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Learning to handle envy

india Updated: Jul 03, 2006 16:36 IST

Duryodhana and Karna are two important characters in the Mahabharata.

Duryodhana was the eldest son of King Dhritrashtra and Karna was the illegitimate and abandoned son of Kunti, reared in a poor, ‘low caste’ family.

Despite such a big gap in their backgrounds, both Duryodhana and Karna shared a beautiful relationship of friendship that has few parallels in myth or history. Duryodhana possessed exceptional physical strength and had acquired expert ise in mace-wielding and wrestling, but he could never get the better of Bhima, the second of the Pandava brothers.

Likewise, Karna, gifted with exceptional skill in the use of bows and arrows had an invincible foe in Arjuna. This common enmity with the Pandavas brought Duryodhana and Karna together and their urge to show down their rivals was so overwhelming that nothing short of their rivals’ blood could satisfy them.

But there was a marked difference in their approach. Duryodhana was driven by jealousy, which made him adopt sordid means including poisoning, to eliminate Bhima. On the other hand, Karna was driven by envy and it was this spirit to surpass Arjuna that made him constantly hone his skills in the use of weapons. But he never used ignoble means. Indeed, he even refrained from killing Arjuna at one point, because it would have not been on honourable terms.

According to me, a jealous person loses his capacity to think right, he is so engrossed in planning his rival’s downfall. Jealousy not only reduces a person to a mental wreck but leaves him low in self-confidence, also. But the envious one strives hard to achieve his goal and when the opportunity comes he goes all out, like Karna.

Today we face competition in every sphere of life. We find people around who are racing ahead of us and it is but natural for us to brim with the spirit of competition to overcome them. But what is important is that we are not so overwhelmed by this competitive urge as to become jealous and in the process become blind to the means.