A Vedic definition of good and evil would be – that is good which takes us to light of knowledge. That is bad which takes us further into darkness of delusion. The scriptures caution that conceit of wealth or success is fraught with danger. Besides are not the things that bring us the most joy also the selfsame that bring us the most pain? The following is an interesting story from the Yoga Vasistha.

Having been defeated in battle by the gods, the dark-lord Sambara produced by way of Mayavic powers three demons – Dama, Vyala and Kata. With no previous incarnations, they were devoid of ego or desires and free of any mental conditioning. They were fearless; they knew neither death nor life, nor joy or pain, neither success nor failure. In the battle that followed, the gods were defeated. Not knowing what to do, the gods went to Brahma for help.

Brahma advised them to once again gather their armies. He asked them to make pretence to battle only to retreat every time the enemy attacked. They must do this over and over again (for a hundred years). By doing this, Brahma said, the ego-sense and then desires will start to take root in the minds of the three demons. When this happens they will be in bondage (of attachments and predispositions) and like birds caught in a trap could be easily disposed-off.

The gods returned and followed Brahma’s instructions. In time the ego-sense arose in the three demons. After that all kinds of delusions took a firm hold of them – “this is mine” and “this is my body”. Attachment to consumption, enjoyment and possessions followed. Then came the fear – “we shall die in this war”. Being drowned in grief giving Maya, they were at a loss as to what to do. On the battlefield, anxious and desolate, they eventually fled away panic-stricken.