A painting of the talkative turtle from the Indian fable from the Panchatantra.

The Talkative Tortoise (An Old Indian Fable)

The Talkative Tortoise is a famous parable from the Panchatantra, a collection of Indian fables from the 3rd century BCE. This is a translation by Juan Artola Miranda. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of talking too much.

Slashes made by an enraged barbarian fabulist.

Once upon a time, in a dense forest near a large lake, a group of animals lived in harmony. Among them was a tortoise named Kachchapa, known for his incessant chatter and relentless interruptions.

One day, Kachchapa was chatting with two geese, Sankata and Vikata, who were visiting the lake. As the conversation went on, the geese grew increasingly tired of Kachchapa’s endless talking. They started to worry his inability to keep quiet might get him into trouble someday.

Sankata, the older of the two geese, said, “Dear friend Kachchapa, we enjoy your company, but you must learn to speak less. Talking too much can lead to misfortune.”

Kachchapa shrugged off the advice, saying, “I appreciate your concern, but I don’t see any harm in being talkative.”

Several weeks passed, and the forest was threatened by a severe drought. The lake began to dry up, and the animals started to panic. The geese decided to migrate to another lake far away, where they could survive the drought. Feeling compassionate for their friend Kachchapa, they decided to help him escape the drought as well.

Sankata and Vikata devised a plan. They found a long, sturdy stick and instructed Kachchapa to hold the stick tightly in his mouth while they held an end in their beaks, carrying him through the air to the distant lake.

“Remember, Kachchapa,” warned Vikata, “you must not speak during our journey, or you will fall to the ground.”

Kachchapa agreed and, as planned, he clenched the stick in his mouth while the geese held onto the ends, lifting him into the air. They soared high above the treetops, heading towards the distant lake.

As they passed over a village, the people below saw a tortoise carried by two geese. They laughed and pointed, amused by this peculiar spectacle. Hearing their laughter and comments, Kachchapa’s pride was hurt, and he forgot the geese’s warning. He opened his mouth to defend himself and speak back to the villagers, and at that moment, he lost his grip on the stick.

Kachchapa fell from the great height, cracking and spilling open like an egg. The geese, heartbroken at the loss of their friend, flew away in silence, lamenting Kachchapa’s inability to heed their advice.

There is another story from this jungle. This one is about three young men, not much more than boys, who thought they were gods.

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

Leave a Comment