Individual success or failure is measured against efforts such as excelling in studies, acquiring a job/house, finding joy in married life, and so on. We also believe that all this is achieved by our own effort. But our mission in life should be to find out the truth of our existence and understand who we are and what enables us to live and achieve all this, pointed out Srimati Sunanda in a lecture. For instance, a simple incident narrated in the Kenopanishad helps to internalise this truth in our inner consciousness in a subtle manner.

The Upanishad asks: “What force makes the eyes to perceive or the ears to hear? Who is responsible for speech utterances?” It then unfolds a story as the most convincing answer.

The celestial beings once became self-conceited after a victory over the evil forces. They began celebrating it in a grand manner, without a thought about the Supreme Brahman who had made this victory possible. At that time, an apparition appeared in the sky and wondering who or what it was, the celestial beings asked fire (agni) and wind (vayu) to investigate. When these two approached the apparition, it asked them who they were and what was it they could do. Fire boasted of his power to burn and wind of his ability to blow away with force. The apparition then placed a blade of grass in front of them so that they could display their powers. Both tried with all their might but without any success. Shorn of the very faculties which boosted their confidence, they understood that a far greater power had tested them.

The Kenopanishad goes on to say that the apparition disappeared and Umadevi explained to the celestial beings that the apparition was the Supreme Brahman and that they were celebrating only Brahman’s victory and not theirs. The story instils humility in beings, who are deluded by their attainments and forget the source which enables them to function and achieve in life.

‘It is my perception, my effort,’ is the refrain that governs human achievement. When one pauses to think and investigate how all this is possible and what is one’s own contribution one is released from the clutches of ego and infused with humility.