Once there lived a sage, Mandavya, well versed, conversant with duties, devoted to truth and dharma. His asylum was deep into the woods, desolated. He used to sit under a giant tree at the entrance of his hermitage, meditating in sheer silence. With no human sign in the dense forest, he was all by himself.
A bunch of robbers with their looted booty escaped from the town and reached to his hermit. They concealed themselves in the sanctum without coming into notice of the sage. King’s guards reached the place of sage and enquired about the robbers. The Brahmana deep into his meditation didn’t reply to their questions. Agitated guards searched the hermitage and soon located the hiding robbers with plunder. The suspicion fell on Muni and they took him along with robbers. The king ordered his guards to carry out the execution of all including the Muni. Following the orders the guards sentenced all of robbers and impaled the sage.
Deprived of life and food, the sage was left all alone in prison of the king. Days passed but sage Mandavya didn’t give up his life. He was breathing and resisting pain with all his Yogic powers. The guards reported to the king when the soul of sage didn’t leave him. Thoughtful king became vile to his unprecedented decision and immediately rushed to prison and listened to his story. Remorse filled him when he heard what wrong he had done. He immediately issued orders to release the sage. The physicians of his kingdom took extreme care of the sage but couldn’t remove the stake from his body.
Mandavya recovered and entered into deep meditation and with truthfulness of his deeds he then reached to the abode of Dharma (god of death, Yama). Beholding Yama sitting on his throne, inquisitive Mandavya asked, “What is that sinful act committed by me for which I was given such harsh punishment? O god of justice, tell me what act of mine made you to throw me in peril?
Dharma replied, “O man of great asceticism! One in your childhood you pierced a blade of grass into a little insect. You thus had to bear the consequence of your act. The sin committed by you multiplied in respect of woe it brought in its train. Hence you had to face the suffering in your life.” Bewildered Mandavya asked, “Tell me what was my age when unknowingly the sin was committed?”
“Twelve years!” replied the god of justice.
“O lord! you are god of justice, how could you forget that a sin committed by a child till twelve years of his age shouldn’t be considered as sin. The scriptures do not recognise it as sinful.”, replied Mandavya in painful voice.
“The killing of a sage is a sin heavier than any other. And the burden of my execution lies on your shoulder. O god of justice, I, Mandavya, curse you to be born among in Shudra order. Your wisdom will not gain you the throne.”, continued Mandavya.
Years later, after the death of Satyavati’s sons Chitrangada and Vichitravirya, the throne of Hastinapur became empty again. Finding no choice, Satyavati beseeched her son Dwaipayan (Ved Vyas) to help. Ved Vyas couldn’t refuse to his mother’s orders and copulated with the wives of his half-brother Vichitravirya, Ambika and Ambalika. Both the ladies couldn’t bear the sight of Vyas and Hastinapur again reached the edge of not having king of perfect calibre. Devastated queen requested Vyas again but this time, Ambika presented her maid in waiting before the sage. The union of sage and a maid gave birth to an astute child who grew up with extreme knowledge and intelligence. They named the child as Vidura.
Vidura was born as incarnation of Dharma as a result of curse of sage Mandavya.