By Jnanpurushdas Swami
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
The Vedic texts share numerous stories of those engulfed in pride and living in delusion. Pramukh Swami Maharaj often narrated an inspiring anecdote from the Kena Upanishad. Once, the deities were humiliated by the demons in a battle, so they ran to God and prayed for more strength. God blessed them with extra powers, so they won the next duel. The deities were full of energy and began rejoicing. They thought that the demons were defeated because of their own might. They had forgotten God. In their heightened pride, they held a victory celebration. Indradev, the deity of rain, boasted that they won because of his planning and precision. The deity of fire, Agnidev, insisted that they won because of his valor. The deity of the oceans, Varundev, bragged that they won because of his skill. God smiled. He then assumed the form of Yaksh (a divine being) and joined the deluded deities. As they were absorbed in self-praise, Indradev noticed the odd figure of Yaksh standing in the corner. He quickly instructed others to enquire who he was. Agnidev approached him first and asked, “Who are you?”
“Don’t worry about who I am, but can you burn this dry leaf?”
The deity of fire laughed, “Do you know my greatness? I can destroy an entire forest.” He then applied all his power, but the leaf could not be burnt. Then, the deity of water, Varundev, attempted to submerge the leaf in the ocean, but he too failed miserably. Vayudev, the deity of wind, tried to blow the leaf away, but his efforts were in vain. One after another, the deities used their might, but none of them could touch the leaf. Finally, it dawned upon them that they were dealing with some superpower. God appeared before them and revealed, “Listen, you won the battle because of my blessings, not out of your might. Your pride made you forget me. I just wanted you to realize the power of God.”
Everyone understood their mistake. Victory is only possible due to God’s strength and greatness. Pramukh Swami Maharaj taught, “We must eradicate our ego. Conflicts arise due to self-pride. Whatever we achieve, it is due to God. Never forget that principle.” These words came from his heart, not just his mind. He experienced peace, joy, and happiness throughout his life because he lived by those words. With the prevailing circumstances of the modern world, those words of wisdom are more important and relevant today than ever before.