20 Short Panchatantra Stories in English for Kids
The Panchatantra moral stories are one of the most popular collections of animal-based fables. Originally written in Sanskrit, each of these fables has an associated moral. These stories are light, colourful and appropriate, even for tiny tots, and provide valuable lessons that stay in their minds forever.
The legend about the origin of Panchatantra traces back into the times of King Amarashakti, who appointed a scholar named Vishnu Sharma to educate his three sons. Vishnu Sharma realised that conventional teaching tools and techniques did not work well with these princes, so he taught them through small Panchatantra stories instead. He, therefore, wrote a collection of stories under the following five volumes, and so it was named as Panchatantra (‘pancha’ – five and ‘tantra’ – systems):
- Mitra labha (gaining friends) – Collection of stories related to winning friends.
- Mitra bheda (losing friends) – Collection of stories related to losing friends.
- Aparïksitakárakam (acting without thinking) – Collection of stories about how imprudence leads to losing what is important.
- Labdhapranásam (Loss of gains) – Collection of stories that mention how to come out of difficult situations without losing things.
- Kákolùkïyam (Crows and owls) – Collection of stories about rules and strategies of war and peace.
The Panchatantra was translated into many languages, including English, various Indian vernacular languages, Persian, and Arabic.
Interesting Tales of Panchatantra for Your Children
To make story time fun and informative, here are some Panchatantra stories in English with moral that will enhance your child’s imagination and teach them something!
1. The Monkey and the Crocodile
Once upon a time, in a forest, there lived a monkey who resided on a jamoon (berry) tree, which was on the banks of a river. In the same forest, there lived a crocodile and his wife. One day, the crocodile came to the banks of the river and rested under the tree. The kindhearted monkey offered him some fruits. The crocodile came back the next day for more fruits, as he loved them. As days passed by, the crocodile and the monkey became good friends.
One day, the monkey sent some fruits for the crocodile’s wife. She ate the fruits and liked them, but was jealous, as she didn’t like her husband spending time with the monkey. She told her husband, “If the fruits are so juicy, I wonder how sweet the monkey’s heart would be. Get me the heart of the monkey.” The crocodile was not willing to kill his friend, but had no choice.
He invited the monkey to his house for dinner and that his wife would like to meet him. The monkey was happy, but couldn’t swim, so the crocodile took him on his back. The crocodile was happy that he had tricked the monkey, however, while talking, he blurted out the real reason for taking the monkey home. The clever monkey said, “You should have told me earlier, I left my heart on the tree. We must go back and get it.” The crocodile believed him and took him back to the tree. Thus, the clever monkey saved his life.
Moral of the Story: Choose your company wisely and always have presence of mind.
2. The Stork and the Crab
Once upon a time, there lived a stork who used to pick fishes from the pond beside him, and eat them. However, as he grew older, he found it difficult to catch a single fish. In order to feed himself, he thought of a plan. He told the fish, frogs, and crabs, that some men are planning to fill the pond and grow crops, and that’s why there won’t be any fish in the pond. He also told them how sad he felt about this and that he will miss them all. The fish were sad and asked the stork to help them. The stork promised to take all of them to a bigger pond. However, he told them, “As I am old, I can take only a few of you at one go.” The stork would take the fishes to a rock, kill them, and eat them up. Every time he was hungry, he would take a few of them to the rock and eat them.
There lived a crab in the pond, who wanted to go to the bigger pond too. The stork thought of eating the crab for a change and agreed on helping him. On the way, the crab asked the stork, “Where is the big pond?” The stork laughed and pointed to the rock, which was filled with fish bones. The crab realised that the stork would kill him, and so quickly thought of a plan to save himself. He caught the stork’s neck and did not let it go until the stork died.
Moral of the Story: Always have a presence of mind and act quickly when in danger.
3. The Elephants and the Mice
There was a village that was abandoned by its people after it shattered, post an earthquake. However, the mice living in the village decided to stay and make it their home. On the outskirts of this village, there was a lake, where a herd of elephants visited regularly to bathe and drink water. Since the village was on the way to this lake, the elephants trampled the mice while walking there. So, the king of mice decided to meet the elephants. He told them, ” O elephants, as you travel through the village, many mice are trampled. We will be very grateful if you could please consider changing your route. We will remember and return the favour when you are in need.”
The elephant king laughed, “We are giant elephants. What favour can you mice return? Nevertheless, we honour your request and change our route.”
After a few days, the elephants got trapped and entangled in nets that were set up by hunters. They struggled hard to escape, but in vain. The elephant king remembered the promise made by the king of mice. So, he sent a fellow elephant who got lucky and was not trapped, to ask the mice king to come and help them.
