Generally everything in life comes in pairs. Not in terms of opposites but in terms of ensuring balance in existence. Like rights come with duty, freedom comes with responsibility and so on.
The secret is to identify the pairs. Some of them are visible and taken for granted. For some others, you have to play something like a memory game…you have to search out the pair. When any concept is understood along with its pair then it becomes firmly rooted and gives more results than when it is tackled or pursued in isolation.
One such single which is hunting for its pair is fame. Most people seek fame. Some want international recognition and work towards that, some want national acclaim and yet others are happy being the leader in the family circle or the colony community. Again the reason for the fame and the talent being showcased can be as varied as flowers in a garden. To celebrate the idea of fame we have also many record books that document the first ever in different fields.
Our quest for fame is perhaps only younger than our quest for truth. Psychologists say that every human being seeks immortality and therefore seeks fame…so that they live beyond their calendar years, at least in name. And that is why there is the obsession to ‘become’.
Fame brings immediate power. Sometimes the power of fame may not bring any wealth. But it brings honour and respect. What makes the fame lasting? What pairs with fame? Much too often fame is confused with the riches it might bring. It is believed that if money is made, dignity and respect will naturally accrue. That is not entirely untrue. Money does buy many things…but that which is bought, also sells, is it not? As the market decides the price for such things, the halo of fame remains, but the substance that makes it, in terms of adulation and trust that the famous inspire, gets whittled down.
On looking a little closer, one finds that, since the power wielded by fame is derived from it, lasting fame will accrue only when you recognise from whom you have derived that power and invest power back in them or that. Sacred books live eternally because they invest the reader with the power of divine blessing. Leaders derive their power from the people, parents from their children, a cook from the people who savour his food, a designer from his craftsmen and so it goes, in every field of life.
The pair of fame is thus service, which is to be useful. When there is service, fame comes automatically and this fame is rooted in a noble activity. To remember this is the path to the kind of fame that lives after you is what makes you immortal. That is why a good teacher is remembered at all times and is ‘famous’ among students of the school and their families.
The Indian Sanskrit tradition identified long ago that the eternal quality of fame and the dignity it inspires is oft smudged by the grime of life. What remains and dominates all actions is the desire for fame. So it is said humorously that, break a pot, tear your clothes, and ride a donkey, if you may, but make sure you become famous – at any cost! But surely, not at the cost of crossing the thin line that divides fame from notoriety?