Vidura Nīti – Conversation between Dhrutharashtra and Vidura – Chapter 36 – Slokas 1 – 74

Vidura uvācha, “Hey King! People quote the ancient historical example of the conversation between Dattatreya and Sādhyadevathas in this matter; I have also heard about it.


It is a matter of ancient times, Maharshi Dattatreya, the supremely intelligent and observer of superlative vows and pious austerities was wandering about in the form of a swan (paramahamsa) and at that time time Sādhyadevathas asked Him thus –


“O Maharshe! We are all Sādhyadevathas but after seeing You, we are unable to infer anything in Your matter. You appear to be endowed with knowledge of the scriptures, are resolute and intelligent to us and therefore, kindly share your profoundly erudite words with us.”


Hamsa uvācha, “Hey Sādhyadevathas! I have heard that duty is the possession of fortitude/forbearance, control over the mind and observance and practice of the dharma of satya; through these a man should try to open all the ties/knots in the heart and should understand both likes and dislikes to be equal to the ātmā.


One should not abuse another even after hearing abuses from them. The anger restrained by a man who bears the curse hurled at him will itself burn the one who has abused him and it takes away all his goodwill/punya as well.


One should neither abuse another nor should he humiliate one, one should not be disloyal to friends nor should one serve lowly persons, one should not be devoid of good moral conduct and should not be proud/vain/arrogant and one should forsake surly/rough as well as angry words.


Rough and harsh words said in this universe will keep burning the core, bones, heart and the soul and spirit and therefore, the man devoted to dharma should forever forsake these harsh surly words that burn one.


It is to be understood that one whose words are harsh and whose nature is cruel, one who wounds the heart centre and causes agony/anguish/suffering to people through the arrows of rough words is an extremely lowly person among men and he wears his penury/lowliness on his face and is sailing tied to death.


If another man is burnt with arrows of extremely sharp and piercing words comparable to fire and sun by this man causing great injury to him, then that wise man should swallow the injury bearing intolerable pain and think that he is making his punya robust/strong.


Like how a garment when dyed in a specific colour becomes like that, similarly if a gentleman serves a crooked man, a saintly man or a thief, he also comes under their control – their colour comes on him.


The devathas in the heavenly worlds will look to see the arrival of the one who does not speak ill of another on his own, does not cause others to speak as well, does not beat up anyone nor does he make others beat up someone even though he has not been beaten up and does not want to beat up the guilty person even after receiving beatings/blows.


It has been said that it is better to be quiet than to speak and this has been told to be the first merit/characteristic of speech/uttering words and if it does become necessary to speak then it is best to speak the truth which has been said to be the second merit/characteristic of speech and therefore the expectation of silence is far more advantageous. Speaking the truth and words that are pleasing to all is the third merit/characteristic of speech. If the words spoken are the truth and pleasing to all and in accordance with dharma, then that is the fourth merit/characteristic of speech.


A man becomes like the people he stays/resides with, like the people he does service to and the way he wants to become.


A man becomes liberated from such matters from which he moves away/withdraws in his mind and therefore, if he attains renunciation from all sides/from everything, then he will not experience even a shred of sorrow.


The one who is not conquered by anyone nor does he desire to conquer others, one who does not have animosity towards anyone nor does he want to cause injury to others and one who maintains equanimity in both censure as well as praise goes beyond joyfulness and anguish.


The one who desires the benediction for all, never brings in matters of ill-intention towards anyone in his mind, one who is truthful, soft and stoic is considered to be a superlative/exemplary person.


One who does not give false consolation/solace, one who gives as pledged/vowed and is aware of the blemishes/faults in others is an average/medium person.


One who’s reign/rule is excessively cruel, one who is tainted with many faults/blemishes, one who is disgraced/stained, one who does not move away from doing something bad to someone when overcome with anger, one who does not accept charity/benefaction done for others, one who does not have friendship with anyone and one who is a miscreant are considered to be distinctive traits of a lowly person.


He is definitely a lowly person who doubts himself and therefore, does not have faith in the benediction from others and keeps his friends also far away.


The one who wants his wealth and prosperity to expand/augment should only serve superlative persons and he should also serve average/medium persons when time permits but he should definitely not serve lowly persons.


Even if a man manages to acquire/earn wealth from the strength of diabolical men or from being engaged unceasingly/uninterruptedly in industry/trade or from using intelligence and the object of human pursuit, he will never be able to acquire in entirety the respect and virtue of supreme high-born men.”


Dhrutharashtra uvācha, “Vidura! Even the erudite devathas who are absorbed/devoted in the discipline and practice of dharma and artha also desire to be born in a noble/high-born family. Hence, I ask you this question – what is the great high-born/noble/elite?”


Vidura uvācha, “The seven qualities that are always present namely tapah (austerity), control of the senses, self-study of the Vedas, yagna, sacred marriage, always engaged in the donation of food and virtue are called as the great high-born/noble/elite.


One who’s virtue/conduct is not cold, one who does not cause torment/anguish to the mother-father because of his own flaws/blemishes, one who behaves/conducts himself in accordance with dharma with pleasure/happiness, one who forsakes untruth and one who wishes for exceptional repute/fame for his lineage is only a great high-born/noble/elite.


Even a noble/high-born lineage will become lowly from not performing yagnas, from marrying into a condemned family, from renunciation of the Vedas and from transgression/violation of dharma.


Even a noble/high-born/elite lineage will become lowly with the destruction of the wealth of the devathas, usurping the wealth of a Brahman and through transgression/violation of the dignity/decency of Brahmans.


Bharata! Even a good lineage will become disreputable by disrespecting and condemning Brahmans and taking an item that has been deposited/kept in a trust in secret.


If a lineage is enriched/accomplished with cows, men and wealth but is devoid of virtue, then it cannot be counted/estimated as one of the good lineages.


Even if a modestly wealthy lineage is enriched/endowed with virtue, then it is counted/estimated as one of the good lineages and they attain great glory/reputation.


It is imperative to endeavour diligently to protect virtue; wealth comes and goes. Even when wealth gets exhausted/spent, a virtuous man is not deemed to be exhausted/spent but one who is corrupted with vices and devoid of virtue is understood to be ruined.


A lineage that is devoid of virtue cannot attain any advancement/progress even if they are enriched/endowed with cows, animals/livestock, horses and lush fields/cultivated farmlands.


There should not be anyone in our lineage who is animus towards another, there should not be a king or minister who has usurped another’s wealth, there should not be a disloyal friend and there should not be a deceitful and untruthful person. There should not be anyone who eats food without offering food first to mother-father, devatha and guests.


A person in our lineage who kills Brahmans, has hatred/malice towards Brahmans and does not do pindadaan and tarpana for the ancestors should not be allowed to enter our sabha (assembly).


These four things are never in short supply in the houses of gentlemen namely a seat of grass, earth, water and sweet pleasing words.


Mahāprāgya Rājan! The aforementioned items are assembled here with a lot of devotion to honour the observers and followers of dharma who are engaged in good deeds.


Nripavar! Even if a chariot is small, it can carry the weight/burden but other wood/trees in spite of being big/large cannot do that. Similarly, a zealous man born in a noble/high-born/elite family can bear the burden while other men are not like that.


He whom one needs to fear when angry and do service to after becoming suspicious/alarmed is not a friend. A friend is one on whom the trust is equivalent to the trust in a father while the others are only acquaintances/side-kicks.


One who behaves like a friend even though there is no previous affiliation/connection is only a brother, a friend, a support and a refuge.


One whose mind is flighty; one who does not do service to old people – that vague/uncertain/vacillating person will not have any permanent collection of friends.


Like how a swan only circles/hovers over an arid/dried-up lake and does not enter into it, similarly one’s whose mind is flighty, one who ignorant and a slave to the sensory organs will be forsaken.


The behaviour of diabolical/evil men is as flighty as the clouds; they will suddenly become angry and become pleased without reason.


Even animals who are carnivorous will not eat the meat of an ungrateful/thankless man on his demise who is honoured by friends and completes his work with their help and support but is not their friend.


A man can respect his friends without asking anything from them even if he has or hasn’t any wealth. He should not test the friend’s essence/substance or futility/hollowness.


Beauty is destroyed by pain/vexation, strength is destroyed by pain/vexation, knowledge is destroyed by pain/vexation and man acquires disease because of pain/vexation.


A desired object is not acquired by expressing anguish; from anguish only, the body becomes pained/vexed up and enemies become happy. And therefore, do not become anguished in the mind.


Man, repeatedly takes birth and dies, repeatedly acquires decay and old age, repeatedly asks from others and others also repeatedly demand from him and continuously will be anguished for others and others also express their anguish for him.


Happiness-sorrow, origin-destruction, gain-damage and life-death – these are acquired by all continually and hence, a resolute person should not express joyfulness or anguish over these.


These six sensory organs are very flighty – towards whichever matter/subject a particular sensory organ moves, there the intelligence becomes exhausted like how water continually leaks out from a broken pot.”


Dhrutharashtra uvācha, “Vidura! I have behaved in an untrue manner with King Yudhishtira who is bound by the secret dharma and will now be adorned with the crown and therefore, he will engage in war and destroy my foolish sons.


