The Power of Maha Maaya

On the eve of  NAVARATHRI,  I remembered this insightful story about the power of Maaya on our lives. This story appears in Devi Mahatmyam:

A King and a businessman (a ‘vaisya’) met in a forest. Both were deeply depressed for their own good reasons and therefore wanted to share their stories of misery with each other. The Vaisya began his story first: ‘I worked very hard & amassed a lot of wealth for the sake of my kith & kin. But one fine day they(my children & wife) felt that I would be a hindrance to their enjoyment of the wealth and therefore threw me out of the house. And here I am in the forest. I am now in depression on several counts. I worry about my wife and keep wondering whether she is being treated well. My youngest son is another source of worry for me since he does not know the value of money. I am also not too sure whether my other sons are capable of growing my business with the same zeal and enthusiasm. And what about my loyal servants? I hope they are being given due roles in the business matters……’

The king listened attentively and said: ‘Oh, No, these are all problems of your own creation. Why should you worry about people who disowned you?  Relax & focus on the future’. Then the king continued, ”Now listen to my heart-rending story. Then you will know how trivial your problem is. I lost my kingdom having been defeated by an enemy king. I had to flee leaving behind my family, friends, servants, army of soldiers, horses, elephants  and my entire wealth. Here I am in the forest having lost everything. I don’t care about what I lost and that is not my cause of my depression.  I am worried about my mightiest elephant which is so attached to me that it won’t even eat if I don’t feed it. I wonder how that elephant is managing now. Likewise, I had developed such an army of mighty soldiers who were well taken care with all facilities and prompt payment of wages. Now I worry whether they are being well fed and taken care. Also my sympathy goes out to the people of my kingdom whose welfare was uppermost in my mind. I wonder whether the new king is going to be generous enough in his rule’.

After hearing the story of the king, the vaisya exclaimed: ‘Hey, your problem is equally trivial. How,  on earth , can you keep worrying about your folks who no more belong to you. Now, your existence & future itself is in jeopardy in this lonely forest; it is foolish to get restless about  issues on which you have no control. At least my troubles are more real’…

Thus they trivialize each other’s troubles. Isn’t this a story of each one of us living in our own small worlds. We always treasure our experience as far more significant and superior to some one else’s. Our joys are more meaningful and our sorrows are more profound than our neighbour’s. Our problems are more real than those of others. In short, our stories are of greater significance  and value than someone else’s. We all love to live in our own ‘petty stories’ shunning reality.

Now, let me continue with the story. Ultimately both the king & the vaisya saw the pointlessness of their imagined fears but yet couldn’t help worrying!  So, they approached a sage in an ASHRAM nearby and sought his guidance. They asked the sage: ‘In spite of the knowledge that our problems are trivial, why is it that we still fall into the trap of misery and depression?’  The sage said: ‘It’s the influence of MAHA MAAYA’. He elaborated further, ‘MAAYA is that invisible power of Devi by virtue of which people lose clarity when confronted by a crisis in life. One may have an excellent theoretical clarity about knowledge & ignorance -one may even give an excellent discourse on  Jnana, vairagya etc but at a crunch time in life, one will fall prey to weaknesses due to bondage. It is only through the blessings and grace of Devi that one crosses the barriers created by Maaya’.

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Published in: on October 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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