Envy targets the envied, but torments the envious
Envy is the inner dark tendency that makes us miserable at others’ successes; it impels us to drag them down and plot their destruction.
Envy targets the envied, as seen in how the envious Duryodhana targeted the Pandavas. He envied Yudhishthira’s royal position, Bhima’s physical power, and Arjuna’s peerless archery. Driven by envy, he conspired repeatedly to humiliate and destroy the Pandavas.
But envy’s malevolence extends beyond its targets to its hosts. Because of his envy, Duryodhana was not satisfied even when he had deceitfully got the Pandavas’ kingdom for himself. While they were living in exile in the forest, he went there to parade his prosperity before them. He wanted to humiliate them by showing them the glaring contrast between his prosperity and their poverty. As fate would have it, his plan boomeranged when he was defeated by celestial beings and had to be rescued by the Pandavas. Those whose humiliation he wanted to see ended up seeing his humiliation.
He could have lived luxuriously in his prosperous kingdom, but envy wouldn’t let him live in peace. Envy tormented him so much that he ended up doing something self-destructive. Actually, not just one thing – his whole life was a litany of envy-impelled actions. Envy kept him relentlessly dissatisfied.
If we entertain envy, it will similarly torture us incessantly. By understanding envy’s nature, we can become determined to adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards it. The Bhagavad-gita (16.18) indicates that envy towards anyone is ultimately envy towards the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. Whatever opulence anyone has is a spark of Krishna’s supreme opulence (10.41).
When we practice bhakti-yoga and start relishing Krishna’s glories, we learn to see others’ opulence devotionally: instead of being reminded of our inferiority, we are reminded of our Lord’s glory. By such redirection, our devotion intensifies, and envy decreases and disappears.
Think it over:
- How did envy torment Duryodhana?
- How can we get the impetus to stop entertaining envy?
- How can we cure envy by bhakti?
16.18 Bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, the demons become envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in their own bodies and in the bodies of others, and blaspheme against the real religion.
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