Our greatest power is not the power we have over others, but the power we have over ourselves
Many people hunger for power. Such power-hungry people usually define power in terms of externals, in terms of how much they can control others and make them bend to their will. Even if they gain power, they don’t become happy, which is the purpose of everything we do, including seek power.
Srimad-Bhagavatam in its seventh canto describes the story of the demon-king Hiranyakashipu who had unrivalled power all over the universe. His power was far greater than even the aspirations of most people in today’s world, what to speak of their achievements. And yet despite such power, he was never satisfied. Why? Because he didn’t have control over his mind and senses. He kept looking at things which he didn’t have control over such as his saintly son Prahlad who wouldn’t worship him as God.
Generalizing the principle illustrated through this pastime, the Bhagavad-gita (16.13-15) outlines the mentality of the power-hungry who scheme and kill for gaining power, but who are through and through deluded by ignorance. So, they are always filled with anxiety (16.11) and are doomed to hellish suffering (16.16).
We need to seek power over ourselves, power over our own desires. The Gita (05.23) declares that those who can curb the power of desire and anger can become spiritually situated and can thus become satisfied. Only when we have power over ourselves can we direct our thoughts away from that which brings misery and towards that which brings joy. By thus redefining our conception of power, we can wholeheartedly pursue the path of spiritual growth and relish lasting fulfilment.
By our past karma, we may or may not be destined to acquire external power. But by practicing bhakti-yoga, we all can attain internal power and thereby attain satisfaction.
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