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A tale from the Panchatantra about three very different ways of coping with life’s little challenges. When fishermen come to a lake, three fish choose their own fate.

The bones of the story:

  • Three fish living in a lake.
  • Named Far-sighted, Quick-witted, and Come-what-may.
  • One day, Far-sighted overheard some fishermen talking to each other on the shore. “This lake is full of fish. Let’s return tomorrow and fish.”
  • Far-sighted swam to friends and told them of what he had heard. Decides to swim to another lake through the open channels they all knew about.
  • Quick-witted: I shall stay because I like it here. Don’t worry about me, I’ll think of something.
  • Come-what-may: I too shall stay because I like it here. Whatever will be, will be.
  • Far-sighted swam away.
  • The following day, fishermen returned and caught the two remaining fish. Quick-witted pretended to be dead and was thrown back into the lake in disgust. Come-what-may wriggled as he choked on the fresh air, afraid and unsure of what to do, but not for long because the fishermen quickly clubbed him to to death.


  • The Panchatantra is an ancient Sanskrit collection of stories, probably first composed around 300 CE (give or take a century or two).
  • This version based on a translation by Patrick Olivelle in Five Discourses of Worldly Wisdom (2017).
  • The completed stories have also been translations by Olivelle in The Pañcatantra: The Book of India’s Folk Wisdom (1197)