HIKĀYĀT is the title given to the eleven tales, in Persian verse but in Gurmukhī letters, in the Dasam Granth, immediately after the Zafarnāmah. The title 'Hikāyāt' does not occur in the actual text, but most of the tales have a verse, coming after two or three invocational lines in the beginning, which contains the phrase 'hikāyat shunīdem' (we have heard the story of...). Hikāyāt, being the plural of Hikāyat (story, tale), is adopted as the title for these tales.
Each tale is meant to emphasize a moral lesson. The subject matter of the tales is in keeping with the literary taste and style of medieval India and ranges from the romantic and chivalrous to the fantastic and the macabre. Six of these eleven tales are Hindi tales retold in Persian. Hikāyat 4 is Chritra 52 of the Chritropākhyān, where an intrepid rāṇī defeats the obdurate Rājā Subhaṭ Siṅgh in battle in order to marry him. Hikāyat 5 is the Persian version of Chritra 267. Some other stories from Chritropākhyān have likewise found their way into these hikāyāt. All the verses as well as hikāyats are numbered, but hikāyat one is not traceable. The first tale which comes after the Zafarnāmah is numbered two. Some scholars have suggested that Zafarnāmah proper should be treated as hikāyat number one while others give number one to the first four verses occurring at the beginning of hikāyat two. These verses are in praise of God and are mainly in Sanskritized Braj.
The first (tale 2) hikāyat is about a rājā's four sons who were tested for their fitness to rule. The three elder sons were given great wealth which they soon squandered. The youngest son was given some seeds which he planted. From the harvest he was eventually able to build cities like Delhi -- a possible lesson for Emperor Auraṅgzīb and his sons. The Hikāyāt reaches the climax of horror in tale 12, where a Paṭhān woman from fear of her husband kills her lover, cooks him, and serves him up as a special feast to her hungry husband and his friends, thus winning his approval.
C. H. Loehlin