Updated: Oct 25, 2022
King Janmejaya was desirous to know about his ancestors. So, Rishi Vaishampayan began his narration——-
In due course of time, the princesses of Koshala- Ambika, Ambalika, and a maidservant of Ambika gave birth to three radiant, extremely powerful sons named Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura by the great rishi Vyasadev. And Vidura was none other than Yamaraj himself! He was cursed by a Brahmin to be born in the womb of a Sudra (low cast) woman!’
Immediately King Janmejaya asked, ‘O Honourable rishi! Why did Dharmadev (Yamaraj) was cursed and from whom?’
Rishi Vaishampayana smiled. He said, ‘O noble son of Parikshit! Listen to me the story of Vidura.’
'There was a great, devoted rishi named- Mandavya. He was learned in all precepts of virtue and was devoted to truth and asceticism. He lived in a hermitage in the forest, which was on the outskirt of the city. He took the penance of silence. With his arms upraised in observance of the vow of silence, Mandavya sat under a tree next to his small hermitage. While he was deeply engaged in his meditation at that time a group of robbers reached there with their stolen property. The thieves were pursued by the king's guardsmen. In a hurry, the thieves entered the sage Mandavya’s hermitage and hid the property. They too hid in fear.
Tracing the thieves, the guards-men reached the sage. But Rishi Mandavya was in the same state of his meditation. Seeing the rishi, the guards asked him, ‘O noble Brahman, which way the thieves have gone? O Brahman, point them to us, so that we may capture them without wasting time.’
But as the sage was in a vow of silence, he said nothing. The guards without getting any reply searched the hermitage and at last, found the stolen booty and the thieves too. They informed the king about the sage assuming he was the head of the thieves. The King became very angry and without a second thought ordered to punish them all by putting on spears.
Though the virtuous-minded Brahman Rishi remained for many years, he did not die because of his ascetic power. With his power, only he called the other Rishis and they came in the night in the form of birds. They were extremely aggrieved. They asked, ‘O great rishi! We desire to hear what is your sin for which you suffer this severe torture of being placed at the point of a spear(Shula).
The noble Rishi said, ‘No one should be blamed.’ In the meanwhile, the King came to know about the state of Rishi and the gathering of other ascetics. He was astonished to know that the Rishi was still alive! He came hastily to the great Rishi and begged him for his forgiveness for his misdeeds. He tried to pull out the Shula from his body but it was futile. In the same state, Mandavya went to Dharmaraj( Yamaraj) who was seated on his throne. The Rishi asked, ‘O Yamdev, what sin have I committed for which I am tortured like this?’
Yamdev said with humility, ‘O reverend Rishi! You tortured the bees and the insects for which you are suffering. Don't you know that- there is some result for every good or bad deed?’
The Rishi again asked, ‘When did I do this?’
‘When you were a child,’ said Yamraj humbly.
The Rishi got furious and announced, ‘O Dharmaraj! You are a symbol of justice. A child is innocent by nature and he is not aware of any crime. Hereafter, if any child below the age of fourteen did any sin, it would not be considered as a crime. And I curse you to be born as a mortal in a Shudra woman’s womb because of your unfair justice!’
Thus, Vidur was born to a maid-servant and he was no other than Dharmaraj himself! But he was the most virtuous man on this earth. No one in these three worlds could be equal to him in truthfulness, virtue, and statesmanship! He was away from anger, malice, and other evil deeds. Even Grandsire Bhishma appointed him as the counselor of Dhritarashtra when barely he was in his teens.
When King Dhritarashtra invited Pandavas for a dice game, Vidura begged him to forsake the game. Dhritarashtra requested to his son, ‘O Duryodhana, do not call for a dice game which is only destructive and will consume the whole Kuru race! Vidura, the most virtuous and learned man doesn't approve of it.’
But Duryodhana was Duryodhana! He arrogantly rejected his father’s request and finally landed in the Mahabharata War!