Vidura plays a key role in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He is described as the prime minister of the Kuru kingdom and is the paternal uncle of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
Vidura was born through Niyoga between the sage Vyasa and Parishrami, a handmaiden to the queens Ambika and Ambalika.
Ambika first mated with Vyasa through the niyoga process but kept her eyes closed during the process because his appearance and power frightened her. As a result, she gave birth to the blind Dhritarashtra.
Later her sister Ambalika followed the same process with Vyasa and knew to keep her eyes open. But she was pale with fear during the niyoga, and so gave birth to the pale-looking Pandu.
Finally, the queens sent their maiden Parishrami in their place, who behaved appropriately during the niyoga process and gave birth to the exceptional Vidura.
But because his mother was a handmaid rather than a queen, his status was always lower than his two half brothers.
After Krishna, Vidura was the most respected as an adviser by the Pandavas, whom he forewarned on various occasions of Duryodhana’s plots to exterminate them, such as Duryodhana’s plan to burn them alive in the house of wax.
Vidura tried to stop Yudhishthira from playing the game of dice, but his efforts were of no use. Vidura was the only one who protested against the humiliation of Draupadi in the Kaurava court.
Unlike Bhishma, Dronacharya, Kripacharya, and Karna, Vidura did not have an obligation to Hastinapura or Duryodhana, but to his family. Hearing Dhritarashtra not acknowledge that relationship, Vidura felt compelled to side with Dharma and the Pandavas.
After the Kurukshetra War, Yudhishthira became the emperor and upon his request, Vidura resumed his post as Prime minister.
After many years, Vidura accompanied Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti who retired to the forests to live a simple life.
When Yudhishthira went to the forest after two years to visit them, he found Vidura’s body to be lifeless.
When he went near to the body, Vidura’s spirit entered Yudhishthira’s body and Yudhishthira realised that he and Vidura belonged to the same entity, Yama.
Yudhishthira left Vidura’s body in the wood as a heavenly voice told Yudhishthira not to cremate Vidura’s body.
In Chapters 33 through 40 of Udyoga Parva in the Mahabharata, Vidura outlines things wise people and leaders should do, and things they should not. Collectively, these are known as Vidura Niti (Vidura’s Statecraft).