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Vidura is the incarnation of Yamaraja who, being cursed by Manduka Muni, was to become a sudra

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Expressions researched:
"cursed by Manduka Muni" |"to become a sudra" |"an incarnation of Yamaraja"

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

Vidura is the incarnation of Yamarāja. Being cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni, he was to become a śūdra.
SB 1.13.1, Translation and Purport: Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: While traveling on a pilgrimage, Vidura received knowledge of the destination of the self from the great sage Maitreya and then returned to Hastināpura. He became as well versed in the subject as he desired. Vidura: One of the prominent figures in the history of the Mahābhārata. He was conceived by Vyāsadeva in the womb of the maidservant of Ambikā, mother of Mahārāja Pāṇḍu. He is the incarnation of Yamarāja. Being cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni, he was to become a śūdra. The story is narrated as follows. Once upon a time the state police caught some thieves who had concealed themselves in the hermitage of Maṇḍūka Muni. The police constables, as usual, arrested all the thieves and Maṇḍūka Muni along with them. The magistrate specifically punished the muni to death by being pierced with a lance. When he was just to be pierced, the news reached the king, and he at once stopped the act on consideration of his being a great muni. The king personally begged the muni's pardon for the mistake of his men, and the saint at once went to Yamarāja, who prescribes the destiny of the living beings. Yamarāja, being questioned by the muni, replied that the muni in his childhood pierced an ant with a sharpened straw, and for that reason he was put into difficulty. The muni thought it unwise on the part of Yamarāja that he was punished for his childish innocence, and thus the muni cursed Yamarāja to become a śūdra, and this śūdra incarnation of Yamarāja was known as Vidura, the śūdra brother of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Mahārāja Pāṇḍu. But this śūdra son of the Kuru dynasty was equally treated by Bhīṣmadeva, along with his other nephews, and in due course Vidura was married with a girl who was also born in the womb of a śūdrāṇī by a brāhmaṇa. Although Vidura did not inherit the property of his father (the brother of Bhīṣmadeva), still he was given sufficient state property by Dhṛtarāṣṭra, the elder brother of Vidura. Vidura was very much attached to his elder brother, and all along he tried to guide him on the right path. During the fratricidal war of Kurukṣetra, Vidura repeatedly implored his elder brother to do justice to the sons of Pāṇḍu, but Duryodhana did not like such interference by his uncle, and thus he practically insulted Vidura. This resulted in Vidura's leaving home for pilgrimage and taking instructions from Maitreya.
Vidura was not actually a śūdra. He was to play the part of a so-called śūdra for one hundred years, being cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni. He was the incarnation of Yamarāja, one of the twelve mahājanas, on the level with such exalted personalities as Brahmā, Nārada, Śiva, Kapila, Bhīṣma, Prahlāda, etc.
SB 1.13.15, Translation and Purport: As long as Vidura played the part of a śūdra, being cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni, Aryamā officiated at the post of Yamarāja to punish those who committed sinful acts. Vidura, born in the womb of a śūdra woman, was forbidden even to be a party of royal heritage along with his brothers Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Pāṇḍu. Then how could he occupy the post of a preacher to instruct such learned kings and kṣatriyas as Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira? The first answer is that even though it is accepted that he was a śūdra by birth, because he renounced the world for spiritual enlightenment by the authority of Ṛṣi Maitreya and was thoroughly educated by him in transcendental knowledge, he was quite competent to occupy the post of an ācārya, or spiritual preceptor. According to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, anyone who is conversant in the transcendental knowledge, or the science of Godhead, be he a brāhmaṇa or a śūdra, a householder or a sannyāsī, is eligible to become a spiritual master. Even in the ordinary moral codes (maintained by Cāṇakya Paṇḍita, the great politician and moralist) there is no harm in taking lessons from a person who may be by birth less than a śūdra. This is one part of the answer. The other is that Vidura was not actually a śūdra. He was to play the part of a so-called śūdra for one hundred years, being cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni. He was the incarnation of Yamarāja, one of the twelve mahājanas, on the level with such exalted personalities as Brahmā, Nārada, Śiva, Kapila, Bhīṣma, Prahlāda, etc. Being a mahājana, it is the duty of Yamarāja to preach the cult of devotion to the people of the world, as Nārada, Brahmā, and other mahājanas do. But Yamarāja is always busy in his plutonic kingdom punishing the doers of sinful acts. Yamarāja is deputed by the Lord to a particular planet, some hundreds of thousands of miles away from the planet of earth, to take away the corrupt souls after death and convict them in accordance with their respective sinful activities. Thus Yamarāja has very little time to take leave from his responsible office of punishing the wrongdoers. There are more wrongdoers than righteous men. Therefore Yamarāja has to do more work than other demigods who are also authorized agents of the Supreme Lord. But he wanted to preach the glories of the Lord, and therefore by the will of the Lord he was cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni to come into the world in the incarnation of Vidura and work very hard as a great devotee. Such a devotee is neither a śūdra nor a brāhmaṇa. He is transcendental to such divisions of mundane society, just as the Personality of Godhead assumes His incarnation as a hog, but He is neither a hog nor a Brahmā. He is above all mundane creatures. The Lord and His different authorized devotees sometimes have to play the role of many lower creatures to claim the conditioned souls, but both the Lord and His pure devotees are always in the transcendental position. When Yamarāja thus incarnated himself as Vidura, his post was officiated by Aryamā, one of the many sons of Kaśyapa and Aditi. The Ādityas are sons of Aditi, and there are twelve Ādityas. Aryamā is one of the twelve Ādityas, and therefore it was quite possible for him to take charge of the office of Yamarāja during his one hundred years' absence in the form of Vidura. The conclusion is that Vidura was never a śūdra, but was greater than the purest type of brāhmaṇa.
So by his pious activities in the devotional service of the Lord Vidura was able to always remember the lotus feet of the Lord, and thus he became washed of all contamination of a śūdra-born life. At the end he was again received by the denizens of Pitṛloka and posted in his original position
SB 1.15.49, Translation and Purport: Vidura, while on pilgrimage, left his body at Prabhāsa. Because he was absorbed in thought of Lord Kṛṣṇa, he was received by the denizens of Pitṛloka planet, where he returned to his original post. The difference between the Pāṇḍavas and Vidura is that the Pāṇḍavas are eternal associates of the Lord, the Personality of Godhead, whereas Vidura is one of the administrative demigods in charge of the Pitṛloka planet and is known as Yamarāja. Men are afraid of Yamarāja because it is he only who awards punishment to the miscreants of the material world, but those who are devotees of the Lord have nothing to fear from him. To the devotees he is a cordial friend, but to the nondevotees he is fear personified. As we have already discussed, it is understood that Yamarāja was cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni to be degraded as a śūdra, and therefore Vidura was an incarnation of Yamarāja. As an eternal servitor of the Lord, he displayed his devotional activities very ardently and lived a life of a pious man, so much so that a materialistic man like Dhṛtarāṣṭra also got salvation by his instruction. So by his pious activities in the devotional service of the Lord he was able to always remember the lotus feet of the Lord, and thus he became washed of all contamination of a śūdra-born life. At the end he was again received by the denizens of Pitṛloka and posted in his original position. The demigods are also associates of the Lord without personal touch, whereas the direct associates of the Lord are in constant personal touch with Him. The Lord and His personal associates incarnate in many universes without cessation. The Lord remembers them all, whereas the associates forget due to their being very minute parts and parcels of the Lord; they are apt to forget such incidents due to being infinitesimal. This is corroborated in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.5).

