(Last Updated on : 18/05/2011)
Origin of Fable in a very absurd form can be attributed to the Upanishads
. It is clear that a certain kinship existed between men and animals which are seen in the Upanishads. Here is an allegory of the dogs that search out a leader to howl food for them, the talk of two flamingos and the instruction of little Satya Kama first by a bull, by a flamingo and then by an aquatic bird.
Though here the didactic fable is not seen still it is realized that it was to pass to this form of instruction. One hears of the bird that provided the equivalent of the golden eggs, the naughty cat which deceived the little mice and a motif which is suggestive of the material when Panchatantra was developed. It may be assumed that form the epic and from allusions to proverbs in Patanjali
that the beast fable was thus present. However it cannot be said that fables had been reduced to literary form. The fable in the Panchatantra is an elaborate creation despite lack of art. It is didactic and therefore consists of a moral or maxim of practical life.
The fable is connected with the two branches of science known as the Nitishastra and the Arthashastra. They deal with man's action in practical politics and conduct of the ordinary affairs and intercourse. Panchatantra was aimed for the instruction of the young and the instructors were Brahmins. The form of the fable is dictated by its source. The story is related in prose. However the moral is fixed in the memory. The maxim that carries the truth stands in a different position from the general didactic stanza. It would be capable of serving as an identification label. The didactic fable comes to be written largely in verse later.
Artistic touch needs to be given in order to complicate and enlarge the theme. This is done by interweaving the fables so that it becomes a unique whole. This involves making the characters in the fables support their maxims by references to other fables. This seems to be inconvenient for merely practical purposes as the thread of the main narrative may be interrupted.
The fable was an independent creation in Sanskrit than the popular tale which is free from the didactic aim of the fable. It is in accord with the distinction that Indian tradition is positive regarding the Prakrit original of the great collections of Marchen.