Soon, all the mice came and started nibbling the nets, and freed the elephants. The king of the elephants couldn’t thank the mice enough!
Moral of the Story: A friend in need is a friend indeed. Always be kind to people, and grateful for their help.
4. The Loyal Mongoose
A farmer couple had a pet mongoose. One day, the farmer and his wife had to urgently go out of the house for work, and so they left the mongoose with their infant, assured that he would guard their baby well. While they were gone, a snake stealthily entered the house and moved towards the cradle to attack the infant. The smart mongoose fought and killed the snake in order to protect the baby.
When the farmer’s wife returned home, she was shocked to be greeted by blood stains on the mongoose’s mouth and teeth. She lost her temper and shouted, “You killed my baby!” In her anger, she lost all control and killed the loyal mongoose. When she entered her house, she saw the baby alive, and the dead snake beside him. She realised what happened and regretted her actions.
Moral of the Story: Think before you act.
5. The Tortoise and the Geese
Once upon a time, beside a lake, there lived a tortoise and two geese who were great friends. As the lake was drying, the geese decided to migrate to a new place. The tortoise also wanted to move with them, but he couldn’t fly, and so he pleaded the geese to take him with them. After trying really hard to convince them, finally, the geese agreed. They held a stick with their beaks and asked the tortoise to hold the stick with his mouth, warning him to not open his mouth and let go of the stick.
As they flew high, some onlookers thought that the tortoise was kidnapped and commented: “Oh, the poor tortoise!” This angered the tortoise and he immediately opened his mouth to say something back. As soon as he did, he fell to the ground and died.
Moral of the Story: Think before you speak. Listen to instructions, and follow them.
6. A Tale of Three Fish
In a lake, there were three fish who were great friends. The first fish was very smart, the second one knew how to find his way out of trouble, and the third was adamant and hated changes. The first fish overheard a fisherman’s conversation about coming back the next day and fishing in the lake. Sensing danger, he cautioned his friends to move out of the lake. The second fish said, “I will stay here and find a way out if I’m caught.” The third fish said, “I do not want to move out. I will remain here, and if I have to get caught, I will.” The first fish moved out. The next day, the fisherman arrived and caught the other two fish. The second one cleverly escaped by pretending to be dead. The third fish did nothing and got caught and died.
Moral of the Story: One should always be open to change and adapt accordingly. Take immediate action when you sense danger.
7. The Foolish Lion and the Clever Rabbit
Once upon a time, there lived a greedy lion who attacked and killed animals, because of which every animal in the jungle was very afraid of him. One day, they decided that each animal would go to the lion, per day, as his prey. The lion agreed. When it was the rabbit’s turn, they decided to send the wise old one. He travelled slowly and reached the lion’s den before sunset. The lion furiously asked him, “Why are you so late?” The rabbit answered, ”A group of rabbits were coming to you, but on their way, the others were attacked by another ferocious lion. I managed to escape and came here.” The rabbit also mentioned that the other lion was challenging this one.
The lion was extremely angry and asked the rabbit to take him to meet the new lion. The wise rabbit took the lion to a deep well, and showed him his own reflection. As the lion growled, his reflection did the same. He considered this reflection to be his enemy. The enraged lion jumped into the well to attack the other lion, and ended up dying. Thus, the wise old rabbit saved himself, and all the animals in the forest.
Moral of the Story: One must always focus on solutions, rather than problems.
8. The Jackal and the Drum
Once upon a time, a jackal wandered away from his jungle and reached a deserted battlefield. He was very hungry, and so he started looking for food, when heard a strange sound. The jackal got scared and decided to run away, but then he thought, “Let me carefully see who is making that sound.” As he looked around, he found an abandoned drum lying next to a tree, and as the wind blew, the branches of the tree rubbed against it, making the sound. He was relieved and continued to search for food.
Moral of the Story: Face difficulties, instead of running away from them.
9. The Elephant and the Sparrows
A sparrow couple had a beautiful nest with eggs, on a tall, strong tree, and were expecting their little ones soon. However, an arrogant elephant soon visited the area and shook the tree so hard, that he managed to destroy the nest and the eggs. Angered and saddened by this, the sparrows decided to seek revenge.
They asked their woodpecker friend to help them. The woodpecker, along with his friends, the fly and the frog, devised a plan. The frog asked the fly to buzz near the elephant’s ear. He said, “When the elephant closes his eyes, woodpecker, you must pierce his eyes. The elephant will stand up and try to find water. I will croak far away and the elephant will think there’s water around and reach the place. We will create a big pit and the elephant will fall into it.”
