Thursday, June 27, 2019

Beware of Ego

Article in Kannada & English Rendering by: KS Rajagopalan

Jaya and Vijaya are the doorkeepers of Vaikuṇṭha, the abode of Mahavishnu. Once, the great Sanaka and his fellow sages came to visit Mahavishnu. Out of arrogance, the doorkeepers prevented them from entering Vaikuṇṭha despite being aware of the greatness of these sages. The sages were overpowered by anger and cursed Jaya and Vijaya: “You are unfit to remain in this holy place; take birth on earth as demons”. Mahavishnu appeared on the scene and gave two options to Jaya and Vijaya: either to be born as arch-enemies of Vishnu for three lives, or as His friends for seven lives. They eagerly chose the first option so that they can return to Vaikunta sooner. Vishnu now addressed the sages as He wanted to enlighten them too. Smilingly, He remarked: “It is highly unbecoming of Jaya and Vijaya to have stopped you sages, well-known as jitendriyas, (conquerors of the organs of sense) and distinguished for your control over anger. I personally apologise for their mistake!” Soon the sages realized their folly of not conquering anger while dealing with His assistants. This is a story familiar to students of Indian mythology.

Many may draw the conclusion that the urgency of Jaya and Vijaya to return to Vaikuṇṭha is understandable as they were unable to bear the separation from their Master Mahavishnu. 

Sriranga mahaguru had explained this story in a beautiful manner. When Jaya and Vijaya faced two options — to be foes or friends — and chose the former, the reason was that the curse had already started bearing fruit, thus driving their mind towards this alternative. They could have chosen to be associates of Vishnu, whether for seven lives or even a hundred! As residents of Vaikuntha, they ought to have had their minds always dwelling on the Lord. Even if they took birth on earth on account of the curse, if their minds were unfailingly devoted to Vishnu, neither the number of births nor their place of stay would matter. They did not realise this simple principle! “Whether in heaven or in hell, in happiness or in sorrow, may I always remember you” — to pray thus is a hallmark of Indian culture.

The story of Jaya and Vijaya nicely illustrates how even a great devotee, if he develops a craving for position, for fame or becomes possessed with such other selfishness, can forget his ultimate aim in life. If this can happen even to such Servitors of Lord Vishnu, what then to speak of the rest of us? That is why elders warn “प्रत्यहं प्रत्यवेक्षेत नरश्चरितमात्मनः। किं नु मे पशुभिस्तुल्यं किं नु सत्पुरुषैरिति॥” (A man should introspect everyday: am I behaving like a beast or like a noble person?) Animals can act only on instinct. It is only a man who is bestowed with an additional faculty of discretion. Even when we err as a result of our accumulated bad influences or bad company, it is wise to exercise better judgment, correct ourselves, and continue to move towards our goal.

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs