‘Vidura Niti, The Policy Of Vidura’

‘Vidura Niti, The Policy Of Vidura’


Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Srimad Bhagavatam, third Canto, chapter one, text ten. This chapter is entitled as ‘Questions by Vidura.’ Text ten:
yadopahuto bhavanam pravishto
mantraya prishtah kila purvajena
athaha tan mantra-drisam variyan
yan mantrino vaidurikam vadanti

yada — when; upahutah — was called by; bhavanam — the palace; pravishtah — entered; mantraya — for consultation; prishtah — asked by; kila — of course; purvajena — by the elder brother; atha — thus; aha — said; tat — that; mantra — advice; drisam — just suitable; variyan — excellent; yat — that which; mantrinah — the ministers of state, or expert politicians; vaidurikam — instructions by Vidura; vadanti — do they say.

When Vidura was invited by his elder brother [Dhritarashtra] for consultation, he entered the house and gave instructions which were exactly to the point. His advice is well known, and instructions by Vidura are approved by expert ministers of state.

Political suggestions by Vidura are known as expert, just as, in modern times, Pandita Canakya is considered the authority in good counsel in both political and moral instructions.
[End of Purport]

Om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-shalakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-guruve namaha

sri-caitanya-mano ‘bhishtam sthapitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kada mahyam dadati sva-padantikam

vande ‘ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaishnavams ca
sri-rupam sagrajatam saha-gana-raghunathanvitam tam sa-jivam
sadvaitam savadhutam parijana-sahitam krishna-caitanya-devam
sri-radha-krishna-padan saha-gana-lalita-sri-vishakhanvitams ca

he krishna karuna-sindho dina bandho jagat pate
gopesa gopika-kanta radha-kanta namo ‘stu te

tapta-kancana-gaurangi radhe vrindavanesvari
vrisabhanu-sute devi pranamami hari-priye

vanca-kalpatarubhyas ca kripa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo vaisnavebhyo namo namaha

sri krishna caitanya prabhu nityananda
sri advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

yadopahuto bhavanam pravishto
mantraya prishtah kila purvajena
athaha tan mantra-drisam variyan
yan mantrino vaidurikam vadanti
When Vidura was invited by his elder brother [Dhritarashtra] for consultation, he entered the house and gave instructions which were exactly to the point. His advice is well known, and instructions by Vidura are approved by expert ministers of state.

Parikshit Maharaja asked Sukadeva Gosvami to tell him about Vidura, what happened to Vidura especially when he met with Maitreya Rishi. Vidura left the palace being insulted by Duryodhana.  So he just left. When he saw that the battle of Kurukshetra was inevitable he tried to give Dhrtarashtra and his sons some good advice. But they not only totally disregarded his instructions but he actually drove him out of the house, insulted him and he just left. But this incidence of course was a little before that. This incidence with Vidura took place when Sanjaya was sent to Yudhisthira Maharaja with a message from Dhrtarashtra. Actually, Yudhisthira Maharaja sent his messenger, his priest, the brahmana, with the message that, “Look, we had always been on the path of righteousness. We never wanted anything that doesn’t belong to us. When we were defeated in the game of dice then we relinquished our kingdom and went to the forest for twelve years and one year we were supposed to be incognito, and after that period, now that we have come back, so please give us our kingdom back. Otherwise the war will become inevitable and that war is not going to be very pleasant, because there will be so many kings, so many monarchs, so many soldiers will die. And on top of everything it is a feud between our family members so it is not desirable at all. Please, try to avert the war and establish peace.”

So when this messenger came to Dhrtarashtra Bhishma spoke very strongly that, “No, give the kingdom back. It is their rightful kingdom, give the kingdom back.”  But then Radheya (Karna) interfered, and he just kept on emphasizing that, “No way that we are going to give the kingdom back. Duryodhana shouldn’t give the kingdom back. It is his kingdom and they should go back to the forest again.” How many of you read Mahabharata? Like I was wondering how far back I should go. How many of you read Mahabharata? Raise your hands. How many of you did not read Mahabharata? Raise your hand. Oh! How many of you have seen Mahabharata? [laughs] Okay! At least one good thing that the TV is doing. But read Mahabharata. It is a beautiful book. Remember, Bhagavad Gita is a part of Mahabharata. To properly understand Bhagavad Gita we have to understand Mahabharata. Like, what actually brought it to that situation, when the war became inevitable? Why Krishna forced Arjuna to fight? Because before that all kinds of endeavor were made, all kinds of effort were made to avert the war, to avoid the war. But when all failed then they had to assemble in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and at that time Arjuna became weak. So Krishna couldn’t tolerate that. So that’s why Krishna actually gave that advice to Arjuna.

