Discuss the meaning of the following lines from the Panchatantra: In what can wisdom not prevail? In what can resolution fail? what cannot flattery subdue? what cannot enterpise put through?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the lines spoken by the rabbit upon learning that it was his turn to be sacrificed to the mighty lion, Numskull, are fairly powerful.  The animals of the forest had made an alliance with the lion that in exchange for him sparing the forest's creatures, they would send one animal a day to him for his feast.  On the particular day in question, it was the rabbit's turn.  As opposed to eagerly accepting the condition of sacrifice, the rabbit speaks the lines featured.  Essentially, the quote speaks to the condition that there might be some instances where supposed understandings of "wisdom" can be questioned.  "Resolution" that is reached, especially if it is a temporary and not lasting one, can be representative of failure.  There are some instances where mere "flattery" of that which is evil and wrong cannot suffice.  Accordingly, "enterprise" might result in corrupt action if it is not geared towards the maintenance of the social order.  The rabbit's words question the nature of the alliance and agreement made.  Such an understanding was not one made out of justice or fairness, but rather expediency. The rabbit's words attest to the idea that some forms of deal- making in a manner that does not address overarching and transcendent notions of the good can be countered and counteracted, especially when seen in light of what can be as opposed to merely what is.


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