Mahabharata Stories: 36 – Vidura Neeti (Part 1)

The Law of Dharma – 1

Wisdom is hard to come by. Though all of us have the experience of a lifetime, most of us do not successfully learn through our experiences, unless they are extreme. We rely on wisdom of age and thinking that are handed down from generation to generation. How well we grasp and assimilate these ideas determines how wise we tend to become.

Sanjaya returned from his mission to Matsya and told Dhritarashtra: Yudhishtira sends you his respects. The Pandavas and Krishna are well and live in righteousness. You, who are unrighteous and sinful, put me to embarrassment. I am tired and I shall give his reply in court tomorrow. I take my leave now.

Dhritarashtra, much disturbed by this, was unable to sleep a wink. He sent for Vidura and told him what had just taken place and said: You are my only friend and have loved me despite my faults. Please make me sleep.

Vidura said: Five types of people cannot sleep – one who lusts after another man’s wife, a thief, one who has lost or thinks he would lose all his wealth, an unsuccessful man, an oppressed man. Surely avarice and greed are not to be found in you!

vidura

Dhritarashtra wrenched at the insight and unusual cynicism in his brother’s voice. Again, he asked him to help him sleep. Vidura said: You have not been able to sleep for so many years! Right from when the Pandavas were sent to the forest, nay right from Duryodhana’s birth when you knew that he was not destined to rule. Jealousy has been the prime occupant in your heart. You ask me how you can sleep. Right now, if you return to the Pandavas what is theirs by right, you can sleep like a child. You are not wise; you are foolish!

Dhritarashtra asked: Dear brother, tell me the qualities of a wise and a foolish man.

Vidura said: Listen carefully. A wise king should use the ONE to discriminate the TWO; control the THREE using the FOUR; conquer the FIVE; know the SIX; abstain from the SEVEN.

ONE means the intellect; TWO stands for right and wrong; THREE means friend, enemy and stranger; FOUR means gift, appeasement, estrangement and severity; FIVE are the senses; SIX are the different relationships between kingdoms – war, treaty etc.; SEVEN are the greatest vices – women, dice, hunting, harsh speech, drinking, severe punitive acts and wasting wealth.

A king can then be happy. Poison and weapon can kill only one man but wicked counsel destroys a whole kingdom. The highest good is RIGHTEOUSNESS; the supreme peace is FORGIVENESS; supreme contentment is KNOWLEDGE; supreme happiness is BENEVOLENCE.

A king can become great by doing two things – refraining from harsh speech and avoiding the wicked.

Three crimes are considered terrible – theft, wrath of another man’s wife, breaking the trust of friendship. Three things destroy the soul – lust, anger and covetousness. Three are essential and should be protected – a follower, one seeking protection and one that has come to your abode.

A king should ever avoid these four – men of small sense, men that procrastinate, indolent men and flatterers.

Here, we pause to ponder awhile…

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