Who was Vidura?
As per the Mahabharata, Vidura was the half-brother to the kings Dhritarashtra and Pandu of Hastinapura, born the son of the sage Vyasa and Sûdri, a lady-in-waiting to the queens Ambika and Ambalika of the city.
Pregnancy with birth defects
A courageous Dasi
Fearing that no such child would be a worthy heir, Satyavati asked Vyasa to grant another son to Ambika. Still fearful of Vyasa, Ambika sent her lady-in-waiting to Vyasa. This dutiful lady was not frightened by Vyasa’s appearance and bore a normal, healthy, son. Thus, Vidura was born.
Life of Vidura
Upon Pandu’s abdication and the blind Dhritarashtra’s succession, Vidura took on the reins of government for all practical purposes, guiding his brother’s government until Duryodhana came of age, when he was consigned to a secondary role.
Eldest of them all?
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.
Protesting against Draupadi’s defamation
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.
Krishna staying at Vidura’s place
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. When Krishna had come to Hastinapura, Duryodhana had presented him with a gracious welcoming committee, with the palace was decorated extravagantly for his arrival. A huge feast was also set up so that Krishna may eat to his heart’s desires and may find what ever it was that he craved to eat. Upon arrival, however and to Duryodhana’s disappointment, Krishna bluntly refused to eat or stay in his chambers for the night.
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. In protest against the Kurukshetra War, Vidura resigned from the post of minister.
After the great battle, Yudhishthira appointed Vidura the prime minister with complete control of the government. However, following the carnage of the war and his own age, Vidura did not have the heart to govern. Soon after, he retired to the forests as an ascetic with Dhritarashtra, and his sisters-in-law Gandhari, and Kunti. He undertook severe penances, and was the first of the royal ascetics to die.
Legacy of Vidura
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.
Vidura-niti, or Vidura’s Statecraft, narrated in the form of a dialogue between Vidura and King Dritrashtra, is considered the precursor in some ways of Chanakyaneeti.
Embodiment of inner consciousness
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.
Relation with Yudhishthra
According to the legend of his birth, it is believed that he was the incarnation of Lord Yamaraj who was cursed by a sage. Yudhishthra was the son of Yamaraja and therefore, in a weird sense, Yudhishthra was the son of Vidura.
Mandavya was a sage, who was wrongly punished by the king by being impaled. This occurred as the chief of a band of robbers had hidden their stolen goods in a corner of his hermitage when he was in deep contemplation, and he was wrongly assumed to have stolen the goods.
Lord Yama gave him this punishment for having tortured birds and bees in his childhood. In response, Mandavya cursed the Dharma, as his punishment exceeded the sins committed as an ignorant child. Therefore he cursed him to be born in the mortal world. He was born as Vidura, the wise, to the servant maid of Ambalika, wife of King Vichitravirya, who offered her to Sage Vyasa in place of Ambalika.
Salute to him
I just love the character of Vidura, as he was more unlucky than even Karna. However, his steadfast devotion won him the love of Lord Krishna.