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Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Craving for worldly glory and recognition is the surest way to physical and mental restlessness. The whole world is running madly after name, fame and recognition. But why do we want recognition? Have we ever asked ourselves this question? We want name, fame and recognition so that people may understand our greatness. Many people in this world consider themselves to be very great persons and so want all people to greatly respect themselves.
Even some of those, who don't have any extraordinary ability or talent by which they can become famous, try to obtain fame by connecting themselves with those who are famous. That is why people want to have their photograph taken with a popular film star or cricketer; so that they can show it to others and make an unspoken statement, "Just see! I am putting my hands on the shoulder of this famous cricketer. Just see it! And understand my greatness!" Thus most people want to achieve recognition in some way or the other.
But in complete contrast, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu prays:
na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam va jagadisha kamaye
mama janmani janmani isvare bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
"O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want your causeless devotional service birth after birth." (Shikshashtakam 4) The first reaction of most people on hearing this prayer is shock and utter disbelief. Wealth, women and followers are what people hanker and toil tirelessly for throughout their lives. But to the degree a person is hankering for recognition from worldly people, to that degree his mind will be torn to pieces. Why? Because the harsh unpalatable truth is that no one in the world respects you, has any concern for you or is even interested in you; their respect, concern and interest are all for what you possess. Countless examples can be given to substantiate this truth:
A prostitute will smile at a man, speak sweetly with him and provide him with all enjoyment; due to her behavior, the man may naturally start thinking, "O she's attracted to me. I am so handsome!" But she is not the least interested in him; the moment his pocket is empty, she will disappear.
When a tree is full of fruits, multitudes of birds flock to the tree. The tree may think, "All these birds are coming to me. I am such an important entity." But the moment the fruits get over, not a single bird even glances at the tree.
When many charming deer are grazing in a forest, the forest may think, "I must be so wonderful that even these beautiful deer are coming to me." But when there is no green grass in the forest, the deer will not stay there even for a moment.
Similarly, it appears that all the people, who surround you, are interested in you and that they are all impressed by your greatness. But when you grow old and are no longer beautiful or when you lose the opulence that you have today, none of these people will come near you; they will simply disappear. Films stars and cricketers have thousands of fans in their youth and they feel on top of the world, receiving the adulation of their fans. But when they grow old, none of their fans pays even the slightest attention to them, leave alone respecting or adulating them. And for one who has been famous, obscurity is worse than death. For example, there was a celebrated football player and, due to his exceptional talent in maneuvering the ball with his foot, he had millions of fans all over the world literally mad after him (or so he thought). But one day he somehow broke his leg and he could no longer play football. And that was the end of all his fame; not even a single soul would come to meet him thereafter. Even if nothing like this happens to a famous person, still all his accumulated wealth, possessions,recognition etc., are going to be lost in the sands of time at the time of death. In this way we can easily understand that being mad for recognition from the people of the world is foolishness. (Compiled by Radheshyam Dasa, Jaigopala Dasa, Chaitanya Charana Dasa, Sundara Vara Dasa.)