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Complete & Unabridged Translation






There was once an aged merchant in a certain town, and his name was Lovelorn. To such an extent had love clouded his reason that, when his wife died, he gave much money in order to marry the daughter of a penniless shopkeeper. But the girl was heartbroken and could not bear to look at the old merchant. This, indeed, might have been anticipated.

The silvered head will sue in vain,
A maiden's love beseeching;
The maid, despising it, is fain
To flee afar with screeching;
Like Hangman's Well it causes pain,
Where dead men's bones are bleaching.

And furthermore:

Slow, tottering steps the strength exhaust;
The eye unsteady blinks;
From driveling mouth the teeth are lost;
The handsome figure shrinks;
The limbs are wrinkled; relatives
And wife contemptuous pass;
The son no further honor gives
To doddering age. Alas!




Now one night, while she was turning her back to him in bed, a thief entered the house. And she was terrified at seeing a thief, and embraced her husband, old as he was. He, for his part, felt every limb thrill with astonishment and love, and he thought: "Gracious me! Why does she hug me tonight?" Then, peering narrowly about, he discovered the thief in a corner, and reflected: "No doubt she embraces me from fear of him." So he said to the thief:

Illustration from 'The Fables of Bidpai', c.1480 AD
Musee Conde, Chantilly, France
Credit: Bridgeman.co.uk (A British Website)



"She who always shrank from me,
Hugs me to her breast;
Thank you, benefactor! Take
What you like the best."

And the thief made reply:

"Nothing here that I should like;
Should I want a thing,
I'll return if she does not
Passionately cling."

"Should I want a thing, I'll return…."







"Thus advantage may be anticipated from a benefactor, thief though he be. How much more from a suppliant guest? Besides, having been maltreated by them, he will labor for our success, or for the revelation of their vulnerable point. In view of this, he should not be killed."

Having listened to this view, Foe-Crusher questioned another counselor, namely, Hook-Nose. "My worthy sir, what should be done under the present circumstances?" And Hook-Nose answered: "O King, he should not be killed. For

From enemies expect relief,
If discord pierce their host;
Thus, life was given by the thief
And cattle by the ghost."

"How was that?" asked Foe-Crusher. And Hook-Nose told the story of


Counselor Hook-Nose
Credit: Pe_ha45, Flickr







Questions (From Text)

1. Name the main characters in this story.

2. What are the physical and other changes described as typical for old age in this story? Answer

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

4. 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. Do you think that extreme age difference between husband and wife can lead to infidelity? (100 words). [Hint: Visit Link-1 .]

2. What should be the age difference between a husband and wife according to Parkinson? (100 words)

[Hint: He was one of the proponents of 'Half-Your-Age-Plus-Seven Rule'. Visit Link-1 or Link-2 .]

3. Eugene O'Neill, one of the greatest American playwrights, wrote a drama titled 'Desire Under the Elms,' which also has infidelity due to age difference. Summarize the story of the play (200 words) and write a brief note on O'Neill (30 words). - [Hint: Visit Link-1 and Link-2 .]

4. Write a brief note on aging - causes, effects, prevention - based on modern scientific knowledge. (200 words). [Hint: Visit Link-1 , Link-2 , Link-3 .]




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

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

Panchatantra Enacted by Angahara Ensemble in USA
Credit: Angahara, http://picasaweb.google.com



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Today Women Have More Freedom
Credit: Funtoosh.com


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