Vidura - The Eldest Of The Trio by Indrajit Bandyopadhyay SignUp
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Vidura - The Eldest Of The Trio
by Indrajit Bandyopadhyay Bookmark and Share
 

The entry of Vashishtha blood in the Bharata dynasty by Krishna-Dwaipayana’s Niyoga is a crucial event in the history of that dynasty having immense impact on the history of Bharatavarsha. It brought an end to the Bharadvaja-Angira blood that has been flowing in the veins of the dynasty since Bharata adopted Bharadvaja’s son Bhumanyu.

Calling Krishna-Dvaipayana for Niyoga on Satyavati’s advice was indeed a revolutionary act on Bhisma’s part, himself a bearer of Bharadvaja-Angira blood. It ended the Bharadvaja-Angira dominance in Bharata dynasty, and had great implications on the Vedic culture and civilization, for the Bharadvaja-Angiras Rishi family had been central to them.

The most important and relevant question for us at this point is, why did not Bhisma prefer his other patrilineal relatives for Niyoga on Vichitravirya’s widows? Isn’t it likely that Bhisma would be drawing the animosity of the powerful Bharadvaja-Angiras, to whom Vashishthas would be considered ‘outsiders’?

Since Bhisma himself would not beget children in his sister-in-laws’ wombs, he should have remembered Vahlika’s sons – Somadatta et al. – for the Niyoga, as that was the usual Dharmashashtric prescription. He, however, decided to call his half-brother on the step-mother’s side, who had a very remote connection with Bharata family by blood, given Satyavati carried Uparichara Basu’s blood in her veins!

Bhisma-Satyavati would certainly have faced opposition from Bharadvaja-Angira ministers and other relatives of the Kuru branch if Krishna-Dvaipayana’ Niyoga was that transparent; which leads us to the conclusion that the Niyoga was carried out in haste and with utter secrecy – with only Bhisma, Satyavati and Dwaipayana knowing – a fact corroborated in Mahabharata.

There is, thus, much mystery surrounding the birth of the three sons, Vichitravirya’s next generation – Dhritarashtra, Vidura and Pandu. We have always been made to believe that Vidura was the youngest. No known (I mean ‘Read’ – by me of course!) Mahabharata thinker or reader has disputed that fact. ‘Is it so?’ – I asked myself, and on closer examination of the ‘Text’, an entirely different history was revealed to me.

The parallel of Dirghatama-Baliraja-Sudeshna history with the Niyoga of Dwaipayana in Vichitravirya’s Kshetra – a history narrated by Bhisma himself to Satyavati, and the details of Dwaipayana’s Niyoga and reactions of Vichitravirya’s wives, have always left me with a hunch that there might be some ‘mistake’ in the popular notion about the ‘birth-order’ of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura.

That Dwaipayana’s Niyoga was done in haste is evident from the fact that initially Dwaipayana gave a condition that Vichitravirya’s widows should observe a Vrata for one year. However, Satyavati was reluctant to wait for one year, and requested her son to enter her daughters-in-law without delay, even if that violated Dharmashashtric prescriptions.

Dwaipayana agreed to impregnate Ambika on that very day with a warning that in that case the Princess’ Vrata would have to endure his visage, odour, dress and appearance – 

“yadi putrah pradatavyo maya kshipramakalikam .
virupatam me sahatametadasyah para.n vratam ..
yadi me sahate gandha.n rupam vesha.n tatha vapuh .
adyaiva garbha.n kausalya vishishtam pratipadyatam ..”
(1.99.44-45)

It is evident that Satyavati was not even willing to let have Dwaipayana time to bathe or other ‘freshen ups’ as required in Shashtric Niyoga.

Now the story runs as we all know – yet needs mention to allow us to analyse it.

After much persuasion, Satyavati drew consent from Ambika. On the first night, Dwaipayana entered Ambika’s room. Seeing his grim visage, she closed her eyes in fear. As a result a blind son – Dhritarashtra – was born to her.

Next, Dwaipayana went to Ambalika. She turned pale at his visage. As a result, a pale son – Pandu – was born to her. Satyavati requested Dwaipayana embrace Ambika again to try for another son. This time Ambika, instead of going herself, sent a Dasi. The Dasi satisfied Dwaipayana, and Vidura was born.

