The Heetopades of Veeshnoo-Sarma, in a Series of Connected Fables, interspersed with Moral, Prudential, and Political Maxims; Translated from an Ancient Manuscript in the Sanskreet Language. With Explanatory Notes - Charles Wilkins, Vishnu Sharma, Narayana 1787 - R. Cruttwell, Bath - First Edition First edition of the first English translation of the Hitopadesa, (Heetopades), ‘an Indian text in the Sanskrit language consisting of fables with both animal and human characters. It incorporates maxims, worldly wisdom and advice on political affairs in simple, elegant language. Little is known about its origin. The surviving text is believed to be from the 12th-century, and although early Orientalists such as WIlkins attributed it to Vishnu Sharma, it was probably composed by Narayana between 800 to 950 BC. The 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 much earlier.’

While working for the East India Company in Bengal, Charles Wilkins (1749-1836) became one of first Europeans to master the Sanskrit language. He proceeded to set up a printing press in Calcutta to publish works in Sanskrit and other Indian languages, whilst working on translations of the Gita, which was followed by the Heetopades.

‘At once an anthology of folk wisdom and an original and satirical work in its own right, the Hitopadesa has been deeply admired and widely read for more than a thousand years for its humorous and profound reflections on human lives, loves, follies and philosophies’.
  Octavo (binding size 21.8 x 13.8 cm) pp. [2] xx 334 [2]. Bound with half-title.   Bound by Maltby’s of Oxford in full 20th century calf, twin black morocco spine labels lettered in gilt, head of spine and labels tooled in gilt, panels and turn-ins with twin fillet borders in blind, cream endpapers.   Condition: Near fine, with the exception of light foxing to early pages and small stain to upper outer edge of fist few pages not affecting the text, in fine binding.   Ref: 109428   Price: HK$ 5,500