In order to avert the impending war and yet give his sons the kingdom, Dhritarashtra sends his emissary to Yudhishthira with a message not to wage war and continue living in the forest for ever. However the Pandavas did not heed to his request and sends the emissary back with a stern message from all the brothers. Dhritarashtra becomes restless and summons Vidura his half-brother and minister 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.
After intensely listening to Vidura, Dhritarashtra said, ‘If there is anything still left unsaid say it then, as I am ready to listen to you. The discourse is indeed, charming.’
Vidura said, ‘O Dhritarashtra, the ancient and immortal Rishi Sanat-Sujata who, leading a life of perpetual celibacy, will expound to you all the doubts both expressed and unexpressed. Since I am born in the Sudra order and, therefore, do not venture to say more than what I have already said. The understanding of that Rishi, a Brahmin by birth and leading a life of celibacy is regarded by me to be infinite.
Sage Sana kumara was one of the Four Kumaras, the four Manasaputras (mind-born-sons) or spiritual sons of Brahma according to Puranic texts of Hinduism. When the four Kumaras came into existence, they were all embodiments of pure qualities. Upon remembering his name, Sanat kumara appears before them and the discussions between him and Dhritarashtra by way of question and answer session is called Sanat Sujatiya.
Sanat-sujata said, ‘that asceticism which is not stained by faults is said to be capable of procuring emancipation, and is, therefore, successful, while the asceticism that is stained by vanity and want of true devotion is regarded unsuccessful.
‘O king, the twelve, including anger, as also the thirteen kinds of wickedness, are the faults of asceticism that is stained. Anger, lust, avarice, ignorance of right and wrong, discontent, cruelty, malice, vanity, grief, love of pleasure, envy, and speaking ill of others, are generally the faults of human beings. These twelve should always be avoided by men. Any one amongst these can singly effect the destruction of men.
Thirteen Kinds of wickedness are
(1)Assertion of one’s own superiority, (2)desire of enjoying others’ wives, (3)humiliating others from excess of pride, (4)wrathfulness, (5)fickleness, and (6)refusing to maintain those worthy of being maintained, (7)He that regards the gratification of lust to be one of life’s aims, (8) he that is exceedingly proud, (9) he that grieves having given away, (10) he that never spends money, (11) he that persecutes his subjects by exacting hateful taxes, (12) he that delights in the humiliation of others, and (13) he that hates his own wives.
He that succeeds in acquiring these twelve becomes competent to sway the entire earth. (1)Righteousness, (2)truth (abstention from injury and truthfulness of speech), (3)self-restraint, (4)asceticism, (5)delight in the happiness of others, (6)modesty, (7)forbearance, (8)love of others, (9)sacrifices, (10)gifts, (11)perseverance, (12)knowledge of the scriptures.
Self-restraint, renunciation, and knowledge of self, in these are emancipation. Those Brahmans that are endued with wisdom, say, that these are attributes in which truth predominates. Self-restraint is constituted by eighteen virtues.
The eighteen faults (that have been enumerated) constitute what is called mada or pride. Breaches and non-observance of ordained acts and omissions, falsehood, malice, lust, wealth, love of (sensual) pleasure, anger, grief, thirst, avarice, deceit, joy in the misery of others, envy, injuring others, regret, aversion from pious acts, forgetfulness of duty, calumniating others, and vanity-he that is freed from these (eighteen) vices; is said by the righteous to be self-restrained.
Renunciation is of six kinds. ‘The six kinds of renunciation are all commendable. They are these: The first is never experiencing joy on occasions of prosperity. The second is the abandonment of sacrifices, prayers, and pious acts. That which is called the third is the abandonment of desire or withdrawing from the world. Indeed, it is in consequence of this third kind of renunciation of desire, which is evidenced by the abandonment of all objects of enjoyment (without enjoying them) and not their abandonment after having enjoyed them to the fill, nor by abandonment after acquisition, nor by abandonment only after one has become incompetent to enjoy from loss of appetite. The fourth kind of renunciation is: One should not grieve nor suffer his self to be afflicted by grief when one’s actions fail, notwithstanding one’s possession of all the virtues and all kinds of wealth. Or, when anything disagreeable happens, one feels no pain. The fifth kind of renunciation consists in not soliciting even one’s sons, wives, and others that may all be very dear. The sixth kind consists in giving away to a deserving person who solicits, which act of gifts is always productive of merit. By these again, one acquires the knowledge of self.
As regards this last attribute, it involves eight qualities. These are truth, meditation, distinction of subject and object, capacity for drawing inferences, withdrawal from the world, never taking what belong to others, the practices of Brahmacharya vows (abstinence), and non-acceptance (of gifts).
So also the attribute of mada (the opposite of dama or self-restraint) has faults which have all been indicated (in the scriptures). These faults should be avoided. And self-knowledge has eight virtues, so the want of it has eight faults. Those faults should be avoided. He that is liberated from the five senses, mind, the past and the future, becomes happy.
These three, viz., the desire of enjoyments, lust and wrath lead foolish men to death.
Sorrow, anger, covetousness, lust, ignorance, laziness, malice, self-importance, continuous desire of gain, affection, jealousy and evil speech,–these twelve are grave faults that are destructive of men’s lives. Each of these wait for opportunities to seize mankind. Afflicted by them, men lose their senses and commit sinful acts.
These seven are counted as wicked men of sinful habits – on obtaining wealth cannot treat others with courtesy. He that regards sensual gratification as the end of life, he that is self-conceited, he that boasts having made a gift, he that never spends, he that is weak in mind, he that is given to self-admiration, and he that hates his own wife.
‘Mada’ has eighteen faults. They are ill-will towards others, throwing obstacles in the way of virtuous acts, detraction, falsehood in speech, lust, anger, dependence, speaking ill of others, finding out the faults of others for report, waste of wealth, quarrel, insolence, cruelty to living creatures, malice, ignorance, disregard of those that are worthy of regard, loss of the senses of right and wrong, and always seeking to injure others. A wise man, therefore, should not give way to mada, for the accompaniments of mada are censurable.
Friendship is said to possess six indications; firstly, friends delight in the prosperity of friends, and secondly, are distressed at their adversity. If anyone asks for anything which is dear to his heart, but which should not be asked for, a true friend surely gives away even that. Fourthly, a true friend who is of a righteous disposition, when asked, can give away his very prosperity. Fifthly, a friend should not dwell in the house of a friend, on whom he may have bestowed everything, but should enjoy what he earns himself. Sixthly, a friend stops not to sacrifice his own good (for his friend). The man of wealth who seeks to acquire those good qualities, and who becomes charitable and righteous restrains his five senses from their respective objects. Such restraint of the senses is asceticism. When it grows in degree, it is capable of winning regions of bliss hereafter.
These six are the habits of wicked persons – He that is covetous, he that is fierce, he that is harsh of speech, he that is garrulous, he that is given to nursing anger, he that is boastful.