’s milk, and the earnings were enough for him to support his family. He realized that this business was profitable, and he did not require to seek any job. 

One day, he said to his wife, “I can support the family by selling the milk of one camel. This profession is too easy, and yet profitable. I shall borrow some money from a wealthy merchant and buy another camel. During the time that I am gone, please take proper care of the camels.” 

His wife agreed with him, and he started the journey. After a few days, he returned with a young camel. He was fortunate, and within a few years he owned many camels. He even employed a servant to take proper care of the camels. He would reward the servant one baby camel every year. 

Thus, the cart-maker became rich, and led a happy life. He took care of the camels, and the younger ones, but his favourite camel was the baby camel who wore a bell around his neck. The jingling sound she made, made the cart-maker very happy. 

Every afternoon, the camels would graze in the nearby jungle, and ate tender grass. They would also drink water from a big lake, and bath and play games there. They would return before sunset. 

The young camel that had a bell around his neck always trailed behind the others. Due to this, the other camels always advised him to keep up with them, leat he stray away and get lost. Despite numerous advices, scoldings, and warnings, he remained conceited, and wandered about on his own. Being their master’s favourite, he was proud of himself. 

One day, as the camels were grazing about, a lion came wandering. He was attracted by the sound of the bell from a distance, and cautiously observed the group of camels. As he waited for an opportune moment, he noticed the young camels with bell around his neck trailing behind and straying away from the group. 

The lion followed him, and overtook the camel. Before the camel could raise his voice to alert the others, the lion jumped on him and killed him instantly. 

The wise indeed say:

A foolish person who refuses to follow a good advice surely comes to grief.

*Koula Riga originates from Skiathos island and lives in Athens. She was born in 1987, by Greek father and Indian mother. She studied sound engineer, music and painting. She likes the arts and deals with music, photography, and painting. She has been involved with the tourism and the tourist business of her family. Her love for children and Indian culture made her turn to translate Indian tales. At the same time, he is studying Hindi at the Foreign Language Center of the University of Athens, as well as cooking and confectionery at a gastronomic school in Athens.

Koula Riga’s articles on INDIKA:
Ινδική φυτοφαγική κουζίνα – Άλου ΜάταρΙΝΔΙΚΑ 2021
Η πικάντικη εορταστική κουζίνα της ΙνδίαςΙΝΔΙΚΑ 2020
Πως ένα πουλί έφτασε στη θλίψη (μύθοι της Παντσατάντρα)ΙΝΔΙΚΑ 2019
How a bird came to grief (stories from Panchatantra)ΙΝDΙΚΑ 2019
The Price of Indiscretion (stories from Panchatantra), ΙΝDΙΚΑ 2019
Το τίμημα της αδιαφορίας (μύθοι της Παντσατάντρα)ΙΝΔΙΚΑ 2018