The Kenopanishad describes an incident in the lives of the celestial beings to teach a very significant lesson. Once there is a fight between the celestial beings and the asuras in which the former successfully vanquish the latter with the help of the Supreme Brahman, of course. They celebrate this success taking much pride in their own effort. There is no thought of the Supreme Lord who had made this victory possible. The Lord chooses to remove their ignorance and pride and appears as a Yaksha in their land. The celestials are wonder-struck and awed on seeing the effulgent presence.
Curious to know more about Him, Indra first sends Agni to find out the visitor’s antecedents. Agni is a bit unsettled as he finds he has to answer the question he wished to ask the Yaksha. Anyway, Agni discloses with pride that he has the power to burn anything. The Yaksha tests his prowess by placing a blade of grass before him and asks him to burn it. Agni uses all his might but in vain. Admitting defeat and gripped by fear, he goes back to Indra. Now Indra sends Vayu, who also fails the simple test. Then Indra decides to confront the visitor but he finds Goddess Uma who makes him understand the truth of the Supreme Lord.
This allegory of the Yaksha captures many fine points of teaching and learning pertinent to spiritual awareness, pointed out Dr. Sudha Seshaiyan in a discourse. The Brahman resides in our consciousness as effulgence. Ignorance is the main reason for the failure to see and recognise His presence. Even the celestial beings do not comprehend Brahman. “This is Brahman,” Uma tells Indra. The Upanishad states that Indra then understands. When realisation comes, no amount of explanation is necessary. Until realisation, all explanations only confuse. When one says or thinks he knows Brahman, it is clear that he does not know. The story is also a metaphor for the constant conflict between good and evil. When good triumphs, that is, when an individual is able to vanquish the evil in him, he feels satisfied at his achievement. This is the ego sense that prevents the individual from recognising the presence of the atma that has guided his effort.