Mahabharat Episode 34: Vidura Puts His Foot Down
What has happened so far: The Pandavas begin their twelve years of exile in the forest. Duryodhana and Karna plan to make use of this opportunity to hunt them down. They seek Dhritarashtra’s permission. Vidura hears of the plan.
Right from Dhritarashtra’s childhood, Vidura had been an able support for him. So, being his brother and having been his wisdom all his life, Vidura could talk to him in a way that no one else could. Vidura told him, “This is unbecoming of us. Already the house is so full of sin that I cannot even eat in this place. But now going after them in the forest and trying to hunt them down, as these boys intend to do, is simply out of question. This cannot be allowed. I am telling you, your boys will not keep quiet. They will go on doing something.
“Do one thing: call the Pandavas back and give them their half of the kingdom. Ask them to forget everything and go. Because the five Pandavas are sons of devas. They are hugely equipped and a majority of the kings sympathize with them. Above all, Krishna is with them. If we fight a battle, it is sure death for all of us. Don’t have illusions about this. Believe me, whatever it may look like right now, when it really comes to battle, Arjuna will stand up like a god and defeat everyone. It is best you call them tomorrow and give them back the kingdom.”
Dhritarashtra listened to all this and said, “Are you never tired of praising the Pandavas? I can clearly see you are prejudiced in favor of Pandu’s sons against mine. How can I ask my son to give back what he has won? He has won it according to the Dharma, he has won it in the dice game.”
Vidura replied, “You know very well that the dice are loaded. You know very well Shakuni is a cheat, and you know very well Yudhishthira does not have a clue how to play a dice game. Knowing all this, you allowed the game to happen, and now you are talking about Dharma. Don’t utter that word.
“The day you sanctioned the wax palace and its burning, you lost all your credibility. If you want to revive anything for yourself, your children and for the Kuru lineage, just call them back. Give them their portion, let your boys have your portion, let them live in peace. And we can somehow take some kind of commitment from the Pandavas that they will never wage a war against us. That will leave us in safety – your boys will live their full term of life. Otherwise, your sons will be dead the moment the Pandavas come back.”
Dhritarashtra got sick of this – not that he had to get sick of anything; he had always been sick one way or the other. He said, “I have had enough of you. If Pandu’s sons mean so much more to you than my own, go! I have no use for you.”
Vidura said, “That is the best thing you could have done for me.” He bowed down and he left. He made arrangements for his wife and Kunti who were living in the house and left joyfully for the forest, where he met the Pandavas. Vidura hugged all of them and they all wept. After all the emotion was done, they asked him why he was here. Vidura said, “I have come to stay with you. It is over for me in Hastinapur. I could not leave my brother myself, but now my brother asked me to go so I am now free. At last I am happy that I am free from the sinful alignment of things that were happening there.” The Pandavas were very happy. They had always respected Vidura. He was the only one who stood up and said something right in the court that day when things were going utterly wrong.
But Dhritarashtra could not exist without Vidura because right from his childhood, every day, day in and day out, Vidura had been his companion, wisdom, eyes, ears – everything. Suddenly Dhritarashtra felt so lost. So just after two days, he sent messengers to Vidura and said, “Please, if you are gone I will die. I will stop eating and I will kill myself.” After much pleading, Vidura went back to the palace again.
When he went back, he insisted that they must call off the hunt. Dhritarashtra called Duryodhana and said “There is not going to be a hunt.” Duryodhana and Karna pleaded heavily that they are just going for fun and not for anything else, but he said, “You cannot go for a hunt. And if you go for a hunt, you will have to go in the opposite direction.” But they were not interested in hunting there – they wanted to hunt here.
To be continued