Friday, February 8, 2019


Kannada : Rajagopalan. K. S
Translated by : Hemalatha. B. C

"Do not be ensnared by the desire for fame" is the caution by the wise. But our elders also bless us with "May you achieve a good reputation in life". There are mantras too which pray for fame such as "svastiśraddhāyaśaprajñā [..]dehi me havyavāhana". So, should we seek fame or not?

It is inevitable that a sense of "me and mine" remains with us till our last breath. Sometimes, this can be good since a sense of self is necessary for self-preservation. Sometimes, though, we can become consumed by the craving for recognition and appreciation, and toil day and night to be perceived by others as great. Even this, if it does not hurt others, is only a problem insofar as it uses up our time and energy. But what if our quest for fame actually harms society?

Any desire that takes root in us may grow from a tiny seed to a giant tree. Just as the desire for wealth can leave one always unquenched and thirsting for "more and more", so can the desire for fame. It can leave one always restless, ever unable to sit peacefully for a few minutes.

A person with enough self-worth need not wait to be certified by others, nor does he run after fame. Thus have many great achievers lived. In particular, in our country, many spiritual seekers have led their lives in this way. So have the authors of many of our wonderful literary works, who have left no information on themselves: even today we know nothing of their background like where they were born, or even which century they lived in. Their noble intention was solely to transmit good thoughts to the people. The celebrated author and poet DVG (D V Gundappa) in his poem "vanasumadolennajeevanavuvikasisuvanthe..." has given us the moving analogy of a flower in the forest, spreading fragrance to all passers-by without caring to make its location known -- and exhorted us to adopt it as our model.

Simply performing good deeds may also attract fame. Giving up the desire for fame does not mean stopping doing good things! When our elders bless us with "may you acquire fame", their intention is precisely an encouragement to perform good deeds, because it is thus that one acquires true fame. Recall that the Vishnu Sahasranama extols God as "satkeerthiH".

In our culture, we have the practice of beginning any auspicious activity with the sankalpa: "may this please God". That our work be done not for the praise of men but for the love of God is what our tradition teaches. Let us give up the desire to long for appreciation; let us let go of our ego, and do all our work with God in mind. If this incidentally brings us fame, so be it. Let us surrender that too to Him and be light at heart. We are worthy descendants of the Rshis and munis who lived selflessly - this should be the only fame to aspire for.

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs