Vidura

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By Swami Harshananda

During the Mahābhārata period, the practice of niyoga or levirate was quite common. Since the King Vicitravīrya died suddenly without issues, the sage Vyāsa as per the command of his mother Satyavatī, raised three children on the two queens Ambā and Ambikā and also Ambikā's maid. Vidura was the maid’s son. Though born of a śudra mother, Vidura was saintly by nature. He proved to be better than Bhīṣma and Droṇa by refusing to fight for the Kauravas since they had transgressed all the limits of dharma. He was said to be born out of an anśa[1] of the glory of Lord Yama, the deity supervising over the death and dharma of the people of this world of mortals.

Throughout his life, he not only observed dharma[2] in his personal life but also taught and warned others about the right path. The following are some of the more important aspects of his life:

  • Warning the Pāndavas in a secret language about the dangers of the palace at Varaṇāvata built of inflammable materials
  • Advising Dhṛtarāṣṭra[3] many times against his conduct of blindly supporting his sons even in unholy acts
  • Entertaining Kṛṣṇa with great devotion in his house when he suddenly appeared after he had arrived in Hastināpura for peace parleys
  • Leaving on a pilgrimage just before the Kurukṣetra war, to avoid taking part in it
  • Departing for the forest along with Dhṛtarāṣṭra and ultimately dying in the forest fire

Viduraniti, the teaching imparted by Vidura to Dhṛtarāṣtra[4] has now become a classic on ethics.


References

  1. Anśa means a part.
  2. Dharma means righteousness.
  3. He was the father of the Kauravas.
  4. Mahābhārata, Udyogaparva Chapters 33-40
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore