Ethics and Values Introduction Values are the rules by which we make decisions about right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, good and bad. They also tell us which are more or less important, which is useful when we have to trade off meeting one value over another. Ethics tend to be codified into a formal system or set of rules which are explicitly adopted by a group of people. Ethics, are how we actually do behave in the face of difficult situations that test our moral fiber. It has been said that values, morals and ethics are inextricably tied together.
Ethics and values deeply integrated in Mahabharata/Vidur Niti Mahabharata is considered as an encyclopedia of reference for human life. It is said to contain all that a man should know towards achieving the four human goals, Dharma (righteousness), Artha (human Endeavour towards material pursuits), Kama (desire) and Moksha (salvation). The Mahabharata is called the fifth Veda as it contains the essence of the four Vedas. This encompasses a whole lot of knowledge in it, like Vidura Neeti, Srimad Bhagwadgita etc. re a part of this scripture only. Vidur Niti by Mahatama Vidur is one of the prominent Niti Sastras containing ethical values, having relevance even for today. Once Dritarastra,who was having a sleepless night, called Vidur to seek the way for solace.
The preaching which Vidur delivered during that time and subsequently, in continuation, is even today known as Vidur Niti. It contains not only the fundamental principles and deep knowledge of politics, but also deals greatly about ethics and values, i. e. ow should an administrator run his government efficiently by following the DHARMA and not resorting to unfair means which are not in the benefit of the stakeholders. In today’s modern management when ethical judgment and importance of recognizing the ethical dimensions is talked about, Mahabharat gives excellent analogies to identify the ethical boundaries. “Rules of ethical conduct”, dharmayuddha, for the war were framed by the supreme commanders of each side. Vidura explains codes of conduct and how one should act in different situations. His teachings are aimed at kings, ordinary citizens as well as at ascetics.
Brief summary/story of Mahabharata enlightened with Ethics and Values Vidura respected his elder brother Dhrtrastra , and all along he tried to guide him on the right path. During the fratricidal war of Kuruksetra, Vidura repeatedly implored his elder brother Dhrtrastra to do justice to the sons of Pandu, but his son Duryodhana did not like such interference by his uncle Vidur, and rather practically insulted Vidura. Vidura was very prudent, wise, polite, religious, well- mannered and devoted to the Lord Krishna. As a minister to Dhrtarastra, he used to give him good advice.
When Duryodhana was born, Vidur had cautioned him that his child would be the cause of the Kauravas’ destruction, but due to the attachment for his child, Dhritarashtra did not pay heed to his advice and as a result suffered a lot all along his life just because of Duryodhana. Because of Duryodhana’s atrocities, Mahatma Vidur developed sympathy for the Pandavas and he helped them and protected them directly or indirectly. He knew that despite any crisis, the Pandavas would win the battle eventually. They were blessed with a long life and hence no one could kill them.
Kunti was convinced of Vidur’s words as she knew that he was a man of truth. Vidur had also cautioned Yudhishtir of the imminent danger that was lurking in Barnavata and also told him the way to escape the danger. It was Vidur who had planned the digging of a tunnel from Lakshagriha to the bank of the Ganges and had arranged for the boat to emerge on the river and finally cross it. Thus, acting prudently, Vidur saved the lives of the Pandavas. Vidur did not discriminate in his affection for the Pandavas and the Kauravas and he used to give them good advice as well.
But Duryodhana never liked his advice. Even then, Vidur tried his level best to put Dritarastra on the right track. But under the influence of his sons, Dritarastra never followed Vidur’s advice, although assuming him to be his well -wisher, he always sought his advice. Following Shakuni’s advice, Duryodhana informed the proposal of inviting the Pandavas over a game of dice. Vidur cautioned Dritarastra that such a game would only increase the enmity between the two sides, as the game of dice was inauspicious for both the sides.
Praising Vidur, Dritarastra then persuaded Duryodhana to give up the plan. But Duryodhana was determined to humiliate the Pandavas, hence he made Dritarastra accept his plan. Ultimately, it was Vidur who went to Indraprastha with the proposal of the game. Yudhishtir too did not like the game of dice but to honour his uncle’s desire, he accepted the proposal. Even when the game was being played, Vidur tried to convince Dritarastra that he still had enough of time to come around and drop his submissive stance for Duryodhana and save his clan and not to make the Pandavas their enemy.
Again after the Pandavas had left for exile, Dritarastra was worried as to how to convince the subjects and how to please the Pandavas to return. Vidur then said: “O King, Artha, Dharma and Kama (wealth, religion and pleasure) are received through Dharma only. Dharma is the pedestal of the state. Hence, you should protect yourself and the Pandavas. Your sons have snatched everything from the Pandavas. It is against the Dharma. Hence, you should first get Duryodhana arrested and hand over the kingdom to Yudhishtir. Yudhishtir has no envy or jealousy, hence he will rule the kingdom religiously.
Ask Dushasana to beg for pardon from Draupadi and Bheema in the court. Doing these things, you will be free from your worries. ” But Dritarastra did not like this advice and he told Vidur as to how he could give up his sons just for the Pandavas sake”,and ordered Vidur to leave. Anticipating the imminent fall of the Kauravas, Vidur visited Kamyaka Vana to meet the Pandavas and told them a few things for their benefit. Dritarastra having come to know of Vidur’s visit to the Pandavas began to suspect that with the help of Vidur, the Pandavas would become stronger.
So, he called Vidur back and begged him for pardon. At that Vidur told Dritarastra that he did not differentiate between the Kauravas and the Pandavas but seeing the Pandavas in such a hapless condition, it was but natural to help them, in any case, he did not have any partiality for the Kauravas. Vidura was also very loyal to Lord Krishna. When Krishna came to Hastinapur with the peace proposal, he preferred to stay with Vidur relishing the plain food offered by him in contrast to the royal meal, which was being served at the palace.
It is thus easy to guess the intense love of Lord Krishna for Vidur. Next day when Duryodhana tried to tie Krishna in the palace, Vidur cautioned him and told him that Shri Krishna is the Lord Himself and any kind of disrespect for him would destroy him like a flame destroys a moth. Thereafter the Lord appeared in his cosmic form and seeing which all except Vidur, Bheeshma, Sanjay and Drona closed their eyes. After the battle was over, Vidur consoled Dritarastra that whoever died in the battle had attained salvation, hence one should not mourn for them.
Every time a human is born, he makes new relations but after his death these relations crumble like a castle made out of sand Hence, it is useless to mourn for the dead relatives. Events like comforts and miseries, crisis and fortune and misfortune etc. is due to the result of one’s own good or bad deeds. Every living being has to bear the fruits of his deeds. Thereafter Vidur preached the ways of observing the right conduct and how to be rid of the miseries. After the coronation of Yudhishtir, Dritarastra came to stay with him.
Vidur also stayed with him and used to be engaged in religious discussions. Eventually, he accompanied Dritarastra, Gandhari and Kunti in their penance. Conclusion From above epic/story/discussion, it will be observed that many gems of ethical values are contained in the Vidura Niti and in the Mahabharata as whole, which is still relevant in the modern times, when the degradation of ethical values has become rampant all around the world. Let us ponder over some of them to be more wise, prudent, and successful in the ultimate reckoning.