Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/386

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called "War" and "Peace" respectively, the main story describing the conflict and reconciliation of the Geese and the Peacocks.

The sententious element is here much more prominent than in the Panchatantra, and the number of verses introduced is often so great as to seriously impede the progress of the prose narrative. These verses, however, abound in wise maxims and fine thoughts. The stanzas dealing with the transitoriness of human life near the end of Book IV. have a peculiarly pensive beauty of their own. The following two may serve as specimens:—

As on the mighty ocean's waves
Two floating logs together come.
And, having met, for ever part:
So briefly joined are living things.
As streams of rivers onward flow,
And never more return again:
So day and night still bear away
The life of every mortal man.

It is uncertain who was the author of the Hitopadeça; nor can anything more definite be said about the date of this compilation than that it is more than 500 years old, as the earliest known MS. of it was written in 1373 A.D.

As both the Panchatantra and the Hitopadeça were originally intended as manuals for the instruction of kings in domestic and foreign policy, they belong to the class of literature which the Hindus call nīti-çāstra, or "Science of Political Ethics." A purely metrical treatise, dealing directly with the principles of policy, is the Nīti-sāra, or "Essence of Conduct," of Kāmandaka, which is one of the sources of the maxims introduced by the author of the Hitopadeça.