People in power are invariably arrogant, for power makes people forget values and those in power expect subservience and praise all the time, said V. S. Karunakarachariar.

The Vaishnavite Acharya Nampillai once met a landlord, who asked the Acharya to read a commentary that he had authored on Nammazhvar's Thiruvaimozhi. The landlord's effort was mediocre. Not wishing to offend the man, Nampillai said he had done a good job in capturing Nammazhvar's thoughts. The landlord retorted: “How can you put me on a par with Nammazhvar? What did he do other than composing verses? On the other hand, I have many duties. So my effort is more praiseworthy than Nammazhvar's.”

Even friendship does not withstand this kind of pride. Drona was Drupada's classmate. So close were the two that Drupada said his father would crown him king at the appropriate time, and once that happened, he would give Drona, his bosom friend, half the kingdom. Their student years ended, and the two went their respective ways. Drona lived a Spartan existence, while Drupada became king. So poor was Drona that he could not even afford to give his son Aswattama a glass of milk. The other Brahmins in the area had many cows; while the village boys played, they would call in their sons for a glass of milk. Poor Aswattama would be the only one left out. Unable to bear the humiliation her son suffered, Drona's wife gave him the water in which she had cooked rice. She told her son this was milk, and she left some of the froth from the water around the corners of his mouth, so that the other boys would think that Aswattama too had a glass of milk. But the boys found out that Aswattama did not have milk. They mocked even more cruelly now. So she asked Drona to approach his friend Drupada for help.

Drona went to Drupada's palace and told the guards to tell the king that his childhood friend Drona had arrived. The guards carried the message to the king. But the king said he had no intention of receiving a poor man in his court. The old ties were forgotten, and a friend was turned away. Thus, it is that power corrupts people.

Keywords: hinduism

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