Narayana, the author of these parables, insists that we exercise caution when choosing our companions. His charming animal characters - sometimes silly, sometimes wise - remind us uncomfortably of ourselves. We learn to avoid the pitfalls of life, along with them, thus attaining wisdom in a rather enjoyable way! Most importantly, we realize the worth of an honest friend.
The 'dullard' of the story, an unfortunate failure at school, is a familiar figure in every age. Poor at his books, he compensates with a wealth of common sense and goes on to survive life's trials rather well. His comically smug, scholarly companions, on the other hand, soon meet their doom. These tales may mirror everyday human vices in a time-tested and engaging way but they are also gentle guides to a wiser, happier path.
Rana Sanga, the ruler of Mewar, had his eyes set on the throne of Delhi. However, the rising Mughal star Babur got rid of the Lodhi Sultan of Delhi. Thus the stage was set for the confrontation between the formidable Rana and an equally determined Babur who had just found a new home for his men, Hindustan.
He revived the Indian spirit that lay shackled by Western domination. He inspired his countrymen to be proud of their heritage. He urged them to be fearless. In his short life and in the face of tremendous odds, he initiated a world-wide movement to uplift the human race and opened the eyes of the West to the wonders of ancient Indian thought.
Was Chanakya a demon or a man? His opponents had no answer. They would plot and plan, coax and connive, but the scholar-turned-politician was always a step ahead, confounding both their motives and their ambitions. He led his king, Chandragupta, to greatness and set his kingdom on the road to peace and prosperity. Then, for generations of future rulers, he compiled a useful guide, the famously canny Arthashastra.
They make an odd couple. Bhimasena is a giant who weaves delicate baskets for a living. His friend the dwarf, who is a wizard with a bow and arrow, is known as the Little Bowman. Together, their antics take us on a roller-coaster ride of humor and adventure, from their rustic village homes all the way to the court of the King of Varanasi. In true Jataka tradition, their tale also teaches us a valuable lesson about pride and over-confidence.