Does any of this sound familiar?
- A friend got more percentage in final exam. You begin to think, “How come I did not get it.” Then you begin thinking, “It must be by chance, otherwise I only taught him most of the concepts” And you feel better for few minutes.
- A colleague gets a promotion that you were hoping to get. You feel angry, stop talking to him and start waiting for his failure.
- A neighbor’s son gets a high paid job. And you start getting angry at your son for his little mistakes.
If any of these experiences sounds true then you are like the rest of the human race. Everyone is prone to envy. What is envy? Google defines it as, “A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.”
Cause of Envy
Primary cause of envy is the thought process of comparison. If one gives continuous attention to possession of other person and finds it to be more than his own, then his desire to lord it over is challenged and that leads to the feeling of envy. One mentally protests the reality with thoughts like, “Oh the other person doesn’t deserve it” or “Oh I deserve it more.”
However the root cause of envy is the ignorance about the temporary nature of everything in this world. In the ninth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna describes the nature of this world as “anityam” i.e. temporary. Everything in this world is temporary be it a possession, ability, achievement, situation, property, body or a life itself. Thus one is disturbed with envy under the forgetfulness of the fact that whatever the other person has today is definitely different from what he/she is going to have tomorrow.
Effect of Envy
If not diagnosed and taken care on time then envy leads to disrespectful behavior, dissatisfaction, anger, anxiety, moroseness, overthinking, or even sleeplessness. Under the fire of envy one hinders his own material and spiritual progress.
Getting rid of Envy
In the Srimad Bhagavatam Purana (4.11.20), it is stated that:
na vai sva-pakṣo ’sya vipaksha eva vaa
parasya mṛtyor vishatah samam prajaah
tam dhavamaanam anudhaavanty anishaa
yathaa rajaamsy anilam bhuta-sanghaah
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His feature of eternal time, is present in the material world and is neutral towards everyone. No one is His ally, and no one is His enemy. Within the jurisdiction of the time element, everyone enjoys or suffers the result of his own karma, or fruitive activities. As, when the wind blows, small particles of dust fly in the air, so, according to one’s particular karma, one suffers or enjoys material life.”
One should thoroughly meditate on above statements and understand the fact that no one is receiving anything which he or she is not deserving. Nothing is happening by chance. If one is enjoying, he deserves it. And if one is suffering, he deserves it. The world is running under the perfect laws of action and reaction. These laws are perfectly laid down by The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is neutral towards everyone. Understanding these realities one should neither be too elated on achieving some material gain nor be too disturbed due to some material loss or misery. This is stated in Bhagavad Gita (2.14) as follows:
maatraa-sparshaas tu kaunteya
taams titikshasva bhaarata
“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”
One can attain real peace and freedom from envy, only if he shifts his paradigm of living from “I am the center of everything and everything is meant for my enjoyment” to “God is the center of everything and everything is meant for His enjoyment.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, has already declared this in Bhagavad Gita (5.29):
gnaatvaa maam shaantim rcchati
“A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” As soon as one feels envy, he should bring Lord Krishna into the picture. One should remember that everyone gets what He sanctions. The gain or loss by oneself or others should be accepted as ultimately beneficial. Being the true benefactor and well-wisher of everyone, Lord Krishna does not sanction anything which is not ultimately beneficial for living entities who are His part and parcels.
It is easier said than done. How to remember instructions of Lord Krishna always, especially when going through bitter feeling of envy? Remembering instructions of Lord Krishna becomes spontaneously when one’s consciousness is purified. How to purify the consciousness? The process of purifying consciousness are different in different ages. In Kali Yuga the process of purifying consciousness is concentrating one’s attention on chanting and hearing the sound of Hare Krishna maha-mantra. This is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam (12.3.52):
krte yad dhyaayato vishṇum
tretaayaam yajato makhaiḥ
kalau tad dhari-kirtanaat
“Whatever result (purification of consciousness) was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Viṣṇu, in Tretaa-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvaapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.”
When one regularly chants and hears Hare Krishna maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” with attention his consciousness is gradually purified. Thus one will become freed not only from envy but greed, lust, illusion, madness and anger. This can be realized only by practice.
This article is based on series of lectures delivered by HG Madhu Pandit Prabhu on ISKCON Banglore Sanga YouTube Channel: