16.15 – Those who crave to look big are small

by October 6, 2013

Our culture often reduces character to image, wisdom to sound bytes and self-worth to net-worth.

Being goaded by such a superficial environment, people frequently, even feverishly, aim to look big. They want to appear to be belonging among the best, even to be the numero uno.

The Bhagavad-gita (16.15) characterizes such obsession with appearances as decidedly ungodly, as indicating a tragically deluded mindset.

Why tragically deluded?

Because those who crave to look big are small – they are driven by their inner feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, their desperate need for outer validation and congratulation.

Below the pretense of bigness is smallness, pathetic smallness. And that becomes evident when the relentlessly grinding power of time strips such people off their vaunted abilities, even the ability to keep up appearances. Of course, our culture doesn’t like such disconcerting reminders of the final futility of facades. So with an ever-new parade of icons, it blinds us to those being sent to the trashcan of the public eye.

Worse still, even if we succeed in looking big, the success never satisfies the heart. It may bring a temporary pat on the back in a culture that eggs its members through such mutual back-pats on the racecourse to nowhere.

Our heart longs for the nourishment of love, not the cosmetic of ego-inflation.

And that love comes not by struggling to look big, but by learning to love the biggest person, the most loving and lovable person, Krishna. When we learn to love him by practicing devotional service, his grace often empowers us to do big things, to do better than what we would have done without him. But more importantly his grace blesses us progressively with an inner fulfillment so big that we no longer need to look big.


16.15 – I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice.” In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance.




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