If we are complacent with our ‘faith’ in the story then it is one thing, however, on close reading of the text several questions arise, which we cannot ignore anymore.

Let us outline the story once again: 

1) Dwaipayana comes to Hastinapura
2) He goes to Ambika on that night
3) He goes to Ambalika the next night
4) Satyavati sends him to Ambika again, because Ambika’s son would be blind
5) Dwaipayana visits Ambika’s chamber, but this time Ambika herself does not go and sends a Dasi, with whom he copulates
6) Dwaipayana leaves Hastinapura
7) Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura are born in that order

Now, let us discuss the questions in the light of our ‘common sense’ (realizing, they would be questionable to many!!)
 
1) If Dwaipayana has sexual union with Ambika first, then each become acquainted with each other’s body odour, ‘style’ etc. Dwaipayana, being ‘amogha-retah’ has nothing to leave to Destiny, and Ambika becomes pregnant.

2) Ambalika becomes pregnant the next night

3) Now, the crucial point – how can Satyavati even think of sending Dwaipayana to Ambika again if she is already pregnant?
Surely, she did not give birth to Dhritarashtra like ‘instant coffee’!

For Dwaipayana to have sexual union with Ambika for the second time, he would have to wait for at least one year or until Dhritarashtra’s birth at least. In other words, he would have to return Hastinapura again after a year. Do we find anywhere in the Mahabharata such information that Dwaipayana returned after one year?

Even after one year, could Satyavati send Ambika to Dwaipayana for the second time? That Satyavati would want to send Ambika to Vyasa for a second time, and that Vyasa would agree to that is impossible, because a second time Niyoga was not permitted by the same person. 

If Dwaipayana had his first sexual encounter with Ambika, he is supposed to look at Ambika as his daughter-in-law thereafter. The Manu Samhita (IX, 59-63), lays down the rules of Niyoga as follows – (The Laws Of Manu translated by G. Buhler) – 

59. On failure of issue (by her husband) a woman who has been authorised, may obtain, (in the) proper (manner prescribed), the desired offspring by (cohabitation with) a brother-in-law or (with some other) Sapinda (of the husband). 

devarad va sapindad va striya samyakniyuktaya |
prajepsita.a.adhigantavya samtanasya parikshaye ||

60. He (who is) appointed to (cohabit with) the widow shall (approach her) at night anointed with clarified butter and silent, (and) beget one son, by no means a second.

vidhavayam niyuktastu ghritakto vagyato nishi |
ekamutpadayet putram na dvitiyam katham cana ||

61. Some (sages), versed in the law, considering the purpose of the appointment not to have been attained by those two (on the birth of the first), think that a second (son) may be lawfully procreated on (such) women.

dvitiyameke prajanam manyante strishu tadvidah |
anirvritam niyogartham pashyanto dharmatastayoh ||

62. But when the purpose of the appointment to (cohabit with) the widow bas been attained in accordance with the law, those two shall behave towards each other like a father and a daughter-in-law.

vidhavayam niyogarthe nirvritte tu yathavidhi |
guruvatca snushavatca varteyatam parasparam ||

63. If those two (being thus) appointed deviate from the rule and act from carnal desire, they will both become outcasts, (as men) who defile the bed of a daughter-in-law or of a Guru. 

niyuktau yau vidhim hitva varteyatam tu kamatah |
tavubhau patitau syatam snushagagurutalpagau ||
(nitaaiveda.com/All_Scriptures_By_Acharyas/Dharma_Shastras/Manu-samhita) 

It may be argued that Satyavati’s sending Ambika for a second time is in accordance with Manu-Samhita 9.61, but that cannot be the case here for she would have to wait one year for that till Dhritarashtra is born blind. Besides, birth of a blind son does not mean that the purpose of Niyoga has failed. We find many references of blind sages in Hindu scriptures. One example is Dirghatama, and this case was cited by Bhisma himself. And Dirghatama was certainly not a ‘failed’ offspring.

