Ego is not a concept foreign to humans. We have always had that innate emotion which is the root cause of pride, jealousy and many other emotions that are considered negative and said to be harmful in excess quantities. Lord Krishna teaches us in this story how to deal with one’s ego.
This ‘ego’ can damage relationships. It can cause friction between the two parties if they are unsuccessful at controlling their egos. And it is this failure that is the cause of insecurities, jealousies, etc, which eventually cause the relationship to end. Had the cause itself been nipped in the bud, most relationships would have been instantly repaired.
Satyabhama adored Lord Krishna but Rukmini was his chief wife
A story in our vast mythical lore deals with ego and jealousy in a marital relationship. Many of us are aware that Lord Krishna had around 16008 wives. The 16000 women he had rescued from the dungeons of Narakasura after the incarnation of Lord Vishnu slew the demon. The other eight wives were Rukmini, Jambavati, Kalindi, Satyabhama, Nagnajiti, Mitravinda, Bhadra, and Lakshmana. However, his chief wife is Rukmini, who is considered the incarnation of the Goddess Lakshmi.
Satyabhama was quite beautiful and loved and adored Krishna very much. She was rumoured to be a materialistic person and was proud of her beauty. But she always felt that it was Rukmini who stole all her glory. Her vanity caused a rise in her ego and hence she bore Rukmini envy that burned inside her.
Related reading: When Lord Krishna taught Arjuna to choose love over vanity
Narada heard Satyabhama boasting
One day it so happened that Satyabhama boasted about the love Krishna had for her. It was no mere coincidence that Narada Muni strolled past her chambers and heard what she had to say. He countered her by saying that it is not she whom Krishna loves the most and that his love is but an illusion. He also mentioned that it is Rukmini who Krishna really loves and cares about. At this, Satyabhama got enraged and demanded that the sage prove what he was saying. As usual, the crafty ascetic of heaven convinced her to observe a vrata (ritual) where she gave Krishna away to Narada in charity and then if she desired to have him back, she could reclaim him by giving away wealth equal to the weight of Krishna. This ritual became popularly known as ‘Tulabharam’. When Satyabhama hesitated (of course, she could not think about giving away the man she loved in charity), Narada Muni provoked her ego by telling her that all her wealth may not equal Krishna’s weight. Satyabhama, in order to best Rukmini (the sage had told her that by observing the ritual, Krishna’s love for her would increase tenfold) and prove that her wealth was immense, agreed and laughed that it was child’s play to outweigh Krishna. But then Narada warned her that if she failed to match the weights, Krishna would become a slave to him to do with as he pleased.
Lord Krishna submitted to the ritual
Satyabhama acquiesced, much to the horror of his other wives, who pleaded with her unsuccessfully. Krishna meekly submitted to the ritual. Satyabhama then arranged for a huge scale and sent for all her wealth. The scale did not budge. The heavenly sage started to mock her attempts and started shouting that now Krishna would be auctioned off. Frantic, she asked for the other wives to help. They all pooled in the jewellery if only for the love they bore for their Krishna.
Still, the attempt proved futile.
Krishna remained silent; seeing the desperation and failure of his wives to reclaim him, he said that now he had become a slave to a rishi and would have to separate from his dear wives.
Satyabhama started to look for answers to win back her dear Krishna. When Narada suggested that Rukmini could get her out of the conundrum, she swallowed her pride and appealed to the chief consort.
Rukmini then emptied the scales of all the wealth and placed a single leaf of Tulsi on it. Immediately, the scales tilted and matched the weight of Krishna.
Krishna then stood up and said that devotion to a life-partner is the only thing that will determine the amount of love one has for somebody. In this, pride, ego, jealousy has no place.
As you see, Satyabhama’s desire to best Rukmini got the better of her instead. Ego is a complicated emotion. We cannot truly dispose of it. But we can control it, limiting it so that it does not hamper any relationship that we have with other people. This is what the Bhagavad Gita teaches about relationships.
Dispose of all egos when in a relationship. Only love can make a relationship soar high; ego will only bring it crashing down.