Envy targets the envied, but torments the envious

Envy is the inner dark tendency that makes us miserable at others’ successes, that 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 even to those who host it. 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 and 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 and arrested by celestial beings and had to be rescued and released 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) cautions that envy towards anyone is ultimately envy towards 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’ opulences devotionally: instead of being reminded of our inferiority, we are reminded of our Lord’s glory. By such redirection, as our devotion intensifies, 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?


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Conscience without intelligence is blunt, intelligence without conscience is numb
Careless contemplation turns tempting thoughts into time bombs
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  1. JAPA decimates envy

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