Vidura Neeti

One man’s decision not to fight changed the prospects of the Mahabharata war.

Among the important personalities whose conduct changed the course of events in the Mahabharata war was Vidura, a superhuman and highly intellectual being. A steps-brother of Dhritarashtra, the Kaurava king, and Pandu, father of the Pandavas, he was a man of immense learning and a powerful archer. He possessed the Brahma Dhanus (bow of Brahma). It could be said that even Drona and Arjuna were no match for him in the special skills of archery.

Vidura was a man of justice and was preparing a code of laws for righteous and successful life, known as Vidura Neeti. He was adviser in the courts of Dhritarashtra, respected by all, including Dhritarashtra and Pandu. However in their ignorance Duryodhana and his brothers treated him with contempt and now to his birth. (Vidura was born to a low caste woman.)

Scene of Justice

Though Dhritarashtra was reasonable, he was often blinded by love for his own sons and at such times it was Vidura who fought for justice and advised his brother accordingly. It was he who helped the Pandavas with clues for escape from the lac palace, which was set on fire by Duryodhana. He was the only person to condemn the action of Duryodhana when Draupati, wife of the Pandavas, was insulted in the open court immediately after the Pandavas were defeated in the game of dice.

Vidura was fully convinced that to support unrighteousness acts or to keep silent in the face of injustice is a sin to be punished as severely as one who is performing such acts. He was one of the few who realized that Lord Krishna was the manifestation of Lord Vishnu to establish dharma. So he was devoted to Krishna.

A very significant event took place when Krishna went to the court of Duryodhana as a messenger of the Pandavas seeking their share of the kingdom after honouring all the conditions set by Duryodhana when they were defeated in the dice game. Duryodhana had made elaborate arrangements to receive and accommodate Krishna as a Rajdoot (royal messenger). However, Krishna knew the course events would take and was reluctant to accept his hospitality. Hence he cleverly strategised his role.

When Krishna reached Hastinapur, Duryodhana received him with all pomp and show and requested him to come and stay in his palace in all comfort. However, sensing Krishna’s thoughts, Vidura said, “My Lord, you have a house in Hastinapur. Why do you not stay there?” Krishna understood the significance. Vidura was referred to his own house as that of Krishna.

Krishna cleverly told Duryodhana that as a messenger of the Pandavas it was not proper for him to accept his hospitality till the peace talks were successful. Duryodhana was disappointed and his anger against Vidura intensified.

Love Alone Matters

Krishna accepted the warm and genuine hospitality of Vidura and stayed with him. After dinner at night, while all were talking, Vidura and his wife offered bananas to the guest. Vidura was peeling the bananas one by one. But, absorbed totally in the course of the conversation, Vidhudra did not notice that he was throwing the fruits away and offering the peel to Krishna, who also, without noticing, was eating them. Only a little while later Vidura’s wife noticed this and hastily cautioned her husband. Vidura was ashamed and wept in despair for what he had done.

Krishna, however, consoled him and said, “O Vidura do not despair I never attach importance to what is given. (Did he not sportively accept the pounded rice which Kuchela hesitantly offered?) I respect only the love and affection with which it is offered. Your devotion is deep and sincere.”

Tirade of Abuse

That night everybody in Hastinapur had a sound sleep, except two. Duryodhana spent a sleepless night, worrying whether Krishna and Vidura were conspiring against him. Krishna was planning how to render justice to the Pandavas and punished the evil-doers.

The next day Duryodhana came to the durbar carrying ill-feelings and hatred for Vidura. Forgetting that Vidura was an elder in the family and his own paternal uncle, he launched a tirade against the letter as a betrayer who indulged in a conspiracy with Krishna to help the Pandavas and destroy the Kauravas.

He said Vidura was an ungrateful person with criminal thoughts. Dhritarashtra, Bhishma and all elderly persons present there were stunned. They tried to pacify Duryodhana, but he was violent and aggressive. He used the cruelest words against Vidura referring to his birth and said that while his belly was depending on the royal food of Duryodhana, his heart was beating with love for the Pandavas.

This was too much for Vidura. Immediately he burst out like thunder, taking out his bow and arrow, aiming at Duryodhana. But Krishna cleverly intervened and played a trick. Turning towards Duryodhana, he said, “O Kaurava king, do not provoke Vidura like this. If you do, he might break his bow and declare that he will not fight on your side and would be neutral.”

Duryodhana, however, was still indignant and arrogant and said it did not matter if Vidura decided against fighting. “Without him, I (Duryodhana) can win the war if it comes that.”

Dramatic Decision

Vidura was unable to digest any further insult. He declared, “Krishna, you guided me on the right path and reminded me of my power of archery. This bow of Brahma, which can bend and shoot arrows like a whirlwind and destroy thousands of enemies will bend for the last time now to prove that I am not ungrateful. I will fight no more.” So saying, he strung his bow and broke it with a thunderous noise accompanied by a flash of lightning,

Vidura thanked Krishna and walked out of the durbar. Krishna had achieved his purpose.

Great warriors, such as Bhishma and Drona, were stunned. For, they knew that if a war was waged, Duryodhana could not win it without Vidura’s help. Such was his power.

Thus, Krishna paved the way for the Pandavas’ victory and Vidura proved himself as a staunch follower of his own doctrines Vidura Neeti.

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