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Mahabharat Chapter 5 - Story of Vidura

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Vichitravirya married Ambika and Ambalika while Amba; enraged at her plight went on to become Shikhandi.

Unfortunately shortly after the marriage, Vichitravirya died heir less. Satyavaty sent for Rishi Vyasa to help Ambika and Ambalika have children through his yogic powers. Rishi Vyasa was in the middle of Ugra Tapasya and therefore had a very Ugra (terrible, frightening) appearance. He fore warned Satyavaty that now was the right time for him to help. However, Satyavaty was eager and insisted on Rishi Vyasa to come. Ambika was the first one to go. She was so frightened at Vyasa’s appearance that she closed her eyes. Rishi Vyasa told Satyavaty that the child of Ambika would be blind since she closed her eyes. Dhritarashtra was born to Ambika and he was blind from birth.

Satyavaty sent Ambalika and warned her to be calm and not close her eyes. Ambalika turned pale due to fear. Vyasa told Satyavaty a sickly child will be born and due to his health will not be fit enough to rule. When this child was born he became known as Pandu. Vyasa told Satyavaty to send one of them so that a healthy child may be born. Both Ambika and Ambalika did not want to go so they sent a maid instead. The maid was calm and composed during the yogic process. The child born was named Vidura who was the incarnation of Dharma. This is how Dharma came on earth as a mortal.

Sage Mandavya spent his days in long penance and meditations. One day he was under the mauna vrata and deep in meditation, a group of robbers came to his hermitage. They had stolen from the King’s palace and were being chased by the King’s soldiers. They entered the hermitage and saw Rishi Mandavya in deep meditation oblivious to what was happening. They hid the loot in his hut and ran away. A little while later, the soldiers came there and asked Rishi Mandavya if he had seen any robbers. Rishi Mandavya was out of his meditation by now but could not speak due to his mauna vrata. And also, he was oblivious to what had happened and did not know anything. The soldiers rushed in and saw the loot. The commander of the soldiers took the loot and went to the king. “I have found the chief of the robbers and the loot. The robber is wearing the garb of a Brahmin sage and pretending to be in mauna vrata.” Instead of verifying the facts, the King issued orders for Sage Mandavya to be speared. The commander speared the sage and hung him by the tree.

The virtuous Sage Mandavya did not die due to his yogic powers. Sages living around his hermitage soon got to know about what had happened and came to Sage Mandavya’s hermitage. They brought him down and asked him what had happened and who was to blame. “Who do I blame, the soldiers for carrying out the orders or the King for getting the facts wrong?”

The King soon came to know about his mistake and rushed to Sage Mandavya’s hermitage to beg for forgiveness. Sage Mandavya was not angry on the king. He went to Dharma and asked “I have led a pious and virtuous life, yet I was subject to his punishment. What did I do wrong that I was punished thus?”

“You have tortured birds and bees. It is law of Karma. Any bad or evil deed will beget bad or evil.” replied Dharma.

“When did I torture birds and bees?”asked Mandavya

“You tortured the birds and bees as a child,” replied Dharma.

Sage Mandavya was incensed, “Dharma, your punishment far exceeds the sins committed as a child in ignorance. I am cursing you to be born in the mortal world.”

Lord Dharma who was thus cursed by the sage Mandavya incarnated as Vidura and was born of the servant-maid of Ambalika, the wife of Vichitravirya.

This story is intended to show that Vidura was the incarnation of Dharma. The great men of the world regarded Vidura as a mahatma who was unparalleled in his knowledge of dharma, sastras and statesmanship and was totally devoid of attachment and anger. Bhishma appointed him, while he was still in his teens, as the chief counselor of king Dhritarashtra.

Vyasa has it that no one in the three worlds could equal Vidura in virtue and knowledge. When Dhritarashtra gave his, permission for the game of dice, Vidura fell at his feet and protested solemnly: "O king and lord, I cannot approve of this action. Strife will set in among your sons as a result. Pray, do not allow this."

Dhritarashtra also tried in manly ways to dissuade his wicked son. He said to him: "Do not proceed with this game. Vidura does not approve of it, the wise Vidura of lofty intellect who is ever intent on our welfare. He says the game is bound to result in a fierceness of hate which will consume us and our kingdom."

But Duryodhana did not heed this advice. Carried away by his doting fondness for his son, Dhritarashtra surrendered his better judgment and sent to Yudhishthira the fateful invitation to the game.

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