4) If Ambika had had intercourse with Dwaipayana first, how could she even think of duping Dwaipayana by sending a Dasi? Was she such a fool to think that she could deceive him? Was Dwaipayana such a dumb glum that having already ‘known’ Ambika he would be duped? Even if the Dasi was sent to him, having known Ambika, why would he have intercourse with her? Are we to suppose then that Dwaipayana knowingly had sexual union with a Dasi – just for pleasure?

Dwaipayana could not have sexual intercourse with the Shudra maiden knowingly, because such action was prohibited for a Brahmana. In Anushashana Parva Section-47 Bhisma tells Yudhishthira – ‘A Brahmana, by taking a Sudra woman to his bed, attains to a low end in the next world. He should, having done such an act, undergo expiation according to the rites laid down in the scriptures. That expiation must be twice heavier or severer if in consequence of such an act, O Yudhishthira, the Brahmana gets offspring:
 
zudraam.zayanam.aaropya.braahmanah.piidito.bhavet./
praayazcittiiyate.ca.api.vidhi.drstena.hetunaa.//
tatra.jaatesv.apatyesu.dvi.gunam.syaad.yudhisthira./
atas.te.niyamam.vitte.sampravaksyaami.bhaarata.//
(CE-13.47.9-10)

5) Dwaipayana promised Satyavati to produce two offspring like Mitra-Varuna. Why would he agree to produce a third one as the second one (though Pale) would be otherwise fit in all respects to become king? Are we to suppose that Dwaipayana willingly broke his own promise because he was lusty for sexual experience?

That is impossible because despite being an ascetic, he acceded to his mother’s request to be Niyukta for motives of dharma. Dwaipayana could not have intercourse with the Dasi just for carnal pleasure, as we also have the injunction of Manu Samhita: 

‘If those two (being thus) appointed deviate from the rule and act from carnal desire, they will both become outcasts, (as men) who defile the bed of a daughter-in-law or of a Guru- 

niyuktau yau vidhim hitva varteyatam tu kamatah |
tavubhau patitau syatam snushagagurutalpagau ||
(9.63)

6) Going by the narrative and our age-old ‘incredibly hardened belief’ in it, the Dasi-matter was detected both by Dwaipayana and Satyavati soon after. When it was detected that Ambika had sent a Dasi, Satyavati could have sent Ambika again, or she could have sent Ambalika for the second time if Ambika was unwilling, but that wasn’t the case. If Satyavati could give Ambika a second chance, why would Ambalika be deprived? 

The questions (which may or may not be as questionable to as many of you anymore!) leave us with the following answers – again in the light of our good old ‘common sense’ –

1) Like King Vali’s wife Sudeshna sending a Dasi to Dirghatama on the first time, Ambika sends a Dasi on the first night instead of going first. Dwaipayana has intercourse with her thinking her to be Ambika, just like Dirghatama – though he soon detected he had been duped, again like Dirghatama.

Thus Vidura is conceived first.

2) The narrative is as follows: ‘The Rishi, from desire of accomplishing his mother’s wishes, however appeared before Ambika. But the latter, struck with fear, opened not her eyes even once to look at him-

sambabhuuva.tayaa.raatrau.maatuh.priya.cikiirsayaa./
bhayaat.kaazi.sutaa.tam.tu.na.azaknod.abhiviiksitum.//
(CE-1.100.6)

Ambika submits to Dwaipayana’s embrace reluctantly (And they say, a man’s looks do not matter much, and the more ‘rough-tough’ the better!). She might have closed her eyes detesting Dwaipayana’s visage (one wonders though why Dwaipayana did not find time to have a good bath even after 24 hours of his first encounter with the Dasi!), but closing eyes cannot be the cause of Dhritarashtra’s blindness – that is certain! Many a woman close their eyes during intercourse because of – what else – no mark for guessing – that O-Thing (I am sure no question would be raised here by many! And poor are those of the adult male species who dare to question!), and none of them has been heard (by me, at least) to have given birth to blind children for that reason!

Leaving aside these ‘technical matters’, there is one crucial point here – that bolsters our theory. Ambika does not open ‘her eyes even once to look at him’, which is only possible if Ambika has already seen him earlier and known him earlier. If Satyavati had kept her guessing (and they say keeping a woman guessing intensifies her sexual passion!) and she was really content guessing, how would she know that Bhisma or any other Kuru would not be entering her room (and also entering HER ROOM!) and would she really close her eyes beforehand without a single look?

Her certainty proves she knows Dwaipayana – and that is only possible if she has already ‘seen it all’ – I mean, her Dasi in a strange ascetic’s embrace!

3) It becomes possible by all ‘mortal logic’, then, that Satyavati sends Ambika again on detection of her game. The narrative reads as follows: ‘Some time after, when the oldest of Vichitravirya’s widows again had her monthly season, she was solicited by Satyavati to approach Vyasa once again. Possessed of beauty like a daughter of a celestial, the princess refused to do her mother-in-law’s bidding, remembering the grim visage and strong odour of the Rishi.

rtu.kaale.tato.jyesthaam.vadhuum.tasmai.nyayojayat./
saa.tu.ruupam.ca.gandham.ca.maharseh.pravicintya.tam./
na.akarod.vacanam.devyaa.bhayaat.sura.suta.upamaa.//
(CE-1.100.22)

Going by our age-old belief that Ambika had the first intercourse with Dwaipayana, how is that possible? That ‘some time after’ or Ambika’s ‘Rtu.kaale’ cannot be possible while Ambika is still pregnant; in other words, Ambika can menstruate again only after Dhritarashtra’s birth – which would make that ‘some time after’ at least one year after. That prospect would mean, Dwaipayana has to return to Hastinapura after one year again for Niyoga. Did Dwaipayana really return after one year again for Niyoga? 

4) My theory, therefore is that Dwaipayana goes to Ambika the second night after the Niyoga fiasco or Dwaipayana’s Dasi-ecstasy on the first night– depending on what we are inclined to believe!

Any proof we require can be found in the story; ‘Then the Rishi of truthful speech, who had given his promise in respect of Ambika (the eldest of the princesses) in the first instance, entered her chamber while the lamp was burning. The princess, seeing his dark visage, his matted locks of copper hue, blazing eyes, his grim beard, closed her eyes in fear. 

tato.ambikaayaam.prathamam.niyuktah.satya.vaag.rsih./
diipyamaanesu.diipesu.zayanam.praviveza.ha.//
tasya.krsnasya.kapilaa.jataa.diipte.ca.locane./
babhruuni.caiva.zmazruuni.drstvaa.devii.nyamiilayat.//
(CE-1.100.4-5)

The obvious contradiction here is that Ambika closes her eyes only after seeing Dwaipayana! As the two narratives contradict each other they both can’t be right, so we need to examine them further to determine their merits. 

Well! Why would the lamp be lit during Dwaipayana’s intercourse with Ambika? Doesn’t it imply that the burning lamp was a means of Satyavati to ensure that Ambika was Ambika, and not a dasi giving proxy? Why else would the lamp be particularly mentioned?

Earlier Dwaipayana had told Satyavati that Niyoga in haste would mean that Ambika would have to bear with his odour – ‘gandham’ – 

yadi.me.sahate.gandham.ruupam.vesam.tathaa.vapuh

But Ambika is not bothered by any foul odour. The wretched lady’s only problem is with Dwaipayana’s visage. Can we really blame her for that when we know she was expecting Bhisma when Satyavati told her how urgently her womb was needed to save the dynasty?

That means this is not Dwaipayana’s first encounter; it was the Dasi who had already bore his smell without complaint, and this time Vyasa has done away with his ‘odour’- (thereby relieving us of the headache of why he would not have a bath even after 24 hours)!

Therefore, although Satyavati did not disclose to her the identity of the Niyukta and kept her guessing, Ambika got news of the Niyukta’s identity through her Dasi (they say- as say Vatsayana in Kamasutra and Kautilya in Arthashashtra – Dasis are better spies than the hairy mustached ones with no curves!) and sent the Dasi. Obviously, Ambika was not willing to bear the child of an unknown ascetic while she had already been ‘emotionally attached’ to Bhisma – courtesy that universal thing called ‘Sexual Fantasy’!

Regarding the less important question – though important to absolve Dwaipayana of a serious ‘crime’ i.e. gory visage, we may check – as a side glance – whether he was really that ugly.

