Vedas are the foundation pillars on which the structure of ancient Indian culture is erected. Vedas, decree courtesy in behaviour as the first and foremost duty of man. Courtesy has been described in detail, particularly in "Smrtis” composed by Manu et al and later scholars. It has been stated in a hymn that rule of courtesy observed from generation to generation helps in keeping a harmonious distance between the Varnas (i.e. Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya and Sudra). It is crystal clear that restraint exercised or prevalent among civilized persons is called courtesy. In order to reinforce this courtesy, Ethics came in offing. Ethics, politics and penal code etc. are codes for society to help reinforce courtesy. These three segments of Politics are interdependent. Politics is inchoate without Dhannanith (Ethics).as a rebuttal to such plea; it is suffice to state that politics ruled by religion (noble deeds) can only meet welfare. Religion stands on two Pillars i.e. ahimsa paramo dharmah and nahin satyat paro dharmah.
A cursory sight on the history of Sanskrit literature makes for prima-facie the presence of dicta based on Ethics whether it is poetry, prose or play etc. When we speak of Mahabharata, it is understood that every thing is embedded here and nothing new and specific can be found elsewhere. Hardly any hymn without ethics is to be found in the plays composed by Kalidasa and epics composed by Bharavi and Magha. Etiquette is given the first place in epics and religion and philosophy both are influenced by them. These renowned poets have contributed to sprouting a spirit of friendship and social coordination by virtue of their speech in melody. Ethics embedded with aphorisms at one place or other exist equally in the literatures of ancient languages like Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrta. In Canakya Nitidarpana, it embeds as many as 340 hymns on Ethics.
A scholar from Madura, Sri Sundara, had composed "Nitidvisastka” about sixth century. His contemporary was Santideva who belongs to Buddhism. He had composed Bodhicaryavatara, Siksasamuccaya, and Sutrasamuccaya embedding ethical notes. The three Satakas of Acarya Bhartrhari are also famous. Out of these three Satakas, Niti-Sataka is like an ocean in a pitcher because of Ethics composed therein.
Jagadguru Srimadadyasankaracarya, the renowned orator in his Advaita—Vedanta had composed his ethical treaty Mohamudgara in which benevolent preaching’s are quoted. A number of other poets and Acaryas also composed several volumes as an orderly evolution of ethics. Some poets and Acaryas among them are Sridamodara who composed Kuttanimata and Sambhalimatah, Jain Acarya Amitagaii who composed Mugdhopadesah, Bilhana who composed Santisataka, Vedantadesika who composed Subhasitniti, Dya Diwedi who composed Nitimanjari. Apart Form the above; a renowned scholar Jagannatha had composed Bhaminivilasa in sixteenth century and Nilakantha Diksita had composed Kalividambana in seventeenth century.
Viduraniti is a universally accepted treasure of ethics in Mahabharata. It bears a comparative study on ethics and references of numerous other volumes on this very topic have been amply given. Each hymn has been duly translated in simple and lucid language so that the readers could understand without any exertions, and comment, alter translation under the head "Exposition have been duly arranged. Here, the readers shall see the common and contemporary events, the fluctuation that takes place in the minds of modern people, the results of such gimmicks and vital information on human living in respect to the ancient period when man was disciplined. It is the need of hour that these ethics should be made code of conduct by our law makers.
It is hoped that this treatise will spurt hunger for study in readers to bring in to practice the ideals of Indian culture. l am firm and have faith that this will prove an all-benevolent study for the readers.
Mahabharata is the greatest epic amongst any anywhere in the world. It is the detailed history of Indian culture and an encyclopaedia of Sanskrit literature. It is like a glittering gem composed in as much as one lakh hymns by the renowned hermit Vedavyasa. The subject—matter if this epic is extended to the descriptive and dreadful story of the devastation that once thundered in India Inter-alia to the terrorizing battle between Kauravas and Pandavas. It is a unique stream of Sanskrit literature end the base pillar to it. What is to be further stated in its appreciation which has been noted in the following words»"whatever has been described herein is what is to be found everywhere and what does not exist in this Epic is to be found nowhere in the world.”
This book of Ethics, i.e. Viduraniti is an excerpted part of the Prajagara Parva under Udyoga Parva in this epic of Mahabharata. It is an invaluable treasure pertaining to the politics of ancient Indian culture. It is in colloquial form, a dialogue between Dhrtarastra (a king blind physically, and spiritually, both) and the great man, Vidura. He was indeed blind due to his excessive affection for Duryodhana, barbarous and traitor son. Vidura had however, preached him in varied ways, as the eight chapters of this treaty will be apparent to the readers but blind Dhrtarastra did not come to the fair way and it subsequently became the;2.use for the destruction of the entire clan. It is truly said Mohandha naiva Pasyanti (viz. the men, blind with affection, can not see as to what is the fair and just way). The great devastation of India that followed the great Mahabharata war was caused by the misdirected Dhrtarastra. This treaty is itself evident to the ruination of the prosperity, wealth and lives of people which took place as far back as five thousand years ago. Such dreadful event was not to be easily forgotten. This epic began to be observed as a cursed treatise and a household even does not consider it good to maintain it in his almirah, or the book shelf. The sole reason attributed for it is disgust for the frustation and blind affection of Dhrtarastra. The phrase Dhrtam rastram yena sah dhrtarastra (i.e. the destroyer of nation was Dhrtarastra) indeed, is an indication of this. In view of filial relations, Dhrtarastra was the elder brother of Vidura but there was a difference not lesser than as exists between the sky and the earth, in view of differing conscience and intentions of both. Sage Vidura was devoted to God, was religion-abiding, was a thinker and a preceptor on ethics, while Dhrtarastra was selfish, blinded by affection, frustrated, a slave to destiny, blind by birth and in deeds too. In the vagary of his frivolous self-interest, he set aside the duty of a king, who was bound with liabilities like upliftment of dynasty, proper maintenance of the subject and compliance with ethics in all affairs. He mutely observed the atrocities perpetuated by Duryodhana, his stubborn and unjust son. He did not attain any conscience, inspite of several efforts made by Vidura. The •latter, thus, introduced Dhrtarastra to history as a deliberately infirm king, instead of being powerful as he was, in all respects. He merely focused on his son and not on the family, or the interests of the state. Dhrtarastra only talked about and took care of his sons and never thought about the nation or society. He even ignored respected elders including the clan-priests and the learned people of the state in the assembly while judging the fate of sons of Pandu, his brother. He always longed for his petty interests like a coward, wallowed for existing weakness and never wished the good of the public as a whole. This was the reason he received nothing but regret from ruling the people till his last breath.
The contribution of great Vidura in the encoding of the wishes and moral standing of a person cannot be forgotten in respect to the ethics composed by him. He himself was in the form of Dharmaraja and was born of a maid-servant, because of once being cursed by a hermit Mandavya. He was Ksetraja son of Vedavyasa, who was once requested by Queen Satyavati to join in conjugal relations with the widows of her sons, i.e. Vicitravirya and Citravirya, in order to maintain the clan, after their premature death. Pitamaha Bhisma had once abducted two virgins of Kasiraja, i.e. Ambika and Ambalika and wedded them to Citravirya Vicitravirya. On account of their untimely death, there were no issues. Satyavati requested Bhisma to accept them as his wives and reproduce children but, being a firm resolute, he denied it. She then summoned through intuition, her son Vyasa. In the course of courtship, Ambika got afraid of him due to his body being dreadful as a result of matted hair, long beard etc. She, therefore, closed her eyes by putting both palms on them. Dhrtarastra was thus, born a blind child. Ambalika too became pale due to fear and it resulted the birth of Pandu. Satyavati then sent the maidservant of Ambika to Vyasa taking her place. She enjoyed the court ship with ecstasy and it resulted in the birth of Vidura. This account is a brief life - sketch describing the birth of Vidura, son of Ved Vyasa, composer if Mahabharata.
Vidura was indeed a son of maid servant by his birth but his deeds introduced him as a Karmayogi (an expert in deeds) and devoted to religion. He was not assigned with the state affairs, particularly due to his birth of a maid servant but he always thought good for the state. His approach always remained as that of a founder of an era (Yugadrasta).
Lord Krsna, by virtue of his prominent powers and incarnation, established whatever norms he liked and eradicated the roots of those who opposed or disturbed in any way, the procedures framed and implemented by him. Vidura, could not effect that, yet he always kept his speech awakened, never thought about the luxuries of royal position, even sipped poison for justice. Since there was no eagerness, or temptation in the fruits of the actions he executed, he could not be accused in any manner, if any attempts made by him failed. He always remained a respected scholar for all, on account of his noble deeds. The coming generations of India will always bow in reverence to the universal virtues represented by him.
