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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Nitisastra, NitiZAstra, Nitishaastra

Nitiśāstra literally means ‘the science of moral values or ethics’.

Since nīti[1] had always been treated as a part and parcel of dharma[2] and darśana[3] it has never been construed or presented as an independent branch of knowledge. Though every darśana has prescribed its own modes of spiritual practice, the nīti part of it is almost the same. The ten sāmānya-dharmas or the first two steps[4] of the aṣṭāṅgayoga of Patañjali[5] can epitomize the Nītiśāstra.


  1. Nīti means moral values, code of conduct.
  2. Dharma means righteousness.
  3. Darśana means philosophical system.
  4. These steps are yama and niyama.
  5. He lived in 200 B. C.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore