Vidura was half-brother to Dhritarashtra and Pandu. He was a son of a maid-servant who served the queens of Hastinapura. In some accounts, he was an incarnation of Yama or Dharma Raja, who was cursed by the sage, Mandavya, for imposing punishment on him that exceeds the sin. Vidura is held to be a paragon of truth, dutifulness, impartial judgment and steadfast dharma. Viduraneeti, or Vidura’s Statecraft, narrated in the form of a conversation between Vidura and King Dhritarashtra, is considered the precursor in some ways of Chanakyaneeti. Just before the war, when Sanjaya who was sent by Dhritarashtra as a peace envoy to Pandavas returns and admonishes the King for his unreasonable attachment towards his elder son, Dhritarashtra becomes extremely nervous and calls Vidura for advice.
‘O Vidura, Sanjaya has come back. He has gone away after rebuking me. Tomorrow he will deliver, in the midst of the court, Yudhishthira’s message. I have not been able today to ascertain what the message is and therefore, my body is burning, and that has produced sleeplessness. Tell us what may be good for a person that is sleepless and burning. You are well versed in both religion and profit. Filled with anxiety about what he may deliver, all my senses have been disordered. I desire to hear from you words that are beneficial and fraught with high morality.
The advice given by Vidura is known as Vidura-niti and is a great source for wisdom of the highest order. Even after 5000 years, what Vidura said is relevant today and we can apply these principles in our day to day life.
Who is a wise man?
- He whom neither anger nor joy, nor pride, nor false modesty, nor stupefaction, nor vanity, can draw away from the high ends of life, is considered as wise.
- He that is not served from the high ends of life by the aid of self-knowledge, exertion, forbearance and steadiness in virtue, is called wise.
- Adherence to acts, worthy of praise and rejection of what is blameable, faith, and reverence.
- He whose intended acts, and proposed counsels remain concealed from foes, and whose acts become known only after they have been done, is considered wise.
- He whose proposed actions are never obstructed by heat or cold, fear of attachment, prosperity or adversity, is considered wise.
- He whose judgment dissociated from desire, follow both virtue and profit, and who disregarding pleasure choose such ends as are serviceable in both worlds, is considered wise.
- They that exert to the best of their might, and act also to the best of their might, and disregard nothing as insignificant, are called wise.
- He that understands quickly, listens patiently, pursue his objects with judgment and not from desire and spends not his breath on the affairs of others without being asked, is said to possess the foremost mark of wisdom.
- They that do not strive for objects that are unattainable, that do not grieve for what is lost and gone, that do not suffer their minds to be clouded amid calamities, are regarded to possess intellects endued with wisdom.
- He who strives, having commenced anything, till it is completed, who never wastes his time, and who has his soul under control, is regarded wise.
- They that are wise always delight in honest deeds, do what tends to their happiness and prosperity, and never sneer at what is good.
- He who exults not at honours, and grieves not at slights, and remains cool and un-agitated like a lake in the course of Ganga, is reckoned as wise.
- That man who knows the nature of all creatures (viz., that everything is subject to destruction), who is cognisant also of the connections of all acts, and who is proficient in the knowledge of the means that men may resort to (for attaining their objects), is reckoned as wise.
- He, who speaks boldly, can converse on various subjects, knows the science of argumentation, possesses genius, and can interpret the meaning of what is writ in books, is reckoned as wise.
- He whose studies are regulated by reason, and whose reason follows the scriptures, and who never abstains from paying respect to those that are good, is called a wise man.
- The person, having attained immense wealth and prosperity or acquired (vast) learning, do not bear himself haughtily, is reckoned as wise.
- He is a wise person who does not disregard even a weak foe; who proceeds with intelligence in respect of a foe, anxiously watching for an opportunity; who does not desire hostilities with persons stronger than himself; and who displays his prowess in season.
- That illustrious person who does not grieve when a calamity has already come upon him, who exerts with all his senses collected, and who patiently bears misery in season, is certainly is a wise person.
- He who does not live away from hope uselessly, who does not make friends with sinful persons, who never outrages another’s wife, who never betrays arrogance, and who never commits a theft or shows ingratitude or indulge in drinking is a wise man and will always be happy.
- He who bears not malice towards others but is kind to all, who being weak disputes not with others, who speaks not arrogantly, and forgets a quarrel, is wise and will be praised everywhere.
- He who rakes not up old hostilities, who behaves neither arrogantly nor with too much humility, and who even when distressed never commits an improper act, is considered by respectable men a person of good conduct.
- He who exults not at his own happiness, nor delights in another’s misery, and who repents not after having made a gift, is said to be a man of good nature and conduct.
- The intelligent man who relinquishes pride, folly, insolence, sinful acts, disloyalty towards the king, crookedness of behaviour, enmity with many, and also quarrels with men that are drunk, mad and wicked, is the foremost of his species.
- A wise man must eschew the company of these ten who do not know what virtue is
- the intoxicated,
- the raving,
- the fatigued,
- the angry,
- the starving,
- the hasty,
- the covetous,
- the frightened, and
- the lustful.
- That king (manager) who has the following characteristics will attain great prosperity and will be regarded as an authority of all men.
- who renounces lust and anger,
- who bestows wealth upon proper recipients,
- who is discriminating,
- who is learned and active,
- who knows how to inspire confidence in others,
- who inflicts punishment on those whose guilt has been proved,
- who is acquainted with the proper measure of punishment, and
- Who knows when mercy is to be shown.
- He that is not envious and is possessed of wisdom, by always doing what is good, never meets with great misery; on the other hand, he shines everywhere. He that draws wisdom from them that are wise is really learned and wise. And he that is wise, by attending to both virtue and profit, succeeds in attaining to happiness. Do that during the day which may enable you to pass the night in happiness; and do that during eight months of the year which may enable you to pass the season of rains happily. Do that during youth which may ensure a happy old age; and do that during thy whole life here which may enable you to live happily hereafter.
- The wise prize that food which is easily digested, that wife whose youth has passed away, that hero who is victorious and that ascetic whose efforts have been crowned with success.
- The man that is wise, pierced by another’s wordy arrows, sharp-pointed and smarting like fire or the sun, should, even if deeply wounded and burning with pain, bear them patiently remembering that the slanderer’s merits become his.
- Gambling provokes quarrels, therefore, he that is wise, should not resort to it even in jest.
- The man of wisdom should never contract friendship with those that are proud, ignorant, fierce, rash and fallen off from righteousness. He that is grateful, virtuous, truthful, large-hearted, and devoted, and he that hath his senses under control, preserves his dignity, and never forsakes a friend, should be desired for a friend. He that is intelligent should avoid an ignorant person of wicked soul, like a pit whose mouth is covered with grass, for friendship with such a person can never last.