Mahāmate! All this is creating fear and my mind is also rattled by fear and therefore, you tell me that which is devoid of agitation/unease and that path which is peaceful.”


Vidura uvācha, “Pāpashoonya Naresh! I do not see any other solution for you for peace besides knowledge, tapah (austerity), control of the sensory organs and renunciation of greed.


A man sets aside his fear with intelligence, attains the supreme place through tapasya (austerity), attains knowledge through service to the Guru and attains peace through yoga.


A man who desires liberation will not take refuge in the good of charity; will not take refuge in the good of the Vedas but will remain dispassionate and detached bereft of hate and animosity in this world.


A thorough study, a war waged on justice, engaging in good deeds and a tapasaya (austerity) done in the right manner will lead to accession of happiness in the end.


O King! People who are at odds with each other will never be able to have a good sleep even if they have a bed with a nice bedspread; they will not be pleased even if they are with women or even if they hear the praises heaped on them by charioteers or minstrels.


Those who have mutual differences/disagreements will never be able to conduct themselves in accordance with dharma. They will not attain happiness. They will not attain glory and they will not tolerate the advice of peace.


Even if something is said that is in their best interest, they will not like it. They will not be able to attain success for their yogakshema (good yoga practice/efforts). Hey King! There is no other course except destruction for those men who keep distinctions/differences/disagreements.


Similar to how there is a greater possibility for milk to be there in cows, for tapah (austerity) to be there in Brahmans and for flightiness to be there in young women likewise there is the possibility for fear to be there towards relatives.


Similar to how skinny creepers that have grown into abundance by frequent watering can bear the different types of gust of wind that comes with many heavy rainfalls, likewise this has to be understood in the case of satpurushas (saintly people) who despite being weak will become strong because of collective strength.


Bharatashreshta Dhrutharashtra! The wood that is burning when separated will still give out fumes/smoke and will burn brightly when placed together. Similarly, there is unhappiness when relatives are at odds with each other and there is happiness when they are united.


Dhrutharashtra! Those who only exhibit valour/heroism towards Brahmans, women, relatives and cows will fall down like the fruits cooked on a stalk.


If a tree is all alone, then it can still bite the dust along with all its strong branches in a thunderstorm in one second even if it is strong with unyielding roots and in spite of it being tall and massive.


But those trees who stay together standing like a group/community can withstand even the greatest thunderstorms with the help and support of the others.


Similarly, if a man endowed with all the fine qualities is alone, then an enemy will understand the strength within like how the wind understands the strength of a tree standing alone.


If there is mutual concurrence and help and support from the others, then relatives attain that type of success similar to the lotus in a lake.


Brahman, cow, householder, young boy, woman, a provider of food and a refugee should not be put to death.


Hey King! May you be blissful! There are no other qualities in men besides wealth and health because one who is ill is comparable to being lifeless/dead.


Maharaja! That anger which has sprung up without any disease, which is bitter, which gives one a headache, which is connected to sin, is cruel, sharp and fiery, which is worthy of being swallowed by gentlemen but that which malicious ones cannot bear you swallow and become calm and peaceful.


A man who is plagued with disease will not respect nectarine fruits and he does not obtain any happiness or substance in matters. One who is ill is always unhappy and cannot experience either the pleasures of wealth nor happiness.


Hey King! I said this to you when Draupadi had been won in the game of dice, “You stop indulging Duryodhana and stop this game of dice, the wise and well-versed ones dissuade this defraudation/deception.”  But you did not listen to my advice.


That which is opposed to mild/lenient behaviour is not strength and it is imperative to serve the secret dharma immediately. Lakshmi accrued becomes perishable when subjected to cruelty but if the same is increased with mildness/leniency, then She will remain fixed/stationary till the time of children-grandchildren.


Hey King! Let your sons protect the sons of Pandu and let the sons of Pandu protect your sons. Let all the Kauravas accept the enemy of each other as their enemy and one’s friend as their friend. Let the duty of all be only one, let all of them live out their lives in happiness/bliss and in prosperity/opulence.


Ajameedhakulanandan! You are only the fundamental pillar in the Kauravas at this moment, the entire Kuruvamsha is dependent on you. O Wise One! The son of Kunti is still a boy and has undergone a lot of suffering/hardship because of vanavāsa (residence in the forest); take care of him at this point and protect your reputation.


Kururaja! Make peace with the Pandavas so that the enemies will not get the opportunity to see your lacuna. Naradeva! All the Pandavas are holding on tightly to satya; now you stop your son Duryodhana.”

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