About the Book:
The scriptures have recorded that Vidura in his previous birth was Dharma Deva the god of Justice himself. Once the great ancient Sage"Mandavya" was wrongly apprehended by the then king's officers as leader of a robber gang who had concealed themselves in his hermitage. He was impaled to a spear by the knig's order.
When the mistake was discovered after two days the sage was released from the punishment still alive on the strength of his great spiritual merit.
The sage went to Dharma Raj and Asked what crime he had committed to deserve the punishment. He was told that as he had tortured birds and bees as a child he got the punishment. The sage was angry and cursed Dharma Raj Saying you shall be born on earth for the inordinately harsh punishment meted out for a child's crime committed in ignorance.
As a result of the curse, Dharma Deva had to be born as Vidura to the palace maid of Vichitra-Virya son of King Santanu the forerunner of Pandavas and Kouravas.
Vidura was so well up in knowledge of Dharma that he was given the appellation of Mahatma for his unparalleled knowledge of Dharma or righteousness and for being devoid of attachment and anger.
He worked as counselor to the king emperor Dhritarastra of Hastina to the satisfaction of al concerned. The maxims selected for the book are from his counsels.
About the Author:
The author retired from the Indian Administrative Service in the year 1972, since then he has engaged himself in the study of various saint poets starting with the famous saint poet Kabir Das of the 15th century.
On Kabir his Works include Life and Philosophy of the Saint Poet in Oriya and translation of five hundred of his couplets in English Verses in three volumes: the first of one hundred published by the Bharatiya vidya Bhavan of Bombay in 1992, the second of three hundred published by Motilal Banarsidass of Delhi in 1991 and the third of one hundred published by Writers Workshop of Calcutta in 1992, followed by Sayings of Kabir published by the same publisher in 1993.
In 1992 he published his translation on one hundred songs of Guru Nanak Dev as Nanak Satak in Oriya and 100 Love Songs of Kabir in English Verse which was published by Abhinav Publications of New Delhi.
In 1994 he published his Oriya Verse translation of the entire Thiru Kural, the immortal work of the Tamil Saint Poet Thiru valluvar, consisting of 1330 couplets in 133 chapters.
In the meantime he has completed his Reading from Bhagabata, being English Verse translation of over 150 Sayings of the famous scripture originally composed by Vyasa Deva and translated into Oriya Verse by Saint Poet Jagannath Das of Pancha Sakh fame.
A person of the quality and calibre of "Mahatma" Vidur, as he was widely known and respected by all connected with the episode of Mahabharata, is a rare personality in an Age. He was thoroughly righteous and pieteous, a rare gem of a person admired and revered by all who came to know of him.
During the Mahabharata period, ranging around the 8th century B.C., roughly after the younger brother Pandu succumbing to curse of Mahamuni, elder brother Dhritarastra, though born blind, ascended the throne of Hastina, Capital of the Kuru dynasty kingdom. Pandu had five sons (Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadev) and Dhritarastra, a hundred sons starting from Duryodhana, Dushasana and ninety eight others. All the 105 Pandava and Kourava brothers had not come of age and they were, therefore, put under the, care of Bhisma, elder father of Pandu and Dhritarastra, who was oath-bound to remain life-long bachelor and never claim any right to the throne of Hastina but protect and look after the growing Pandava and Kourava descendants to the throne.
Apart from Bhisma, the care and guidance of uncle Vidur, who was a half brother to Pandu and Dhritarastra, being son to father of the two, through a palace maid, was also available to both the Pandava and Kourava youngsters. That is also the reason why he was not a claimant to the throne of Hastina for not being a pure Khatriya though all the youngsters of the Pandava and Kourava dynasties regarded him as their well- wisher and adviser.
Of the two branches, Pandavas and Kouravas, Yudhisthira, eldest son of Pandu, was the eldest of all the 105 brothers and being righteous and good natured commanded respect and affection of all the peoples' leaders and relations of both the branches. Yudhisthira himself loved all equally and was righteous to the core for which he had gained the appellation of "Dharmaraaj" or righteousness personified.
But, the eldest of the Kourava brothers, Duryodhana, was envious of the Pandava brothers as he carried the firm conviction that he and the other Kourava brothers being direct descendants of the reigning King Emperor, Dhritarastra, it was he and after him his brothers, by right of their birth, the real descendants to the throne of Hastina and not the Pandava brothers. The claim of the Pandava brothers in this respect, therefore, was not at all admissible and had to be resisted at all cost, if necessary, by warfare, held Duryodhana the eldest Kourava prince.
Bhisma, the grandfather, laid greater emphasis on the then prevailing situation without equal emphasis on the merits of each party by birth, whereas uncle Vidur laid equal emphasis on birth merits as well as the prevailing situation. King Dhritarastra's words in sloka No. 31 under Chapter VIII, in fact, his last words in the series explain this point where he says:
"Although I am of the same view as you are viz. that Pandavas should be given the opportunity to engage themselves in duties of Khatriyas or on Rajadharma, but when I meet Duryodhana the views of Duryodhana supersede mine and so I am not able to stick to my view that the Pandava brothers should be given their due share in the kingdom and rule over that as the Kouravas would rule over theirs."
Neither Bhisma not Vidur should have felt weak to assert his personal viewpoints in the matter. The position of Bhisma, considering his age and prestige, was much stronger but he had not been able to assert as much as even Vidur who held the office of Minister to the Emperor, whereas there was no such constraint on the part of Bhisma. But considering Vidur's position as minister what he has expressed in the maxim slokas is sufficient to indicate as to how far he could, and did go in the matter.
In slokas 127 & 128 of Chapter I, Vidur has said - the five sons born to Raja Pandu have been brought up by Emperor Dhritarastra as his own sons and so by giving them what they rightfully deserve he will live peacefully.
In the slokas following in the Chapter, and other chapters, Vidur has pointed out what would be fair treatment to the Pandava brothers.
It would in the result be seen that due to the weakness of Emperor Dhritarastra he was not able to make Duryodhana accept the correct view in the matter.
And we all know that this state of affairs led to the Mahabharata war of eighteen days in which all the sons of King Dhritarastra fell to the Pandavas' swords. And, Yudhisthira ascended the throne of Hastina after gaining victory in the war. In the end, victory came to the Pandavas who were on the righteous path and the correctness of the maxim "Yato Dharmastho jaya" was established with the help of Shree Krishna, the protector and upholder of the righteous: "Where righteousness is victory is there."
And, in fine it will be just and proper for this piece to emphasis before closing the unexceptionable character of Vidur's solicitousness to establish justice and fair play for the righteous Pandavas to get their due share in the kingdom of Hastina. The maxims have rightly referred to this noble aspect of Vidur's character at many places till in the very last two maxims (Nos. 30-31 of Chapter VIII), King Dhritarastra discloses that he agrees in the views of Vidur on this point, but is unable to bring about its fruition in the episode because of his weakness before Kourava Prince Duryodhana's absurd insistence to grab the whole cake for himself unrighteously and rule out the rightful share of the Pandavas.
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