Different authors’ texts offer varied interpretations of our ancient texts. The only common denominator is anti-woman patriarchy.
Barisal, a modern lady commentator Irawati Karve, anthropologist, sociologist and writer of the myth blasting Yuganta, raised questions, including one: whether Vidura, the brother of Dhritarashtra and Pandu, actually the Father of the eldest Pandav, Yudhisthir?
Vidura unobtrusively came to the aid of the Pandavs repeatedly, furtively informing them of developments, warning against the Lac Palace, getting the escape tunnel dug etc.; on his part, Yudhisthir’s quiet restraint and wisdom are reminiscent of Vidura.
Officially Vidura was a Suta, offspring of Kshtriya fathers from lower caste women; in this case, a maid of the princesses who bore Pandu and Dhritarashtra from their common father, Vyas.
In her book Karve delineated parallels in the lives of Vidur and Yudhisthira: being of their surroundings and yet not part of it; Vidur always conscious of somehow being lesser than his brothers and Yudhisthira the undeserving beneficiary of the largesse of others.
Amongst others, these included a claim to the kingdom based on his father going off to a forest despite being a crowned king; a beautiful wife and his powerful father-in-law, thanks to the prowess of his younger brother Arjun; Bhim for physical protection during both the Pandavas’ exiles; and Krishna and Arjun for that incomparable Mayasabha and Indraprastha itself.
The war was won by Krishna’s strategies and his brothers’ boldness; he pitifully pleaded with Arjuna to take up arms, threatening to renounce everything otherwise. How much all that must have rankled, when at the end of it all, he surveyed the blood, gore and ashes that he had won! Possibly, he quite forgot his own role in gambling away everything.
In those times, it was acceptable to call a brother to step in if a man failed to father an heir. But, when planning their first child, would it be quite IT to call the God of Death? One wonders!
As Pandu’s first son and the oldest cousin, raised by Pandu as his own, his right to the throne was premier. But that could be sabotaged if it was known his father was a suta, while Duryodhan, a few months younger had two royal parents. From Pandu’s point of view too, better brother than any outsider; Yama? The only consideration: strict confidentiality to ensure claim to the throne.
How did it end? The story goes that after Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti and Vidura retired to the forests, Vidura went off on his own. Yudhisthir found him, skin and bones under a tree in the jungle. Vidur lay on the ground pulling the son on him, giving his all the intangibles he possessed, brilliance, power, intelligence etc., a practice mentioned in the Upanishads to enable a father to impart all to a deserving son -- a private act of benevolence.
Like the other Pandav fathers, Vidur was never acknowledged, nor did he seek any special favors, preferring to die in anonymity.