Prof. Ravindra Jain, Vice Chancellor of Barkatullah University,
Bhopal, has said that Arabs are very intelligent people and are
ahead of Indians. They took full advantage of the literature in
Sanskrit and Hindi which flourished in India during the period of
the Rig-Veda and Upanishads (from 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C.).
Prof. Jain said the Arabs translated Panchatantra (five chapters),
the oldest collection of Indian fables, into Arabic in the 8th
century from the Pahlavi language (literary Persian) which was
christened as "Kalīlah wa Dimnah". In fact Panchatantra was
originally written in Sanskrit by a great Hindu scholar, Pandit
Vishnu Sharma. However, it was lost and perished in sands of time
after being translated into Pahlavi language in the 6th
Prof. Jain was delivering his presidential address in the three-day
international seminar on “Arabic Panchatantra and Indo-Arab Cultural
Relations” which got underway here in Bhopal on Tuesday. The
highlight of the seminar is the participation of two Arab ladies
professors from Kuwait namely Dr. Laila Khalf Al-Sabaan and Prof.
Laila Usman amongst others.
The seminar is being orgnised by Barkatullah University, Bhopal and
its inaugural function was presided over by Barkatullah University
Vice Chancellor Prof. Ravindra Jain. while Maulana Mohammad Saeed
Mujaddadi (Peer Saeed Miyan), Rector Dar-ul-Uloom Taj-ul-Masajid,
Bhopal was the chief guest at the inaugural function.
Prof. Jain lamented that India had such fine literature which is
giving impetus to Arabs’ literature but we Indians are not taking
benefit from it.
“We should have an open mind and adorn ourselves with the literature
of other languages flourishing in the world, especially from Arabic
literature and adopt human values of Arabs”, he remarked. This
would a long way in strengthening the Indo-Arab relations, he added.
He hoped other universities of the country would follow suit in
cementing Indo-Arab relations by adhering to "Kalīlah wa Dimnah "
Prof. Jain expressed his happiness while releasing a book "Kalīlah
wa Dimnah " jointly authored by Dr. Mohammad Hassan Khan, Head of
the Arabic Department of Barkatullah University and Ms Ayisha Rais,
Dean Faculty of Arts, analyzing whatsoever has been written on
Panchatantra the world over. He congratulated them for their feat in
educational field which would be beneficial to many in the times to
Maulana Mohammad Saeed Mujaddadi speaking on the occasion said the
Panchatantra. is essentially connected with one of the branches of
science known by the Indians as the 'Nitishastra' which in Sanskrit
means “A book of wise conduct in life”.
Maulana Saeed said it attempts through the characters of animals to
teach us, how to understand people, bow to choose reliable and
trustworthy friends, how to meet difficulties and solve problems
through tact and wisdom, and how to live in peace and harmony in the
face of hypocrisy, deceit and many pitfalls in life, he opined.
Dr. Laila Khalf Al-Sabaan, Professor of Arabic Literature in Kuwait
University, who was the Guest of Honour, and Prof. Ayisha Rais also
spoke on the occasion.
Earlier, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Khan threw light on the aims and
objectives of the seminar. He said according to the German
translator Johannes Hertel of Das Panchatantra (1914), there are 200
versions of Panchatantra in fifty non-Indian languages. Panchatantra
started its journey before 570 AD with an initial version of Pehlavi
(Persian) during the reign of Emperor Khosro Anushirvan (550-578 AD)
Dr. Hassan said a Syriac version entitled "Kalilag Wa Dimnag,"
became available, followed by an Arabic version rendered by Abdallah
Ibn al-Maqaffa with the same title in 570 AD. Like Arab numerals
that were borrowed from Hindus, the Arabic version of Panchatantra
became the parent of all European versions, known generally as the
fables of Bidpai.
He said Panchatantra was translated into Greek, Latin, Spanish,
French, Armenian, English, Slavic languages, Hebrew, Malay etc.,
between eleventh century and eighteenth century. Thomas Irving
translated it into English from the Arabic Kalila Wa Dimnah and it
was published by Juan de la Cuesta, Newark, Delaware in 1980. All
ancient civilizations had their folktales, but it was only in India
that story telling developed into an art. It was here that Persians
learnt this art and passed it on to the Arabs, he added.
Dr. Hassan informed that from the Middle East, they found their way
to Constantinople and Venice. Finally, they appeared in England and
France. Even as they changed hands and assumed different local
colours, they did not lose the Indian touch.
"So, we have seen how the Indian stories won their way into the
literature of other nations", he concluded.
Dr. Hameedullah Nadwi, Reader in Arabic Department of the
University, proposed vote of thanks
Among the Indian scholars who would be presenting their papers
include Prof. Abdul Ali & Prof. Kafeel Ahmad (both Aligarh Muslim
University), Prof. Abdul Qadir Jafari & Prof. Fayyaz-ul-Huq (both
Allahabad), Prof. Manzoor Ahmad (Kashmir), Prof. Mustafa Shareef (Osmania
University), Prof. Abdul Majeed, Prof. Jameel, Prof. Iqbal Hussain &
Dr. Jahangeer (both Hyderabad), Sr. journalist Arif Aziz & Dr.
Iftekhar Masood (both Bhopal) etc.
The Panchatantra is a rare book, for in no book will one find
philosophy, psychology, politics, music, astronomy, human
relationship, etc., all discussed together in such a simple and yet
elegant style. This is exactly what Pandit Vishnu Sharma had in
mind, to give as much knowledge to the princes as possible. And no
doubt not only the princes but also millions of listeners and
readers for the last 2,200 years have benefited from this most