Top 11 Short Stories of Panchatantra for Kids

child reading storybook

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 tools and techniques of teaching did not work well with these princes, and so, decided to teach them through 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.

10 Interesting Tales of Panchatantra for Your Children

To make story time fun and informative, here are some stories from Panchtantra that will not only enhance your child’s imagination, but also 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.

monkey & crocodile

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

The Stark 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.”

elephants & mice helps each other

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

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.

tortoise & geese

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

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.

Foolish Lion and the Clever Rabbit

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

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

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

The Musical Donkey

A washer man’s donkey would be free to graze on the green field, after a hard day’s work. Instead of staying on the field, he would sneak into the villagers’ farms and eat the vegetables growing, before sneaking back 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. The farmers, on hearing the donkey bray, came rushing out and thrashed him for eating their vegetables. The farmers tied a mortar on the donkey, and as he walked home, the jackal joked about the farmers gifting the donkey a necklace for his singing.

Moral of the Story: There is a time and place for everything.

You can narrate these Panchatantra stories to explain moral values to children. For example, Panchatantra 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.

Also Read: Most Thrilling Adventure Stories for Kids