Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Everlasting Fame

Hanuman“Oh Hanuman! Your magnificent glory is acclaimed far and wide all through the four ages and your fame is radiantly noted all over the cosmos.” (Hanuman Chalisa of Tulsidas)

Social networking websites have greatly increased in popularity. It seems that everyone has a MySpace, Twitter, or Facebook page. These sites make it very easy to connect with other people quickly and to share information and thoughts.

Of all these sites, Facebook has stood out as the premier social networking engine. Facebook allows you to upload pictures of yourself, describe your hobbies and interests, and make friends with a large network of people. Instead of having to contact all of your friends individually, you can just update your Facebook profile and broadcast updates about yourself to all of your friends. Your friends in turn can post responses to you or to your “wall”, creating a message board like atmosphere.

The popularity of Facebook lies in its ability to make anyone famous. We all want to be noticed and to matter. When something good happens to us, we immediately can’t wait to tell our friends. When we are sad, we take comfort in the soothing words and advice from our well-wishers. Similar to how the news media follows every move of celebrities, Facebook allows others to follow our every move. In this way, we can achieve fame and notoriety without ever having to leave our homes.

This fame and notoriety is no doubt very pleasing to us, but it has a very short duration. We are all destined to give up our current bodies at the time of death, and when we do, we give up our fame as well. From studying Vedic literature, we can see that the best way to have everlasting fame is to become a devotee of Krishna, or God. When we sincerely love God and devote ourselves to Him only, then He will automatically give us all the fame that we crave. There are many examples of this principle holding true, with four in particular that stand out.

When God advented as Lord Rama many thousands of years ago in Ayodhya, as part of His pastimes, He suffered through many trials and tribulations. One ordeal He endured was the kidnapping of His wife Sita by the demon Ravana. Though a prince and son of a great king, Lord Rama was serving His exile period in the forest at the time, so He had no army with which to attack Ravana and reclaim Sita. Instead, He enlisted the help of Vanaras, or human-like monkeys, which were dwelling in the forest. The foremost of the Vanaras was Lord Hanuman. Hanuman was a great devotee of Lord Rama and he played an integral part in helping the Lord defeat Ravana and rescue Sita. In reward for his devotion, Lord Rama blessed Hanuman and granted him the boon of remaining on earth for as long as the Lord’s story was still told and His glories still chanted. Hanuman had no desire for this fame, but the Lord granted it to him anyway. Hanuman is still worshiped to this day and his name is synonymous with love and devotion for Lord Rama.

When Lord Krishna personally came to earth some five thousand years ago, there was a great war that took place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra between the Pandava and Kaurava families. Lord Krishna was very fond of His cousin Arjuna, the leading warrior for the Pandavas, so He acted as Arjuna’s charioteer and guide. The great grandfather of both families,  Bhishma lying on battlefieldBhishma, was one of the leading fighters on the Kaurava side. Bhishma was eventually defeated by Arjuna in battle. While he was lying on the ground, his body pierced throughout with arrows, Lord Krishna instructed Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers, to go to Bhishma and receive spiritual instruction from him. Bhishma was a great devotee of the Lord, and had his mind concentrated on Krishna while he was lying on the battlefield about to die. The Lord knew this and thus wanted Yudhishthira to question such a great devotee. The Lord could have taught Yudhishthira Himself, but He preferred to have Bhishma do it. God is always glad to give fame to His devotees. As much as His devotees like to please Him, the Lord prefers to give His devotees all the fame and glory.

Maharishi Valmiki, the great sage and author of the Ramayana, incarnated some four hundred years ago in India as Goswami Tulsidas. Tulsidas was a great devotee of Lord Rama from birth, and he dedicated his whole life to worshiping and writing about the Lord. His book, the Ramacharitamanasa, is revered to this very day. Tulsidas had no desire for fame or fortune. He wrote only for himself so that he could put his love for Lord Rama into words. The Ramacharitamanasa is the story of Lord Rama written as beautiful poetry in the mood of pure devotion. From reading his books, one will find that Tulsidas was one of the most humble and kind people to ever have lived. Because of his pure devotion, the Lord guaranteed him everlasting fame. His Ramacharitamanasa is today a staple in the homes of all Hindus in India. It is publicly recited during the auspicious times of the year relating to Lord Rama. Tulsidas’s poem praising Lord Hanuman, known as the Hanuman Chalisa, is equally as popular and is memorized and recited daily by millions of Hindus as well. All glories to Tulsidas.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, made the name Krishna known throughout the world. Instructed by his spiritual master to preach the teachings of the Vedas in English to the western world, Shrila Prabhupada came to America on a steamship from India in 1965. In the twelve years that followed, he authored almost one hundred books and started a worldwide movement dedicated to serving Lord Krishna that continues to this very day. Though the swami left this material world more than thirty years ago, he continues to teach through his books and recorded lectures. He is worshiped as the spiritual master in hundreds of temples throughout the world and in the homes of devotees. He also had no desire for fame and fortune. His only desire was to make the world love Krishna even more than he himself did. Krishna recognized this devotion and thus made him one of the most famous saints to ever have lived.

These are just some of the examples of famous devotees. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna to “declare it to the world that My devotee shall never perish.” So let all devotees of the world unite and spread the glories of Lord Krishna on Facebook and every other social networking site. This will be most beneficial to us, for it will give us everlasting fame. If we love Krishna and are truly devoted to Him, then He will surely make all our wishes come true.