Vidura
Vidura (left) with Dhritarashtra
Personal Information
AffiliationKuru dynasty
WeaponSword
FamilyParents see Niyoga
Step-Brothers
SpouseSulabha
(Originally unnamed, but revealled in later retelling)
ChildrenAnuketu (son)
Ambavati (daughter)
RelativesHalf-Cousins see Niyoga
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Vidura (Sanskrit: विदुर, lit. skilled, intelligent or wise) also known as Kshatri is one of the central characters in the Mahabharata, a major Hindu epic. He is described as the prime minister of the Kuru Kingdom and is the paternal uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas.[1]

Life and Legends

Mandavya's Curse

The sage Mandavya cursed Yamaraj that he would be born as a maid's son for getting him impaled without a valid reason. He was born in the mortal world as Vidura.

Birth and early life

Vidura was born through Niyoga between sage Vyasa and Parishrami, a handmaiden to the queens Ambika and Ambalika. When the queens were scared of Vyasa as he was not handsome, they send their maiden in their place. The queens were wives of king Vichitravirya – the grandfather to Kauravas and Pandavas; and the father of Dhritarashtra and Pandu.[2] Barring Krishna, Vidura was most respected as an adviser by the Pandavas, whom he forewarned on various occasions of Duryodhana's plots to exterminate them, such as Duryodhana's plan to burn them alive in the house of wax.[3]

Game of dice

Vidura with Yudhishthira
Vidura with Yudhishthira

Vidura tried to stop Yudhishthira from playing the game of dice, but his efforts were of no use.[4] Except the prince Vikarna, Vidura was the only one who protested against the humiliation of Draupadi in the Kaurava court. In that moment, Duryodhana viciously rebuked Vidura, calling him ungrateful. Dhritarashtra moved to rebuke Duryodhana for insulting their uncle, but, remembering Vidura saying that a blind man cannot be king, holds his tongue, and instead reprimanded Duryodhana for insulting the prime minister.[5][6] It is that incident that Vidura brought up years later when he severed ties with the Kurus and sided with the Pandavas at the onset of the Kurukshetra war. Unlike Bhishma, Dronacharya, Kripacharya, and Karna, Vidura did not have an obligation to Hastinapura or Duryodhana, but to his family. Hearing Dhritarashtra not acknowledge that relationship, Vidura felt compelled to side with dharma and the Pandavas.[7]

Krishna's visit

According to Krishna, Vidura was considered as Dharmaraja, which means the Lord of truth. Krishna respected Vidura for his devotion to people's welfare and his proficiency in every sphere of knowledge. When Krishna visited Hastinapura as a peace emissary of the Pandavas, he shunned Duryodhana's offer to stay in the royal palace, preferring instead the home of Vidura, on account of him being the only neutral man in the Kaurava court. The reason Krishna stayed in Vidura's chambers for the night instead of Duryodhana's is due to the thoughts which were running through their heads and the difference between them. Duryodhana's intention was to heave luxury upon Krishna and convince him to join the Kaurava side. Sensing this intention, Krishna refused. Krishna knew the food that Vidura and his wife presented was presented with love and affection with no ulterior motive.[8]

Kurukshetra War

In the Sanatsujatiya section of the Mahabharata, shortly before the Kurukshetra War began, Vidura invoked the sage Sanatsujata to answer Dhritarashtra's questions about death.

During Krishna's visit, Vidura repeatedly advised everyone in the Court to pay heed to the messenger. Continuously irritated, Duryodhana bursts out, blaming the low-born mother of Vidura as the cause for him betraying the Kauravas who have been feeding him. In protest against verbal assault, Vidura resigned on the spot from the post of Prime minister and broke his bow, vowing not to take part in the Kurukshetra War. Lesser known versions of Mahabharatha praise Vidura as an archer so great that if he had participated on the side of Kauravas in the war, the Pandavas would have been crushed. Vidura's bow was crafted by Vishnu himself, and it was destroyed at behest of Vishnu's visit.

Death

The soul of Vidura entered in the body of Yudhistira
The soul of Vidura entered in the body of Yudhistira

After the Kurukshetra War, Yudhishthira became the emperor and upon his request, Vidura resumed his post as Prime minister. After many years, Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti and Vidura decided to retire and went to the forest to live a simple life. Sanjaya also accompanied them. When Yudhishthira went to forest after two years to visit them, he found Vidura's body to be lifeless. When he went near to it, Vidura's spirit entered Yudhishthira's body and Yudhishthira realised that he and Vidura belonged to same entity, Yama. Yudhishthira left Vidura's body in woods and didn't cremate it as a heavenly voice told Yudhishthira not to cremate Vidura's body.[9][10]

Legacy

Vidura is considered as the Mahachohan in the Theosophical world. Mahachohan is said to be the chief of a Social Hierarchy of the trans-Himalayan mystics. Most characters in the Mahabharata were reincarnations of one God or the other. Vidura was the reincarnation of Dharmaraja, more popularly known as Lord Yamadharmaraja, who was born as a maid's son due to the curse of sage Mandavya.When Lord Vishnu decided to take birth as Lord Krishna, the lesser Gods too, for a ringside view of the action, took birth as someone or the other. It happened both in the Mahabharata as well as in the Ramayana. There in the Ramayana, Narada was born as Vibhishana.[11]

Vidura-niti, or Vidura's Statecraft, narrated in the form of a dialogue between Vidura and King Dhritarashtra, is considered the precursor in some ways of Chanakyaneeti.

Vidura is held to be a paragon of truth, dutifulness, impartial judgement and steadfast dharma. He is considered the embodiment of the inner consciousness of the Mahabharata. The curse carried by Narada was also transferred to Vidura. The curse that though he being bestowed with ultimate knowledge and wisdom about the past, the present and the future, he would not be believed.

Vidur and others

Kaka Vidura, a Hindi minor poem by Rambhadracharya, has Vidura and his wife Sulabha as central characters.

Vidura Bhiksha is a Malayalam poetry work by Ullur S. Parameswarayyar.

See also

References

  1. ^ Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : a comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Robarts – University of Toronto. Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass.
  2. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva: Section CVI". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Lakshagraha of Mahabharat". Nerd's Travel. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  4. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 2: Sabha Parva: Sisupala-badha Parva: Section LXII". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  5. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 2: Sabha Parva: Sisupala-badha Parva: Section LXV". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Mahabharata 4: The Game of Dice". wmblake.com. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Disagreement between Dhritarashtra and Vidura – Vyasa Mahabharata". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Vidura's humility". The Hindu. 11 October 2017. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  9. ^ Menon, Ramesh (July 2006). The Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-40188-8.
  10. ^ Puranic Encyclopedia: a comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature, Vettam Mani, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1975, p. 848.
  11. ^ Parvathi Kumar, K., Wisdom Teachings of Vidura, 1997, Dhanishta