Lessons from Great Personalities - Part 5

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble pranams! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev!

This is in continuation of the previous mail in this series summarizing a few of the points from the wonderful lecture spoken by HG Svayam Sphurathy Krishna das prabhu highlighting the messages we learn from some of the great personalities appearing in the third canto of Srimad Bhagavatam up to the eighth chapter. In this posting we shall see the lessons from Mahatma Vidura.

5. Mahatma Vidura
1. The purpose of visiting the Holy Places:
Vidura, the younger brother of Dhrtarashtra gave good counsel to him and advised him to get rid of his son Duryodana who was a non-devotee of Krishna and hence an unworthy son. But Duryodhana insulted Vidura by charging that Vidura was a spy of the pandavas and hence he desired that Vidura be immediately put out of the palace and deprived of all his possessions. Vidura thus quit his brother’s palace and took shelter of many places of pilgrimage. Here the two questions come to our mind.

a) Vidura was already a highly elevated and pious soul and hence what is the necessity of him going on a pilgrimage?
b) Lord Krishna was personally present in the world at that time and Vidura could have at once approached Him directly and what is the necessity of going for pilgrimage?

Srila Prabhupada very expertly answers these questions in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 3.1.17.

a) Vidura personally considered himself less pious and therefore he decided to travel to all the great places of pilgrimage in the world in order to achieve greater piety and advance nearer to the Lord. Thus we understand that the purpose was for purification. Vidura was conscious that by the association of the diplomatic Dhrtarashtra and Duryodhana, he had lost his piety.

b) On account of this feeling of loss of piety, Vidura thought himself not fit to associate at once with the Lord. So in order to become completely free from all effects of sins, he decided to go to the places of pilgrimage.

From the above we should understand that the purpose of our visit to Holy places is to purify ourselves of all the contamination.

What should we be doing in the places of pilgrimage?

At the place of pilgrimage, Vidura was searching for the association of saintly devotees. This eagerness to hear about Krishna, led him to meet Uddhava and Maitreya muni. Srila Prabhupada in his purport to SB 3.1.17 very clearly advises us that one should not be satisfied merely by visiting the places of pilgrimage and performing one’s prescribed duties. He should be eager to meet the great souls who are already there, engaged in the service of the Lord. Srila Prabhupada also states in his purport to SB 3.1.45 that the purpose of pilgrimage is to remember the Lord constantly, and therefore the Lord is known as tirtha-kirti. The purpose of going to a place of pilgrimage is to get the chance to glorify the Lord.

Another important point Srila Prabhupada makes in his purport to SB 3.3.26: Pure devotees of the Lord are not enthusiastic to put aside their service to the Lord in order to go visit holy places of pilgrimage. A great devotee of the Lord in modern times, Sri Narottama dasa Thakura, has sung like this: "To visit holy places of pilgrimage is another bewilderment of the mind because devotional service to the Lord at any place is the last word in spiritual perfection."

For pure devotees of the Lord who are completely satisfied with the transcendental loving service of the Lord, there is hardly any necessity to visit the various places of pilgrimage. But those who are not so advanced have the prescribed duties of visiting pilgrimage sites and regularly performing the rituals.

We have to understand that wherever there is the opportunity to serve Krishna, that is the holy place. If we do not have the sadhu sanga in the holy place, the benefit is going to be very temporary. In the absence of sadhu sanga, we will be having dosha darshan (seeing the faults and defects) instead of Deva darshan (Darshan of the Lord).

2. See Krishna’s Hands in everything
When Vidura was insulted by Duryodana and driven out of the palace, the feelings of Vidura is something extraordinary for us to learn and Srimad Bhagavatam very wonderfully describes this in 3.1.16:

svayaṁ dhanur dvāri nidhāya māyāṁ
bhrātuḥ puro marmasu tāḍito ’pi
sa ittham atyulbaṇa-karṇa-bāṇair
gata-vyatho ’yād uru mānayānaḥ

Thus being pierced by arrows through his ears and afflicted to the core of his heart, Vidura placed his bow on the door and quit his brother’s palace. He was not sorry, for he considered the acts of the external energy to be supreme.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport: "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."

Thus Vidura’s seeing the act of the internal energy of the Lord and his renounced temperament are important things for us to understand, realize and try to apply in our own situations.

In addition to the above messages we learn from these great personalities, there is one common quality possessed by all these great personalities and the same shall be posted in the ensuing mail, Krishna willing.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi
Abu Dhabi.