Discarding One’s Ego: Lessons from Scriptures


Man has been considered to be the greatest animal of this world. He is endowed with the power of intelligence, conscience, and reason. He knows what is right and what is wrong. This is the good side of man. At the same time, his false and excessive ego at times deprives him of the credit of being the greatest animal. From our Shastras and Puranas, it is known that God can tolerate everything except for false ego and pride on the part of men, demons, and even the gods.

Everybody is familiar with Narad Muni. He travels around the whole universe with his ‘Dhinki Yana’ uttering “Narayan, Narayan.” It was the time of the Dwapara era. Srikrishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was the king of Dwarika. Narad often came to meet Him. Once, false ego arose in his mind. He thought that he was the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu. None was greater than him in the matter in the whole universe. Srikrishna could study his mind. He told Narad, “Rambhakta Hanuman is still alive in this Yuga. You go and tell him to come to Dwarika and have my ‘darshan’.”

Narad met Hanuman and told him that Srikrishna was none other than Ram in the Dwapara era and presently the king of Dwarika. He should waste no time and have His ‘darshan’ at the earliest. Hanuman made it clear that he would not move anywhere as long as Lord Ram had not given him the order to do so. There would be Ram Navami the next day. Prabhu Ram would definitely give me His ‘darshan’ and ask me to go to Dwarika. Narad said that the time of Ram was over. How could He give ‘darshan’? Now only Srikrishna was available, replacing Ram. Hanuman could not believe him. There were tears in his eyes. He said that Ram was still around and would definitely give him ‘darshan’.

Narad came back to Dwarika and told Srikrishna everything. He narrated how Hanuman still had devotion for Ram and was not willing to move anywhere without any instructions from Him. Srikrishna said, “Let us go. The next day is Ram Navami. Hanuman makes arrangements for ‘Brahman Bhojan’ every year on the occasion. Both of us would sit in the feast in the guise of Brahmins.” Narad thought that one Yuga had already passed and Ram had been replaced by Srikrishna. Then both of Them would be in the guise of Brahmins. Hanuman could never recognize Them. The Brahmins had sat in rows. Hanuman was serving them food and sweets. Suddenly he could see the feet of Srikrishna in the guise of a Brahmin. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He fell at the feet of Srikrishna and said, “Prabhu, what sin did I commit which made you come all the way from Dwarika instead of giving me ‘darshan’ and order! I cannot forgive myself in this life.” Narad was surprised at this. How could a devotee recognize his God from a glimpse of His feet? He realized that there were greater devotees than him. His false ego was shattered. Srikrishna gave Hanuman ‘darshan’ in the form of Ram on Ram Navami, blessed him, and invited him to come over to Dwarika.

It was at about this time that Veer Arjun developed the ego that he was the greatest archer of the world and nobody like him had ever been born in any age. Once while moving in his chariot, Veer Arjun saw an old monkey in deep meditation on the seashore. Near him, there was a stone bridge or ‘bandh’. Arjun asked him why Ram constructed such a bridge of stones. Had He been an archer like me, He could very well have made a bridge of arrows! The monkey answered that Ram was the greatest archer of the world. Since there were heavyweight followers like Hanuman, Sugreev, Angad, and Jambavan, the arrow bridge could not have borne their brunt and would have broken down. Accordingly, the stone bridge had to be constructed. Arjun laughed at what the monkey had said. He made it clear that he could construct such a bridge of arrows within the twinkling of an eye. The monkey said that such a bridge would collapse the moment he walked on it. Arjun said that if at all the bridge would collapse, then he would leave archery for good and discard the ‘Gandiba’. Then the bridge of arrows fell like a pack of cards no sooner did the monkey put his feet on it. Arjun felt humiliated by what the monkey did. He not only discarded the ‘Gandiba’ but also prepared a pyre to end his life. At this juncture, Srikrishna appeared on the scene and said, “Veer Arjun, you are yet to recognize the monkey. He is none other than Rambhakta Hanuman. You are born with a noble mission in life. You will be instrumental in finishing off the sins from the world. Do not end your life like this. Veer Hanuman will also be with you during the Mahabharata war.” Arjun repented his action.

We should learn a lesson from our Shastras and Puranas. Ego, pride, and arrogance are what have been shunned and curbed by God. Characters like Ravan and Duryodhan have met their doom only because of their excessive ego, although they were endowed with certain good qualities. It has been rightly said, “Ati Darpe Hata Lanka,” literally meaning excessive ego led to the end of Lanka. The present-day man often falls victim to this evil. Property, social status, and education blind him. He should come out of it and justify his life by discarding his false and excessive ego and pride.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own)

Mr. Prafulla Kumar Majhi,

Retired Asst. Director, A. I. R, is an eminent Scholar and freelance writer in English & Odia. His areas of interests are sociocultural, economic, literary, historical and analytical studies and writings.

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