During one of my coaching sessions, a noted celebrity – a young mother of two, who in the eyes of the world and the social media, has a fairy tale-esque perfect family life, unexpectedly broke down. The torrents of tears flowing down her flushed cheeks while she narrated her ordeal, reflected the grim reality faced by almost every individual today. Relationships, in this day and age of quarrel and hypocracy, are resting on superficial strings of lust, sense gratification, pride and ego. Everyone is hankering to exhibit his superiority over another, while crushing the delicate fabric of virtues, morals, psychological needs and emotions of their partner.
The root cause of misery is an ostentatious display of one’s talents, abilities and possessions, characterised by high degree of expectations. Every relation is sublime: Husband-wife, parent-child, friends, siblings, kith and kin. They are ruined when false prestige raises its ugly head. Pride alienates us from our loved ones and sentences us to a forsaken life of loneliness, insecurity, lamentation and grief. When we are puffed up with excessive self-worth. nurturing an illusory belief of being the Supreme, distancing ourselves from our Creator, we become blinded by the poisonous smoke of pride that erroneously exudes from intoxication of temporary beauty, fame, position, wealth and power.
Lessons from the Holy Scriptures:
Our bonafide Vedic literatures encompass several instances where pride has led to defeat and downfall. It needs immediate remedial measures to save any relation.
- Under the influence of pride, considering himself to be the most powerful warrior, the Pandava brother – Bhima insulted his elder brother Hanuman (from the previous Yuga) but eventually realised his folly and was put to shame,when he could not even lift and move an inch of his tail.
- When Lord Krishna performed the sacred Rasa dance with His devotees, the Gopis, they became proud thnking that they have conquered the Lord Himself. So in order to restrain their pride the Lord immediately vanished.
- On the instructions of the evil Kamsa, the gigantic horse-bodied Keshi demon tried to kill little Krishna, by charging like a flash of lightning and boasting about His supremacy. To vanquish the demon’s pride, Lord Krishna put his tiny hand inside the demon’s mouth and liberated him.
- From the Govardhan-lila we learn how the demi-god of rain – Indra, thought himself to be the most formidable in the entire Universe and expected that all the inhabitants of Vraja worship him, failing to realise that he is just a small minister in the Kingdom of God who is controlled by the Higher power, the Supreme Personality of Godhead – the cause of all causes, the complete whole – Lord Krishna. When Indra sent torrential rains to create havoc, Lord Krishna at the tender age of seven lifted the Govardhan hill on his little finger continuously for seven days and seven nights, to protect mankind and kill Indra’s pride.
- Sudama, the childhood friend of the Lord was so poor that he developed excessive pride that nobody on the planet was as poor as him. Now, the Lord enjoins that any kind of pride is detrimental. In order to subdue Sudama’s pride, the Lord showered him with jewels, riches and wealth.
Let me share a classic pastime when the Lord quashes the pride of Demi-gods. The Kena Upanishad illustrates that once the Demi-gods defeated the demons at war. This victory instilled an intense sense of pride in the Demi-gods. That’s when the Lord decided to ameliorate and check this vice. So, He took the form of the most beautiful celestial being and appeared in Heaven. The Demi-gods were curious to know about this divine entity. Collectively the Demi-gods sent the Lord of Wind (Vayu deva) to enquire. On approaching Him, the Supreme Lord asked Vayu deva about his identity. The Wind-god began boasting about his achievements and said that there is nothing in the world that he cannot blow. The Lord produced a blade of grass and asked him to showcase his power. With all his might, he could not blow that blade of grass. Ultimately, he felt ashamed of his pride and returned. Next, the Fire-god (Agni deva) approached the Lord. He too showcased his arrogance and proclaimed that he can burn anything into ashes. However, he failed to have any effect on the blade of grass. Eventually, he too accepted defeat and realised his mistake. Finally, when Lord Indra heard about these incidents, he decided to himself approach the celestial being. But before he could arrive, the Supreme Lord disappeared and through his internal potency conveyed His real identity. This was a precious lesson for the Demi-gods – that pride is a sin and we must endeavour to overcome it.
When pride creeps into any relation, it gradually builds a wall. A wall built with hard bricks of dissatisfaction, fear, resentment, anger, hatred and perpetually ruins the sacred bond between two souls.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in his ‘Shikshashtakam’ gives us the perfect solution to tide over pride – We must be humbler than a blade of grass, become more tolerant than a tree, always be ready to offer respects to everyone and never command respect for oneself.
We are all parts of parcels of God. Thus, we must always perceive every soul as a precious child of God. When we see our fellow beings in this divine light, all sense of false prestige, arrogance and ego melts away, as we cultivate an attitude of servitude. This is the key to break the wall of pride and build a beautiful relationship which is built on the strong pillars of humility, patience, forgiveness, tolerance, devotion and pure love.
Meghna Choudhury (Her Grace Mathura Vasi Devi Dasi)
Life Coach | Spiritual Counselor | Author
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