On the occasion of Suka’s birth, it is said: ‘Assuming the excellent form and complexion that were his sire, Suka, O son of Kuru, of cleansed Soul, shone like a smokeless fire – 

bibhrat.pituz.ca.kauravya.ruupa.varnam.anuttamam./
babhau.tadaa.bhaavita.aatmaa.vidhuumo.agnir.iva.jvalan.//
(CE-12.311.11)

Devi Bhagavatam also absolves Dwaipayana of that crime and declares that Vyasa was very handsome. No doubt, an Apsara got attached to him in his ripe age and produced the greatest of Dwaipayana’s sons – Suka!

Dwaipayana’s ugly visage has one possible explanation, then. He has been in an ascetic mode of life, and has traveled quite a distance to reach Hastinapura, meaning he was worn out and exhausted, in other words not looking his best.

Returning to our theory, not only was the lamp was burning during intercourse, the story tell us Satyavati was waiting outside the closed door! What a mother!: ‘And when Vyasa came out, he was met by his mother, who asked him, ‘Shall the princess have an accomplished son?’ Hearing her, he replied, ‘The son of the princess she will bring forth shall be equal in might unto ten thousand elephants. He will be an illustrious royal sage, possessed of great learning and intelligence and energy. The high souled one shall have in his time a century of sons. But from the fault of his mother he shall be blind (CE-1.100.7-10).’

The old Queen Mother seems to have lost all faith in her elder daughter-in-law and hell-bent on leaving nothing to chance. Not only does she send her grown-up baby to her daughter-in-law, she even stands as the door guard! And another important thing – all Dharmashashtic injunctions regarding Niyoga are thrown to the wind! No application of curd, salt and ghee on their bodies – Nothing!

5) So, letting our theory flow free, (not fall free, I assure!) the ‘model’ is like this:
1st Night – Dasi – Vidura
2nd Night – Ambika – Dhritarashtra
3rd Night – Ambalika – Pandu

However, if we go by our age-old belief, then the ‘model’ would be:
1st Night – Ambika – Dhritarashtra
2nd Night – Ambalika – Pandu
About one year later on another dark night – Dasi – Vidura

Now, the ‘point’ on which our theory will survive or perish is, was Vidura born after one year of Dhritarashtra-Pandu’s birth – in which case our theory goes to Hell – or, were the three brothers conceived and born together i.e. during Dwaipayana’s ‘only and single’ visit to Hastinapura for Niyoga purpose – in which case, not only our theory survives, but hopefully goes to Svarga after its successful and ‘fruitful’ Lila on Earth! Let us ‘check out’ some references from the Mahabharata in order to see which is the most probable.

First, In Adi Parva, Sauti says to Shaunaka and the Rishis in Naimisharanya: ‘I will now speak of the undying flowery and fruitful productions of this tree, possessed of pure and pleasant taste, and not to be destroyed even by the immortals. Formerly, the spirited and virtuous Krishna-Dwaipayana, by the injunctions of Bhishma, the wise son of Ganga and of his own mother, became the father of three boys who were like the three fires by the two wives of Vichitra-virya; and ‘after producing- utpaadya’ Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura, he returned to his recluse abode to prosecute his religious exercise-

ksetre.vicitra.viiryasya.krsna.dvaipaayanah.puraa./
triin.agniin.iva.kauravyaan.janayaam.aasa.viiryavaan.//
utpaadya.dhrtaraastram.ca.paandum.viduram.eva.ca./
jagaama.tapase.dhiimaan.punar.eva.aazramam.prati.//
(CE-1.1.54-55)

It is clear, Vyasa returned to his ashrama after his visit to Hastinapura. There is no information here or anywhere else in the whole of Mahabharata that Vyasa returned again after one year. He came once (for Niyoga, not taking into account his other ‘political’ visits before or thereafter), and returned after doing his job.

Another interesting point is, Vidura is acknowledged to have been born in Vichitravirya’s ‘kshetra’, implying his mother was not a Dasi! In other words, Vidura’s mother was also a ‘married’ Shudra wife of Vichitravirya. 

Is that possible? Well, it is mentioned here in the text: ‘Thus were born, in the field of Vichitravirya, even of Dwaipayana those sons of the splendour of celestial children, those propagators of the Kuru race-

evam.vicitra.viiryasya.ksetre.dvaipaayanaad.api./
jajnire.deva.garbha.aabhaah.kuru.vamza.vivardhanaah.//
(CE-1.100.30)

‘vicitra.viiryasya.ksetre’ – cannot refer to a mere Dasi. All including Vidura are called ‘Deva’, and all including Vidura are called ‘propagators of the Kuru race.’ 

In Anushashana Parva Bhisma tells Yudhishthira –

‘For the Kshatriya, O delighter of the Kurus, two wives have been ordained. The Kshatriya may take a third wife from the Sudra order-

ksatriyasya.api.bhaarye.dve.vihite.kuru.nandana./
trtiiyaa.ca.bhavet.zuudraa.na.tu.drsta.antatah.smrtaa.//
(CE-13.47.47)

From the status Vidura enjoyed, it seems likely, that his mother was also Vichitravirya’s third Sudra wife as per above injunction.  This seems all the more likely because, Vyasa himself says that he gave birth to Vidura in Vichitravirya’s ‘Kshetre’, implying the Shudra was his wife. 

(vaicitra.viiryake.ksetre.jaatah.sa.sumahaa.matih – 15.35.15)

One point may be raised here – The arrangement of name in CE-1.105.5 suggests Dhritarashtra was eldest and Vidura was youngest. How would our theory hold then? Well, in Mahabharata, the order in which names are presented is no guarantee of the order of birth. For example, in another mention of the three brothers, Sauti says, ‘And the Brahmana Rishi had knowledge of the supreme Brahma, knew the past by intuition, was holy, and cherished truth. Of sacred deeds and great fame, he begot Pandu and Dhritarashtra and Vidura in order to continue the line of Santanu’.

yah.paandum.dhrta.raastram.ca.viduram.ca.apy.ajiijanat./
zamtanoh.samtatim.tanvan.punya.kiirtir.mahaa.yazaah.//
(CE-1.54.6)

Here Pandu is named first, then Dhritarashtra, then Vidura. So, arrangement of names in Sloka does not denote chronology of birth.

Secondly, Dwaipayana agreed to give birth to two sons, to produce sons like Mitra-Varuna, and told Satyavati, ‘ O thou of great wisdom, thy affections also are set on virtue. Therefore, at thy command, making virtue my motive, I shall do what thou desirest. Indeed, this practice that is conformable to the true and eternal religion is known to me, I shall give unto my brother children that shall be like unto Mitra and Varuna- 

tasmaad.aham.tvan.niyogaad.dharmam.uddizya.kaaranam./
iipsitam.te.karisyaami.drstam.hy.etat.puraatanam.//
bhraatuh.putraan.pradaasyaami.mitraa.varunayoh.samaan./
(CE-1.99.37-38)

Dwaipayana uses the word ‘dharma’, a point we would return later, if he had already impregnated Ambika and Ambalika, why would he agree to break his promise at the cost of adharma and return after one year? 

Thirdly, Vidura’s birth is mentioned first in Parva-counting. 

‘…….his protection of his younger brother, Vichitravirya, and his placing the latter on the throne: the birth of Dharma among men in consequence of the curse of Animondavya; the births of Dhritarashtra and Pandu through the potency of Vyasa’s blessings (?) and also the birth of the Pandavas………-

vicitra.viiryasya.tathaa.raajye.sampratipaadanam./
dharmasya.nrsu.sambhuutir.anii.maandavya.zaapajaa.//
krsna.dvaipaayanaac.caiva.prasuutir.vara.daana.jaa./
dhrtaraastrasya.paandoz.ca.paandavaanaam.ca.sambhavah.//
(CE-1.20.81-82)

Why would the poet count the Parva like that if Vidura is not born earlier? Needless to say, the Parva counting mentions other events chronologically.

Fourthly, wherever the birth of the three brothers is mentioned, it is mentioned together as in, ‘But Vichitravirya became king, and married the two daughters of the king of Kasi, named Amvika and Amvalika. But Vichitravirya died childless. Then Satyavati began to think as to how the dynasty of Dushmanta might be perpetuated. Then she recollected the Rishi Dwaipayana. The latter coming before her, asked, ‘What are thy commands?’
‘She said, ‘Thy brother Vichitravirya hath gone to heaven childless. Beget virtuous children for him.’ Dwaipayana, consenting to this, begat three children, viz., Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura-

sa.param.ity.uktvaa.triin.putraan.utpaadayaam.aasa.
dhrtaraastram.paandum.viduram.ca.iti.//
(CE-1.90.60)

After the birth of the three brothers, there was much celebration in Kurujangala, 

tesu.trisu.kumaaresu.jaatesu.kuru.jaangalam./{V}
kuravo.atha.kuru.ksetram.trayam.etad.avardhata.//
(CE-1.102.1)

If Vidura was born a year later, why would Kurujangala postpone the celebration when Dhritarashtra and Pandu were already born?

This shows beyond doubt that the three brothers were born almost together. Needless to say, if they were born almost at the same time, Ambika could not have conceived first.

Fifthly, we are informed that Vidura did not get the throne because he was born of a Shudra woman –‘Pandu became king, for Dhritarashtra, owing to the blindness, and Vidura, for his birth by a Sudra woman, did not obtain the kingdom.’

dhrtaraastras.tv.acaksustvaad.raajyam.na.pratyapadyata./
karanatvaac.ca.vidurah.paandur.aasiin.mahii.patih.//
(CE-1.102.23)

Going by the popular belief Vidura is naturally disqualified on two counts:

a) He is the youngest
b) He is born of a Shudra

If Vidura is naturally disqualified to inherit the throne, why would the poet need to mention his name at all? And even if he does, why would he mention only his ‘karanatvaa’? Are we supposed to believe that the Mahabharata poet had a penchant for unnecessarily increasing the bulk of slokas like any other trash poet of our time? Vidura’s special mention here shows, his name was also considered for the throne but ruled out because his mother was Shudra. That his name was considered proves, he was not the youngest and his mother was not a mere Dasi!

Sixthly, there is a rather strange mention in Adi Parva that ‘Vidura, who was the first of all virtuous men, who was the god of Justice himself, was the excellent and greatly fortunate son of the Rishi Atri-

atres.tu.sumahaa.bhaagam.putram.putravataam.varam./
viduram.viddhi.loke.asmin.jaatam.buddhimataam.varam.//
(CE-1.61.79)

This reference is unique because it is not corroborated elsewhere in the Mahabharata or even in any folk-Mahabharata. Why Vidura is called born of Atri is a problem that cannot be easily resolved. In my opinion, this reference implies he was eldest, because Atri is the progenitor of the Puru race.

Seventhly, though Dwaipayana promised to produce sons like Mitra-Varuna, Satyavati has Indra in mind. She promised Ambika: ‘O thou of fair hips, bring thou forth a child equal in splendour unto the chief of the celestials. He shall bear the onerous burden of this our hereditary kingdom-

putram.janaya.suzroni.deva.raaja.sama.prabham./
sa.hi.raajya.dhuram.gurviim.udvaksyati.kulasya.nah.//
(CE-1.99.48)

Satyavati promised that Ambika’s son would be king. The future son is also referred to as Indra. If that was the promise, it should not have mattered whether the son was blind or not. Even if it was not possible for Satyavati to abide by her promise, Ambalika’s son fulfilled her desire for an Indra. Why would she request Ambika again to go through the ‘agony’ of submitting to Dwaipayana, when the possibility remained that she would again close her eyes (O-Thing or not!), and her second son too would be blind?

The improbability simply points out that Satyavati was not sending Ambika for the ‘second’ time, which further proves that ‘this’ was the ‘first’ time for Ambika, and that Dwaipayana’s first intercourse had been with the ‘Dasi.’

When Dwaipayana came out of the room after his intercourse with Ambika, Satyavati asked him, ‘Shall the princess have an accomplished son?’ 

apy.asyaam.gunavaan.putra.raaja.putro.bhavisyati.// (CE-1.100.7)