No doubt can be had on Viduraniti being a part and parcel of Mahabharata. The unit of eight chapters falling from 33 to 40 in “Udyoga Parva” is known as Viduraniti. The background should be understood with the circumstances when Pandavas continuously endured the atrocities perpetuated by Duryodhana on them. These atrocities were provoking Pandavas for gambling, ordering them for exile, attempting to burn them in the palace made of Lac (Laksagrha), giving poison to Bhima clandestinely, summoning Draupadi by force, in the Court, dragging herby her hair and like. Pandavas endured such ignominy, due to their being fatherless, religious and considering it as the tactics of their destiny. They still did not think ill of Kauravas or bethought revenge for these acts. They systematically sent the message regarding claim for half of the state as their share through a messenger. Yudhisthira first sent the Purohita of the king of Virata, but Duryodhana did not accede to act on the proposal. Dhrtarastra sent Sanjaya to Yudhisthira. Sanjaya in return, communicated the matter in detail and explained that Pandavas were not intending to opt for war but, they only claimed their coparcenary right. In the mean time, Lord Sri krsna attempted to present the possibility of war and explained the consequences of war and the expected prosperity in case an alliance was reached. On these attempts failing, Lord Sri krsna left the matter of war and peace on the desire of Dhrtarastra. Having first heard the message of Yudhisthira, King Dhrtarastra ordered Sanjaya to report the message in the royal council. He then called in Vidura at night through a messenger. The conversation between Vidura and Dhrtarastra thereafter is the subject-matter of this Viduraniti.
Viduraniti is an invaluable glittering gem of Mahabharata. It represents the duties of a king very beautifully by incorporating the behavioral therapy, ethics, etiquettes, religion, vicissitudes (the causes),determination of the acts, the qualities acceptable and those worth rejection, the magnificence of sacrifice, the structure of justice, truth, philanthropy, forgiveness, non-violence, characters tics of friends, the downtrodden state of an ungrateful, greedless person. This treatise is equally useful for each person, whether he is illiterate, educated, scholar, idiot, young, old, child, wife or husband, administrator, subject, rich, poor, student, teacher, government servant, an army man as also one who wants to live a life of luxury.
Sage Vidura preached an anxious and impatient Dhrtarastra his first duty as a steersman in a vivid and heart-touching manner. He delivered his thoughts in a contextual sense to highlight the characteristics of the scholar and the stupid, and of wisdom and its importance, of truth, of religion, of forgiveness, of learning, etc. The sage appreciated non—violence, meagre but exact use of speech, forbearing the vicissitudes of life, upholding duty of the king, dignity of balanced temperament, importance of courtesy, appreciation of united power, the best code of conduct, characteristic of a student and discretion to know what is good and what is bad. Each hymn of this treatise appears welfare-oriented and inspiring for the humanity as a whole.
Apart from the above, Viduraniti comments upon prime and considerable represention of the ‘religion’ of a king. He says that the king should not decide any matter in haste and without proper application of mind. He should be always ready to act and known to all stately affairs. He should give up excessive attachment for fair—sex, gambling, hunting, liquor, harsh speech and extravagance. The fair king abandons lust and anger, is an expert conversant with the scriptures, is dutiful, generous towards eligible projects or towards the needy, and considerate when dealing with the enemy. He deserves honor everywhere. The status, loss and profit and the quantum of exchequer and punishment etc. is duly known to an ideal king. Haste and cunningness is the toughest hurdle for stable ruling of a state. He should impose and collect taxes under a principle; just as only the ripened fruit is to be plucked from the trees. The man who plucks raw fruits neither enjoys the taste, nor this act amounts to goodness. The king should appoint qualified assistants for the investment of wealth when the income and expenditure of the state is duly worked out. He should try the candidates thoroughly and carefully the qualification and capability they have particularly while appointing the ambassadors. At the same time a person too confident or an arrogant official who don’t enjoy undisputed reputation for high offices cannot be relied on as apprehensions arise regarding those having excessive self confidence. Such apprehensions ultimately lead to destruction.