Truly Great Leaders

Everyone recognizes that we need great leaders. Some aspire to be great leaders, others aspire to follow great leaders. Some quarrel about who a great leader was or not, others are leaders without followers, and many are leaders with followers or without direction. Many leaders are also misguided, having led their followers to terrible destinations.

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः ।
स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ॥ २१ ॥ yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.

So it is a fact that whenever some kind of greatness is perceived by others, they strive to follow that greatness.

Knowing that everyone has some great qualities, we can see that society is full of leaders, big or small.

Parents are leaders. Teachers are leaders. High school students are leaders. College seniors are leaders. Work supervisors are leaders. Businesspeople are leaders. Artists are leaders. Comedians are leaders. Actors are leaders. Scientists are leaders. Farmers are leaders. Policemen are leaders. Soldiers are leaders. Politicians are leaders. Doctors are leaders. Mathematicians are leaders. Corporate Officers are leaders. Practically everyone is leading someone else in some way.

In a society with so many leaders, how come so many of us are directionless, clueless, unhappy?

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, a merciless tyrant named Jarasandha captured 20,400 kings, all leaders, and imprisoned them. They were eventually freed by Lord Krishna.

They prayed as follows…

Text 10: Infatuated with his opulence and ruling power, a king loses all self-restraint and cannot obtain his true welfare. Thus bewildered by Your illusory energy, he imagines his temporary assets to be permanent. Text 11: Just as men of childish intelligence consider a mirage in the desert to be a pond of water, so those who are irrational look upon the illusory transformations of Māyā as substantial. Texts 12-13: Previously, blinded by the intoxication of riches, we wanted to conquer this earth, and thus we fought one another to achieve victory, mercilessly harassing our own subjects. We arrogantly disregarded You, O Lord, who stood before us as death. But now, O Kṛṣṇa, that powerful form of Yours called time, moving mysteriously and irresistibly, has deprived us of our opulences. Now that You have mercifully destroyed our pride, we beg simply to remember Your lotus feet. Text 14: Never again will we hanker for a miragelike kingdom — a kingdom that must be slavishly served by this mortal body, which is simply a source of disease and suffering and which is declining at every moment. Nor, O almighty Lord, will we hanker to enjoy the heavenly fruits of pious work in the next life, since the promise of such rewards is simply an empty enticement for the ears.

Text 15: Please tell us how we may constantly remember Your lotus feet, though we continue in the cycle of birth and death in this world.

The problem seems to be that almost every leader is “infatuated with his opulence and ruling power”. The parent is infatuated with the power she has over her child, the husband infatuated with the power he has over his wife… the teachers infatuated with the power over their students, and so on.

It also appears that with childish intelligence, we see the mirages in the material world as actual water. When we miss the “great” for being blinded by the “good”.

Most of our leaders are too busy fighting other leaders, over the intoxication of power, wealth, and personal fame. We hanker for that which is temporary, and slipping through our hands like the sands of time.

No matter what we may be a leader in, we need to remember that time is a most powerful force. And all the good we may do on the material level is reduced to insignificance.

But by always remembering the Lotus feet of God, we can transcend being mediocre leaders, and truly lead ourselves and the world out of confusion.

What type of leader do you want to be?

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