The following column by U. Mahesh Prabhu was first published by Business Goa.
Vedic seers suggested six negative qualities, Arishadvargas, in people that could be the root of their own destruction, namely: Kama (Lust), Krodha(Anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (Infatuation), Mada (Ego) and Matsarya (Jealousy). All the tales of Vedic origins tell how even one of these qualities could lead to disastrous consequences.
In Mahabharata, after the Kingdom of Kuru was divided between five sons of Pandu and hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, it was that most unproductive part of the land which was handed over to the Pandavas. Duryodhana – the eldest of Dhritarashtra’s hundred sons – was confident that with a hapless piece of land Pandavas could achieve zilch. However, with the wise counsel of Krishna – Pandavas was extremely successful in turning the apparently unproductive tract of land called of Khandavaprastha into Indraprastha (modern Delhi). However, Pandavas didn’t stop there. Pursuing excellence they built a formidable army and conquered neighboring kingdoms to make theirs a formidable empire. After their successful conquest – Pandavas organized a large ceremony to celebrate their triumph in all four directions of the earth – Digvijaya. At the event, even their arch-rivals, sons of Dhritarashtra, too were invited. On seeing the might of Pandavas and magnificence of their cities – Duryodhana was anything but peaceful. Drenched in jealousy – he dreaded their success.
When Shakuni – Duryodhana’s maternal uncle – asked as to what was bothering him, Duryodhana replied, “Who could be able to stay content with the success of others – particularly his own enemies!” On overhearing Duryodhana, Krishna smiled and replied thus “It’s not easy Duryodhana, to accept the success of our own relatives and friends – let alone our enemies. However, when we are unable to accept and show grace, it shows that we are infested with jealousy – the supreme cause of chaos in men. At times, even the greatest saints and seers have failed here. But do know that – this jealousy makes your life a living hell, first. Be watchful – stop comparing yourself with others, there’s no meaning in comparing. Comparing ourselves with others and then acting without wisdom is sure path to doom.”
“It’s not easy Duryodhana, to accept the success of our own relatives and friends – let alone our enemies. However, when we are unable to accept and show grace, it shows that we are infested with jealousy – the supreme cause of chaos in men. At times, even the greatest saints and seers have failed here. But do know that – this jealousy makes your life a living hell, first. Be watchful – stop comparing yourself with others, there’s no meaning in comparing. Comparing ourselves with others and then acting without wisdom is sure path to doom.” – Krishna to Duryodhana
What wisdom Krishna presented to Duryodhana had little effect on the latter. Naturally, it was the very reason why a great war was fought, eventually, in which millions perished. It doesn’t matter if Mahabharata is history or mythology – what’s important is its wisdom; the text of Vyasa is filled with an unsurpassable wealth of wisdom. Read the history of humanity and see the reason for despots to subjugate their own people, powerful to crush the weak, rich to trample the poor and poor to tarnish the affluent – it begins with jealousy and ends in chaos.
Jealousy is detrimental. It’s a travesty that our education systems preaches it to be almost otherwise. Since our education system is based on the logic of comparing achievement of one with another it in significant way harnesses it at every step of the way. When we see that someone is doing better than us – we first begin by being jealous of them and we do things to prove them otherwise. We cheat, use deceit and retort to almost anything without letting wisdom prevail. Jealousy may make us to do ultimate damage to our adversaries – once; but every moment we carry this jealousy in our mind – we are a living hell.
There are those who argue about “virtues” of jealousy. “If not for jealousy we couldn’t see competition”, some argue. But to compete you don’t need to feel jealous – we could play a game with a toddler, loose and feeling nothing bad about it. On the contrary, we feel happy for it in some way enables the sense of accomplishment in that infant.
What’s the point of feeding jealousy to our minds – even in business? If someone is more profitable – let’s have the graciousness to appreciate them and wish them luck. Let’s learn from them instead of rubbishing them outright. Without jealousy, we are only peaceful. With peace, we also get clarity. Through clarity, we see our true objectives and use our resources to achieve just that. Through peace, success is then not just a result or some destination but the very journey. With such a journey – what’s is hard to achieve?