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Book Review: The Panchatheertha Part 1 by Rajiv Mittal

If you love many stories within a story with peculiar themes assigned, well go nowhere and stick to this book. Beginning with the title, we found it a bit befuddling, as we could not guess from its title whether it is a mythological fiction or a revision of the old classic The Panchatantra written by Vishnu Sharma. A close look reveals that…yes it is heavily inspired by that old classic. 


Talking about its genre, the proposition is equivocal, it will be tough to put this book into any particular category as you see there is no substantial role of characters mentioned initially, rather as we read, we see a host of animals, their stories and the moral messages they are relaying to humans. Broadly, we can say it is a collection of amazing stories which is closely related to the fables of The Panchatantra.

What stands out, the unique voice of the characters, this time the author has added his peculiar style to the stories, for instance tattoo on a camel’s kid, and loudspeaker for a merchant’s marketing and so on, not to forget slangs in snatches. Tales from The Panchatantra are short and straightforward, however in this book stories are spiced up little bit without losing the essence of storytelling and message. As a reader you get first-hand interaction with funny animal characters, and fun as the stories are full of irony, sarcasm, satire, and humour.

The book opens up with the King Amarasakti worried about the foolhardiness of his three sons. They aren’t learning good things and the king wants them to be educated and well-mannered. One of the cabinet ministers recommends Shiva Varma, a renowned scholar and teacher. Shiva Varma accepts the responsibility and soon he begins teaching them through the stories. In those times, moral lessons were far more important than science and economics, thus the importance of folktales holds a special veneration among students.

From the stories’ point of view, the book is divided into two parts: The Loss of Friends and Gaining Friends. The Loss of Friends has stories that depicts as how friendships and relations break owing to betrayal, selfishness, cunningness and greed. On the other hand, Gaining Friends is mostly about helping, altruism, and humanity i.e. qualities that make the relationships and keep intact the friendship.

Though, at times, Rajiv has taken the support of long-winded sentences, but the overall tone of the book is humorous and light. If you long for something different and a bit unique, this book may satiate that reading wish of yours.

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