So anyway, it seems that I have to go really deep into explaining the background. [Laughs] Okay, so Dhrtarashtra. You see, the Pandavas lost the game of dice. It was actually a treacherous game of dice, played by Shakuni who was a wizard.

[Altar curtains close] Jaya Sri Sri Krishna Balarama ki jaya! Jaya Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohana ki jaya! Jaya Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki jaya!
Shakuni was a wizard and Yudhisthira Maharaja was not such an expert in the game of dice, but he was actually very fond of playing dice. Another thing is, when a kshatriya is challenged to fight or to a game of dice, a kshatriya cannot refuse. It will be considered cowardice, an act of cowardice. So that’s why Yudhisthira Maharaja was forced to play the game of dice and he lost. He lost everything. As you know, then finally he lost Draupadi. He didn’t have anything else to stake and he finally staked Draupadi, and then he lost Draupadi. So Draupadi was dragged by her hair by Dushasana to the court and Duryodhana instructed to strip her in that assembly. And as you all know, at that time what did Draupadi do? Draupadi just took shelter of Krishna, and Krishna protected Draupadi. He kept on supplying never ending cloth. In one hand Dushasana was pulling her cloth and Krishna was supplying the cloth. And finally Dushasana became completely exhausted and he gave up.

So in this way Krishna actually saved the honor of Draupadi. And at that time everyone became very worried and the elders started to advice that better you give the kingdom back, and Dhrtarashtra gave the kingdom back, gave everything back. But then Duryodhana again said, “Let us have a last game.” And after they got everything back, so the condition was, if they lose then for twelve years they will go to the forest and one year they have to be incognito. And if anybody recognizes them during that one year then this condition will repeat; another twelve years they have to go to the forest. So anyway, they accepted that. They left everything. Along with Draupadi they went to the forest, the five brothers. And then, when they were in the forest, then Duryodhana came to insult them with the whole army. They wanted to harass the Pandavas in the forest. And at that time there was a Gandharva called Citrasena, he attacked Duryodhana and he defeated the army and he captivated Duryodhana along with the ladies of the Kuru family. They also were there. They thought that they would display their opulence and insult the Pandavas in the forest: “Look how you are living and how we are living.” So then the Gandharvas took Duryodhana, his brothers and the queens into captivity and at that time some of the soldiers who escaped, they went to Yudhisthira Maharaja and told that this is what has happened. So then Yudhisthira Maharaja told Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva to go and rescue them. At first, naturally, they were not interested to rescue them. They said, “Why? It has been right that they have been paid back in the right way for their sinful activities.” But Yudhisthira Maharaja insisted, “No, you go. Rescue your brothers. After all, it is a matter of our own family. When our women are disgraced in this way, it will not be appropriate for our glorious family.” And being instructed by Yudhisthira Maharaja they all went and fought with the Gandharvas, and they defeated the Gandharvas. And then finally, it turned out that Citrasena came into the scene, Citrasena, the king of the Gandharvas. And Citrasena was actually a friend of Arjuna. So Arjuna told Citrasena that, “Look, release them.”Then Citrasena told him that, “Look, Arjuna, you want to release them. Do you know how rascal these people are? This is what they are trying to do and you are being so generous to them. Don’t show any mercy to these people.” Then Arjuna repeated what Yudhisthira Maharaja said that, “The disgrace to the family will ultimately going to blemish the reputation of our family, our dynasty.” So Citrasena let them go and at that time, because Duryodhana was rescued by Arjuna and Bhima and Nakula and Sahadeva, they were defeated by the Gandharvas, but Arjuna, just four of them, they were defeated by the Gandharvas, but the Gandharvas that defeated them, now four of them defeated the Gandharvas with their entire army.

So Duryodhana decided to give up his life in prayopavesan. He sat down on kusa grass, decided to give up his body not eating or drinking, just sitting down he wanted to give up his body. So at that time Karna tried to make him understand, and Dushasana tried to make him understand. Duryodhana made Dushasana the crown prince. He said, “You become the next king.” And he wanted to give up his body. So when they failed, then the demons from the lower planetary systems they actually came. They actually took Duryodhana to the Asuraloka, the place where the demons live. And they told about the whole plan that, “Look, you are our only hope, and if you die then we won’t have any hope. The Pandavas are the strength of the demigods and you are the strength of the demons.” And they forecasted all that they would do. They forecasted that the Pandavas will die and so forth. And they also said that the demons will possess Bhishma and he will fight with the Pandavas in a very, very cruel way. He won’t hesitate to kill the Pandavas and so forth. Bhishma will be possessed by the demons; Dronacarya will be possessed by demons, and so forth. But ‘rakhe Krishna mare khe’: when Krishna protects who can kill? So according to the demoniac calculation, according to astrology it may have been the case that the Pandavas would lose the battle and the Kauravas will win, that may have been the astrological reading, but Krishna can make all kinds of adjustments because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And for the sake of His devotees He will do anything. And when Krishna and His devotees are together no one can defeat them.

Then Duryodhana actually came back to his evil senses and he went back. But then the period began when they were supposed to be incognito. No one could be able to recognize them. If one of the brothers would be recognized then the condition would repeat. And Duryodhana thought that they are so illustrious, they are so famous that wherever they go people will recognize them. Because Arjuna is such a warrior, his actions will reveal his identity, and what to speak of their appearance. But Arjuna had a curse that for one year he would lose his manhood. So Arjuna became a eunuch for one year. Urvashi actually cursed Arjuna that for one year he would lose his manhood and Arjuna took that opportunity at that time, took that curse, accepted that curse at that time when they were in hiding. And they all went to Virata’s kingdom, Matsya Desa, and they took different occupations. Yudhisthira was an expert dice player. Bhima was a cook. Arjuna, he took the role of a woman. He became the dance teacher of the princess, of Drupada’s [Virata’s] daughters, and Nakula and Sahadeva became the stable boys, taking care of the horses and the stable. And Draupadi became a sairandhri. She was the maidservant of the queen. Maidservant means associate of the queen.

So in this way they were staying in the palace of Virata. And then the Pandavas, when Virata was away, fighting with some other king, then the Kauravas took advantage of that opportunity and attacked Virata’s kingdom. And Virata had a very illustrious goshala, so they wanted to steal all the cows of Virata. So there was nobody. All the soldiers were gone practically. So who would fight with such a vast army? And Virata’s son, he was just a young boy, but a kshatriya after all, he started to say, “I will take care of them.” He said that, “Only if I had a charioteer I could teach them a lesson.” Then Arjuna said that, he was a woman actually, he said, “Look, I can drive the chariot, so I can drive your chariot. So let’s go and face them.” But when he saw the army, the prince saw the army, he fainted. [Laughter] It looked like an ocean. Then Arjuna said, “Look, you ride the chariot and let me fight.” So he went and where he kept the weapons, he went there and got the weapons. It was on a Shalmali tree, a big tree. He kept the weapons on top of a tree. He went and collected those weapons and he came back. And the first arrow he shot fell at Bhishma’s feet. In this way he offered his obeisances to Bhishma and then he started the fight and he defeated the whole army. Arjuna alone, he defeated the entire army. So when they came back to their senses then, Arjuna did not actually fight them, he just put them on to sleep. He had defeated them because he put them to sleep and then he could have slaughtered them but he didn’t do that. Then they came back to their senses. Everybody was very ashamed but Radheya (Karna) actually pointed out, “We have to rejoice. It’s an occasion for rejoice. This is Arjuna! This is Arjuna and now we have recognized him, and now the term will repeat. For twelve years they have to go to the forest again.” But then Bhishma made the calculation. He said that, “Karna, bad luck! [Laughter] Because the time, one year has just been completed.” But Karna was contesting that.

Anyway, so then the Pandavas came back and they claimed, as you know, the kingdom. So Karna’s point was that, “You better go back to the forest because we recognized you, and this was the condition that if you are recognized…” It was probably just a matter of a few seconds or a few minutes. So Karna was contesting but others could recognize that, “No, the one year was already completed.” So this is how Krishna actually arranges the scene, arranges the drama.

When Yudhisthira Maharaja sent his messenger, he tried. Duryodhana was adamant that he was going to fight. So then he sent his messenger, agent or ‘duta’, ambassador, with a message that, “We don’t want to fight. When we lost in the game of dice we honored that condition. So now, please give us our kingdom back and let’s avoid this war.” Bhishma agreed to that proposal but Karna was against that and he said that they should go back to the forest for another twelve years. At that time Duryodhana also said, “Yes, there is no compromise. We are not going to give the kingdom back.” They sent the messenger. Dhrtarashtra finally told, actually Bhishma became very strong. Actually, Bhishma and Karna, Bhishma just couldn’t tolerate this person and Karna also could not tolerate Bhishma. They had a very strong feeling towards each other. Because Bhishma saw that Karna was an evil character. He was just always giving bad council to Duryodhana. Duryodhana was bad but he became worse in the association of Karna. So that’s why, when the battle started and Duryodhana wanted Bhishma to be the general, Bhishma’s condition was that Karna should not be in the battle. He said, “My condition is that Karna should not be in the battle.” And he said that, “I have equal affection for you. The kind of affection I have for you, I have the same kind of affection for the Pandavas, and so in the battle I will not kill the Pandavas. But every day I will slaughter, I will kill ten thousand soldiers.” That was Bhishma’s condition. Duryodhana became furious when Karna was insulted in this way, but Karna said, “Look, let’s accept that. I will come to the battle when Bhishma is dead.” So that was the condition.

So Bhishma actually started to chastise Karna at that time that, “You are such a crooked minded person, evil minded person. Don’t you remember? You are bragging that you will defeat the Pandavas, just remember what happened to you when the Gandharvas attacked. You ran away! And similarly, during the battle of Virata, Arjuna defeated all of you alone. And you are bragging that you are going to kill Arjuna and the Pandavas?! Forget it! Your body will be the food for the vultures. Don’t worry. Vultures and dogs will eat your body if you don’t surrender to the Pandavas. They are not asking anything unfair. All they are asking is completely just! It is their rightful kingdom. They honored the condition. They went to the forest for twelve years. They went incognito for one year.”

So when Bhishma started to chastise like that, then Dhrtarashtra said that, “Okay, you told the messenger that you go back. I will send our messenger; I will send Sanjaya after consulting among ourselves.” So Sanjaya then went to Yudhisthira Maharaja. At that time all were assembled there because the battle was about to be fought. Krishna was there, Virata was there, Drupada was there, Dristadyumna was there, Shikhandi was there, Abhimanyu was there, and then Satyaki was there. In that assembly Sanjaya just came and the proposal that Sanjaya brought was completely ridiculous. Dhrtarashtra is appealing to Yudhisthira that, “Look, you are so generous and time and time again you have forgiven us, so please don’t fight the battle. Go back to the forest and live the rest of your life in the forest and let us enjoy this kingdom with my sons.” Everyone became furious.

[altar curtains open] Jaya Sri Sri Krishna Balarama ki jaya! Jaya Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohana ki jaya! Jaya Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki jaya!
So Sanjaya actually was a very noble person, but the duty of a messenger is to go and repeat what he has been asked to say. He is completely neutral. He is something like a tape recorder. Like he goes and plays the tape. The memory, as you know, used to be so sharp during those days, especially the noble people, brahmanas used to have such sharp memory that they used to remember everything that was spoken. They would hear once and they would keep it in their tape recorder, in the brain. And they would repeat in exactly the way it has been spoken. So Sanjaya repeated, but Sanjaya didn’t like that job. He was Dhrtarashtra’s secretary so when Dhrtarashtra sent him, he had to accept that role and he went and said, but he himself did not like it a little bit.
So, I’ll just read from that part. What has been mentioned here is actually very interesting, very important also. It is known as ‘Vidura Niti’, the Policy of Vidura. And it has been mentioned in that verse also that this has been accepted by the ministers of the state. All the noble people have accepted these instructions of Vidura.
So, do you want to hear from Mahabharata? [Audience: Haribol!] Okay! [Laughs]
“Sanjaya went immediately to the palace of Dhrtarashtra and announced himself. The king welcomed him eagerly. Sanjaya said, “Yudhisthira prostrated himself before you and inquires after your welfare and that of your sons and friends. His brothers and Krishna are quite well. I was so happy in that fine atmosphere of peace and righteousness I found there. It was the clean, sweet breath of the mountains. I do not like your behavior or your words. I had a most unpleasant piece of work to do because of you. You are unrighteous. Your sons are sinners. You are hoping to enjoy this earth in spite of this? I am surprised at your optimism. I gave your message to Yudhisthira. His reply is to be given to you in the court tomorrow. I want to go and rest. I am tired physically and mentally. Please grant me leave to go.”
[HH BCS:] So this is how Sanjaya is expressing how he felt. He was disgusted with Dhrtarashtra’s behavior. It is very interesting actually, when he came back he pointed out that, “Look who are on their side. Arjuna, the greatest warrior whose prowess and skill you all know; now he is supported by Krishna. So what chance do you have? And you think that your strength is Bhishma and Drona? Remember that Shikhandi is born to kill Bhishma and Dristadyumna is born to kill Drona, and they are siding with them. You are thinking that you will win because of Bhishma and Drona but actually you don’t realize that Bhishma and Drona are going to be killed, because these two personalities who are destined to kill them are on their side.” So this is how Sanjaya actually started to explain and he told about their army. “They have seven akshauhinis, soldiers, and they are such fine warriors.” And in this way it struck fear in the heart of Dhrtarashtra. But anyway that was afterwards, but this is before that. He came and he said that, “Well, now I am going home. I came back. What Yudhisthira said I will announce it tomorrow in the court”
[Continuing Mahabharata] “Sanjaya went away. The mind of Dhrtarashtra was terribly upset by the words he had spoken. He was not told about the reply of Yudhisthira. The king’s frame burned as if with fever. He tried to sleep, he could not. In despair he sent for Vidura. Vidura came to him quickly and asked him why he had been sent for. The condition of the king was indeed pitiable. He said, “Vidura, Sanjaya has returned from Upaplavya. He spoke harsh words to me and went away. He would not give me even a hint of Yudhisthira’s reply. I have tried to sleep. I cannot sleep. You are my only friend. You have loved me with all my faults. You must console me and make me sleep. I cannot sleep.”
Vidura said, “My lord, five kinds of people are unable to sleep. A man who lusts after the wife of another cannot sleep. A thief cannot sleep. A man who has lost all his wealth cannot sleep, or one who thinks ill of his wealth will not be able to sleep. An unsuccessful man cannot sleep. A weak man, oppressed by a strong man cannot sleep. I hope none of these descriptions fits you. Surely, avarice and greed are not qualities to be found in you.” Dhrtarashtra was not unused to sarcasm in the words of Vidura. He smarted under the insight of his brother. He said, “Please, tell me how I can sleep?” Vidura smiled at him with pity blended with scorn. He said, “You have not been able to sleep for the last so many years, my lord. From the moment the Pandavas led by the rishis of Shatasringa came to Hastinapura you have not been able to sleep. Why? Your sleeplessness goes further back. I remember the day when your son, Duryodhana, was born. You called me to your presence and asked me, “I hear that a son has already been born to my brother Pandu. He is older than this son of mine. Do you think there will be trouble about the heir to the throne because of this?” Since that day jealousy has lodged in your heart and has driven out your sleep. For the last so many years I have been trying in vain to install into you some righteousness. You are a very sinful person. You have been responsible for the sufferings of the Pandavas and the imminent destruction of the Kauravas. How can a sinful person like you get sleep? Yudhisthira has always paid you the respect due to a father. He considered you as his father but you have always been behaving like a thief towards him. I am not surprised at this suffering of yours. You asked me to tell you how can sleep? At this very moment if you decide to return Yudhisthira’s kingdom to him, you can sleep like an innocent child. Please listen to me. You are not wise. You are foolish.”
Dhrtarashtra said, “Tell me, my dear brother, what are the qualities one finds in a wise man and in a foolish man.” Vidura said, “I will tell you what a wise man should be like. A man should aspire for the higher things, ideals in life. The assets of such a man are self knowledge, exertion, forbearance and steadiness in virtue. Such a man is wise. Neither anger, nor joy, nor pride, nor false modesty, nor vanity can distract him from his purpose. His actions are always done with the thought that they should serve both the worlds. Desire does not tinge his actions. Honest deeds delight him and he loves what is good. He is unaffected either by honors or by slight. Like a lake in the course of the river Ganges he is calm, cool and unagitated. On the other hand, the qualities of a fool are also easy to innumerate. Scripture is a closed book as far as he is concerned. He is vain. He is proud and when he wants to have something he will never hesitate to employ unfair means. He has a knack of desiring for what he has no right to desire. Those who are powerful make him envious. Let me tell you about a peculiar attribute of sin. One man commits a sin and reaps the fruits resulting from his sin. But in the end the sin attaches itself only to the one man, while those many who enjoy the fruits of his sin escape unscathed. A wise king should discriminate the two with the help of one. He must control the three by means of the four. He has to conquer the five, know the six, abstain from the seven and thus he’ll be happy.”
[HH BCS:] So these are the Vidura Nitis. So I’ll repeat again.
“A wise king should discriminate the two with the help of one. He must control the three by means of four. He has to conquer the five, know the six, abstain from the seven and thus he’ll be happy. By one, it means intelligence. By two, right and wrong. Three: friend, stranger and enemy. By four is meant: gift, conciliation, disunion and severity. By five, the senses. By six, treaty, war etcetera. By seven, women, dice, hunting, harshness of speech, drinking, severity of punishment and waste of wealth. This means that one should know how to discriminate between right and wrong by the use of the intellect. One should discriminate two by one.”
[HH BCS:] So what is the two? Right and wrong. And what is the one? [audience: intelligence] Intelligence.
“Friend, foe or stranger can be won over by the use of the four.”
[HH BCS:] What are the four? Sama, dana, bheda, danda. So gift, conciliation, disunion and punishment. When nothing works then punish.
“The five senses must be controlled and a king should be familiar with treaty etcetera, which are essential. The six laws of politics.”
[HH BCS:] When to make treaty and so forth.
“The seven have naturally to be avoided if a king aspires to be wise.”
[HH BCS:] So what should a king avoid? What are the seven things? Actually, anybody should avoid those seven things. Those seven things are women, dice (game of dice), hunting, harshness of speech, drinking, severity of punishment and waste of wealth.
“Poison kills but one man, so does a weapon, but wicked counsels destroy an entire kingdom with kings and subjects.”
[HH BCS:] Poison kills one man and so does the weapon, but bad counsels can destroy the entire kingdom with the kings and the subjects. And who are the bad counselors here for Duryodhana? Karna and Shakuni.
“The highest good is righteousness. The one supreme peace is forgiveness. Supreme contentment is knowledge. Supreme happiness is benevolence. A king can easily become great by doing just two things: refraining from harsh speech and disregarding those who are wicked.  Three crimes are considered to be terrible: theft of another’s property, outrage of another man’s wife and breach with friends. Three things destroy the soul: lust, anger and greed. Three are essential: a follower, one who seeks protection and one who has come to your abode. These should be protected. A king, although powerful, should never confer with these four: men of small sense, men that procrastinate, men who are indolent and men who flatter. Five things have to be worshipped: father, mother, fire, the preceptor and the soul. Six faults should be avoided by a king who wishes to be great: sleep, drowsiness, fear, anger, indolence and procrastination. These six should not be forsaken: truth, charity, diligence, benevolence, forgiveness and patience. A king should renounce the seven falls. Eight things glorify a king: wisdom, high birth, self restraint, learning, prowess, moderation in speech, gifts given with discrimination, and gratitude.
This human body is a house with nine doors, three pillars and five witnesses. It is presided over by the soul. The king who knows this is wise. These ten do not know what virtue is: the intoxicated, the inattentive, the raving, the fatigued, the angry, the starving, the dejected, the convicious, the frightened and the lustful. A man who does not give when a calamity overtakes him, who does his best all the while with his senses under perfect control, who bears misery with patience he is the foremost of men. One who bears no malice towards others but is kind to all, who does not talk arrogantly, who forgives a quarrel is praised everywhere.
A king who seeks prosperity should take only that which can be taken and which will be beneficial. As the bee collects the honey without destroying the flower, so should a king take taxes from the people without injuring them. One should pluck the flowers but one should not uproot the plant. A wise man should learn good behavior, good words and good acts from every side. As a gleaner collects grains of corn from the field abundant by the rippers, virtue is preserved by truthfulness, learning by application, beauty by cleansing the body, high lineage by good character. Mere lineage in the case of one whose behavior is not good cannot command respect.”
[HH BCS:] So these are the instructions of Vidura, as I mentioned. They are known as ‘Vidura Niti’, and this verse also says that this is highly appreciated by the ministers of state and the people of wisdom. So then Dhrtarashtra comes to the soul and asks, “What about the soul? Please tell me about the soul.” Then Vidura told him that, “Look, I am born of a sudra, therefore, I cannot speak about the soul. But I will call my spiritual master. His name is Sanat-sujata.” And Sanat-sujata came and instructed Dhrtarashtra on the soul.
So, anyway, this is how although so many good advices were given to Dhrtarashtra but he was just impossible to come to his right senses. And Vidura pointed out that, “When the game of dice was going on, that is the time the seed of destruction was planted. The seed of destruction was planted when the game of dice was played and I told you to stop that game but you did not. You are not only blind; you are so deaf that not only you did not take that good advice, what did you do? At that time your only question was, “Who won?” After each dice was cast, you just shamelessly, that’s how you displayed your avarice mentality. You may speak of sweet words. You may say how much affection you have for Yudhisthira and the Pandavas, you may say that you are their well wisher, but these words revealed your heart. You simply asked, “Who won?” That’s the only thing you could say at that time after each time the dice was cast; “Who won? Who won?” And as Duryodhana rejoiced, internally you also rejoiced. That yes, my sons won.”
So this is how an honest man and wise man gives instructions. He cuts. An honest man’s instructions cuts like a sergeant’s scalpel because it takes out the bad part from the body. Similarly it cures. When one listens to the wise words of a saintly personality he only benefits. He becomes purified. But unfortunately those who are evil minded they don’t listen. They don’t listen to good advice and as a result of that ultimately they perish. Even Krishna came and gave the good advice. Then Bhishma appreciated and requested Duryodhana, “Please, listen to the words of Krishna. Even if you don’t recognize Him as He is, but you know His power. As a little child He killed so many demons! So powerful! So what chance do you stand against the Pandavas when Krishna is on their side? So come back to your senses.” But what did Duryodhana do? He just walked away from the assembly. Then Krishna told Dhrtarashtra, which I read the other day, that, “You are to be blamed. Duryodhana is behaving like this, Duryodhana has become like this because you have tolerated him. You have instigated him. You have provoked him to continue in his bad way, evil way.” So that is how He instructed. Then Dhrtarashtra said, “Look, Krishna, I can’t do anything. You can see that this son of mine doesn’t listen to me.” And Krishna said, “You put all these four people in captivity, put them into prison: Duryodhana, Dushasana, Karna and Shakuni. Put these four people in prison.” But Dhrtarashtra wouldn’t listen. He was so blind with his affection for his children. Then he said, “Call Gandhari. Maybe Gandhari can bring some senses to their mind.” So Gandhari was brought in. Gandhari also started to give them good advice but Duryodhana just left, and along with Duryodhana all his accomplices, all his followers also left. And then they went and then they planned that this is an opportunity to capture Krishna. And if we can put Krishna in the prison then the Pandavas will lose the battle. There is no way they will be able to win. So this is how evil minded Duryodhana is. The perfect evil is Duryodhana. [Laughs] So and then, when he did that, then Krishna showed His universal form and then they all became afraid. And Krishna walked away from there.
So in Mahabharata or in the Vedic scriptures we can see that there are two sides: good and evil, dharma and adharma. What is the ultimate consideration of good? The ultimate consideration of good is those who abide by the instructions of the Lord. And the ultimate consideration of bad is those who do not abide by the instructions of the Lord, no matter what. And that is what actually determines what dharma is and what adharma is. Dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam. [SB 6.3.19] Dharma is the laws given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this way we learn which path to follow. At least here we all are very fortunate that we have decided to follow the path of dharma, but what is happening to the rest of the world? They have decided to follow the path of adharma and the result is, although apparently they may have so much prosperity, like Duryodhana had so much apparent prosperity, but he was suffering. But, as Vidura pointed out to Dhrtarashtra, you cannot sleep because of these reasons: your greed, your avarice, your envy, your evil nature, and your deceptive acts. These are the reasons why you can’t sleep. Because you are sinful, that’s why you cannot sleep. But a person who is pious, who is virtuous, who is on the path of righteousness, he sleeps. He sleeps like a log. He sleeps even in Bhagavatam class! [Laughter] So for a devotee sleeping is no problem.
Okay, does anybody have any question?
Yes, Radharani?
Devotee: [paraphrased] Guru Maharaja, I have two questions. If Yudhisthira Maharaja knew Duryodhana and Shakuni are so treacherous then why did he accept the second invitation for the game of dice?
BCS: Because as I said, two reasons. One is a kshatriya cannot refuse when challenged in game of dice, a game of dice and battle. When a kshatriya is challenged he cannot refuse. That is against his dharma. Another thing is that he was very fond of a game of dice, Yudhisthira, although he couldn’t play well. So Duryodhana just took advantage of that.
Devotee: My second question is on Vidura’s Niti. He said that there are nine things to avoid.
BCS: Seven things to avoid.
Devotee: Women, dice, hunting, harshness of speech, drinking, severity of punishment and waste of wealth. Is it correct to say that avoid severity of punishment, is that abandoning [?] the law?
BCS: You see, this is the advice to the kshatriyas. Like, his punishment shouldn’t be too severe. It should be just but not too severe. What it actually means is, a kshatriya king must know the balance of the crime and punishment: for what kind of crime what kind of punishment should be given. Crime and punishment. It is a law book, like Manu Samhita actually gives all the descriptions. Say for example, the punishment that is meant for a thief, the king should not give that thief the punishment that is meant for a bandit. This is the meaning of severity of punishment.

Devotee: In Vidura Niti, he stated there are nine doors and three pillars. We know the nine doors, but what are the three pillars?
BCS: Yeah. I have to check it.

Devotee: Hare Krishna. How many soldiers in one akshauhini are?
BCS: Oh yeah, it’s a huge. Again, I have to check that. It has a certain number of padarthika, infantry, a certain number of cavalry, a certain number of elephants, a certain number of chariots. That makes one akshauhini. It is a huge, huge contingent of army.

Devotee: Guru Maharaja, is this Vidura Niti only applicable for kshatriyas?
BCS: Yeah, it is for kings.
Devotee: But aren’t these pious things that should be
BCS: Yeah, some can be accepted by everybody, but the entire thing is meant for the kshatriyas. Like what one should do when the enemy is too strong. Things like that.
Devotee: There are several points that should be followed by every person also.
BCS: It can because everybody thinks that he is a king. [Laughter] So, yes, in a certain way everybody can follow.

Devotee: Guru Maharaja, this episode of the Gandharvas capturing the Kauravas, is this separate from the Yaksha who captures Duryodhana also and asks questions from Yudhisthira?
BCS: Oh, that is different. That is not Duryodhana. This Yaksha asked the questions to the Pandavas, the four brothers. He was actually Dharmaraja himself. In the form of a crane he announced that he is a Yaksha and he asked the questions, and he is the owner of this pond. They all were very thirsty so they went to fetch water and when they went to fetch water, they came to the pond and he said that, “Look, if you want to take water then you have to answer my questions. If you can’t answer my questions then you can’t take the water, but if you try to take water, I can tell you that you will die as soon as you touch the water. So first Sahadeva went, he couldn’t answer the questions but he thought, “Still, I’ll take the water.” He died. Then Nakula came, Arjuna came, Bhima came. Then finally Yudhisthira Maharaja came and Yudhisthira Maharaja answered all his questions.

Devotee: Is there any information about Sanat-sujata?
BCS: Sanat-sujata is a sage. He lives in one of the higher planetary systems actually, and Vidura could invoke him just by remembering him. When Vidura remembered him, he came. At that time he just appeared because Vidura remembered. And Vidura requested that he answers the questions of Dhrtarashtra.
Devotee: He is not one of the four Kumaras?
BCS: No, he is not the Sanat Kumara.

Devotee: In the seven things to be avoided, dice and hunting but we see that kshatriyas [inaudible]
BCS: We have to understand that that is not really hunting as a pleasure. It is to practice their skill that they go to the forest and practice that. It is not just hunting. Like, some people they have a hobby for hunting. That should not be the case of a kshatriya.

Devotee: Guru Maharaja, my question is that Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita that there are two kinds of people, the demoniac and the right. Now both qualities are mixed in one person. It cannot be said that he is demoniac and he is righteous. It’s mostly about the attitude.
BCS: Yeah. It is difficult in this age because the whole atmosphere has become so sinful. To be free from sin or evil is practically impossible in this age. Therefore the course is simply direct, direct to the lotus feet of Krishna. In other ages there were other considerations of dharma. Dharma, artha, kama, moksha and then come to prema, Krishna prema, after liberation. Gradually they used to become elevated to dharma, through the process of dharma, to artha, to come to moksha, but in this age it is direct Krishna consciousness. Because everybody has become so sinful that practically there is no hope for anyone. That’s why Krishna gave Krishna prema directly, and when you take to Krishna consciousness then what happens? When you surrender to Krishna aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami [Bg 18.66]: one becomes completely free from sinful reactions. And by becoming a devotee of Krishna he becomes perfectly situated on the path of dharma because that is the ultimate dharma. Other considerations of dharma are relative dharma, naimittika dharma, and relative dharma. Dharma, artha, kama, moksha, that is relative dharma. Or varnashrama dharma is a relative dharma. Occupational dharma is relative dharma but surrender to Krishna is the sanatana dharma, eternal religion of the soul.
Devotee: There is a chance for everyone.
BCS: Yes, there is a chance for everyone. And not only a chance, what a brilliant chance, the golden opportunity. Take advantage of Krishna consciousness you will be elevated to the topmost region of spiritual platform

Devotee: Guru Maharaja, why did Mahabharata take place? Is it because Duryodhana was not giving back the kingdom to Yudhisthira or was it to establish the knowledge of God? Was it the arrangement of Krishna to establish the knowledge of God? Why is it? What is the reason?
BCS: Yeah, you see, Krishna’s pastimes are like a play on a stage, a drama on a stage. The only thing is the drama on a stage is made by us. It is written by mortals, directed by mortals, enacted by mortals and watched by mortals. Whereas Krishna’s pastimes are written by Krishna, directed by Yogamaya and arranged by the karmic reactions. Like, why Duryodhana is Duryodhana? At the back of it, there is a whole lot of karma that makes Duryodhana Duryodhana. So that is the difference between our drama and Krishna’s drama. Om purnam adah purnam idam. [Sri Isopanishad Invocation Mantra] Whatever Krishna does is perfect and complete, so His drama also is perfect and complete. And everyone plays the drama in such a way that they become that. Duryodhana becomes Duryodhana, evil personified. And not only that, Duryodhana’s background also is not just one lifetime, or one act that they play. It has a background. That sets the scene also. You know who is Duryodhana? Duryodhana is the incarnation of Kali. And you know who Kali is? Kali is the son of envy and anger. So not only Duryodhana, Duryodhana’s sponsor is there, Duryodhana’s sponsors: father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, they all are set. So it’s a whole big drama that is going on. And the ultimate purpose of that drama is to make you surrender to Krishna. That is the ultimate purpose. Whatever is happening, this battle of Kurukshetra and Duryodhana’s treacherous nature and arrangements and all that, and Pandavas virtuous and righteous activities, all that are just leading ultimately just to one point: sarva-dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja. [Bg 18.66] And we are the observers of that drama, or we are the listeners of the stories. But the end result is surrender to Krishna. If we surrender to Krishna then all the effort that Krishna took will become successful. Hare Krishna.

Okay. All glories to Srila Prabhupada! Gaura Premanande Hari Haribol!

Transcription : Her Grace Ranga Radhika Dasi
Editing : Ramannda Raya Dasa
Audio reference: click here