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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Mitra literally means ‘the friend’.

Mitra as per Ṛgveda[edit]

Mitra is one of the important deities praised in the Ṛgveda. More often, he is praised along with Varuṇa, another Vedic god. He is one of the twelve Ādityas.[1] He resides in the antarikṣa or sky and gives us rain. He impels the people of the world towards constructive activity. He unites people with mutual love and friendship. He sustains the world, protects it and is capable of bestowing boons.[2]

Mitra in Political Science[edit]

The word ‘mitra’ has been used in a technical sense in political science to indicate an ally of a king. A mitra had to be courted either by sāma[3] or by dāna.[4]

Mitra as per Yogasutras[edit]

While maitrī or an attitude of friendship has been recommended by the Yogasutras[5] as an aid to concentration of mind, the characteristics of a true friend are described as follows:[6]

  • He will prevent you from committing sins.
  • He will encourage you to do good deeds.
  • He will keep your secrets.
  • He will praise your good qualities openly.
  • He will not desert you in your periods of crisis.
  • He will give all the assistance when needed.


  1. Ādityas means the aspects of the Sun-god, Surya.
  2. Ṛgveda 3.59.1, 2 and 7
  3. Sāma means the spirit of reconciliation.
  4. Dāna means the spirit of give and take.
  5. Yogasutras 1.33
  6. Nītiśataka of Bhartṛhari 70
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore