India, being a land of various religions, languages, communities, is creditable for its vast range of short stories. Almost every child in India grows up listening to the folk tales and stories from his/her grandparents. The classic collection of folk tales has become a kind of treasure for Indians, which is passed on from one generation to the other. The outstanding compilations, such as ‘Panchatantra’, ‘Hitopadesha’, ‘Jataka’ and ‘Akbar-Birbal’, have become the ideal paradigm for parents to infuse moral values in their child. Moreover, these folktales help present all the possible situations of life, in front of a kid, while offering the best solution for each one of them as well. Apart from the folktales, Indian epics of ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Bhagvad Gita’ are no less in imparting right ethics and principles through their moralistic stories. In short, the popular folktales (folklores) from India provide the perfect string between the long-established values and the new generation.
Popular Folk Tales of India
Dating back to the 2nd century B.C, Panchatantra is a much celebrated compilation of short stories, authored by Vishnu Sharma. These stories are virtually animated picturization, where animals and humans can be seen speaking and understanding each other’s language. Over the years, the stories have been edited to quite an extent, mainly to ensure that they can be understood by a layman as well. The best part of these tales is that each of them gives a moral lesson to the reader. Some popular tales from the Panchatantra are ‘Gold giving Serpent’, ‘Monkey and Crocodile’, ‘Heron and the Crab’, ‘Mongoose and the Brahmin’s Wife’ and ‘Talkative Tortoise’.
Another outstanding assortment of tales and short stories in India comprises of the Hitopadesha. Written in Sanskrit, by Narayana Pandit, Hitopadesha is the second best seller in India. The compilation has tales that directly impart morals and even worldly knowledge to the children, just like the Panchatantra. It is the first choice of many parents, because of its wide coverage, which is inlusive of different aspects of life. Since their origin, Hitopadesha tales have been translated into different languages, for the benefit of the readers throughout the world. ‘Beware of Mean Friends ’, ‘Blind Vulture’, ‘Monkey and Bell’, ‘Elephant and Jackal’ and ‘Sage’s Daughter’ are amongst the all-time favorite tales of Hitopadesha.
The pride of the Buddhist literature, Jataka proves to be the perfect dosage of knowledge and morality for children. These tales were initially written in Pali language. However, their demand and popularity made the publishers translate and publish the tales in numerous other languages as well. These legendary fables intend to pass on the values like humanity, morality, honesty and integrity to people. Jataka Tales, at least 547 in number, actually depict earlier incarnations of Buddha from time to time, in the form of an animal, bird or human being. With the holy town of Benaras (or Varanasi) as their base, some of the noteworthy stories in 'Jataka Tales' compilation are ‘Merchant of Seri ’, ‘Sandy Road’, ‘Wind and Moon’ and ‘Power of a Rumour’.