This is part 2 of a three part series on Who was Vidhura.
In which Vidhura is born
Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Hastinapura, Bheeshma had taken an oath of celibacy and to ensure the succession of the empire in able hands. He had ensured a good marriage to Amba and Ambalika and was eagerly awaiting that they give birth to good sons, who can rule the kingdom justly.
As fate would have it, both Amba and Ambalika lost their husbands in quick succession right after their marriages concluded. It was a practice in those days, that in, exceptional circumstances (like this), they could bring in a surrogate father (or a sperm donor as it is called in these days) to bring in to this world successors to royal kingdoms.
Bheeshma had requested the great sage Vyasa to be the donor. High quality sperm was the need of the day then as well. Vyasa was well versed in warcraft and very learned in the Vedas, and in general a person with great wisdom. A good choice. But then, artificial insemination was not quite present at those times, and hence natural copulation was the only way. Both Amba and Ambalika balked at the thought of having to spend the night with the old wizened sage.
Amba had closed her eyes the entire time, she was with Vyasa, and hence bore the child who was Drithrashtra (who was born blind). Ambalika’s skin turned white in shock and horror at the thought of Sage Vyasa, and hence bore the son who was Pandu (extremely pale white skin).
In those days, there were 14 lakshanas (a check list of qualities) that need to be fulfilled if you were to be crowned king. Both Pandu and Drithrashtra did not qualify because of their congentical disabilities.
Now Bheeshma, in a fix, pleaded with Vyasa to give it one more shot with Ambalika. Sage Vyasa, after a lot of persuasion agreed. On the appointed night, when darkness had fallen, and at the time chosen, Ambalika, who could still not convince herself to mate with the old sage, pushed in one of her royal maidens into the chamber.
The son born out of the royal maiden was Vidhura. And Lord Yama’s curse had happened. Vidhura. the half brother of Dhritrashtra advised him on a variety of matters, and was considered the expert in Dharma in the Kaurava side.
Acknowledgement: I am recounting this from a lecture recording called Vidhura Needhi by Shri R.B.V.S.Manian, The lecture was hosted in Kumbakonam a few years back.