Having conquered half the world and having ruined hundreds of towns and cities in his ego-driven quest, King Alexander reached India and found himself lost in a vast desert. With no water in sight for days, his thirst became unbearable.
He came across an old beggar who had a pot of drinking water with him. Alexander asked for water, but the latter asked, “What will you give me in lieu of this pot of water?” Alexander, who had not seen a drop of water for almost a week, offered half of his kingdom. The beggar said, “Come tomorrow, as I want not half but your entire kingdom."
Alexander agreed to trade his entire kingdom for the pot of water. The beggar laughed and said, “So the worth of your kingdom is just a pot of water." Alexander realised his mistake and went back, but died on his way.
There is a story of a disciple who went to a Guru to learn martial arts. After sustained practice, the disciple became an invincible sword fighter. “Why should I now bow before the Guru, whom I can easily defeat in sword fight?” The impudent disciple challenged his Guru for a sword fight. The Guru accepted the challenge.
One day the disciple learnt that the Guru was getting an eight-feet- long sword made for the dual so that he could attack the disciple from a safe distance. In response, the disciple arranged a 10-feet-long sword. However, the disciple did not know that the eight-feet sheath of the Guru contained only a one- foot- long sharp sword.
On the appointed day, as the dual started, the disciple scrambled to take out his sword out of the sheath. The Guru quickly brought out his sword and placed it on the disciple’s neck, who now pleaded for mercy.
The Guru forgave his disciple and said, “Always keep a small sword in your big sheath if you want to win”.
In other words, even when you occupy high posts, or acquire exceptional capabilities, your ego should always be small.