--> Skip to main content

Story - What Is True Courage?

A story told by Swami Vivekananda to illustrate what is true courage.

There are two sorts of courage. One is the courage of facing the cannon. And the other is the courage of spiritual conviction. An Emperor who invaded India was told by his teacher to go and see some of the sages there. After a long search for one, he found a very old man sitting on a block of stone.

The Emperor talked with him a little and became very impressed by his wisdom. He asked the sage to go to his country with him.

‘No’, said the sage, ‘I am quite satisfied with my forest here.’

Said the Emperor, ‘I will give you money, position, wealth. I am the Emperor of the world.’

‘No,’ replied the man. ‘I don’t care for those things.’

The Emperor replied, ‘If you do not go, I will kill you.’

The man smiled serenely and said, ‘That is the most foolish thing you have ever said, Emperor. You cannot kill me. Me the sun cannot dry, fire cannot burn, sword cannot kill, for I am the birthless, the deathless, the ever-living omnipotent, omnipresent Spirit.’

This is spiritual boldness, while the other is the courage of a lion or a tiger.