By Viṣṇuśarman
Translated by Patrick Olivelle

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The king despairs of his idle sons, so he hires a learned brahmin who promises to make their lessons in statecraft unmissable. The lessons are disguised as short stories, featuring mainly animal protagonists. Many of these narratives have traveled across the world, and are known in the West as Aesop’s fables.


There’s no other treasure like giving alms.
No pleasure compares to a content heart.
Is there an adornment like good conduct?
No gain on earth can compare with good health.

If it weren’t for that splendid medicine,
the company of friends,
Is there a man who could endure the loss
of wealth or of loved ones?

Not in mother or wife, brother or son,
Does one find the sort of relaxation
that one finds in a friend.

MITRA—
These two syllables of the word for ‘friend’,*
Who is it that has created this gem?
A shelter against sorrow, grief, and fear,
A vessel of love and trust.’ [95]

562 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-6208-0  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-6208-5  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions, University of Texas. He has also translated Life of the Buddha for the CSL.