Panchatantra (literally, the five books) is the name of the celebrated Sanscrit fable-book of the Hindûs whence the Hitopadesa was compiled and enlarged. Its authorship is ascribed to a Brahmin of the name of Vishnusarman, who, as its introduction in a "later recension relates, had undertaken to instruct, within six months, the unruly sons of Amarasakti, a king of Mahilaropya or Mihilaropya, in all branches of knowledge required by a king, and for this purpose composed this work. If the latter part of this story be true, it is more probable, however, as professor Benfey assumes, that Vishnusarman was merely the teacher of the princes, and that the existing work itself was composed by some other personage; for an older recension of the work does not speak of his having brought his tales into the shape of a work. The arrangement of the Panchatantra is quite similar to that of the Hitopadesa. The fables are narrated in prose, and the morals drawn from or connected with them are interwoven with the narrative in verse; many such verses, if not all, being quotations from other works. On the history of the Panchatantra, and its relation to the fable-books and fables of other nations, see the excellent work of professor Theodor Benfey, Panchatantra: Fif Bucher indischer Fabeln, Marchen, und Erzaihlunlgen (Leips. 1859, 2 vols.). The first volume contains his historical and critical Researches, and the latter his literal translation of the Panchatantra into German.

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