“What is the difference between ambition and greed?” is a good question. When I was a student of Vedanta, our acharyas had given us this topic for discussion.
It is good to have ambition—to become someone, something. Most of the youngsters want to become a movie star, a cricket batsman, an olympian, a multi-millionaire, a chief minister or even a prime minster! Very few want to become a Swami Vivekananda! Srimad Bhagavatham compares human desires to fire – insatiable; the more you feed it, the bigger it grows.
In the Devi Mahatmyam the great demon, Rakthabeeja, symbolizes human desire. Every drop of his blood falling on the ground created another Rakthabeeja. Finally, Durga Devi killed him by severing his head and Mahakali licked away every drop of blood that fell to the ground. Human desires are endless and, if uncontrolled and not channelized, can lead one to destruction.
Ambition is good, but greed can turn a human into an animal. This is where a Sadguru like Amma can guide us. The Guru and the shastras are like the traffic police and traffic rules – they help us reach our destination safely. Look at our Puranas and Itihasas, which narrate the lives of great emperors and kings.
For example, take the Surya Vamshis, the forefather emperors of Sri Rama, the Chandra Vamshis, the forefather emperors of Bhagavan Krishna, and our history with great kings like Chandragupta Maurya, Chathrapathi Sivaji, and Krishna Devaraya— they were guided by their Gurus. They made their lives and our country great and glorious! Maharshi Vasishta as Guru for the Surya Vamshis, Sage Vyasa, Sage Sandeepany and Sage Gargi for the Chandra Vamshis, Chanakya for Chandragupta, Samartha Ramdas for Sivaji, Swami Vidyaranya for Krishna Devaraya—these are all great Gurus still honored to this day.
Look at the Pandavas, who were ever respectful and obedient to their Gurus and elders—and look at the demonic Duryodhana and his brothers, who did nothing but insult and disregard their Gurus and elders.
Swami PranavamritanandaJi told me something very interesting, something that needed serious introspection. SwamiJi said, “One of the deadliest poisons is an INFERIORITY COMPLEX, and Duryodhana was the best example.” His demonic desire for power coupled by the cunning of his beloved Mamasri Sakuni (uncle Sakuni) ultimately destroyed him and his entire family and millions of soldiers!
In the lineage of the Jain Gurus, the 24th and the last being Mahavira, the 23rd was Parshvanatha. He was a prince like Mahavira and Buddha. When he was sixteen years old, his father decided to make him a king. Sitting alone on the eve of his coronation, he remembered his past life. “In my past life, I was Indra (king of heaven) and enjoyed all the luxuries of Heaven. They are all pleasures mixed with pain, and they are impermanent by nature. Let me go away to the forest and seek true bliss from the Gurus!” And he quickly left the palace, just like the Buddha.
The great Rishi, Yajnavalkya, the Guru of King Janaka, had immense wealth and two wives, named Kathyayani and Maithreyi. Desiring to take Sannyasa (renunciation), he divided his property equally into two and gave it to them. Kathyayani was happy but Maithreyi asked her husband, “You are giving up so much wealth and property and are going away. It indicates that you have something more valuable. As your wife, I demand that also.” Sage Yajnavalkya then took her along with him and gave spiritual enlightenment—absolute knowledge and bliss.
Let us pray to our Guru, Amma, to make us pure and detached like them. Let us not run after power and position! We know that even Indra was very possessive of his throne and position. Where the great Gurus were guiding the kings, there even the parliaments were ashrams. The M.P’s can be called MahaPurushas, Men of Purity, and Men of Peace. And where there is no Sadguru to guide, even an ashram can become a parliament. The M.P’s would then be Mental Patients, Mad after Power, Mentally Polluted.
In my old home town, Kannur, my old neighbors who were politicians used to make fun of me when I used to go to temples. They used to ask me, “Why do you always shout, ‘Govinda Jai Jai, Gopala Jai Jai?’” I used to tell them, “Today you shout, ‘Jai Jai Govinda, Jai Jai Gopala’ and when you come to know that your leaders have joined the “other party”, with the same tongue you will shout, “Down down Govindan, Down down Gopalan!”
But we always praise the same names of the Supreme Being, as they are eternal!”
Yes, we shout “Mata Rani ki Jai” with our Divine Mother. All of us are also sthaanarthis, but we are Brahma sthaanarthis. Our Amma has taught us that all sthaanams (positions) are impermanent. Brahma sthanam is our heart where our Mata Rani—Srimath Simhasaneshwari resides, enlivening, energizing and nourishing our minds, our bodies and our senses and organs. We have the full faith and conviction that our Sadguru Amma will lead us, and the entire human race, into a world of absolute peace, joy and prosperity.
Author: Swami Amritageetananda Puri