Bhartrihari occupies a prominent place among the ancient poets of Sanskrit literature. He belonged to the eminent tradition of Valmiki, Vyasa, and Kalidasa, the greatest poet and dramatist of Sanskrit literature.
Bhartrihari's output was not very large, but it had a brilliant quality of thought and imagination. He wrote prose as well as verse as it pleased him. But all his writing is pithy, compact and original in imagery. There is a remarkable depth in his thinking on subjects as diverse as polity in a civilized society, erotica and total renunciation. He has an admirably sharp and penetrating wit.
In Nitishatakam he deals with the themes of civic polity, a king's duties towards his subjects, the importance of education in society, the value that ought to be placed on the poets, the philosophers, the savants, the relationship between parents and their children, between husbands and wives and between friends.
Nitishatakam is a book of manners for kings and commoners alike, for the learned the idiots, for the prosperous and the paupers and for the wise and the fools. The advice given Nitishatakam is as relevant today as it was when the book was written. Bhartrihari asserts the supremacy of learning over kingly power and wealth. In Nitishatakam the poet stands taller than the king and has to the guts to tell the king to mind his own business.