At sunset, they worked as per the plan, and the elephant fell into the pit and died.
Moral of the Story: It’s not physical strength and haughtiness that wins, but intelligence and teamwork that matters.
10. The Wise Minister’s Advice
A gang of owls attacked some crows in a forest, one night, and killed them all. Because the crows couldn’t see clearly at night, they couldn’t fight back.
The King of the crows was so distressed to hear the news, that he went to his wise old minister for guidance. The minister gave him some advice and sent him back.
The next day, the crows went to the owl’s cave and put on a dramatic show! One crow pretended to praise the owls and the other ones struck him down! Seeing this, the Owl King thought that this crow was in favour of the owls. The crow continued to live with the owls, till one morning, the crow flew away, and with the help of his crow friends, set fire to the entrance of the owl cave! Since owls are nocturnal creatures, they were fast asleep, and all of them were killed!
Moral of the Story: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
11. The Musical Donkey
After a hard day’s work, a washer man’s donkey would be free to graze on the green field. Instead of staying on the field, he would sneak into the villagers’ farms and eat the growing vegetables before sneaking home. The donkey met a jackal, and they became good friends. They decided to hunt together, and the fat donkey would break the fence to eat vegetables, while the jackal hunted the farm animals. One night, the donkey told the jackal that he felt like singing. The jackal pleaded with him not to sing, as they would get caught. However, the donkey got annoyed and insisted on singing. He opened his mouth and began to bray loudly, and the jackal immediately ran away. On hearing the donkey bray, the farmers came rushing out and thrashed him for eating their vegetables. The farmer tied a mortar on the donkey, and as he walked home, the jackal joked about the farmer gifting the donkey a necklace for his singing.
Moral of the Story: There is a time and place for everything.
12. The Jackal and the Drum
A jackal wandered into a desolate battlefield one day for food because it was starving. All that was present was a drum that the troops had abandoned. The drum was struck by moving tree branches that made a loud noise when the wind blew. The jackal decided to leave as he was terrified. He reconsidered and chose to investigate the noise. He noticed the drum and understood it was harmless when he got closer to the sound. He discovered food close by as he got close to the drum.
Moral of the Story: Avoid having a fear-based panic attack.
13. Four Friends and a Hunter
A rat, a crow, a deer, and a turtle, and all were pals. They were content to live in a jungle. The friends devised a strategy to save the deer when he accidentally fell into a hunter’s trap one day. After struggling and appearing in pain, the deer lay motionless with its eyes open, appearing dead. Then, as they do to a dead animal, the crow and the other birds sat on the deer and began prodding it.
The turtle immediately moved into the hunter’s path to draw his attention away. After leaving the deer, which he presumed to be dead, the hunter pursued the turtle. The crow immediately picked up the turtle while the rat chewed open the net to release the deer.
Moral of the Story: Teamwork can achieve great results
14. The Hermit and the Mouse
A temple in a small community were taken care of by a hermit. He collected alms and gave some of them to those who assisted him in cleaning the temple. Unfortunately, a mouse kept stealing the hermit’s food and giving him grief in the temple. No matter what he tried, the hermit could not get rid of the mouse. Even when the food was put in an earthen jar suspended from the roof, the mouse kept stealing it.
Disgusted, the wise man sought counsel from a friend, who advised him to locate and eliminate the mouse’s food sources. After thoroughly searching the area, the sage discovered and destroyed the mouse stash. The mouse couldn’t hop to the roof to find food since its food supply had run out. The hermit seized and flung it far from the temple when it grew weak. The injured mouse abandoned the temple and never came back.
Moral of the Story: To overcome an enemy, strike at his power source.
15. The Sparrow and Monkey
A monkey suddenly appears in this story which is about a pair of sparrows residing in a banyan tree. The monkey was shivering from the cold, as it was raining cats and dogs. One of the birds saw the monkey in distress and encouraged him to construct his own home to protect himself. In retaliation, the monkey misunderstood this advice for conceit and destroyed the sparrow’s nest. We learn that those who need assistance resent it the least, and that advice is rarely valued.
Moral of the Story: The lesson of the sparrow’s tale is that you should only offer counsel to people who genuinely deserve it to avoid experiencing regret.
16. The Crows and the Cobra
A cobra and two crows were living on a banyan tree in a forest close to a small kingdom. As the crows left the nest searching for food, the cobra, who was evil, ate the crows’ eggs. The crows were disheartened and hurt, they thought of taking guidance from a knowledgeable jackal. One of the crows followed the jackal’s suggestion and proceeded to the royal palace to steal the queen’s precious jewellery while the guards looked on. The crow flew carefully to its nest, allowing the guards to follow him. The snake dwelt in the banyan tree’s hollow cove, where the crow dropped the necklace after arriving there. When the guards discovered a snake in the hole, they killed it and snatched up the necklace. The crows thanked the jackal and continued to live contentedly.
