Breaking The Vanity of Gods
Conveying a message through stories and examples, is an age-old effective way of communication. The story you are about to hear was narrated by an unnamed Rishi (sage), to his disciples, that brings home the basic concept of one god, the Brahman. Other gods and goddesses are his manifestations facilitating the operation of this universe that He created. The moral derived from this story is the fact that our righteous acts need to be well guarded against the evils which constantly try to take over.
Long long ago, the tyranny of the Ashuras, the evil people, made this earth uninhabitable. The gods, or Devas, were defeated by the Ashuras and they were banished. The gods approached the all powerful Brahman, the creator of the universe and source of energy for all beings, to help them defeat the Ashuras and bring peace back to the earth. Brahman blessed them and asked them to pursue and fight even harder. The Ashuras were then finally defeated and they fled underground, preying on the opportune moment to rise above again.
The Gods began to celebrate their victory over the Ashuras and became boastful of their power forgetting that it came from the one and only source, the Brahman. In fact they forgot their duties and became engaged in drinking, merry making and licentious behavior. So, to give a lesson, Brahman sent a Yaksha (demigod) to the place where the gods gathered for their celebration party. Indra, the king of the gods and the god of weather, saw the Yaksha approaching them. He asked Agni, the god of fire to inquire who he was.
Agni came near the Yaksha and introduced himself as the powerful god capable of burning off anything that touches him.
The Yaksha said with false surprise, “Is that right?” Then he picked up a small dry grass and said, “Can you burn this?”
Agni, drowned in his ego, laughed, “Ha! Ha! Ha! You must be kidding!”
Yaksha calmly replied, “Why don’t you try it?”
Agni took the grass in his hand and tried to burn it. But strangely enough, he could do nothing. He soon returned to the party without telling any one what happened. He couldn’t help but wonder, “Who is he?”
After a while, Indra asked the wind god Pavan to go to the Yaksha and find out the reason of his visit.
When Pavan approached the Yaksha, the Yaksha asked him, “Who are you?”
“I am Pavan, the wind god” he said. “I can blow every thing away when I want to.”
“Really!” said the Yaksha and gave him the small blade of grass to blow away. “Could you blow away this blade of grass?”
Pavan could not even believe that any one would challenge his power with a blade of dry grass. He callously put the grass on his palm and blew on it. To his utter shock, it stayed exactly as he had placed it on his palm and had not moved. He tried repeatedly to blow it away and finally gave up. Ashamed of his inability to stir a small blade of grass, he sneaked away.
Then Indra came himself. As he approached the Yaksha, it disappeared and there stood a woman. She was none else than Indra’s conscience (self acquired knowledge), called Uma.
“Did you see the Yaksha standing here?” asked Indra.
Uma said, “Indra, being the king of the gods you could not recognize the messenger of Brahman, the Yaksha? The Yaksha carried the message that Brahman is the one and only source of power and none else. He taught to be humble and to stay away from the ego that destroys you. You have had enough celebration for your victory over the Ashuras, and now return to the duties entrusted upon you by Brahman.”
The gods were ashamed of their foolish behavior. They returned to their senses and peace once again was restored on earth.