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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Hitopadeśa literally means ‘salutary instructions’.


Didactic compositions are a special feature of Sanskrit literature. Two well-known works of such a type are:

  1. Pañcatantra of Viṣṇuśarma
  2. Hitopadeśa of Nārāyaṇa, a court pundit of the king Dhavalacandra of Bengal


King Sudarśana was worried by the lack of education and culture and indecent behavior of his sons. Nārāyaṇa promised to educate them in six months and achieved it. The Hitopadeśa was the result of this. The Hitopadeśa contains a number of new tales and fables, including edifying stories, tales of intrigue and even fairy tales. It always aimed at teaching some great value, useful to life. It contains many maxims and proverb-like statements. The work has been very popular over the centuries and retains that position even now. It has been translated into thirteen foreign languages.


The Hitopadeśa is a collection of fables and tales in prose and poetry. It has borrowed the material partly from the Pañcatantra and partly from the Kāmandakiya Nītiśāstra. It has four chapters:

  1. Mitralābhah - ‘The winning of friends
  2. Suhrdbhedah - ‘The breaking up of friendship’
  3. Vigrahah - ‘War’
  4. Sandhi - ‘peace’


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore