The Mahabharata Home
"Dhritarashtra said. 'O Yudhishthira, art thou in peace and happiness, with all thy brothers and the inhabitants of the city and the provinces? Are they that live in dependance on thee also happy? Are they ministers, and servitors, and all thy seniors and preceptors also, happy? Are those also that live in thy dominions free from fear? Dost thou follow the old and traditional conduct of rulers of men? Is thy treasury filled without disregarding the restraints imposed by justice and equity? Dost thou behave as thou shouldst towards foes, neutrals, and allies? Dost thou duly look after the Brahmanas, always making them the first gifts (ordained in sacrifices and religious rites)? What need I say of the citizens, and thy servants, and kinsmen,--are they foes, O chief of Bharata's race, gratified with thy behaviour? Dost thou, O king of kings, adore with devotion the Pitris and the deities? Dost thou worship guests with food and drink, O Bharata? Do the Brahmanas in thy dominions, devoted to the duties of their order, walk along the path of righteousness? Do the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras also within thy kingdom, and all thy relatives, observe their respective duties? I hope the women, the children, and the old, among thy subjects, do not grieve (under distress) and do not beg (the necessaries of life). Are the ladies of thy household duly honoured in thy house, O best of men? I hope, O monarch, that this race of royal sages, having obtained thee for their king, have not fallen away from fame and glory.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Unto the old king who said so, Yudhishthira, conversant with morality and justice, and well-skilled in acts and speech, spoke as follows, putting some questions about his welfare.'
"Yudhishthira said, 'Doth thy peace, O king, thy self-restraint, thy tranquillity of heart, grow? Is this my mother able to serve thee without fatigue and trouble? Will, O king, her residence in the woods be productive of fruits? I hope this queen, who is my eldest mother, who is emaciated with (exposure to) cold and wind and the toil of walking, and who is now devoted to the practice of severe austerities, no longer gives way, to grief for her children of mighty energy, all of whom, devoted to the duties of the Kshatriya order, have been slain on the field of battle. Does she accuse us, sinful wretches, that are responsible for their slaughter? Where is Vidura, O king? We do not see him here. I hope this Sanjaya, observant of penances, is in peace and happiness.
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Thus addressed, Dhritarashtra answered king Yudhishthira, saying,--'O son. Vidura is well. He is performing austere penances, subsisting on air alone, for he abstains from all other food. He is emaciated and his arteries and nerves have become visible. Sometimes he is seen in this empty forest by Brahmanas.' While Dhritarashtra was saying this Vidura was seen at a distance. He had matted locks on his head, and gravels in his mouth, and was exceedingly emaciated. He was perfectly naked. His body was besmeared all over with filth, and with the dust of various wild flowers. When Kshattri was beheld from a distance, the fact was reported to Yudhishthira. Vidura suddenly stopped, O king, casting his eyes towards the retreat (and seeing it peopled by so many individuals). King Yudhishthira pursued him alone, as he ran and entered the deep forest, sometimes not seen by the pursuer. He said aloud, 'O Vidura, O Vidura, I am king Yudhishthira, thy favourite!'--Exclaiming thus, Yudhishthira, with great exertion, followed Vidura. That foremost of intelligent men, viz., Vidura, having reached a solitary spot in the forest, stood still, leaning against a tree. He was exceedingly emaciated. He retained only the shape of a human being (all his characteristic features having totally disappeared). Yudhishthira of great intelligence recognised him, however, (in spite of such change). Standing before him, Yudhishthira addressed him, saying, 'I am Yudhishthira!' Indeed, worshipping Vidura properly, Yudhishthira said these words in the hearing of Vidura. Meanwhile Vidura eyed the king with a steadfast gaze. Casting his gaze thus on the king, he stood motionless in Yoga. Possessed of great intelligence, he then (by his Yoga-power) entered the body of Yudhishthira, limb by limb. He united his life-breaths with the king's life-breaths, and his senses with the king's senses. Verify, with the aid of Yoga-power, Vidura, blazing with energy, thus entered the body of king Yudhishthira the just. Meanwhile, the body of Vidura continued to lean against the tree, with eyes fixed in a steadfast gaze. The king soon saw that life had fled out of it. At the same time, he felt that he himself had become stronger than before and that he had acquired many additional virtues and accomplishments. Possessed of great learning and energy, O monarch, Pandu's son, king Yudhishthira the just, then recollected his own state before his birth among men. 1 Endued with mighty energy, he had heard of Yoga practice from Vyasa. King Yudhishthira the just, possessed of great learning, became desirous of doing the last rites to the body of Vidura, and wished to cremate it duly. An invisible voice was then heard,--saying,--'O king, this body that belonged to him called Vidura should not be cremated. In him is thy body also. He is the eternal deity of Righteousness. Those regions of felicity which are known by the name of Santanika will be his, O Bharata. He was an observer of the duties of Yatis. Thou shouldst not, O scorcher of foes, grieve for him at all. Thus addressed, king Yudhishthira the just, returned from that spot, and represented everything
unto the royal son of Vichitraviryya. At this, that king of great splendour, all these men, and Bhimasena and others, became filled with wonder. Hearing what had happened, king Dhritarashtra became pleased and then, addressing the son of Dharma. said,--'Do thou accept from me these gifts of water and roots and fruits. It has been said, O king, that one's guest should take that which one takes oneself.' Thus addressed, Dharma's son answered the king, saying,--'So be it.' The mighty-armed king ate the fruits and roots which the monarch gave him. Then they all spread their beds under a tree and passed that night thus, having eaten fruits and roots and drunk the water that the old king had given them."'
40:1 Yudhishthira was Dharma's self, Vidura also was Dharma born as a Sudra through the curse of the Rishi Animandavya. Both, therefore, were of the same essence. When Vidura left his human body, he entered the body of Yudhishthira and thus the latter felt himself strengthened greatly by the accession.
Next: Section XXVII