Vidur Kuti was the abode of Mahatma Vidur after he left Hastinapur, owing to differences with the Kauravas over their treatment of the Pandavas. It was subsequently hallowed by a visit by Lord Krishna, who preferred to stay on the other side of the Ganga, with his great devotee Mahatma Vidur, rather than enjoy the tainted hospitality of the Kauravas in Hastinapur.
It was, therefore, natural that the Vidur Sewa Ashram, established in this holy place, should be interested in determining the age of the Mahabharata War, which was one of the epoch making events in the times of Mahatma Vidur. The Ashram accordingly decided to hold two symposia at Vidur Kuti to which Vedic Scholars from all over India, archaeologists and Heads of Sanskrit and Ancient History Departments of the Indian Universities were invited. Some foreign Indologists and Sanskrit scholars were also invited to send their contributions on the subject. It is gratifying that the response to the Ashram's invitation was so satisfactory.
Whilst it is more or less accepted that the Mahabharata War did actually take place, the date of its occurrence is still shrouded in the hoary past and mythology. Unfortunately there is no authentic material to determine the data and hence the scholars have had to rely on:
(1) Astronomical calculations.
(2) The dates of birth of Lord Mahavira and Buddha.
(3) Archaeological material found from excavations in Hastinapur and Kurukshetra.
(5) As in Mahabharata, weapons made of iron are alleged to have been used; the date of the iron age became relevant to the issue.
(6) Such numismatic or script evidence as is available.
(7) Chronology from ancient Indian literature, Puranas, Pali and Sanskrit scripts etc.
(8) Era and Samvatsara, as the Mahabharata War is believed to have synchronised with the start of the Kaliyuga era.
(9) A script found in Badami where in Saka 506 is alleged to synchronise with 3550 the year of the Kali era.
(10) Puranic chronology from Parikshit, the grandson of the Pandavas, upto Mahapadma Nanda. There are some differences in the Puranas, and according to them the date may be anything between 1000 to 1500 years prior to Padma Nanda.
(11) The genealogy of kings.
Whilst the above list of the sources of information on the age of the Mahabharata War would prima facie appear to be formidable, the fact is that actual information available is meagre and to some extent very much a mixture of the facts with myth and legends.
In this collection of papers on this subject of great importance to Hindu thoughts and sentiments, the scholars who participated in the symposia have brought out some very interesting points, However, much more work and investigations would still be required before the date of that great war can satisfactorily be established.
I hope that further excavations in Hastinapur and Kurukshetra might reveal more material to help scholars and historians to come to a definite conclusion. In the meantime this collection of papers should be of great help and interest to the scholars of ancient Indian history.
In the words of the first saintly President of India, Dr, Rajendra Prasad, on 3rd November 1960, while unveiling the portrait of Mahatma Vidur, the great saint, philosopher and statesman of Mahabharata fame, Mahatma Vidur was the first saint in the history of the world who gave the motto-
"Do not do unto others as you wish others not to do unto you." Vidur Niti, 7-17
And which was picked up by Christ some 2500 years later. Evidently, he was assuming the traditional view about the time of Mahatma Vidur, having been in about 3100 B.C. It was but natural that the memory of such a great man who gave this prescription for the good of the humanity and which has to be accepted and observed in day-to-day behaviour of mankind, irrespective of race and religion and for all times, should be perpetuated in a befitting manner. His shrine known as Vidur Kuti, or hermitage of Mahatma Vidur, has been in existence from time immemorial on the eastern bank of the sacred river, Ganga, opposite Hastinapura, the ancient capital city of Kuru dynasty. As the Mahabharata legend goes, Mahatma Vidur after breaking off from the court of Duryodhana and his brothers, as a result of the gambling episode when his exhortations and pro-testations against wrong conduct of Kauravas failed, he left Hastinapura and took his abode a few miles away after crossing the Ganga and remained here leading a life of austerity and devotion to the Lord Almighty. It was because of this that Lord Krishna, when he came to play the role of a peace-maker to avert the catastrophe of the Great Battle, preferred to stay with Mahatma Vidur, rather than to accept the royal and sumptuous hospitality of the Kuru King, Dhrtarashtra and his son Duryo-dhana, in consequence of which the shrine is still remembered and worshipped both as a hermitage of Mahatma Vidur and in remembrance of the visit of Lord Krishna with the emblem of his footprints. The Bathuwa Sag, the green vegetable herb (chenopodium album), with which Vidur played the host as the only dish to offer for the Lord is surprisingly found perennially at this shrine alone.
The shrine remained neglected for a long time until it attracted the attention of a few public spirited persons. A registered Society was formed in August 1960 with myself as Founder President (I was then posted at Bijnor as District and Sessions Judge) and my esteemed friend, Sri Rishi Ram, now Advocate General, U.P. as founder Secretary. The Society was fortunate in having high dignitaries as successive Presidents, Dr. B. P. Sinha, Ex-Chief Justice of India, whose Foreword is appended in the beginning of this volume, very kindly agreed to be the next President of the Society and Shri Dharam Vira, a distinguished member of the Indian Civil Service and past Governor of three states in India is now the President. Besides renovating the shrine, the Society named as VIDUR SEVA ASHRAM engaged itself in some socio-charitable activities, like running a free charitable dispensary, a High School and a Retired men's Home (Vanaprastha Ashram).
The medical dispensary named, Vidur Arogya Kutir, was taken up by another co-founder friend, Dr. Deva Swaroop, M.B.B.S.; the High School, named Vidur Guru Griha Vidyalaya by S/s. Bal Krishna Khanna, Advocate and leader of the Civil Bar and Jugal Kishore Purohit, Civil District Government Counsel, both co-founders, and the Retired men's Home, Vidur Vanaprastha Ashram by Rai Sahib Fateh Chand, a retired Engi-neer cum Secretary District Board, Bijnor, another co-founder. In order to commemorate his memory, all these activities have been associated with the name of Mahatma Vidur.
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