Pride and Humility
Pride literally means self-esteem, self-satisfaction, self-worth, self-glorification; ego etc. When pride becomes excessive, it is “Mada” which is sign of the pre-dominance of tamas and rajas and results in delusion, egoism, ignorance and deep attachment. The baneful egoism generates actions, desires and pains. Ravana & Kaikeyi from epic Ramayana and Duryodhana from epic Mahabharata are glaring examples of excessive pride. Pride nullifies the fruit of our good karma. Pride makes us loose a correct perspective of things. Pride earns us many enemies.
On the other hand, humility, Modesty or Namrata (in Hindi), is the virtue which expresses low self-preoccupation and is opposite of Pride. When we perform duties as a service rather than a favor to the God and to the people around us, we cultivate humility.
Bhagavad Gita has listed humility or absence of pride as first virtue (13.7). Swami Vivekananda argues that the concept of humility does not mean "crawling on all fours and calling oneself a sinner." According to him, each human being the Universal, recognizing and feeling oneness with everyone and everything else in the universe, without inferiority or superiority or any other bias, is the mark of humility.
When the yaksha, the divine being asked Yudhishthra, the eldest Pandava brother, “destroying what does one becomes dear”; to which, Yudhishthra had replied by killing pride one becomes dear. Pride keeps us on lonely island. One is unapproachable when he builds strong notions about him and around him.
Categories of pride:
Lord Buddha categorized pride into seven forms:
Grades of Pride:
In Hinduism, different grades of pride are denoted by various nomenclatures viz. Abhiman (Conceit, Vanity, and arrogance), Ahankara (Egoism), Darpa (Pride with arrogance) and Mada (excessive pride).
Humility is the virtue and opposite of pride. It is not sign of weakness but it elevates. Humility is part of the Hindu culture. Hinduism has given wisdom that every living creature has an identical soul in them. So, we are not superior to anyone in essence. In fact, everybody is constituted with same Jiva and Prakirti. All have same emotions, intellect, feelings, body etc. Some may be better in a few areas and worse in other areas. Moreover, everyone is imperfect and commit mistakes. Hence, there is no place of arrogance or pride. The “Namaste” in Hindu culture, not only prevents spread of contagious diseases, but also signify the element of this deep philosophy. Even an old person bow down and touches the feet of the person of honor.
There are a large number of popular wisdom stories in Hinduism on humility & pride such the story of Sri Shankaracharya & Chandala; the story of Shabri and Sri Rama; the story of Bihima & Sri Hanuman etc.
Dr. S Radhakrishnan mentioned that humility in Hindu Dharma is the non-judgmental state of mind when we are best able to learn, contemplate and understand everyone and everything else. In Taoism, humility is defined as a refusal to assert authority or a refusal to be first in anything. Humility is one of the foundations of devotional life. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said:
"Consider yourself as less important than a blade of grass. Be more forbearing than a tree. Do not crave for respect, but respect others. Always sing the praise of Hari's name.
We are again and again drawn to live a mundane life. Selfless work and self-observation draw our attention to real purpose of life. Self-observation brings our attention to the ‘emotional personality’. At this stage, the attitude of nobility is more important than ability.
Action Plan to be humble: