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Complete & Unabridged Translation






There was once a potter in a certain place. One day he carelessly ran with all his might into the jagged edge of a broken pot, and tumbled. And though the jagged edge tore his forehead, he struggled to his feet, blood streaming over his body. Now as the wound was unskillfully treated, it formed a horrible scar.

After some time the land was afflicted with famine, and he felt the pinch of hunger. So he joined certain life-guards, went to another country, and became a life-guard.




Now the king noticed on his brow the horrible scar from the potsherd, and he thought: "Surely, this man is a great hero. He took a wound in front, on his brow." So he bestowed honors and gifts and the like, regarding him more graciously than all others. Even the princes, observing the exceptional favor shown him, cherished an extreme jealousy, yet they feared the king and said not a word.




Now one day there was a review of picked troops. While the elephants were being accoutered and the horses caparisoned and the men inspected, the king took occasion to say to the potter: "O Prince, what is your name? And what your family? In what battle was this wound printed on your brow?"

"Your Majesty," he replied, "by birth I am a potter, and my name is Fight-Firm. This is not a sword-wound. But when I was unsteady with liquor, I was hurrying through a courtyard littered with broken pots, and tumbled over one. Later the wound from the potsherd became a horrible scar."




Then the king reflected: "Good heavens! I was taken in by this potter who seemed a prince. Let his hands be cuffed."

When this had been done, the potter said: "Your Majesty, do not treat me thus, but witness my adroitness in battle." "No, my friend," said the king, "you may be a treasure-house of all the virtues. Yet you must begone. You may have heard the stanza:

Handsome you are, and valorous;
You have a scholar's brain:
But in your family, my boy,
No elephants are slain."

"How was that?" asked the potter. And the king told the story of









Questions (From Text)

1. Name the main characters in this story.

2. What forced Fight-Firm to bluff and join the life-guard? Answer

3. What did the king imagine as the cause of the horrible scar above Flight-Firm's eye-brow? What was the real cause?

4. Who told  real cause of the horrible scar to the king and why?

[Hint: See also the last paragraph in previous story.]

5. Indentify & write the verse in which king gives the reason for not allowing Flight-Firm Potter to be a life-guard (1 verse).

6. Which proverb in this story do you find most interesting or relevant? Please write it down.

7. What learning does Vishnusharma want to teach thru this story? (100 words)

[Hint: A verse at end of previous story, repeated at end of this story, captures it.]




Projects (Internet / Library)

1. Castes belonging to which "varna" were allowed to carry arms and join fighting forces in ancient India? Did Fight-Firm Potter belong to one of these castes? [Hint: See Link-1 .] Answer


Credit: Groups on India, Facebook



Activities (Home / School)

1. Paint and/or illustrate the most interesting proverb. Display on school notice-board.

2. Read the story aloud to others.

3. Read the story and then re-tell it. Don't memorize. Re-telling won't be perfect which is okay!

(i) Re-tell in your own words to others.
(ii) Re-tell in your mother tongue to a younger brother or sister.

4. In this story a potter could not change his occupation and become a soldier. It makes clear that by the time Panchatantra was composed, caste system was firmly in place. The occupation of soldier was reserved for castes belonging to "kshatriya varna." Discuss the following

(i) The Caste System in India [Hint: Visit Link-1 , Link-2 , Link-3 .]

(ii) What was the percentage of people in Hindu population belonged to "kshatriya varna" - i.e who were allowed to fight as per rules of caste system?

[Hint: 1931 Census of India was the last to count castes-wise distribution. I am unable to trace the details on internet.]

(iii) Do you think that the above practice placed a limitation on Hindu population to defend its frontiers against invaders from outside? Were there any other disadvantages of caste system?

[Hint: There are simply too many views on caste system. A starting point for discussions is the section on "Disadvantages" at Link-1 . A skeptical modern view is at Link-2 .  One concerned citizen's view is at Link-3 .]

(iv) Could there be any advantages - militarily or otherwise - of the above system of occupational specialization / segregation using caste system?

[Hint: There are simply too many views on caste system. A starting point for discussions is the section on "Advantages" at Link-1 .]

5. Role Play the story in your class. Reading from text has to be perfect. Click here for more Guidelines.

6. Enact this story as a drama or as a dance-drama.




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