“Yashah, fame, should be according to Lord Chaitanya, who said that a man is famous when he is known as a great devotee. That is real fame.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.4-5 Purport)
Friend1: I think starting a new job is one of the more unique experiences of adult life.
Friend2: Probably comparable to changing schools when you are a child.
Friend1: You know, many people don’t get to experience that. They grow up in the same area. Some small towns have a single school for grades K through 12.
Friend2: That is true. Changing schools is very strange. You are thrown into this situation all of a sudden. You don’t know a single person. Your friends are left behind, in another city probably. It takes some time to get adjusted.
Friend1: At the new office environment I feel the same way. I keep asking myself, how did I get here? Will I be able to handle staying in this place for forty hours per week?
Friend2: It’s not easy, even if you are familiar with everything.
Friend1: One of the tendencies I have is to try to impress others.
Friend2: The boss?
Friend1: Of course, but also my colleagues. I feel inspired to do a good job. I’m not sure what it is. I have so much respect for everyone else. It is not that I am trying to put them down. I am confident of their abilities. It’s just that I never want to be seen as a slacker.
Friend2: I see.
Friend1: If others speak of me, I don’t want to hear anything bad. I realize that is out of my control, but at least if I do a good job I will know that any criticism received will be unwarranted.
Friend2: You can’t impact outside sentiment entirely. Remember, you had Shri Krishna rumored to be a murderer because of a silly jewel in Dvaraka. Sita Devi, the most chaste woman this world has ever seen, could not maintain a clean reputation in Ayodhya. It’s just the way of the world. I would say that only the Supreme Lord’s impression should matter.
Friend1: I was getting there. But first, how do I break free of this tendency? I know that it shouldn’t matter what others think of me, but sometimes I can’t help it. I feel good when someone praises me. It is devastating to hear criticism.
Friend2: Goswami Tulsidas mentions something similar in the Ramacharitamanasa. The idea is that writers love it when someone praises their work, but rare it is to find someone willing to glorify another’s artistry in the same area.
Friend1: Like among rivals.
Friend2: Contemporaries. There doesn’t have to be a rivalry, but sometimes it is inevitable. I guess you are asking about fame itself. This is one of the innate desires of the living entity.
Friend1: Yeah, I guess that is why it is so difficult to shake.
Friend2: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that if someone wants to be famous, they should endeavor in the area of devotional service. Become well-known as a servant of the Supreme Lord. One who explains sacred instruction like the Bhagavad-gita becomes very dear to Krishna.
Friend1: Okay, but isn’t that impure devotion? You are doing the work with an outside motive.
Friend2: As we all start with many defects, devotional service is generally impure in the beginning stages. The idea is to take whatever impurities you have and direct them towards a higher purpose. The benefit is twofold. You get the connection to the Supreme Lord. You also lose the initial impure motivation.
Friend1: Meaning that if I try to become famous as a devotee, one day I will no longer wish to be famous?
Friend2: If you do everything properly, that is. Look at Shri Hanuman. He has control of the siddhis of yoga. He can become as large as a mountain if he wants. No one has done more in service to the Supreme Lord. No one can compare to Hanuman. Yet his preferred form is the small shape kneeling in worship before Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. That is pure humility; not some fake show in order to attract followers.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Every kind of impurity, whether a physical attribute or a behavioral tendency, will be corrected through connecting with Bhagavan, which occurs as easily as through repeating a mantra.