The Humility of a True King

The narrators, bards and singers then came forward. Knowing that they wanted to glorify him, Pṛthu smiled and spoke to them with a voice as grave as thunder. “Bho Narrators! Hey bards and gentle singers! I have not yet manifest my qualities, so why should you already make me the object of praise? Do not praise me yet, or your words would be baseless.”

“But it is obvious you will manifest great deeds in the future,” they might protest.

So Pṛthu said, “If in the future I will do things worth singing of, beautiful singers, wait for the future and glorify me then. In any case, the truly cultured prefer to sing of the Supreme Subject of Poetry, rather than singing about abominable things.”

“You are not ‘abominable’!” the singers would say. “Brahmā declared you an expansion of the Supreme Subject of Poetry!”

So Pṛthu said, “Even if I am an expansion of the Supreme, I still should not encourage you to praise me. A person who really has good qualities would never encourage admirers to glorify him, for that would destroy his good qualities; and a person who doesn’t really have good qualities unwittingly makes a fool of himself by accepting praise. That’s why people who are truly powerful and famous hate to hear their own praise. Those who are truly exalted are very modest and feel that even their great achievements are seriously flawed and ‘abominable’.

“My dear narrators and singers, I am very sorry. I have not yet shown any greatness in this world, so how can I be so childish as to ask you to describe my deeds?”

— Translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.15.21 ~ 26
by Vraja Kishor dās

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