A FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE
“I write like a dream. But that doesn’t take away the effort I put into every book, every launch, every conversation, every interview and every thing associated with my work.. ”
All around us, we see people blowing their own trumpets. And with social media, self-branding has got a brand new aggressive makeover. Almost every day, we come across such acts of self-branding. Now people are busy in advertising themselves on Facebook, Instagram and the like. Everyone is a writer, a photographer, a master chef, a film critic, a designer… the list goes on. Everybody is everything. The lines between amateur and professionals are blurred.
So, here as an Indian, I am going back to our mythology to understand this act of self-branding.
From The Mahabharat
Krishna tells Arjuna : “You can kill yourself physically by harming your body or intellectually by praising yourself. For when a man praises himself, it is intellectual suicide.”
From the Ramayana
When Valmiki completed his Ramayana, Narada Muni wasn’t impressed. “It is good, but Hanuman’s Ramayana is better’, he said.
‘Hanuman has written the Ramayana too!’, Valmiki didn’t like this at all, and wondered whose Ramayana was better. So he set out to find Hanuman.
In Kadali-vana, grove of plantains, he found Ramayana inscribed on seven broad leaves of a banana tree.
He read it and found it to be perfect. The most exquisite choice of grammar and vocabulary, metre and melody. He couldn’t help himself. He started to cry.
“Is it so bad?” asked Hanuman
“No, it is so good”, said Valmiki
“Then why are you crying?” asked Hanuman
“Because after reading your Ramayana no one will read my Ramayana,” replied Valmiki.
Hearing this Hanuman simply tore up the seven banana leaves stating “Now no one will ever read Hanuman’s Ramayana.”
Hanuman said, “You need your Ramayana more than I need mine. You wrote your Ramayana so that the world remembers Valmiki; I wrote my Ramayana so that I remember Ram.”
At that moment he realized how he had been consumed by the desire for validation through his work.
He had not used the work to liberate himself from the fear of invalidation. He had not appreciated the essence of Ram’s tale to unknot his mind.
His Ramayana was a product of ambition; but Hanuman’s Ramayana was a product of affection.
That’s why Hanuman’s Ramayana sounded so much better. Valmiki realized that “Greater than Ram….. is the name of Ram!!!! ”
( राम से बड़ा राम का नाम ).
There are people like Hanuman who are just happy to celebrate what their heart says. They are not hungry for praises. They are content with their craft.
So let us not be like Valmiki, thinking our ‘Ramayana’ is the best.
(Even as I was writing this, I came across this phrase in Hindi Apne muh miya mithu (It basically means self praise. In other words it means to tell other people how good and successful you are.)