Human beings like to be praised. And they also like to flatter. But praising those who don't deserve praise, or praising a person, with a view to gaining power, position or wealth through him, is most undesirable, said K. Sambandam in a discourse.

Only the deserving should be praised, and in this category would come the devotees of the Lord. We would do well to read the works of devotees like Arunagirinathar, who sang in praise of Lord Shanmukha.

In his verses, Arunagirinathar not only praises the Lord, but also tells us how we should approach the path to liberation. He says that we should be generous with our wealth, and give to those who are indigent. We should shed our pride and control our senses. It is hard for us to be humble.

Although we may resolve to be humble, we fail to keep our pride in check. The danger with pride is not only that it makes us blind to the concerns of others, and headstrong in our ways, but also that it blinds us to reality.

Like one who mistakes a rope for a snake, we get mixed up about the true nature of things in this world. We end up being confused about what is evanescent and what is not. We think that the body we have in this birth is all that matters, and we never spare a thought for the immortal soul.

And once we are preoccupied with the needs of our body, we have no time for more elevated thoughts. We only follow our senses, not knowing that misery awaits us. Buddha said that the way to sorrow was through desire.

Our five senses are not easily controlled. Our senses lead us, and they are in control of us, instead of our being in control of them. If you observe a tortoise, you will notice that when there is danger, it draws its head and its four legs into its hard shell.

In the same way, realising the dangers of indulging our five senses, we must make them recede into the background. If the tortoise does not quickly withdraw into its shell, it will be killed. In the same way, if we are not alert in controlling our senses, we too will end up being caught in an unending cycle of births and deaths.

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