He replied, ‘The son of the princess she will bring forth shall be equal in might unto ten thousand elephants. He will be an illustrious royal sage, possessed of great learning and intelligence and energy. The high-souled one shall have in his time a century of sons. But from the fault of his mother he shall be blind – 

nizamya.tad.vaco.maatur.vyaasah.parama.buddhimaan./
provaaca.atiindriya.jnaano.vidhinaa.sampracoditah.//
naaga.ayuga.sama.praano.vidvaan.raaja.rsi.sattamah./
mahaa.bhaago.mahaa.viiryo.mahaa.buddhir.bhavisyati.//
tasya.ca.api.zatam.putraa.bhavisyanti.mahaa.balaah./
kim.tu.maatuh.sa.vaigunyaad.andha;eva.bhavisyati.//
(CE-1.100.8-10)

In other words Dwaipayana promised Ambika’s son would be king, which is further evident from the fact that when Satyavati learned Ambika’s son would be blind, she requested Dwaipayana, It behoveth thee to give another king unto the Kurus-

dvitiiyam.kuru.vamzasya.raajaanam.daatum.arhasi.// (CE-1.100.12)

Dwaipayana agreed to produce ‘another king’, implying the first would be a king. 

If Dwaipayana and Satyavati promised that Ambika’s son would be king, then despite getting ‘another king’ from Ambalika, why would she send Ambika again? If our theory proves right, then both mother and son had their wishes fulfilled in a peculiar unforeseen way;

Vidura – Mitra
Dhritarashtra – Varuna
Pandu – Indra

Eighthly, If Dwaipayana could break his promise, and agreed to a third intercourse, then, surely, he would have agreed to a fourth. In other words, if Ambika sent the Dasi instead of going herself the second time (i.e. for Vidura to be conceived the youngest), then on its detection, Satyavati could have sent her yet again, and if she denied, Ambalika was there! But, nothing of that sort happened!

Ninthly, after his intercourse with the Dasi, Dwaipayana admitted to Satyavati he was ‘deceived’, ‘And Krishna-Dwaipayana, when he met his mother as before, informed her as to how he had been deceived by the senior-most of the princesses and how he had begotten a son upon a Sudra woman. And having spoken thus unto his mother the Rishi disappeared from her sight.’

Given Dwaipayana’s greatness (for skeptics, ‘He was the composer of Mahabharata!’), he could have been ‘deceived’ only if he had thought the Dasi to be Ambika; in other words, only if the Dasi was the first to have intercourse with him.

Tenthly, after the Trio is born, they are brought up with equal care, ‘And Dhritarashtra and Pandu and Vidura of great intelligence were from their birth brought up by Bhishma, as if they were his own sons. And the children, having passed through the usual rites of their order, devoted themselves to vows and study. And they grew up into fine young men skilled in the Vedas and all athletic sports. And they became well-skilled in the practice of bow, in horsemanship, in encounters with mace, sword and shield, in the management of elephants in battle, and in the science of morality. Well-read in history and the Puranas and various branches of learning, and acquainted with the truths of the Vedas and their branches they acquired knowledge, which was versatile and deep. And Pandu, possessed of great prowess, excelled all men in archery while Dhritarashtra excelled all in personal strength, while in the three worlds there was no one equal to Vidura in devotion to virtue and in the knowledge of the dictates of morality. And beholding the restoration of the extinct line of Santanu, the saying became current in all countries that among mothers of heroes, the daughters of the king of Kasi were the first; that among countries Kurujangala was the first; that among virtuous men, Vidura was the first; that among cities Hastinapura was the first. Pandu became king, for Dhritarashtra, owing to the blindness, and Vidura, for his birth by a Sudra woman, did not obtain the kingdom. One day Bhishma, the foremost of those acquainted with the duties of a statesman and dictates of morality, properly addressing Vidura conversant with the truth of religion and virtue, said as follows. (CE-1.102.2-22)

It should be noted how Vidura’s accomplishment is ‘specially’ mentioned. According to Manu Samhita – ‘The son whom a Brahmana begets through lust on a Sudra female is, (though) alive (parayan), a corpse (sava), and hence called a Parasava (a living corpse)-

yam brahmanastu shudrayam kamadutpadayet sutam |
sa parayanneva shavastasmat parashavah smritah ||
(9.178)

Had Vidura really been the youngest result of Dwaipayana’s carnal desire, could that ‘living corpse’ be brought up at par with Dhritarashtra and Pandu?

Continued     

12-Sep-2010
More by :  Indrajit Bandyopadhyay
 
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Solitude and other poems by Rajender Krishan
 


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