India in the past was the preferred destination for most of the world, including the invaders who were attracted by the enormous wealth of the country. Alexander was one such person in history. Due to his valiant fighting qualities, he met with great successes. However, as he began proceeding towards the south of India, his army began to feel great stress, having been through a long and sustained campaign. They advised Alexander to turn back. Alexander, buoyed by having achieved unprecedented successes, refused to heed to their sane advice and continued with his ambition of conquering the entire world. He failed. And shortly afterwards, he died.
We all meet with successes and failures in our lives. Most people are able to deal with failures since it is uni-dimensional and one needs to get over it. Successes, however, are entirely different since they present two options : One can make further advances or one can get corrupted. It is natural that as a person meets with success, his confidence goes up and he begins to have more faith in his intelligence. Repeated successes raise the confidence level even higher and one may get the impression that one is invincible. At that point, there is a real risk of becoming proud, aggressive towards others, cocksure about one's abilities, and unfeeling towards others, who are not so successful.
Lord Krishna has described such a person very vividly in the Bhagavad-Geeta, "Such a person thinks : ‘So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy and I have killed him, and all my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. l am prefect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice’. ln this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance" (16.13 to 15).
It is not necessary that every successful person would be so deluded but the possibility of this happening is quite real. Human beings, as minute souls, need help from others and from God to achieve any success and if they are blessed with big successes suddenly it may just go to their heads, which is a common human failing. As a result, one may develop demoniac qualities which are again described by Lord Krishna, "Pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness and ignorance - these qualities belong to those of demoniac nature, O son of Pritha" (16.4).
This is our experience also when we taste repeated successes. Besides developing a superiority complex, we begin to feel that we cannot do any wrong or we can get away with indiscretions. We begin to feel that we know everything, that is we are ready with our expert opinion on any subject or topic, and that others are inferior to us, and so on.
Therefore, a wise person should protect himself from such common human failings by remembering a few golden rules. One, we must always remember that no one can achieve any success without active help from others, as was the case with Alexander. Two, staying humble qualifies one for still bigger successes ; one actually ensures this by giving credit to where it is rightly due. Three, pride, arrogance, conceit, anger and harshness do not endear us to anyone. Four, such an attitude only causes isolation whereas we need company to enjoy our success by sharing with others. And, finally, if one considers oneself to be really intelligent, one should be able to deal with others in a very humane way since it is our choice as to how we deal with others. One can express oneself, interact and generally behave in many ways. One should consider himself to be really successful if one can handle his success successfully, that is, without getting corrupted by it.