In our day to day lives, we see so many people around us depressed and sad because they feel that they haven’t done as good as another person. For most people, it is extremely difficult to see the uniqueness of oneself and the individual contribution that one can make. They end up comparing themselves based on incorrect parameters that are not applicable to their life situations and this results in insecurity about one’s position on life. Here is a classical story and message from the Mahabharata. This narrative appears in the Shanti Parva (Section 180) of the Mahabharath as narrated by Bhishma to Yudhishthira.
A wealthy man completely blinded by his power and position hits a Rishi of the Kashyapa lineage while travelling in his chariot. The Rishi who was completely offended by this act, thought to himself that such a life of poverty with no respect was not worth living. He was thinking of casting off his life. At that moment, Lord Indra appeared in the form of a jackal and spoke to the Rishi. He said “Oh Rishi! You are a person of great birth and that too learned in the Vedas. Such a merit is hard to obtain by many. Having obtained something so precious, you should not be giving up your life for such a trivial reason”. The jackal added “look at me. I don’t have hands that can remove these thorns. You are lucky to have been born as a human and that too as a learned person educated in the Vedas. People who are rich want to become kings, then they want to become Gods and then the chief of Gods. You are learned and already equal to God, then why do you covet wealth oh Rishi?. Thirst for acquiring only flares up as we get more things. Happiness and sorrow are within onself. So be contended oh learned man!”. The jackal continued “People live like servants of money and keep dying and taking birth. Yet there seems to be no change in attitude. Never compare yourself with another as you have attained this position by performing your duties properly. You posses great knowledge and competence. Do not compare yourself with a person who is arrogant because of his wealth. You already are a great person”
Lord Indra beautifully highlights the importance of the merits that one has obtained and when one acts according one’s swadharma, success is bound to happen. There is no need for comparison as one cannot possess everything in the world and no matter what one possesses it still seems inadequate. A life of contentment is a life of happiness.