Facing tragedies like Vidura

By Vraja Bihari Das - 28.12 2021

“Wear your tragedies like armor, not shackles”– Unknown
Vidura sincerely served the kingdom of Hastinapura but what was the reward for his tireless service?
He was misunderstood by Duryodhana and was banished with humiliation. His character was maligned and he was also accused of disloyalty and mocked for being the son of a kept mistress. His response to the humiliation is noteworthy.

He went through a churning of three types of emotions in his heart. He felt hurt like anyone would when decades of selfless service is overlooked. Yet he also became sober to realize that the Lord’s illusory energy, maya has influenced the wicked Duryodhana and he is now inviting his own ruination. Then Vidura also felt internally joyful on realizing that now he has a chance to leave the kingdom and go on a pilgrimage to holy places.
Thus Vidura experienced sadness, sobriety and happiness simultaneously.

We may be put in a similar situation like Vidura when our near and dear ones might misunderstand us or a sincere effort to serve could backfire or you could be accused of a wrongdoing despite noble intentions. What do you do then?

You really can’t do much at such a time. You can’t imitate Vidura because what Vidrua did during the crisis was an effect of his lifelong devotional service. If we have been forgetful of God whole life and suddenly decide to remember God during a crisis it would be difficult. However if we have practiced spiritual principles during the good times, then during hard times, it becomes easy to follow them. Executive devotional service is what we do with our own volition and use of our free will. Effective devotional service is what happens to us when situations overwhelm us. Vidura executed sincere service in the right mood, and the substance of his character shone forth when situations beyond his control took over. The effect of his sincere service was he could not only face the humiliation bravely, he also took it positively and saw it as an arrangement of the Lord to help him progress in his spiritual life.

Generally people get so shocked during a crisis that the absorption in their misery makes clear thinking difficult. If we have spent our lives primarily absorbed in self; ‘my’ likes and ‘my’ problems and ‘my’ happiness, then it’s natural that during a tragedy, the ‘my’ center has been shaken, and our existence appears hollow and meaningless. In contrast if like Vidura we chose to live by principles and speak, think and do things that are right even if we don’t feel like, then we’ve lived beyond our selves. Due to this practice, a sudden calamity would shake us like it did to Vidura, but soon we’d be able to bounce back and reorient ourselves. We’d gain our clarity; from being an absorber, we’d also soon become an observer of our own lives. An aerial view towards our lives helps us handle the emotion of pain with sobriety and in fact like Vidura, we may see a wonderful tiding on the way even during tragedies. This would happen if we learn to see the bigger picture of our lives.

And spiritual practices help us keep our vision in air but our feet firm on ground. Although Vidura saw opportunity in this calamity, he didn’t get carried away by false pride. He remained humble, and saw himself as contaminated by the bad association of evil rulers in Hastinapura. Thus in order to purify himself he travelled far and wide. He could have immediately gone to Dwaraka and sought personal association of Krishna. Instead he considered himself unqualified and preferred to associate with devotees of Krishna and get purified by hearing their wise teachings.

Thus a sincere Bhakti yoga practitioner keeps himself grounded on strong spiritual principles while simultaneously viewing his life from an aerial view of scriptures and wise saints. This practice pays rich dividends when we are blown away from our comfort situations; when the rug under our feet is pulled away, we’d still remain happy and socially useful.