Folktales of Ancient India

Folktales of Ancient India is a collection of adapted South Asian traditional stories. I've raided the anthropological literature for such tales recorded by academics in search of the foundations of India's oral storytelling heritage.

I then stripped those tales of their circuitous narratives, of unnecessary religious references, and tried to enhance their cores of irony and simplicity. In essence, this is my attempt to do for South Asian folk literature what the Grimm Brothers did for European folktales: make them accessible to a modern audience.

Illustrations for the book are being provided by Ms. Sneh Aurora, a human rights lawyer presently living and working in India. Sneh has experience in a variety of visual media. Some of her drawings may be seen at this website. Please bear in mind that no reproductions of her work can be permitted.

Publication explorations are presently underway, so I can't yet estimate a release date. Below is a list of the included tales and a brief description of each. I've also included the full text of the introduction and two of the folktales.


  • Introduction
  • The Four Stories: A storyteller's apprenctice rescues his master from four spiteful stories.
  • Savritri & Satyavan: A pious princess argues with the god of death for her husband's life.
  • Harisharam The Frog: A professional liar finds himself in a royal situation well over his head.
  • Bopoluchi: A young girl is duped into becoming the bride of a thief, but finds a way home.
  • The Bulbul: A bird shows a young girl how lucky she truly is.
  • The King of Cheats: Two cheaters meet the true king of cheats, and the contest ensues.
  • Two Deaf Men: Deaf men are cheated out of their possessions by a sly and opportunistic fellow.
  • The Debt: A debt that transcends generations is paid back with a bet.
  • The Demon and the Thief: A thief and a devil vie for the rights to a sleeping farmer.
  • Dimnah and Shanzibah: Sage jackals discuss the destiny of the kingdom.
  • The Fall of Dimnah: A jackal's treachery is found out and punished.
  • The Dreamers: A couple forgets the difference between dream and reality.
  • The Lucky Shepherd: An arrogant king applies an incomprehensible test of intelligence upon a simple shepherd.
  • The Hare of the Moon: Hares plot to take back their watering hole from a herd of elephants.
  • The Most Ornery Horse: A court jester breeds the most temperamental horse in the kingdom.
  • The Sweetness of Lies: A young maiden convinces a king that lying can be sweet.
  • The Lost Camel: Three wise men explain how they could identify a camel they never saw.
  • O Lucky Rabbit: A tormented rabbit proves useful to the king.
  • The Magic Rice Paddy: A rice paddy that can never be harvested allows a young man to marry a harem.
  • The Foolish Potmaker and the Tiger: By dumb luck, a potmaker rises to the status of hero.
  • The Potmaker and the Army: A man of dumb luck takes on an entire invading army.
  • The Possessed Wife: A devious wife convinces her husband that she is possessed by the goddess Kali.
  • The Pumpkin and the Walnut: A fool is taught a lesson.
  • Killed By A Tiger: The deadly prophecy of a tiger bears fruit decades later.
  • The Riddle of the Will: Sons must solve the riddle of their dead father's parting gift.
  • Wisdom For Sale: A wise man sets up shop in the marketplace, selling sagacity by the word.
  • The Four Unwise Wisemen: Four great sorcerors outdo themselves.

  • Please remember that all of the text on this website is copyrighted by Ray Deonandan and Invisible Worm Communications, and may not be reproduced without my express permission.