“O Lord Krishna, please protect Me and maintain Me. O Lord Rama, descendant of King Raghu, please protect Me. O Krishna, O Keshava, killer of the Keshi demon, please maintain Me." (Chanting of Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 7.96)
Celebrities garner great attention from the press. Their day-to-day lives are covered in great detail, with paparazzi following their every move and clamoring for any attention they can get. Since celebrities are in high demand, getting access to them isn’t always the easiest thing.
Movie stars are some of the most well known people in the world. Starring on the silver screen, actors appear in films that play in grand theaters across the world. Going to the movies is a unique experience. Unlike watching television, watching a movie in a theater requires one to make a commitment. When we watch television, there are natural breaks that occur due to commercials. Even when watching a DVD, the viewer can pause the movie at any time, or they can switch to some other activity. Movie theaters provide a different atmosphere. One buys a ticket and then settles into their seat, where they are forced to pay attention for at least an hour. While Hollywood movies generally run less than two hours, Indian movies run almost three hours. Most Indian movies that play in the theaters even have an intermission period.
Since focus and commitment are required of the moviegoer, an attachment to the actors can naturally develop. A viewer can be become engrossed in the story, really connecting with the characters and the lives they portray. When the movie ends, the bond between the movie watcher and the actor still lasts. For this reason, the actors themselves can become very famous, with fans wanting to see more and more of them. Fans might even want to follow the day-to-day affairs of their favorite actors or actresses as they are chronicled in famous tabloids and television news shows. In this way celebrities are born.
This type of fame isn’t exclusive to thespians, for politicians and athletes garner great attention as well. The reason for their fame is quite obvious. In today’s world, most of us are taught from a young age that the mission in life is to become materially successful. “Go to school, get a good education, and then get a good job. This way you can always support yourself, have a nice home and family, and thus be happy.” Having this mindset, the average person tends to look up to or admire those who are already materially successful. Famous movie stars are extremely successful in a material sense, for they are both wealthy and famous. The American television show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, showed everyone just how elegant a lifestyle the average celebrity leads. “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams” was the famous tag line used by the host of the show, Robin Leach. Famous celebrities are powerful and successful. Who wouldn’t be drawn to them?
The problem celebrities run into is that the happiness derived from their fame and fortune has limits. This is the inherent nature of all things material. According to the Vedas, the spiritual world is an eternal place full of bliss. The material world, though a reflection of the spiritual, is temporary and miserable. Anything temporary must be miserable, for even the good things must come to end. Celebrities may be rich and famous, but all of their material possessions must be given up at the time of death. Sure they may leave a nice legacy, but they have no way of enjoying it. Death means giving up everything related to the body. The spirit soul can be put into any type of body in the next life, all depending on qualities and work, or guna and karma.
Though celebrities enjoy massive fame and prestige due to their material successes, we see that they often fall down. Money doesn’t buy happiness. When the thrills of fame and fortune wear off, many famous people fall down and take to drinking, drugs, gambling, and illicit sex. Several famous athletes recently have been involved in extramarital affairs which have led to costly divorces. This proves that material success alone is not enough to make one happy and content. So essentially what’s the point in giving so much attention to celebrities, who although may be very nice, are nevertheless fallible human beings just like us?
There is one person, however, who possesses wealth, fame, beauty, knowledge, strength, and renunciation to the fullest capacity. That person is Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No is one more famous than God. His name is always called out when people are in trouble. This is because people inherently understand that there is a supreme controller who is greater than everyone else. This is actually a fact. The Vedas tell us that Krishna is God. This is not just a sentiment; being God actually means something. It means that He is the controller, and we are the controlled.
“You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty.” (Arjuna speaking to Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.12)
Material nature is but a small manifestation of one of God’s energies, yet He is still aloof from it. While nature, with its modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance, continues to baffle us, it cannot touch God in any way. Even when He descends to earth, His body remains completely spiritual. For the living entity, there is a difference between body and spirit. The spirit soul, or jivatma, remains intact at all times. There is no birth or death for the soul. There was never a time when the soul did not exist. The body is different however. It is subject to creation and destruction. We have evidence of this fact based on our own life experiences. The body we had as a child is completely different from the body we have as adults, yet our identity remains the same throughout. We may see baby pictures of ourselves and not recognize who we see, but we can never claim that the person in the picture is not us. Even though the body goes through the processes of birth, old age, disease, and death, the soul never changes. Our identity is eternal.
The original nature of the soul is to be a servant of God. In the conditioned state, we become challengers to God. Working hard to accumulate material possessions and powers, we directly take on God’s authority. Such a challenging spirit will never make us happy. This is because no matter how hard we may try, we can never become God. If we could become equal to the Lord, then the very definition of God would become invalid.
"My dear Lord, if You like You can give me salvation from this material existence, or the privilege of merging into Your existence, but I do not wish any of these things. I do not want anything which diminishes my relationship with You as master and servant, even after liberation." (Prayer of Lord Hanuman, The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 4)
Many philosophers today actually propound the theory that man is God, and that the aim of life is to realize this fact. For argument’s sake, if this were indeed true, then how could God be put into this conditioned state of ignorance? The Vedas tell us that we are equal to God in the qualitative sense, but vastly inferior to the Lord in a quantitative sense. The Lord can never be subject to maya, or the illusory energy pervading the material world. In His ultimate feature, He is known as Bhagavan, which means one who possesses all fortunes.
God is the most famous person, and unlike with famous celebrities, it is not very difficult to meet Him. Though He is not always physically present before us, He can expand Himself into multitudes of forms. One of His expansions is His name.
"There is no difference between Krishna’s body and Himself or between His name and Himself. As far as the conditioned soul is concerned, everything is different. One’s name is different from the body, from one’s original form and so on.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 17.132)
This concept is somewhat difficult to grasp at first. How can God and His name be non-different? It is a fact however, and one that can be proven. One can make a test by regularly chanting the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and see if they feel any different. There are many Vedic mantras, but this one in particular is most effective in this age because it gives us direct audience with God. Krishna and Rama are authorized names of God, and Hare represents His energy. Chanting “Hare Krishna” means asking God to allow us to engage in His service.
Lord Chaitanya, Krishna’s most recent incarnation, inaugurated this sankirtana movement, which is the congregational chanting of the holy names of God. As a young sannyasi, Lord Chaitanya would travel across India, going from village to village chanting the names of Krishna.
“krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! he
krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! he
krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! raksha mām
krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! krishna! pāhi mām
rāma! rāghava! rāma! rāghava! rāma! rāghava! raksha mām
krishna! keshava! krishna! keshava! krishna! keshava! pāhi mām
Chanting this verse, Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, known as Gaurahari, went on His way. As soon as He saw someone, He would request him to chant ‘Hari! Hari!’” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 7.96-97)
Lord Chaitanya showed by example that one only needs to constantly repeat God’s names in order to be happy. God is the ultimate celebrity. Just as a fan derives bliss from meeting their favorite movie star or athlete, the spirit soul assumes its original position of bliss and knowledge when in association with God. Krishna is so nice. Since He is the origin of everything, we can actually see Him everywhere. We can see Him in His deity form in the temple, in paintings and pictures, and even in other living entities. Yet He is so merciful that He doesn’t want us to settle with just seeing Him. As our ever well-wishing friend, the Lord wants us to meet Him. This can easily be done by chanting His name. Hare Krishna.