--> Skip to main content

Story From Ramayana – Dangers Of Vanity Of Power And Position

The Ramayana narrates a highly educative story in its last canto on the dangers of vanity of power and position.

Once, a dog came to the palace of Sri Ramachandra (Lord Ram) seeking justice. The dog sustained severe injury of a blow on the head.

On enquiry he told that a brahmana of high birth had hit him in an angry mood. The man was summoned, and he confessed his sin. An ideal king that Sri Ramachandra was, he sought the plaintiff ’s opinion on the verdict of punishment.

The dog humbly implored that the brahmana be made the chief administrator of a certain monastery named Kalanjara.

All the courtiers of the palace were struck with wonder at the liberality of the dog and could not check the temptation of asking the reason thereof.

The latter explained that he himself adorned that post in his last birth. He was an honest person, pious, and possessed of many qualities of the head and heart. Yet unfortunately he fell prey to delusion and went the wrong way. As an atonement of his bad deeds he had fallen to the present condition of dog birth.

Such being the case with him, what could be the plight of the irksome, envious, vain brahmana who had hit him! The vanity of power and position would throw him all the more into delusion. Hence the request!

This anecdote is an eye-opener for us all. With its practical, penetrating insight into the nature of human mind, it cautions mankind against the dangers ahead. The human species is the greatest and noblest of all creations. But if one fails to value human dignity and remains engrossed in sensual pleasures, if one clamours for power to exploit others; if one attaches undue importance to the bestial law of survival of the fittest through cut-throat competition, keeping up with one’s obsessions and envy, then one cuts a poor figure in maintaining a human identity for long. And one would have to face the  miserable consequences.

Source - The Lure of Power by Swami Kritarthananda – an article published in the Prabuddha Bharata magazine August 2018 issue.

The story is found in Valmiki Ramayana, Uttara Kanda, Sarga 70–1; The Ramayana: Uttarakandam, ed. Manmatha Nath Dutt (Calcutta: Manmatha Nath Dutt, 1894), 1749–54.