Vidura Niti Part 4

Vidura (1)


Dhritarashtra said: King Yudhishthira, who is like a flame of fire, has been deceived by me. He will surely exterminate in battle all my wicked sons. Everything, therefore, seems to me to be fraught with danger, and my mind is full of anxiety, O thou of great intelligence, tell me such words as may dispel my anxiety.

Vidura said: O sinless one, in nothing else than knowledge and asceticism, in nothing else than restraining the senses, in nothing else than complete abandonment of avarice, do I see thy good. Fear is dispelled by self-knowledge; by asceticism one wins what is great and valuable; by waiting upon superiors learning is acquired; and peace is gained by self-restraint.

They that desire salvation without having acquired the merit attainable by gifts, or that which is attainable by practising the ritual of the Vedas, do not sojourn through life, freed from anger and aversion. The happiness that may be derived from a judicious course of study, from a battle fought virtuously, from ascetic austerities performed rigidly, always increases at the end.

Relatives (1)

They that are no longer in peace with their relatives, obtain no sleep even if they have recourse to well made beds; nor do they, O king, derive any pleasure from women, or the laudatory hymns of bards and eulogists. Such persons can never practise virtue. Happiness can never be theirs in this world. Honours can never be theirs, and peace has no charm for them. Counsels that are for their benefit please them not. They never acquire what they have not, nor succeed in retaining what they have, O king, there is no other end for such men save destruction.

Strength in unity

As milk is possible in kine (cows), asceticism in Brahmanas, and inconstancy in women, so fear is possible from relatives. Numerous thin threads of equal length, collected together, are competent to bear from the strength of numbers, the constant rolling of the shuttlecock over them. The case is even so with relatives that are good, O bull of the Bharata race, separated from one another. Burning bran produce only smoke but brought together they blaze forth into a powerful flame. The case is even so, O Dhritarashtra, with relatives. They, O Dhritarashtra, who tyrannise over Brahmanas, women relatives, and kine, soon fall off their stalks, like fruits that are ripe. And the tree that stands singly, though gigantic and strong and deep rooted, has its trunk soon smashed and twisted by a mighty wind. Those trees, however, that grow in close compact are competent owing to mutual dependence to resist winds more violent still. Thus he that is single, however, endowed with all the virtues, is regarded by foes as capable of being vanquished like an isolated tree by the wind. Relatives, again, in consequence of mutual dependence and mutual aid, grow together, like lotus stalks in a lake. These must never be slain, viz., Brahmanas, kine, relatives, children, women, those whose food is eaten, and those also that yield by asking for protection.


O king, without wealth no good quality can show itself in a person. If, however, you are in health, you can achieve your good, for he is dead who is unhealthy and ill.


O king, anger is a kind of bitter, pungent, acrid, and hot drink, painful in its consequences; it is a kind of headache not born of any physical illness, and they that are unwise can never digest it. Do thou, O king, swallow it up and obtain peace.

They that are tortured by disease have no liking for enjoyments, nor do they desire any happiness from wealth. The sick, however, filled with sorrow, know not what happiness is or what the enjoyments of wealth are.

Beholding Draupadi won at dice, I told thee before, O king, these words: “They that are honest avoid deceit in play. Therefore, stop Duryodhana!”

Thou did not, however, act according to my words. That is no strength, which is opposed to softness. On the other hand, strength mixed with softness constitutes true policy, which should ever be pursued.


That prosperity which is dependent on crookedness alone is destined to be destroyed. That prosperity, however, which depends on both strength and softness, descends to sons and grandsons intact. Let therefore, thy sons cherish the Pandavas, and the Pandavas also cherish thy sons, O king, let the Kurus and the Pandavas, both having same friend and same foes, live together in happiness and prosperity. Thou art, today, O king, the refuge of the sons of Kuru. Indeed, the race of Kuru, O Ajamida, is dependent on thee. O sire, preserving thy fame unsullied, cherish thou the children of Pandu, afflicted as they are with the sufferings of exile. O descendant of Kuru, make peace with the sons of Pandu. Let not thy foes discover thy holes. They all, O god among men, are devoted to truth. O king of men, withdraw Duryodhana from his evil ways.

Vidura said: O son of Vichitravirya, Manu the son of the Self-created, has, O king, spoken of the following seven and ten kinds of men, as those that strike empty space with their fists, or seek to bend the vapoury bow of Indra in the sky, or desire to catch the intangible rays of the sun.

These seven and ten kinds of foolish men are as follows:

  1. 1.      He who seeks to control a person that is incapable of being controlled.
  2. 2.      He who is content with small gains.
  3. 3.      He who humbly pays court to enemies.
  4. 4.      He who seeks to restrain women’s frailty.
  5. 5.      He who asks him for gifts who should never be asked.
  6. 6.      He who boasts having done anything.
  7. 7.      He who, born in a high family, perpetrates an improper deed.
  8. 8.      He who being weak always wages hostilities with one that is powerful.
  9. 9.      He who talks to a person listening scoffingly.

10.  He who desires to have that which is unattainable.

11.  He who being a father-in-law, jests with his daughter-in-law.

12.  He who boasts at having his alarms dispelled by his daughter-in-law.

13.  He who scatters his own seeds in another’s field.

14.  He who speaks ill of his own wife.

15.  He who having received anything from another says that he does not remember it.

16.  He who, having given away anything in words in holy places, boasts at home when asked to make good his words.

17.  And he who strives to prove the truth of what is false.

The envoys of Yama (god of death), with noose in hand, drag those persons to hell. One should behave towards another just as that other behaves towards him Even this is consistent with social polity. One may behave deceitfully towards him that behaves deceitfully, but honestly towards him that is honest in his behaviour.

Old age kills beauty; patience hope; death kills life; the practice of virtue, worldly enjoyments; lust, modesty; companionship with the wicked, good behaviour; anger, prosperity; and pride kills everything.

Dhritarashtra said: Man has been spoken of in all the Vedas as having hundred years for the period of his life. For what reason then, do not all men attain the allotted period?

Vidura said: Excess of pride, excess in speech, excess in eating, anger, the desire of enjoyment, and intestine dissensions, – these, O king, are six sharp swords that cut off the period of life allotted to creatures. It is these, which kill men, and not death. Knowing this, blessed be thou!

Contact with these requires expiation

He who appropriates to himself the wife of one who has confided in him; he who violates the bed of his preceptor; that Brahmana, O Bharata, who becomes the husband of a Sudra woman, or drinks wines; he who commands Brahmanas or becomes their master, or takes away the lands that support them; and he who takes the lives of those who yield asking for protection, are all guilty of the sin of slaying Brahmanas. The Vedas declare that contact with these requires expiation.

These succeed in attaining to heaven.

He that accepts the teaching of the wise; he that is acquainted with the rules of morality; he that is liberal; he that eats having first dedicated the food to the gods and Pitris (departed ancestors); he that envies none; he that is incapable of doing anything that injures others; he that is grateful, truthful, humble and learned, succeeds in attaining to heaven.

They are abundant, O king that can always speak agreeable words. The speaker, however, is rare, as also the hearer, of words that are disagreeable but medicinal. That man who, without regarding what is agreeable or disagreeable to his master but keeping virtue alone in view, says what is unpalatable, but medicinal, truly adds to the strength of the king.

These may be sacrificed

For the sake of the family a member may be sacrificed; for the sake of the village, a family may be sacrificed; for the sake of a kingdom, a village nay be sacrificed; and for the sake of one’s soul, the whole earth may be sacrificed.

One should protect his wealth in view of the calamities that may overtake him; by his wealth one should protect his wives, and by both his wealth and wives one should protect his own self.


From very olden times it has been seen that gambling provokes quarrels. Therefore, he that is wise should not resort to it even in jest. O son of Pratipa, at the time of that gambling match, I told thee, O king, – this is not proper. But, O son of Vichitravirya, like medicine to a sick man, those words of mine were not agreeable to thee. O king, thou desirest to vanquish the sons of Pandu, who are just as peacocks of variegated plumage, whereas thy sons are all as crows. Forsaking lions thou art protecting jackals! O king, when the time comes, thou wilt have to grieve for all this.


That master, O sire, who does not give vent to his displeasure with devoted servants zealously pursuing his good, enlists the confidence of his servants. In fact, the latter adhere to him even in distress. By confiscating the grants to one’s servants or stopping their pay, one should not seek to amass wealth, for even affectionate counsellors deprived of their means of life and enjoyment, turn against him and leave him (in distress).

Reflecting first on all intended acts and adjusting the wages and allowances of servants with his income and expenditure, a king should make proper alliances, for there is nothing that cannot be accomplished by alliances. That officer who fully understanding the intentions of his royal master discharges all duties with alacrity, and who is respectable himself and devoted to his master, always tells what is for his master’s good, and who is fully acquainted with the extent of his own might and with that also of those against whom he may be engaged, should be regarded by the king as his second self.

That servant, however, who commanded by his master disregards the latter’s injunctions and who enjoined to do anything refuses to submit, proud as he is of his own intelligence and given to arguing against his master, should be got rid of without the least delay. Men of learning say that
a servant should be endued with these eight qualities.

  1. Absence of pride
  2. Ability
  3. Absence of procrastination
  4. Kindness
  5. Cleanliness
  6. Incorruptibility
  7. Birth in a family free from the taint of disease, and
  8. Weightiness of speech

One should not

No man should confidently enter an enemy’s house after dusk even with notice. One should not at night lurk in the yard of another’s premises, nor should one seek to enjoy a woman to whom the king himself might make love. Never set thyself against the decisions to which a person has arrived who keeps low company and who is in the habit of consulting all he meets. Never tell him: ‘I do not believe thee’, but assigning some reason send him away on a pretext.

Lending and borrowing money

A king who is exceedingly merciful, a woman of lewd character, the servant of a king, a son, a brother, a widow having an infant son, one serving in the army, and one that has suffered great losses, should never be engaged in pecuniary transactions of lending or borrowing.

These eight qualities shed a lustre on men:

  1. wisdom
  2. High lineage
  3. Acquaintance with scriptures
  4. Self-restraint
  5. Prowess
  6. Moderation in speech
  7. Gift to the extent of one’s power
  8. Gratefulness

These high qualities, O sire, are necessarily brought together by one only by gifts. When the king favours a person, that incident (of royal favour) brings in all others and holds them together.

He that performs ablutions wins these ten:

  1. Strength
  2. Beauty
  3. A clear voice
  4. Capacity to utter all the alphabetical sounds
  5. Delicacy of touch
  6. Fineness of scent
  7. Cleanliness
  8. Gracefulness
  9. Delicacy of limbs
  10. Beautiful women

He that eats sparingly wins these

  1. Health
  2. Long life
  3. Ease
  4. His progeny also becomes healthy
  5. Nobody reproaches him for gluttony

One should not give shelter to these in his house

  1. One that always acts improperly
  2. One that eats too much
  3. One that is hated by all
  4. One that is exceedingly deceitful
  5. One that is cruel
  6. One that is ignorant of the proprieties of time and place
  7. One that dresses indecently

A person, however distressed,
should never solicit these

  1. A miser for alms
  2. One that speaks ill of others
  3. One that is unacquainted with the shastras (scriptures)
  4. A dweller in the woods
  5. One that is cunning
  6. One that does not regard persons worthy of regards
  7. One that is cruel
  8. One that habitually quarrel with others
  9. One that is ungrateful

A person should never wait
upon these six worst of men

  1. One that is a foe
  2. One that always errs
  3. One that is wedded to falsehood
  4. One that is wanting in devotion to the gods
  5. One that is without affection
  6. One that regards himself competent to do everything

One’s purposes depend (for their success) on means; and means are dependent, again, on the nature of the purposes (sought to be accomplished by them). They are intimately connected with each other, so that success depends on both. Begetting sons and rendering them independent by making some provision for them, and bestowing maiden daughters on eligible persons, on should retire to the woods, and desire to live as a Muni (a sage; an austere person). One should, for obtaining the favours of the Supreme Being, do that which is for the good of all creatures as also for his own happiness, for it is this which is at the root of the success of all one’s objects.

What anxiety has he for a livelihood that has intelligence, energy, prowess, strength, alacrity and perseverance?

Behold the evils of a rupture with the Pandavas, which would sadden the very gods with Sakra. These are:

  1. First, enmity between them that are all thy sons
  2. Secondly, a life of continued anxiety
  3. Thirdly, the loss of the fair fame of the Kurus
  4. And lastly, the joy of those that are thy enemies.

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