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Vidura Niti Extracts

Vidura-niti, or Vidura's Statecraft, is a dialogue between Vidura and the King Dritarashtra in over 500 slokas (verses) in chapters 33-41 of the Udyoga Parva in the large Mahabharata epos, which the Bhagavad Gita is a part of. Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli has translated the wole Mahabharata. He is rendered in modernised English here.

Vidura is one of the central characters in the Mahabharata, a prime minister and the uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas, and a most respected adviser to the Pandavas, considered a lord of truth, impartial judgement and steadfast righteous deals, one of a brilliant mind and far-reaching proficiency, and devoted to people's welfare. He is considered a paragon of truth: the embodiment of the inner consciousness of the Mahabharata.

The Vidura Nita starts like this:

A messenger came to the wise Vidura and said, "The mighty king Yudhisthira wants to see you."

Vidura set out and came to the palace. "Here I am," he said.

The king confided he had been sleepless for a while. Vidura said sleeplessness overtakes many.

The king went on: "I want to hear words that are laden with high morality."

Vidura: "You exiled a worthy relative, and as a result he bears innumerable wrongs. How can you hope for prosperity?"

Then Vidura goes on to teach great wisdom. Extracts follow.


He that does not swerve from the high ends of life, but is helped by self-knowledge, exertion, forbearance and steadiness in virtue, is called wise.

He that neither anger, joy, pride, false modesty, stupefaction or vanity can draw away from the high ends of life, is considered wise.

He whose intended acts and proposed counsels remain hidden from foes, and whose acts become known only after they have been done, is considered wise.

He whose calm judgment sticks to both virtue and profit, and chooses ends that are of service here and hereafter, is considered to be wise.

They that exert to the best of their might, and act also to the best of their might, and disregard nothing as insignificant, are called wise.

He who understands quickly, listens patiently, pursues his objects with judgment and does not spend his breath on the affairs of others without being asked, is said to possess the foremost mark of wisdom.

Those who do not strive for objects that are unattainable, that do not grieve for what is lost and gone, that do not suffer their minds to be clouded among calamities, are regarded to have wise intellects.

The wise ever delight in honest deeds, do what tends to their happiness and prosperity, and never sneer at what is good.

He who does not grieve at slights, and remains unagitated like a lake, is considered to be wise.

The one who knows that every thing is eventually destroyed, who knows well what men may do to get what they want, is regarded to be wise

He who knows the science of argumentation, is brilliant and can interpret the meaning of what is written in books, is held to be wise.

He who is ignorant of scripture yet vain; poor yet proud; and who resorts to unfair means to get what he wants, is a fool.

He who forsakes his own and concerns himself with things of others and who deceives his friends, is called a fool.

He who wishes for what he should not have and forsakes what may legitimately be desired, is regarded to be a foolish soul.

He who hates and bears malice to a friend and commits wicked deeds, is said to be a foolish soul.

He who divulges his projects, and spends a long time in doing what requires a short time, is a fool.

He who does not get noble-minded friends, is in bad waters. *

To trust much untrustworthy guys, may not pay very well. *

The guilty guy who casts blame on others, is a very foolish one.

One who punishes another that does not deserve to be punished, and one and waits on misers, are both said to be of little sense.


Vidura Niti extracts, Literature  

Ganguli, K., tr. The Mahabharata, Vols 1-12. 4th ed. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1981. ⍽▢⍽ A major work in Hinduism.

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