SB Canto 3

As the appointed controller after death, Yamarāja once tried Māṇḍavya Muni for his childhood profligacy and ordered him to be pierced with a lance. Māṇḍavya, being angry at Yamarāja for awarding him undue punishment, cursed him to become a śūdra.
SB 3.5.20, Translation and Purport: I know that you are now Vidura due to the cursing of Māṇḍavya Muni and that formerly you were King Yamarāja, the great controller of living entities after their death. You were begotten by the son of Satyavatī, Vyāsadeva, in the kept wife of his brother. Māṇḍavya Muni was a great sage (cf. SB 1.13.1), and Vidura was formerly the controller Yamarāja, who takes charge of the living entities after death. Birth, maintenance and death are three conditional states of the living entities who are within the material world. As the appointed controller after death, Yamarāja once tried Māṇḍavya Muni for his childhood profligacy and ordered him to be pierced with a lance. Māṇḍavya, being angry at Yamarāja for awarding him undue punishment, cursed him to become a śūdra (member of the less intelligent laborer class). Thus Yamarāja took birth in the womb of the kept wife of Vicitravīrya from the semen of Vicitravīrya's brother, Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva is the son of Satyavatī by the great King Śāntanu, the father of Bhīṣmadeva. This mysterious history of Vidura was known to Maitreya Muni because he happened to be a contemporary friend of Vyāsadeva's. In spite of Vidura's birth from the womb of a kept wife, because he had otherwise high parentage and great connection he inherited the highest talent of becoming a great devotee of the Lord. To take birth in such a great family is understood to be an advantage for attaining devotional life. Vidura was given this chance due to his previous greatness.

Lectures

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

So Vidura was cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni. He was a great sage, but in his āśrama some thieves were caught, so police arrested both Maṇḍūka Muni and the thieves, and later on Maṇḍūka Muni was chastised to be punished by śūla.
Lecture on SB 1.13.15 -- Geneva, June 4, 1974:

Nitāi: "As long as Vidura played the part of a śūdra, being cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni, Aryamā officiated at the post of Yamarāja to punish those who committed sinful acts."

Prabhupāda: So Vidura is Yamarāja, the superintendent of death. After our death, we are brought before the justice Yamarāja, what kind of next birth I may have. So Yamarāja is not śūdra. He is devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, although he has the duty to punish the criminals. Just like a magistrate is always punishing the criminals. That is his business, but he is not criminal. He is giving judgment to the criminals. Similarly, Yamarāja is the appointed magistrate, superintendent. After death, one has to go before him and take the judgment of his next life. This is the process.

So Vidura was cursed by Maṇḍūka Muni, Maṇḍūka Muni. He was a great sage, but sometimes in his āśrama, some thieves were caught, so police arrested both the Maṇḍūka Muni and the thieves, and later on Maṇḍūka Muni was chastised to be punished by śūla. There was a system of punishment. I do not whether (it is) still existing. The śūla means one lance, lancer. Lancer, it is called?

Devotee: Yes.

Prabhupāda: It was to be pierced through the rectum and it will go through the head and the man will die. The pierce was standing, and he was to sit down. What is this punishment? Is there any mention?

Puṣṭa-kṛṣṇa: I never heard of anything.

Guru-gaurāṅga: Arabians have this. It is called pala(?).

Prabhupāda: Śūla punishment. So when he was condemned to the śūla punishment, then the king heard that "Maṇḍūka Muni, the great sage, he is punished like that?" Immediately he stopped. "What is this nonsense that Maṇḍūka Muni has been punished? He is a great sage." So the king stopped the punishment and immediately came to see what has happened. Then he was immediately released. But he was very sorry, that "Why the judge Yamarāja punished him like that?" So he asked Yamarāja, "Why you have punished me like this?" "Now, in your childhood you pierced the rectum of an ant with a...," what is called?

Devotees: Pin, straw.

Prabhupāda: No, not straw. Prick, pricking?

Devotee: Pin.

Prabhupāda: Kāṇṭā, kāṇṭā. We say kāṇṭā, that pricks. What is called?

Devotees: Thorn.

Prabhupāda: Ah, thorn, yes. So therefore he was punished. Now just see. In his childhood he was playing with an ant, piercing the rectum with a thorn. That is also taken account, "All right. You will be punished." Just see how finer laws are there in nature. So the Maṇḍūka Muni did that. Therefore it was recorded he should be punished like that.

This is our position. Anything... If you are walking on the street, if you kill an ant by walking, you will be punished. This is nature's law. We are in such a dangerous position. In every movement there is punishment. Now, if you believe the śāstras, that is different thing. If you don't believe, then do anything you like. But from śāstra we can understand the laws of nature, or God, is very, very strict, very, very strict. So Maṇḍūka Muni also chastised Yamarāja, that "In my childhood, without any knowledge I did something and for which you have given me so great punishment. So you are not fit for becoming a brāhmaṇa or kṣatriya. You become śūdra." So he was cursed to become śūdra. Therefore Yamarāja took his birth as Vidura and was born in the womb of a śūdra mother. This is the history of Vidura's birth.