Men are often in illusion to what strength actually is.

Some consider money, property, investments and material luxuries as strength. Some consider strength of arms and force as real strength. Some consider, association and networking with people already in power as strength while some consider intelligence as strength.

Vidura, who was the prime minister of the Kuru Kingdom and an advisor to the king Dhritharasthra mentions 5 types of strength. The original text in Sanskrit is presented below:

balaṁ pañcavidhaṁ nityaṁ puruṣāṇāṁ nibodha me |
yattu bāhubalaṁ nāma kaniṣṭhaṁ balamucyate ||
amātyalābho bhadraṁ te dvitīyaṁ balamucyate |
dhanalābhastṛtīyaṁ tu balamāhurjigīṣavaḥ ||
yattvasya sahajaṁ rājan pitṛ paitā mahaṁ balam |
abhijātabalaṁ nāma taccaturthaṁ balaṁ smṛtam ||
yena tvetāni sarvāṇi saṅgṛhītāni bhārata |
yad balānāṁ balaṁ śreṣṭhaṁ tatprajñābalamucyate ||

Translation of Vidura’s words

Listen to me, O king. Men are said to have five different kinds of strength, Of these, the strength of arms is regarded to be of the most inferior kind. Blessed be thou, the acquisition of good counsellors is regarded as the second kind of strength. The wise have said that the acquisition of wealth is the third kind of strength. The strength of birth, O king, which one naturally acquires from one’s sires and grandsires, is regarded as the
fourth kind of strength. That, however, O Bharata, by which all these are won, and which is the foremost of all kinds of strength, is called the strength of the intellect.

  1. Weakest Kind of Strength = Strength of Arms, Strength of Force or Strength of Physical Power or Brute force.

    Somebody who forces things on others, someone who uses physical form of oppression or captivates a person or community and prevents someone from doing something by using force is considered to be the weakest in terms of Strength. Example – a Huge army with lot of Force which lacks other elements of Strength as described below cannot eventually win the enemy and hence is considered Weak as per Vidura. Similarly, a person who has no wisdom, no good counsellors or advisors to advise him or has no intellect of his own for decision making but possesses lot of money to hire security guards to protect him is also considered the weakest as per Vidura.

  2. Weak but slightly stronger = Strength of Good counsellors or advisors.

    Someone who has the company of good advisors and uses them to decide what is wrong or what is right is slightly stronger than someone who uses force. Having good advisors and counsellors is still considered weak as per Vidura if that person does not have other strengths mentioned hereafter.

  3.  Moderately Strong – Strength Of Wealth.

    Vidura considers wealth as a means of moderate strength since wealth can be used to acquire good counsellors as well as physical force, hence enabling the subject to acquire the other two types of strength. However, wealth is considered moderate and not supreme form of strength since wealth in itself cannot be used to fix difficult situations, wherein the other two types of strength mentioned below are required.

  4. Strong – Strength of Lineage – Strength of Upbringing.

    Vidura considers “Strength of Lineage” stronger than the “Strength of wealth”. A person who has a learned man or woman as his/her father, a person born in an educated family or a royal family, a person who inherits things by default from his parents and grandparents is considered stronger than a person with lot of wealth. This is because while one can pursue wealth on his own and be successful in that pursuit, there are some things which can never be acquired unless you obtain it by default as inheritance.

    For example, a child born in the house of a renowned singer or musician will get a different upbringing compared to a child born in the house of a common man. In the former case, the child inherits knowledge (“vidya”), and legacy by default which will take a lifetime for the latter to realize and discover on his own. Similarly, a child born in the house of an established businessman will have a different upbringing and mental set-up which a child born in the house of a common man will never get and hence no matter if the latter acquires wealth and other things in life, he will never get those basic teachings and environmental setup.

  5. Very Strong – Strength of Intellect.

    Vidura says that the highest form of Strength is reflected by the Strength of intellect of an individual. Using the strength of Intellect alone, every other obstacle can be overcomed in life. However, without the strength of intellect, no matter what other strengths the person possesses, he may not be able to overcome obstacles.

    The man who has a higher intellect over others is more powerful (and hence respectable) than a man with lots of wealth, or who is physically stronger (“Bahu bal”), a man born into a renowned family (“Kula bal”) or a man who has an ensemble of counsellors


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