The origin of Panchatantra as have been earlier said has been divided into four versions. Pahlavi is the first version of the Panchatantra that was created before A.D. 570. Though it is lost now it can be recreated from an Old Syrian and an Arabic version with the later texts based on the Arabic version. The second is the version produced in north-west India, which was interused in the version of Gunadhya's Brhatkallui. The third is the two Kashmir versions styled Tantra khyayika and by two Jain texts. Fourth is the common ancestor of the Southern Panchatantra, the Nepalese Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha. The Nepalese Panchatantra and the Southern Panchatantra are derived from a version sister to the Southern Panchatantra now lost.
Hertel concluded that these four sources ought to be reduced to two, the Tantrakhyayika original and ' K', the source of the other three groups. This is unlikely. There is no adequate ground for Hertel's further assumption of another transitional archetype from which the Pahlavi, the Southern Panchatantra group are descended.
The sense of the term is uncertain. It is uncertain as to what the word Tantra mean. However it is likely that Panchatantra meant originally five subject-matters. It is a thesis dealing with five contents. It has been considered that it was written long after 200 B. C. It is sure that it has definitely been written after the Christian era though it is not correct to assign it to the second century A. D. Evidences suggest that it fell in the period of the Brahmanical restoration and expansion under the Gupta Empire.
It has also been considered that the author was a Brahmin. Vishnusharma is described as relating the tales to the sons of king Amarashakti of Mahilaropya in the Deccan as a sign of southern origin. According to Hertel this book was composed in Kashmiri. The places of pilgrimage mentioned are Pushkar, Gangadvara, Prayaga and Varanasi.