Moral of the Story: With enough intellect, even the most formidable adversaries can be defeated.
17. The Lion and the Camel
A lion lived in a deep jungle with his three assistants: a jackal, a crow, and a leopard. The assistants never had to look for food because they lived near the forest king. One day, they were shocked to find a camel walking through the woods, a creature that generally dwelt in the desert. They discovered that the camel got lost. It received protection and shelter from the lion.
The powerful lion was once hurt during a conflict with some elephants. The lion and the assistants went hungry since they were unable to hunt. The lion declined to kill the camel despite the three assistants suggesting they consume it. The assistants hatched a plan to make the camel offer itself as food to its protector. The crow, the leopard and the jackal each offered themselves as food to the lion, which he refused. As soon as the camel saw this, it followed suit and was immediately slain by the lion.
Moral of the Story: It isn’t smart to put your faith in crafty people who surround wealthy or powerful people for personal gain.
18. Right-Mind and Wrong-Mind
In a village lived two companions named Dharmabuddhi (sound, virtuous mind) and Papabuddhi (false, wicked sense). Papabuddhi, who was evil, decided to capitalise on the virtues of Dharmabuddhi. So, he persuaded his pal to join him on a lucrative global tour. After they had enough money, Papabuddhi persuaded his friend to bury it in a jungle for protection. So, one night, he grabbed the entire money and returned to the community.
Papabuddhi pretended ignorance when the friends returned to the forest to retrieve the money. He accused Dharmabuddhi of stealing it, and brought up the situation with the village elders, who decided that they should inquire with the forest’s tree spirit about Dharmabuddhi’s culpability.
To prove the innocent man’s guilt, Papabuddhi ordered his father to slink away in the tree bark and speak in the voice of the tree spirit. Sensing something wrong, Dharmabuddhi set dry leaves and twigs on fire inside the hollow cove of the tree, forcing his friend’s father out. Later Papabuddhi’s father confessed to his son’s wrongdoing and the village elders chastised him.
Moral of the Story: Refrain from associating with the bad since you could also have to pay for their transgressions.
19. The Talkative Tortoise
Once upon a time, Kambugriva, the tortoise, resided beside a lake. It was very close friends with two other residents of the lake, swans. The lake started to dry up one summer, leaving the animals with little access to water. The swans told the tortoise that there was another lake in another forest, where they should go to survive. They devised a method to transport the tortoise. They forced the tortoise to bite the stick from the middle and instructed it not to open its mouth.
The tortoise was sandwiched between the swans as they flew while holding the pole at each end. The villagers in the vicinity were astounded to see a tortoise flying. Two birds using a stick to catch a tortoise caused a stir on the ground. The tortoise opened its jaws and asked, “What’s that noise all about?” despite the swans’ cautions. And it died as it fell to the ground.
Moral of the Story: The lesson here is to speak only when it is appropriate.
20. Goats and Jackal
A jackal once witnessed two powerful goats fighting while travelling through a village. There were people all around the goats, cheering them on. The goats were bleeding a little and had bruises on their bodies a few minutes into the fight. Due to its attraction to the smell of blood, this jackal desired to consume some of the goats’ meat. So it immediately and thoughtlessly jumped at the goats.
The jackal was cruelly tramped on and killed by the two goats since they were stronger than the jackal.
Moral of the Story: Consider your options before jumping.
You can narrate these Panchatantra stories to explain moral values to children. For example, Panchatantra’s stories on discipline, friendship, strength, intelligence and other virtues, can make children understand what these morals stand for, and their impact on their daily lives. These stories can also help in your child’s linguistic and cognitive development. To further develop your child’s qualities, get him a kid’s activity subscription kit that contains fun and interesting activities. By trying out these activities, your child can enhance his/her other skills as well.
1. How Beneficial Are Panchatantra Stories for Kids?
Panchatantra tales may help a child’s brain grow and teach them how to handle real-life challenges. The Panchatantra stories are full of wisdom, valour, and occasionally amorality. These illuminating stories encourage children to study and grow intellectually by stimulating their thinking.
2. Which Is the Best Story In Panchatantra?
The stories listed above are a few of the best stories in Panchatantra. They all have a unique moral and are extremely interesting. However, yoy may try ‘the Crows and the Cobra’ story, ‘Right-Mind and Wrong-Mind’ story, ‘Tortoise and the Geese’ story for wisdom.