Saturday, March 23, 2013

do you want to be famous?

Verse 2.35: The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you insignificant.

Do you long for fame? Do you want to be recognized and adored for being expert at something or contributing meaningfully to the world? I think there are few persons who could actual answer "No!" honestly to that question.

The bhakti texts describe how fame and adoration can actually be impediments for the aspiring spiritual practitioner. They don't say that it will be an impediment, but that they can be. It depends on how one actual uses name and fame. If used in the spirit of helping others understand that they are an eternal soul who has forgotten their loving relationship with the Supreme, then wonderful. But if used solely to promote one's own self for personal adoration, then definitely it acts as a barrier.

But that's not what I really want to talk about today. I want to talk about the downside of fame, which is something most people often ignore. I think it's necessary that one is educated about the pitfalls since so many people want to be famous. Then, at least a person knows what they are getting themselves into.

That is exactly what Krsna is talking about here. Arjuna is famous not only for being an expert archer, but being the best archer in the world. Krsna is reminding Arjuna here that fame doesn't come cheap. It means one is scrutinized in everything that one does. All sense of privacy is lost. In fact, such a person's life becomes an open book. The only way one can live such a life sanely is by behaving in an exemplary manner. If one doesn't, not only is one's good name dragged through the mud, but all faith and trust is also lost in such an individual. These are the intangibles that money can never buy back.

Furthermore, there will always be different types of people who will be looking to bring you down. Those who are envious and also want to be well recognized for the same achievements and talents that you have. Those who also have similar talents and want to become better than you and those who just want fame and will stop at nothing to achieve it.

Finally, and Krsna specifically makes reference to this point here, there will be those who have been looking up to you as a role model or example. Such persons may be well-wishers or competitors but it doesn't matter. They are bound together by one thing- respect for you. If you fail to live an exemplary life, such persons will lose respect for you. Out of all these possibilities, this is what hurts a self-respecting individual the most.

So think long and hard if you want to be famous and look to see what motivates you. That motivation can act as roadmap to discover what it is you really want. A lot of times people just want to be recognized since they equate it to being loved. The thing is, love has nothing to do with numbers. It has everything to do with connection.

If you can touch people's lives by being the ear they can listen to, the shoulder they can cry on and the steady rock in their life, that's even greater than being famous. After all, that's what yoga is all about. It's about connection. Bhakti yoga is about connecting through love. So go ahead and make some soul connections. After all, fame is fleeting. Establishing meaningful relationships with each other, while keeping God in the centre, is eternal.


  1. It's long been a goal of mine to be famous enough for something to be a clue on Jeopardy. Seriously. I think that would be one of the greatest things ever. However I dislike the notion that famous people have to be perfect all the time, being famous doesn't stop them from being people. I'm not afraid to be famous, but if it does happen, I'll be the first one airing my dirty laundry.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Cairn! I think the fact that you are so honest and forthcoming makes you prepared and qualified. It is obvious that you have introspected and thought about this and I think that's what more people have to do. Like you say, it's not possible for people, what to speak of those who are famous, to be perfect all the time. The mere ability to acknowledge one's challenges in itself is admirable and inspiring. Thanks for inspiring me with your candour!