The Vedic Observer

By Suvarna Radhika Devi Dasi

A Hollywood super-couple breaks up. Monetary negotiations, the division of property, and even the division of children follow, in a blatant display of egoism and unfaithfulness. Their fan base only increases.

A singer is found dead of a drug overdose. He becomes a bigger cult phenomenon.

An actor runs over two people while speeding in a drunken stupor. People continue to love him.

Unfortunately, celebrity worship has become the norm today. Media-generated hype drives society to idolize men and women in certain professions. These people are so steeped in sense gratification and covered by the illusory energy of the Lord that from a spiritual perspective they often represent everything a human being should not be.

This situation got me thinking about heroes and hero worship. We tend to worship as heroes people we perceive to be better than ourselves. We wish to acquire the qualities of our heroes so that we can improve ourselves. We also look toward them for inspiration when faced with tricky situations in life, or when unsure of how to behave, as we feel they are wiser than us and by emulating them we will find happiness. Most of the time we tend to seek such things as popularity, wealth, beauty, knowledge, and strength. We then try to imbibe the qualities of people who possess these, feeling that by doing so we too will acquire them and become happy.

But if we observe the lives of our heroes carefully, we find that most of them are not happy. They struggle with problems born of uncontrolled senses, like alcoholism, substance abuse, and failed relationships. They are unable to handle the opulence they have. Moreover, everything in this material world is temporary, and our heroes become frustrated when they lose their opulence. Such people are unfit to be our heroes, as we will never find real happiness by following in their footsteps.

Godly Heroes

Who then is a real hero? The Vedic scriptures give an interesting answer: the perfect servant of God. The Vedas describe God as the Supreme Person, and He possesses six kinds of opulence in full: beauty, strength, wealth, fame, knowledge, and renunciation. These scriptures say that our true happiness lies in our connection with God. We can find happiness by serving our Supreme Father, not by acquiring temporary opulence,

When we understand this point and desire to become an ideal servant of God, then automatically we look toward perfect servants and identify them as our real heroes. Perfect servants of God have completely surrendered to Him, knowing that they are not the supreme controller but simply His instrument. They lead their lives as directed by the scriptures, such as the Bhagavad-gita, and perform all their duties as an offering to God. They use their talents and qualities in His service. Instead of seeking happiness through external, material objects, they find it in all things related to God and attain inner peace. All virtues appear automatically in them as they proceed on the path back to Krishna.

Let us consider the example of Prahlada Maharaja. He was the son of Hiranyakashipu, one of the most powerful demons to walk the earth. Yet, even at the tender age of five, Prahlada had the courage and faith to go against his entire demoniac family and worship Lord Krishna. He was unruffled in all the dangerous situations his father created for him, because he knew that Krishna is the ultimate controller and everything happens by His will alone. To protect Prahlada, Lord Krishna descended as Nrisimhadeva, the half-man, half-lion incarnation, and performed His divine pastime of ridding the earth of the demon. Hiranyakashipu possessed great opulence, but the real hero turned out to be Prahlada.

Innumerable such real heroes have walked planet earth. Society needs them so that people can learn how to lead a meaningful life. Real heroes inspire people to practice the science of God consciousness, develop positive qualities, and achieve eternal bliss.

Worthy Examples

Sadly, the influence of Kali-yuga, the current age, corrupts all things of quality. According to the Vedic literature, in former times leaders of society possessed great spiritual wisdom. Today’s leaders are all miniature Hiranyakashipus who blatantly engage in public self-glorification. In contrast, the Vedic king Yudhishthira was so humble that he said he could find no one less qualified than himself. King Sibi was prepared to cut off his own flesh to feed an eagle and thus protect the pigeon it pursued. Contrast him with today’s heroes, who are not content even after exploiting the weak and the helpless under their protection. King Bharata ruled the earth but gave up everything for self-realization. Contrast him with today’s heroes, who cling to power and fame long after their prime.

I turn with a grateful heart to Srila Prabhupada, a real hero of the modern age. He gave us the Vedic wisdom with its insight on heroism, and he revealed the path to becoming heroes ourselves. Because of his divine grace, the Krishna consciousness movement now has numerous heroes who are guiding lights to society in this dark age. By following these authentic heroes, one can eventually attain the ultimate hero—Lord Sri Krishna.