Vidura was born of sage Vyasa who is also the writer of Mahabharata, but Vidura’s mother’s name is never mentioned in the Mahabharata. He was half brother of Dhritarashtra and Pandu. His mother was the maid to the queens of Hastinapura – Ambika and Ambālika. He was born out of Niyoga. Though his mother’s name has not been mentioned, but his mother was given a boon by the sage.
The boon before Vidura’s birth
The great Rishi was so impressed with her that he gave her the boon that she would no longer be a slave. The child born to her would be virtuous and would be super intelligent. In fact, he would be one of the most intelligent men on this earth.
Despite his intelligence Vidura could never be king
Though Dhritarashtra and Pandu were his half brothers, but since his mother was not from a Royal lineage, he was never considered for the throne.
In the three worlds – Swarga, Marta, Patal – there was no one equal to Vidura in devotion to virtue and in the knowledge of the dictates of morality.
He was also considered an incarnation of Yama or Dharma Raja, who was cursed by the sage, Mandavya, for imposing punishment on him that far exceeded the sin he had committed. Vidura served his two brothers as a minister, he was only a courtier, never the king.
Vidura stood up for Draupadi
Except for the prince Vikarna, Vidura was the only one who protested against the humiliation of Draupadi in the Kaurava court. Duryodhana did not like it at all when Vidura protested. He came down on him very hard and insulted him. Dhritarashtra wanted to stop Duryodhana from insulting his uncle Vidura. But, suddenly he remembered that it was Vidura who did not want him to be king because of his blindness. He did not say a word then.
Years later this was the reason loyal Vidura left the side of the Kurus and joined the Pandavas to fight the Kurukshetra war. He was very hurt that Dhritarashtra did not acknowledge him as a brother. Dhritarashtra instead called him the Prime Minister and left him at the mercy of his son.
Vidura stayed in the system and fought it
In the Mahabharata, when Krishna went to negotiate peace on behalf of the Pandavas with the Kauravas, he refused to eat in the house of Duryodhana. Krisha ate at Vidura’s home. He was only served green leafy vegetables, that he had named ‘Vidura saag,’and was growing in his own garden because he refused to have the food in the Kaurava Kingdom. Despite living in that Kingdom he maintained his autonomy and in this case food is not just about taste and nutrition. It is also a way of giving a message. This makes food a very political tool as deduced by Devdutt Pattanaik.
Vidura’s wife was also not pure royalty
He was married to the daughter of King Devaka from a Sudra woman. She was a very beautiful woman and Bhishma thought she was a worthy match to Vidura. Not only because she was intelligent, but also the fact that she wasn’t a pure royal either. Despite Vidura’s qualities it wouldn’t have been easy to find a match for him. No royal would have allowed their daughter to marry him. A sad reality indeed for the most intelligent and righteous man on earth.
Vidura was wronged
Among Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura he was the most worthy man to occupy the throne. But he was always wronged because of his lineage.
There is a very touching episode in the famous serial Dharamshetra now showing on Netflix too. It showcases an agonised Vidura asking his father sage Ved Vyasa as to who deserved the Hastinapura throne?
Dhritarashtra was blind and Pandu was weak, he was perfect in intellect and health and the eldest. Sage Vyasa replies that Vidura deserved to be made the king. Also Vidura asks in the same vein, why was he married to the daughter of a daasi while his brothers were married to princesses. There were no replies to this except that he was blessed that the future generations would always bow before him and consider him the guru of intellect and righteousness.