Monthly Archives: September 2010

Indra Meets Brahman

Once the gods defeated the demons in a long drawn-out battle. Full of conceit, they wanted to celebrate their victory.
It was Brahman that that achieved victory for the gods. But the gods weren’t aware of Brahman’s role, and their pride and elation knew no bounds. Brahman thought to himself: “The gods must be protected from this dangerous vainglory; otherwise they will in course of time become devilish creatures. For their own sake I must remove their presumptuousness.”
Brahman appeared to them as luminous form on the eve of their celebrations. The gods had never seen anything like it. It was a mystery they couldn’t fathom.
The gods told Fire: “You are powerful among us. Please go and thoroughly look into the matter. It seems to be some venerable being.”
Fire approached Brahman, or rather Brahman in the guise of the mysterious object. Brahman asked him, “Who are you?”.
“I am known as Fire,” came the reply.
Brahman: “You possess such a famous name. What power do you have?”
Fire: “I can burn up everything in the universe.”
Brahman placed a straw before Fire and asked him to burn it. Fire tried his utmost but couldn’t consume it. He became ashamed and silently withdrew. He reported to the gods, “I couldn’t tell what this being really is.”
Then the gods sent Air to the luminous being on the same errand. Brahman said, “Who are you? What power do you have?”
“I am known as Air. I can blow away everything in the universe, “ was the reply.
Brahman placed the same straw before Air and asked him to blow it away. Air also was foiled in his attempt, and he too returned to gods to report that he had failed to find out the strange being’s identity.
Now all the gods requested their leader, Indra to go and meet the mysterious being that that so far eluded identification. No sooner had Indra approached it than the luminous object vanished. Indra’s pride was humbled. Yet he didn’t go back like Fire and Air.
Indra kept deliberating in his mind about the baffling matter. Then Supreme knowledge itself appeared in the flesh as Uma, the beautiful and charming daughter of Himalayas.
Indra asked Uma, “Please tell me the nature of the being who showed itself to us and then vanished.”
Uma said: “It was Brahman. You were merely instruments. But you became vainglorious because of your triumph.”
Indra’s conceit was gone. He fully understood that behind the endeavors of all the gods was the power of Brahman. Since Indra, Fire and Air dared to converse with Brahman, they became superior to other gods – but since it was Indra to whom knowledge was given, he became foremost among all the gods.
It is Brahman alone that motivates and activates all creatures in the universe. And it is egoism, which hides this truth from us. Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “All agonies come to an end when man ceases to be egocentric.”