Each one of us must be aware of our own limitations and strengths. Just as we ignore the criticism of people who are oblivious of our talents and virtues, we should also learn to disregard the comments of flatterers.
When someone praises qualities and virtues that we really don’t possess, though initially we tend to ignore such compliments, as time passes we even begin to believe their words. Even if we overlook those compliments, people who require a favor from us or who intend to deface us will flatter us and succeed in making us believe it! So we must be very cautious in that regard. An instance that illustrates the above has been quoted in the Mahabharata.
One day, some boys saw a few swans walking along the beach. They told the crows, “Hey crows! You and the swans are indeed equal in every aspect. Why don’t you fly like them?” Due to their fattened ego and stupidity, the crows believed the words of the children. They thought that they could indeed fly like the swans. So the crows challenged the swans to a flying competition. The swans agreed and said, “Let the best one among you compete with anyone of us.”
The competition began. Initially the swan flew at a slower pace and the crows rejoiced thinking that their candidate was about to win. Gradually the swan picked up speed and began to rise to higher altitude. The crow tried hard but it could not fly above a certain altitude. The exertion weakened the crow and it fell into the sea. It begged the swan which was flying at a very high altitude to save its life. The swan too took pity on the crow and saved it. The pride of the crow was thus curbed and it felt ashamed of its act.
Thus children, we should not totally believe what others say about us. Each one of us truly knows our own state, don’t we?