Review: The Panchatheertha Part I

Author: Rajiv Mittal.
Genre: General Fiction, Folklore.
Rating: 🍫🍫🍫


The Panchatheertha (five pilgrimages) Part 1 is a facetious, satirical revision of sections 1 & 2 of The Panchatantra, the masterpiece Vishnu Sharma wrote between 1200 BCE to 300 CE. The stories are primarily about statecraft and full of wisdom and morals. Despite that, youngsters found them very entertaining. In the tales, animals act and speak on behalf of human beings. The series begins with a parent story that unfolds story after story; each strung to the other by a narrator.

Vishnu Sharma’s reincarnation Shiva Varma has, in this redraft, revived the ancient Indian tradition of parampara (continuation of knowledge from one guru to the next). In his excitement, he forgot the younger age group of his shishyas (students). His characters now try to explain the motives for their actions, also express their feelings; something The Panchatantra had cleverly avoided doing. Within its pages, animals are still made to think and behave like human beings but have not otherwise been harmed in any way.

The Panchatheertha was considered lost but the discovery of two altered strategies ‘The Loss of Friends’ and ‘Gaining Friends’ should create hope within the large and growing community that has had considerable success with the first and complete failure with the second. Those wanting to meet Shiva Varma are hereby informed he dislikes economists, preferring astrology. He is in samadhi, (seclusion / deep meditation) and not in hiding.

There are many intriguing characters not known to Vishnu Sharma in this adaptation; from a sex consultant plying his trade in the locality Ajilundpenodhoka in district Makasam… to a devadasi (courtesan) wanting to conduct the temple prayers because she is bored… to Sage Narada Muni!

Bibliophiles are urged to read the original Panchatantra (which Shiva Varma did consider including as an appendix), to truly appreciate the extent to which history gets distorted when it is made to explain itself. Historically, the appendix has been viewed as a vestigial organ with no real function. This is why Shiva Varma chose not to include it… or so he claims.

Cover Review

I DO NOT like the cover. I mean, there's nothing to the cover except some badly edited images. 

Book Review:

Panchatheertha has been loosely inspired from the classic panchatantra stories we used to read as kids, though this collection has a much more developed, modern form of those stories.

Though the narration reminded me of lores and classic writing style, the dialogues sometime reflected a modern time. Also, the mention of modern gadgets with kings and queens kinda confused me. The timeline of the stories was never clear. 

I liked the stories, but it wasn't something I enjoyed thoroughly. The stories were intriguing enough, but I guess they just weren't for me. 

Even so, it was a good enough read to make me want to finish it. If you enjoy folk/classic takes like the Panchatantra, you might enjoy this book!

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