638 – Opinions By Ministers

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Opinions by Ministers

In Mahabharata, Pandavas had successfully completed 13 years of their exile as per the pact entered into with Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra became anxious about the Pandavas’ immediate and future plans and sought the counsel of Vidura who was both a Minister and his half-brother.

Vidura was very candid in his views on what had happened in the past and expressed disappointment over the handling of such situations by Dhritarashtra. Some of his criticism/suggestions to Dhritarashtra are quoted below:

  • “Yudhishtira, graced with every virtue, is worthy of being the sovereign of the three worlds; yet, he was exiled by you”.
  • “Though you are virtuous and versed in morality, you have no right to a share in the kingdom owing to your loss of sight”.
  • “Yudhishthira patiently bears innumerable wrongs committed by you more due to the reverence he bears towards you”.
  • “Having handled over the kingdom to the likes of Duryodhana, Shakuni  and Karna, , how can you hope for prosperity?
  • “As a King, it is your duty to undo the wrongs done to Pandavas. By re-instating them in their position, you will be cleansed of all sins and become an object of worship.”

After hearing all the advice, Dhritarashtra said, “Even though, I agree to your views, my mind changes, as soon as I come in contact with Duryodhana.  No creature is able to avert fate. Destiny is certain to take its course. Individual exertion is futile.”

The above narrative from Mahabharata demonstrates the responsibilities bestowed on a Minister. A Minister has to be honest, sincere, frank and unbiased in his understanding of the situations and expressing his views.  Vidura knew that he could, even be killed, for expressing opinions highly critical of the King. Still, he felt he was duty bound to state what is right and not express opinions which will please the King. Also, Vidura also did not expect the King to follow his advice. As a Minister, he knew his responsibility ends with expressing opinions when sought for and it is entirely the prerogative of the King to act on them or ignore his opinions.

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 638 states that:

அறிகொன்று அறியான் எனினும் உறுதி 
உழையிருந்தான் கூறல் கடன்

Arikondru Ariyaan Eninum Urudhi
Uzhai-yirundhaan Kooral Kadan

பரிமேலழகர் உரை: 

அறி கொன்று அறியான் எனினும் – அறிந்து சொல்லியாரது அறிவையும் அழித்து அரசன் தானும் அறியானே ஆயினும்; உறுதி கூறல் உழையிருந்தான் கடன் – அக்குற்றம் நோக்கி ஒழியாது, அவனுக்கு உறுதியாயின கூறுதல் அமைச்சனுக்கு முறைமை. (‘அறி’ என்பது முதனிலைத் தொழிற்பெயர். கோறல் – தான் கொள்ளாமை மேலும் இகழ்ந்து கூறுதல். ‘உழையிருந்தான்’ எனப்பெயர் கொடுத்தார், ‘அமாத்தியர்’ என்னும் வடமொழிப் பெயர்க்கும் பொருண்மை அதுவாகலின். உறுதி கூறாக்கால், அவனது இறுதி எய்தல் குற்றத்தை உலகம் தன்மேல் ஏற்றும் என்பார். ‘கூறல் கடன்’ என்றார். இவை இரண்டு பாட்டானும் அவர் செயல் கூறப்பட்டது.).

The ruler might be foolish and may have no knowledge of his own. He may not have enough sense to listen to good advice as well. Still it is the duty of a minister to render the correct advice to his King.

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

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