Pride and Vanity

Article 16 - Pride and Vanity


Pride and Vanity are two giants that lie in our subconscious minds. All of us have our own personal forms of pride and vanity, but a simple understanding of the two can help us work with them.  Pride and vanity, both, are born out of the form of egoism we call self-love. There are subtle differences between the two.

Pride can be useful for excelling in life by stimulating us to make an extra effort. Vanity is totally negative and we must work to be free of its tentacles. Pride is a belief in our abilities, whereas vanity is an extravagant belief in our abilities, which can lead to excessive boasting and self-adulation.

Say, I may have studied medicine, become a doctor, and I believe in my abilities as a doctor. This is a picture that I have created of myself. In pride, I believe in this picture and work to improve upon it. But in vanity, I boast about it and usually am lazy to improve upon it but by boasting, I inflate it in front of others. In pride, there is no audience but the purpose of vanity is only to show to others. If someone criticizes me as a doctor, then in pride I absorb the pain and see where I am wrong, whereas in vanity, I become a lawyer and defend myself.

Sometimes pride and vanity work in opposite directions. For instance, I have bought a new car and I enjoy driving it. In pride, I might feel conscious at the thought of people seeing me in the new car. In vanity, I look out of the window expecting more people to see me in my new car, which in turn, gives me a thrill.

The guru teaches the disciple to use and transform pride for his growth, but to kill vanity completely.

In the Mahabharata, Bhima kills the demon called Hidimb but marries his sister Hidimba. Hidimb means the power to fly in the sky. In vanity, we have an inflated picture of ourselves and fly in the sky when someone praises us. Symbolically, Bhima kills vanity. Hidimba is pride and by using pride positively, a son Ghatotkacha is born to them. All our pictures are born out of imagination and Ghatotkacha is the power of using imagination positively.