Hitopadesha In Sanskrit Language Essay

Complete works of Pandit Jibananda Vidyasagara Bhattacharya consist of around 200 texts – some of these were originally written by him while some others were commented, edited and published by him. They cover a wide range of subjects like Vedic literature, Puranas, Tantras, Mimamsa, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Sanskirt Kavyas, Vyakarana, etc.

A Short Biographical Sketch of Sri Jibananda Vidyasagara by Sri Sudipta Munsi

“Paṇḍitakulapati Jīvānanda Vidyāsāgara was born to Śrī Tārānātha Tarkavācaspati Bhaṭṭācārya and Ambikādevī in the year, 1844, on the last day of the Bengali month of Caitra.  He studied various subjects like Vyākaraṇa, Sāhitya, Alaṅkāra, Nyāya, Sāṅkhya, Pātañjala, Vedānta, Mīmāṃsā, Jyotiṣa and Smṛti under the tutelage of his father, who was an institution in himself.  He earned the prestigious title of “Vidyāsāgara” from the Government Sanskrit College of Calcutta in 1870, and a B.A. from the University of Calcutta.  Impressed by his knowledge of various aspects of the Yogaśāstras at the end of a conversation, Mr. Olcott of the Theosophical Society called Vidyāsāgara “Godfather” in 1882.  Even during his student days, his enthusiasm for intellectual pursuit was noticeable in the publication of editions of Sanskrit texts.  He also started writing his own commentary on such Sanskrit texts at the same time.  The subjects he dealt with were as varied as terse Indian philosophy, Sanskrit grammar, classical Sanskrit rhetoric and aesthetics, Sanskrit court-poetry, religious codes (dharmaśāstra), classical Indian medical sciences (Āyurveda), etc.  He turned down lucrative job offers from Lahore, Jabbalpore, Jaipur, Nepal, etc.  According to Śambhucandra Vidyāratna, Jīvānanda Vidyāsāgara serially published Sanskrit commentaries of his own on 107 Sanskrit works.  It took him 22 years to write these commentaries.  He wrote a version of the Kathāsaritsāgara in lucid Sanskrit prose in 1400 pages and published it in 1883.  He also prepared simpler versions of difficult Sanskrit prose works like Kādambarī of Bāṇabhaṭṭa, Daśakumāracarita of Daṇḍī, etc.  He also translated the Tarkasaṅgraha of Annaṃbhaṭṭa into English.  His own commentaries on Sanskrit works became so popular in Europe, America, Ceylon, China, Burman, India, etc. that most of these works underwent about 5-6 reprints during his lifetime.  Apart from that, he published editions of at least 108 Sanskrit works, some with traditional Sanskrit commentaries.  He also ran the free Sanskrit school, started by his father of legendary intellectual fame, and taught students thronging there from various parts of the country.  A true polymath, Jīvānanda Vidyāsāgara was survived by his sons, Āśubodha Vidyābhūṣaṇa and Nityabodha Vidyāratna.


Complete Works of Jibananda Vidyasagara

Abhijnana Sakuntalam with Commentary- Jibananda Vidyasagara 1914Adhyatmaramayana with Tika – Jibananda Vidyasagara 1884 (NEW)
Agnipurana – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Amarakosa – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Anargharaghavam with Commentary – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Anumanachintamani with Tika – Jibananda Vidyasagara (LINK 2)
Aranyasamhita with Commentary – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Arthasamgraha – Jibananda Vidyasagara (not found)
Ashtangahridayasamhita of Vagbhatta – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Ashtavakrasamhita Commentary – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Ashvalayanagrihyasutra with Commentary – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Asvavaidyakam and Asvachikitsitam – Jibananda Vidyasagara 1893(NEW)Atharvanopanishadah with Commentary – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Balaramayana Nataka Commentary – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Bhagavadgita with Commentary & Tika – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Bhamati – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Bhaminivilasa Commentary – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Bhashaparichcheda with Muktavali & Dinakari- Jibananda VidyasagaraBhattikavya with Tika Part 1 – Jibananda Vidyasagara
Bhattikavya with Tika Part 2 – Jibananda Vidyasagara

Translator: Charles Wilkins[1]
Maxim on learning

Learning to a man is a name superior to beauty;
learning is better than hidden treasure.
Learning is a companion on a journey to a strange country,
learning is strength inexhaustible.
Learning is the source of renown,
and the fountain of victory in the senate.
Learning is a superior sight,
learning is a livelihood, and
a man without learning is as a beast of the field.

