Five Discourses of Worldly Wisdom

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The king despairs of his idle sons, so he hires a learned brahmin who promises to make their lessons in statecraft unmissable. The lessons are disguised as short stories, featuring mainly animal protagonists. Many of these narratives have traveled across the world, and are known in the West as Aesop’s fables.

Co-published by New York University Press and the JJC Foundation

For more on this title and other titles in the Clay Sanskrit series, please visit

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The books line up on my shelf like bright Bodhisattvas ready to take tough questions or keep quiet company. They stake out a vast territory, with works from two millennia in multiple genres: aphorism, lyric, epic, theater, and romance.”
-Willis G. Regier,The Chronicle Review

“The Clay Sanskrit Library represents one of the most admirable publishing projects now afoot. . . . Anyone who loves the look and feel and heft of books will delight in these elegant little volumes.”
-New Criterion

“Very few collections of Sanskrit deep enough for research are housed anywhere in North America. Now, twenty-five hundred years after the death of Shakyamuni Buddha, the ambitious Clay Sanskrit Library may remedy this state of affairs.”

“Published in the geek-chic format.”

“No effort has been spared to make these little volumes as attractive as possible to readers: the paper is of high quality, the typesetting immaculate. The founders of the series are John and Jennifer Clay, and Sanskritists can only thank them for an initiative intended to make the classics of an ancient Indian language accessible to a modern international audience.”
-The Times Higher Education Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814762080
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Series: Clay Sanskrit Library Series
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Bk. I On causing dissension among allies 57
On causing dissension among allies 57
The monkey that pulled the wedge 66
The jackal that tried to eat a drum 96
The adventures of an ascetic 106
The ascetic and the rogue 106
How the battling rams killed the greedy jackal 108
A weaver cuts the nose of a bawd 110
How the crows killed the snake 122
The crab cuts off the heron's head 124
The hare that outwitted the lion 132
How the louse got killed trying to be nice to a bug 152
How the lion's servants got the camel killed 178
How the sandpiper defeated the ocean 192
The turtle and the geese 194
The fate of three fish : farsighted, quick-witted, and inevitable 196
The bird that tried to advise a monkey 218
Two friends and betrayed trust 224
How the mongooses ate the heron's chicks 230
The iron-eating mice 236
Bk. II On securing allies 251
The ascetic and the mouse 282
The woman who traded sesame for sesame 286
How the greedy jackal died eating a bowstring 288
How Chitranga got caught in a trap 334
Bk. III On war and peace : the crows and the owls 353
The ass in a leopard's skin 374
The owl is elected king of birds 376
The hare bluffs the elephant 378
Partridge and hare take their case to the cat 392
How the rogues tricked the brahmin 404
The old merchant and his young wife 416
The thief, the ogre, and the brahmin 418
How the unfaithful wife tricked her foolish husband 424
The mouse that turned into a girl 430
Frogs go for a ride on the back of a snake 448
Bk. IV On losing what you have gained 473
The ass without ears or a heart 492
Bk. V On hasty actions 503
Building castles in the air 506
The barber who killed the monks 514
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