There is a beautiful story in the ancient Mahabharat scriptures about Draupadi, the beautiful and powerful wife of the Pandavas, and a whole-hearted devotee of her lord Krishna.
During her many adventures, there was one particular episode where she had been dragged into an evil King’s castle and thrown into the middle of a packed courtyard.
Here she was ridiculed and tormented by so many of the King’s noblemen, and as a final insult, the brutes decided to strip Draupadi of her clothing in front of the entire audience.
Draupadi held on to her saree (a long Indian traditional dress), for as long as she could, but the strength of the soldier pulling it away became too overbearing for her.
In sheer desperation, she remembered her Krishna, and called out his name as an absolute last resort for any kind of help. Krishna never came, and her grip on the saree was loosening fast. She carried on calling from the depth of her heart, still holding onto her saree with every ounce of strength she could muster; yet still her Krishna never came.
Draupadi was almost about to pass out as she could no longer hold on. She finally gave up all her efforts, and resigned herself to having her dignity completely stripped, with the whole city watching on.
At that moment, Krishna appeared, and turned her saree into a never-ending robe, so no matter how many times her perpetrators pulled away at her saree, the dress kept unfolding further and further with no end in sight. Finally, the soldiers gave up in sheer exhaustion, as they were unable to pull the saree off her, no matter how many times they tried.
A few days after the incident had passed, Draupadi met Krishna, and with fury scolded him for not helping her when she first cried out for help. Krishna replied by telling her that when she first called out for the divine, she also kept her hands firmly on her saree. Her ego was not ready to fully submit itself to the divine, and her faith was not strong enough to trust Krishna to come and save her.
It was only when she lost all sense of hope, that her ego had finally loosened its grip on her saree, that her heart allowed space for the divine to enter and work its charm. Only then, could Krishna make his appearance and fulfil her every need and desire.
This story is quite complex, as it demonstrates the power of absolute faith without holding on to any level in doership in one’s actions. Yoga teaches us to unite with our infinite consciousness, and access our unlimited powers, yet to do so, our egos must not block the passages for this great power.
However, yoga also teaches us to always be 100% in the moment, and to always give our full efforts with every action we undertake. The subtlety lies within working with a strong level of conviction, yet still allowing space for the divine to enter your life.
Though Draupadi was giving her 100% in holding onto her saree, she had not surrendered her ego to her actions, and thus, was not able to draw upon her infinite powers. Only when she had lost her sense of doership connected with her actions, did the divine appear and help her in her hour of need. Faith beyond reason is what sees us through any given situation in life.