Hitopadesha (Sanskrit: हितोपदेशः, IAST: Hitopadeśa, "Beneficial Advice" ) is an Indian text in Sanskrit language consisting of fables with animal and human characters. It incorporates maxims, worldly wisdom and morals on political affairs in a simple, elegant language.[2] The Hindu text has been popular, widely translated in many Indian languages, as well as languages found in Southeast Asia, Middle East and Europe.[2][3]

Little is known about the origin of the text. The surviving text is believed to be from the 12th-century, but probably composed by Narayana between 800 to 950 CE.[4] Its oldest manuscript found in Nepal has been dated to the 14th-century, and its content and style has been traced to the ancient Sanskrit treatises called the Panchatantra from 100 BCE to 500 CE.[2][5]


The author of Hitopadesa has been contested. The 19th-century Indologists attributed the text to Vishnu Sharma, a narrator and character that often appears in its fables. Upon the discovery of the oldest known manuscript of the text in Nepalese mountains, and dated to 1373 CE, followed by the preparation of a critical edition, scholars generally accept two concluding verses as stating the author and patron of the text. These two verses mention Narayana as the author and a king called Dhavala Chandra as the patron of the text.[2] As no other work by this author is known, and since the ruler mentioned has not been traced in other sources, we know almost nothing of either of them. Dating the work is therefore problematic. There are quotations within it from 8th century works, but the earliest manuscript dates from 1373. Internal evidence may point to an East Indian origin during the later Pala Empire (8th-12th century).[6]

Narayana says that the purpose of creating the work is to encourage proficiency in Sanskrit expression (samskrita-uktishu) and knowledge of wise behaviour (niti-vidyam). This is done through the telling of moral stories in which birds, beasts and humans interact. Interest is maintained through the device of enclosed narratives in which a story is interrupted by an illustrative tale before resuming. The style is elaborate and there are frequent pithy verse interludes to illustrate the points made by the various speakers.[7] On account of these, which provide by far the greater part of the text, the work has been described as an anthology of (sometimes contradictory) verses from widespread sources relating to statecraft.[8]

Relationship to Panchatantra[edit]

The Hitopadesha is quite similar to the ancient classic Sanskrit text Panchatantra, another collection of fables with morals. Both, states Haksar, have the identical frame story and the narrator name (Visnu Sarma) often found inside the two texts are the same.[9] Many scholars consider the Hitopadesha to be a version or derivative work of the Panchatantra.[9] According to Ludwik Sternbach's study on the critical edition of the text, the Panchatantra is the primary source of Hitopadesha text, with 75% of the content paralleling, and a third of the verses found in Hitopadesha traced to the ancient Panchatantra. However, states Sternbach, the remaining 25% of the text is either original or based on an unknown older text.[9][10]

In his own introductory verses, Narayana acknowledges and attributes his work to the older text. In his ninth verse, he states that he is indebted to the Panchatantra and 'another work'. The latter is unknown but possibly the Dharmasastras and other works.[11]

Hitopadesha differs by having only four divisions to the Panchatantra's five.


Hitopadesa Book 1[12][13]

As your life to you is dear,
So is his to every creature.
The good have compassion for all,
By comparison and analogy with their own nature.

The Hitopadesha is organized into four books, with a preface section called Prastavika. The opening verse expresses reverence to the Hindu god Ganesha and goddess Saraswati.[14] There are several versions of the text available, though the versions are quite similar unlike other ancient and medieval era Hindu texts wherein the versions vary significantly.[15] The shortest version has 655 verses, while the longest has 749 verses.[15] In the version translated by Wilkins, the first book of Hitopadesha has nine fables, the second and third each have ten, while the fourth has thirteen fables.[16]

Book 1 Mitralabha: How to gain a friend?[edit]

The Book 1 is introduced with the statement that wise and sincere friends may be poor or destitute, but it is they who may help one achieve successes in life. The book recommends that the good find good friends, they are like a vessel in which one deposits both joys and sorrows of life, and it is not words that define a friend but their behavior and actions.[17][18]

1.1The pigeons, the crow, the mouse, the tortoise and the deer
1.2The traveller and the tiger
1.3The deer, the jackal and the crow
1.4The blind jackal, the cat and the birds
1.5The history of Hiranyaka the mouse
1.6The old man and his young wife
1.7The huntsman, the deer, the boar, the serpent and the jackal
1.8The rajah's son and the merchant's wife
1.9The jackal and the elephant

Book 2 Suhrdbheda: How to lose a friend?[edit]

The Book 2 is introduced with the statement that great friendships can be destroyed by the cruel and envious beings who envy such friendship. The book states that misinformation creates wedge between friends, as does a focus on disagreements, rash action without due investigation and a lack of communication.[19][20]

2.1The bull, the two jackals and the lion
2.2The ape and the wedge
2.3The thief, the ass and the dog
2.4The lion, the mouse and the cat
2.5The poor woman and the bell
2.6The adventures of Kanadarpaketu
2.7The farmer's wife and her two gallants
2.8The crow, the golden chain and the black serpent
2.9The lion and the rabbit
2.10The partridges and the sea

Book 3 Vigraha: War[edit]

The third book presents a series of fables wherein war is described as a consequence of greed, criticism of others, wicked people and their ideologies, cruel and ungrateful leader, lack of restraint, lack of preparation, poor fortifications, weak military, weak diplomacy, and poor counsel.[21]

3.1The geese and the peacocks
3.2The birds and the monkeys
3.3The ass dressed in a tiger's skin
3.4The elephants and the rabbits
3.5The goose and the crow
3.6The Varttaka and the crow
3.7The wheelwright and his wife
3.8The blue jackal
3.9The man who sacrificed his own son
3.10The barber who killed a beggar

Book 4 Sandhi: Peace[edit]

The fables in Book 4 state that it is always better to seek peace with seven types of people: the truthful, the virtuous, the just, the strong, the victorious, those with many brothers, and the self-destructing worthless.[22] Peace can be achieved, states Hitopadesha, if one examines one's own behavior and one's own seeking as much as that of the opponent, pays attention to the counsel of one's good friends, treats the opponent with respect and understanding that is in tune with the opponent's character, forms one or more of sixteen types of treaties, reciprocal assistance and cooperative ventures between the two sides thereby enabling the pursuit of truth.[23][24]

4.1The geese and the peacocks: part 2
4.2The tortoise and the two geese
4.3The three fishes
4.4The merchant and his artful wife
4.5The boobies and weasel
4.6The mouse and the hermit
4.7The booby and the crab
4.8The Brahmin who broke the pots and pans
4.9The two giants
4.10The Brahmin and his goat
4.11The camel, the crow, the tiger and the jackal
4.12The old serpent and the frogs
4.13The Brahmin and his weasel


The text ends with the following,

May peace forever yield happiness to all the victorious possessors of the earth,
May just men forever be free from adversity, and the fame of those who do good long flourish,
May prudence, like a glorious sun shine continually on your breasts,
May the earth, with all her vast possessions, long remain for your enjoyment.

— Hitopadesa, Translator: Charles Wilkins[25]


The Hitopadesha has been translated into numerous languages. By early 20th-century, its translation in the following Indian languages were known to Indologists:[26]

  • Eastern states of India: Bangla, Odiya
  • Western states: Gujarati
  • Central states: Marathi
  • Northern states: Hindi, Newari, Urdu
  • Southern states: Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu

The text has also been widely translated, with different titles, into non-Indian languages such as Burmese, Khmer, Thai, Malay, Persian, Sinhala, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Spanish and Russian.[26] The most known translations and editions of the text in English have been by Charles Wilkins, Edwin Arnold, Max Muller and Henry Colebrooke.[15]

The Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) commended the work of translating the Hitopadesha to his own minister, Abul Fazl, with the suggestion that the poems which often interrupt the narrative should be abridged. He accordingly put the book into a familiar style and published it with explanations under the title of the Criterion of Wisdom.[citation needed]

The Hitopadesha was also a favourite among the scholars of the British Raj. It was the first Sanskrit book to be printed in the Nagari script, when it was published by William Carey in Serampore in 1803–4, with an introduction by Henry Colebrooke.[27] This was followed by several later editions during the 19th century, including Max Müller's of 1884, which contains an interlinear literal translation.

Much earlier, Sir William Jones encountered the work in 1786 and it was translated into English the following year by Charles Wilkins, who had also made the earliest English translation of the Bhagavad Gita.[28] A later translation by Edwin Arnold, then Principal of Puna College, was published in London in 1861 under the title The Book of Good Counsels.[29]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Max Müller (1884), Book I, Books II,III,IV (alt)
  • Lakshmīnarayaṇa Ṣarman (1830), Hitopadesha by Vishnusarma, English translation with Sanskrit and Bengali versions, Harvard University archives
  • Edwin Arnold (1861), Hitopadesa: The Book of Good Counsels, Columbia University archives
  • Judit Törzsök (2007), “Friendly Advice” and “King Víkrama’s Adventures”, New York University, facing translation as part of the Clay Sanskrit Library series. (The translation of the Hitopadesha is "Friendly Advice", the first part of the book)
Hitopadesha, Nepalese manuscript c. 1800 CE
  1. ^Charles Wilkins (1886), Hitopadesa: Fables and Proverbs, London: George Routledge & Sons, page 27
  2. ^ abcdS Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. ix–xiv. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  3. ^C. R. Snyder; Shane J. Lopez (2001). Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press. pp. 508, 1406. ISBN 978-0-19-028561-6. , Quote: "Hitopadesa (Hindu text)"
  4. ^Kaushik Roy (2012). Hinduism and the Ethics of Warfare in South Asia: From Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-139-57684-0. 
  5. ^Panchatantra: INDIAN LITERATURE, Encyclopaedia Britannica
  6. ^A.N.D.Haksar, Hitopadesa, Penguin, 2006
  7. ^K. Ayyappa Paniker, Indian Narratology, New Delhi, 2003, pp.78-83
  8. ^Judit Törzök, Friendly Advice by Nārāyana and King Vikrama's Adventures, New York University 2007, pp25ff
  9. ^ abcS Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. xii–xiii. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  10. ^Ludwik Sternbach (1960), The Hitopadeśa and its sources, American Oriental Society; Volume 44 of American Oriental Series; Reviewed by George Artola (1961), Journal of the American Oriental Society 81 (2), pages 146-147
  11. ^S Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. xii–xv. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  12. ^S Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  13. ^Friedrich Max Müller (1864). The Hitopadésa, Vol 1. Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green. p. 20. 
  14. ^Charles Wilkins (1886), Hitopadesa: Fables and Proverbs, London: George Routledge & Sons, page 17
  15. ^ abcS Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. ix–x, xvi–xviii. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  16. ^ abcdeCharles Wilkins (1886), Hitopadesa: Fables and Proverbs, London: George Routledge & Sons, pages 15-16
  17. ^Charles Wilkins (1886), Hitopadesa: Fables and Proverbs, London: George Routledge & Sons, pages 29, 96-98
  18. ^S Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. 13–17. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  19. ^Charles Wilkins (1886), Hitopadesa: Fables and Proverbs, London: George Routledge & Sons, pages 99, 150-167
  20. ^S Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. 75–84. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  21. ^Friedrich Max Müller (1865). The Second, Third and Fourth Books of the Hitopadesa. Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green. pp. 60–109. 
  22. ^Friedrich Max Müller (1865). The Second, Third and Fourth Books of the Hitopadesa. Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green. pp. 110–151. 
  23. ^Charles Wilkins (1886), Hitopadesa: Fables and Proverbs, London: George Routledge & Sons, page 227-263, 271-276
  24. ^S Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. 227–230. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  25. ^Charles Wilkins (1886), Hitopadesa: Fables and Proverbs, London: George Routledge & Sons, page 277
  26. ^ abS Narayana; A.N.D. Haksar (Translator) (2005). Hitopadesa. Penguin Books. pp. ix–xi. ISBN 978-93-5118-096-8. 
  27. ^C. R. Lanman (1908), "Notes on the Externals of Indian Books", The Panchatantra: a collection of ancient Hindu tales in the recension, called Panchakhyanaka, and dated 1199 A.D., of the Jaina Monk, Purnabhadra; critically edited in the original Sanskrit, by Johannes Hertel, Harvard Oriental Series, pp. xxii,xxxv 
  28. ^Charles Johnston (November 29, 1925), "In India Too There Lived An Uncle Remus: Ancient Tales of the Panchatantra Now Appear in English", The New York Times, p. BR2 
  29. ^Hitopadesa translated by E. Arnold on the Net


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