We will discuss about the responses of general people and devotees when they encounter disturbances in this world and also see from Srila Prabhupada’s purports how Vidura, as a pure devotee of the Lord, despite being insulted by Duryodhana, his nephew, very badly, took it as Krishna’s grace coming to detach him from the political situation.

Digesting painful pills of Insult without breaking down :

In this world, words of insult hurled by anybody, is certainly more painful than physical pain.  And such insult from relatives and friends with whom one has lived for many years is even more painful, far more painful than the pain caused by the piercing of an arrow in the chest, as said in SB by Lord Siva to Sati.  In such situations, the general response of any conditioned soul is to strike back with another set of words of insult or curse or even show a physical response in extreme situations.  When the insulted is weaker than the person hurling insult, then one may be forced to tolerate by will of providence, as did Drupada when arrested by Drona; in such situations, people do maintain grudges harboring malice in the core of their heart, awaiting a future opportunity to strike back.  This is the general trend in material circles that leads to envy, pride, desire for vengeance etc bringing about misery to all parties involved.  This was not the case with Vidura, since he was pure devotee of the Lord.  A pure devotee is sympathetic to every living entity, including the inimical and envious ones, by seeing them as part and parcel of Supreme Lord.  Thus he does not harbor any malice for anyone nor is he eager to take revenge on those who try to cause him suffering.

Such a pure devotee (i) looks for Lord’s hand in every situation and (ii) learns favorable lessons for himself and (iii) adopts a course of Action that will bring him one step closer to the Lord’s lotus feet.

Elaborating on the incident that occurred in the Insult of Vidura, Srila Prabhupada explains, “King Dhrtarastra was very affectionate toward his younger dasi-putra brother, Vidura, and Vidura was a great friend and philosophical advisor to Dhrtarastra. Duryodhana knew very well that Vidura was a great soul and well-wisher, but unfortunately he used strong words to hurt his innocent uncle. Duryodhana not only attacked Vidura’s birth, but also called him an infidel because he seemed to support the cause of Yudhisthira, whom Duryodhana considered his enemy. He desired that Vidura be immediately put out of the palace and deprived of all his possessions. If possible, he would have liked him caned until he was left with nothing but his breath. He charged that Vidura was a spy of the Pandavas because he advised King Dhrtarastra in their favor. Such is the situation of palace life and the intricacies of diplomacy that even a faultless person like Vidura could be charged with something abominable and punished. Vidura was struck with wonder at such unexpected behavior from his nephew Duryodhana, and before anything actually happened, he decided to leave the palace for good.”  [SB 3.1.15]

When one’s false ego is hurt by someone insulting, there is a desire to prove one’s superiority by hurling back words to inflict pain in the heart of the insulting person.  Conditioned souls undergo a tug of war in making the choice between striking back or leave the place with a murmur.  In our everyday life, we encounter so many incidents on the road or at home or at office or in friends’ circle, where our inner urge to answer back such unpleasant circumstances produces irritation in our hearts.  Oftentimes the considerations are selfish and less noble.  One may fear that retaliation can lead to loss of money or position or privileges; or one may be weaker than the insulting person, thus retaliation may not be possible; or one may hold grudges now to be released at a later appropriate time, when one is sure to succeed.

Noble responses could be  :

– think and analyse about why the person in question is frustrated with us and yelling
– recognize the fact that we’re not all perfect
– tolerate it now, meet him at a later time, when, with a cool head he can explain properly
– consult superiors and well-wishers for guidance on appropriate way to respond
– understand that chemistry mismatches often lead to explosions; keep a little distance
– work on improving our-self after understanding our mistake from the dissatisfied person
– understand that we’re in material world and such situations are not uncommon
– be prepared to face inevitability thrown by maya in the form of adversities
– accept we’re not innocent, but we carry backlog of past bad karma giving-forth reactions
– pray to Krishna for strength to tolerate the situation and not harbor malice for others
– find out how to convert the negative situation into a positive one, as Vidura did

Advanced devotees like Vidura, due to experiencing the sweetness of shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet in their heart, rush to that shelter, whenever such adversities show their ugly face.

Converting Misfortune into Good fortune

How a pure devotee of Krishna responds to the awkward situations created by External energy coming in the form of insults or allegations that are meaningless, is explained by Srila Prabhupada as follows :  “In spite of being very strongly insulted by Duryodhana’s words, Vidura could see that Duryodhana, under the influence of maya, the external energy, was making progress on the path toward his own ruination. He therefore considered the acts of the external energy to be supreme, yet he also saw how the internal energy of the Lord helped him in that particular situation. A devotee is always in a renounced temperament because the worldly attractions can never satisfy him. Vidura was never attracted by the royal palace of his brother. He was always ready to leave the place and devote himself completely to the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Now he got the opportunity by the grace of Duryodhana, and instead of being sorry at the strong words of insult, he thanked him from within because it gave him the chance to live alone in a holy place and fully engage in the devotional service of the Lord. The word gata-vyathah (without being sorry) is significant here because Vidura was relieved from the tribulations which trouble every man entangled in material activities. He therefore thought that there was no need to defend his brother with his bow because his brother was meant for ruination. Thus he left the palace before Duryodhana could act. Maya, the supreme energy of the Lord, acted here both internally and externally.”  [3.1.16purport]

Looking for spiritual opportunities in material turbulence

Srila Prabhupada explains, “The reason for his quitting the house was not exactly family misunderstanding; rather, Vidura took the opportunity to meet Rsi Maitreya and discuss transcendental knowledge. For a saintly person like Vidura, any disturbance due to worldly affairs is insignificant. Such disturbances, however, are sometimes favorable for higher realization, and therefore Vidura took advantage of a family misunderstanding in order to meet Maitreya Rsi.”  [3.1.2 purport]

We should know that Lord does not assure His devotees that their life will be free of any troubles or struggles.  Rather, He assures His devotees that He will be by their side to guide them on what to do, provided we take shelter of His lotus feet unconditionally, as Vidura did or as Arjuna did. 

The article is an answer to the Open Book Exam (Canto 3.1-14), by Radheshyam Dasa, to the question: “Discuss the “Dispostion of a devotee in disturbances” referring to Vidura’s response explained in Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 3 chapter 1?”


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