Divyopadesh (Nepali: दिव्योपदेश, lit.'Divine Counsel;[1]Divine Teachings[2]'), also Divya Upadesh, is a collection of teachings from Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founding monarch of the Kingdom of Nepal, as imparted by him to his courtiers and royal priests, toward the end of his life, around 1774–75.[3] It is also considered autobiographical as it contains accounts of his motivations and actions.[4] It was posthumously published for the first time in book form almost 180 years later, in 1952-53. Other versions of the book, at least one of them with reorganisation of sayings under different categories, have since been published. It is regularly cited by political commentators and politicians as a moral authority on the conduct of people and government, and guidance on domestic and foreign policies.[1][4] The collection of sayings delivered in the old Nepali dialect of the era is also considered to be of literary significance, and has been included in the course syllabus for Master of Arts (Nepali) program of Guwahati University, India. It is also considered the first work of essay of Nepali literature.

Divyopadesh (cropped).png
Cover of the first book edition, 1952
AuthorPrithvi Narayan Shah
Publication date


Divyopadesh is a compound sanskrit word, composed of Divya (transl. divine) and Upadesha(transl. Counsel), which means Divine counsel in Sanskrit as well as a number of derived languages including Nepali. Since Divya is an adjective and Upadesh(a) is a noun, the words are also used without compounding, as Divya Upadesh, without a change in meaning.


Having fallen ill before his death on 11 January 1775,[5] Prithvi Narayan Shah was reportedly distraught at the possibility that his empire would collapse and his work undone, as was likely from examples from history. Therefore, he asked for his courtiers, brothers and cousins, as well as royal priests and scribes to gather, and imparted his final counsel to his successors and the country at large.[6] These messages were imbued with themes of national unity, abhorrence of corruption, greed and political squabbling, as well as advice on the policies to be pursued to keep the neighbouring massive British and Chinese empires at bay. These teachings were jotted down in manuscript form, but were mostly transferred verbally. Around the early 1950s, a worn out manuscript was found in the home of one of the descendants of a prominent noble in Prithvi Narayan Shah's court, and another manuscript was also located in the possession of a descendant of one of the employees of another noble. These manuscripts were reconciled into a single book, edited and published by Baburam Acharya and Yogi Naraharinath in 1952–53.[7][6]

Historians consider the work a late manuscript. The first manuscript is hypothesised to have been written during the reign of either Rajendra Bikram Shah or Rana Bahadur Shah. According to some accounts, the manuscript was untitled when found, and while Baburam Acharya had named it Prithvi Narayan Shahko Vyakhyan, Yogi Naraharinath later named it Divyopadesh.[8]


Shah dubbed Nepal a garden of all tribes and castes, and further instructed the people from different castes to take turns in leading the institutions, and people of different castes to take roles suited for them in governing the country as per Nyayashastras.[1][4]

Nepal is a garden of four castes and thirty-six sub-castes.

— Divyopadesh[2]

He endorsed meritocracy over nepotism.[1] He warned against politicians engaging in lucrative commercial enterprises. He advised military readiness at all times, as well as provisions to take care of the economic needs of military men, as well as the family of the martyred soldiers. He asked that a learned priest should be appointed in all courts to interpret the legal provisions and principles.[4]

Don't allow them (soldiers and peasants) to play favourites and seek bribes, but let them be loyal. …Money collected in the courts must never be used for the palace…

— Divyopadesh[9]

He regarded bribery as the biggest enemy to a just legal system and endorsed harshest punishment.[4]

Both the giver and taker of the bribe is the enemy of the country.

— Divyopadesh[10]

He mentioned that his life's work had been to ensure Nepal's protection from the foreign imperial forces,[6] even though his motivation when he first decided on conquest was his desire to become the ruler of the highly tempting Nepal valley.[8] He instructed the government to be wary of the large neighbouring empires, to act with caution and to maintain a balanced foreign policy. He espoused protectionist policy in trade and industry and warned against incoming international investment, while encouraging the production and export industry.[1][4]


It was posthumously published in book form almost 180 years later, in 1952–53, titled Gorkha Samrat Badamaharaja Shree 5 Prithvi Narayanko Divya Upadesh (transl. Gurkha Emperor His Majesty Shree Five Prithvi Narayan's Divine Counsel).[11] It was published under the title Shree 5 Prithvi Narayan Shahko Upadesh (transl. Shree 5 Prithvi Narayan Shah's Counsel) in 1996–97, and again as Badamaharajadhiraj Prithvi Narayan Shahko Divyopadesh (transl. His Majesty Prithvi Narayan Shah's Divine Counsel) in 2002–03.[11]

Reception and legacyEdit

It is considered as the first work of essay of Nepali literature. It has been included in the course syllabus of Master of Arts (Nepali) of Guwahati University, India.[11]

Some commentators have expressed doubt regarding the authenticity of the accounts that ascribe the work to Prithvi Narayan Shah and have argued that it is more likely a hagiographic attempt to further glorify Prithvi Narayan Shah, and act as a propaganda to further King Mahendra's nationalistic goals, at the expense of marginalised groups in the country.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Dhungel, Prabinn. "Relevance of Divyopadesh". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b Satyal, Poshendra (July 2011). "SHIFTING CONCEPTIONS OF SOCIAL (IN)JUSTICE IN NEPAL". Nepal Journal of Social Science and Public Policy. Nepal Policy Research Network. 1 (1): 49–64.
  3. ^ Subedi, Rajaram (2008). Nepalko Tathya Itihas. Kathmandu. ISBN 978-9993324065.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "पृथ्वीनारायणको दिव्योपदेशमा स्वाधीनता, समावेशिता र सुशासन". Online Khabar. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  5. ^ "के पृथ्वीनारायण शाहलाई 'बाघले खाएको' थियो". 2019-01-11. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  6. ^ a b c Karki, Swayambhunath (2018). "पृथ्वीको आत्मकथा : दिव्योपदेश". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b "दिव्योपदेश र हेगियोग्राफी". ekantipur.com (in Nepali). Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  8. ^ a b Setopati, सुदीप श्रेष्ठ. "दुई इतिहासकारको चार दशक लामो झगडा". Setopati. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  9. ^ Stiller, Ludwig F. (1989). Prithwi Narayan Shah in the light of Divya Upadesh.
  10. ^ Khanal, Dilli Raj; Rajkarnikar, Pushpa Raj; Karki, Bharat Bahadur (2007). Institution Building for Controlling Corruption: A Case Study on the Effectiveness of Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and National Vigilance Center in Nepal (Report). Kathmandu: Institute for Policy Research and Development.
  11. ^ a b c Luintel, Khagendra Prasad, दिव्योपदेशमा वैचारिकता र साहित्यिकता, retrieved 2019-08-27 – via samakalinsahitya.com

Further readingEdit