What Does It Mean To Be Non-Envious

[Sita-Rama]“I have heard, O Sita, that your hand in marriage was won by the renowned Raghava on the occasion of the self-choice ceremony [svayamvara]. O Maithili, I wish to hear that story in detail. Therefore please narrate to me the entire sequence of events as you experienced them.” (Anasuya speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.24-25)

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स्वयं वरे किल प्राप्ता त्वमनेन यशस्विना।
राघवेणेति मे सिते कथा श्रुतिमुपागता।।

तां कथां श्रोतुमिच्छामि विस्तरेण च मैथिलि।
यथाऽनुभूतं कार्त्स्न्येन तन्मे त्वं वक्तुमर्हसि।।

svayaṃ vare kila prāptā tvamanena yaśasvinā।
rāghaveṇeti me site kathā śrutimupāgatā।।

tāṃ kathāṃ śrotumicchāmi vistareṇa ca maithili।
yathā’nubhūtaṃ kārtsnyena tanme tvaṃ vaktumarhasi।।

Friend1:  I remember hearing that there is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita where the word anasuyave is used.  It means “not envious.”

Friend2:  Okay. There are a lot of words used in that important Sanskrit work.  Let me try to recall.

श्री-भगवान् उवाच
इदं तु ते गुह्यतमं
प्रवक्ष्याम्य् अनसूयवे
ज्ञानं विज्ञान-सहितं
यज् ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसे ऽशुभात्

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
idaṁ tu te guhyatamaṁ
pravakṣyāmy anasūyave
jñānaṁ vijñāna-sahitaṁ
yaj jñātvā mokṣyase ‘śubhāt

“The Supreme Lord said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most secret wisdom, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.”  (Bhagavad-gita, 9.1)

Friend1:  There you go.  Shri Krishna is so kind.  He helped Arjuna out of a difficult situation.  There is the precondition that the recipient had to be free of envy.

Friend2:  Specifically towards Krishna, which is one name for God the person.  This confirms the teaching of the acharya, who explains that the spirit soul first lands in the material world, the realm of birth and death, due to envy of God.

Friend1:  Sort of a competitive attitude.

Friend2:  Thinking they can be like Him.

“Go ahead.  Enjoy all you want.  Take your best shot.”

Since it is impossible to become God, the pursuit continues almost indefinitely.  Old age, disease and death reset the game in between; like starting over.

Friend1:  With birth.  I get it. I guess I was thinking about that word; envy.  What does it mean to be free of it?

Friend2:  I don’t think it’s difficult to understand.  Just don’t be jealous of another person.

Friend1:  Okay, but we all need some impetus to work.  There has to be some reward on the other side.  No one travels to the office to offer free assistance day after day.  They expect money to be transferred on payday.

Friend2:  What does that have to do with envy, though?

Friend1:  I’m getting there.  Not only do I expect a reward, but I like to compare myself to others.  That is only natural. I know that I am earning enough if the salary is comparable to my peers.  In this way there is always bound to be some enviousness. Do you see what I mean?

Friend2:  Maybe. I get it that we’re never like robots or stone.  But think of the situation of your parents and family members.

Friend1:  What about them?

Friend2:  Where you want the best for them.  I want my parents to always be happy; even if I am suffering.  I want my siblings to do better than me.

[sibling rivalry]Friend1:  You must be a special kind of child, because I know many people who do not wish those things.  There is something called “sibling rivalry” for a reason.  One child receives a toy as a gift and the other immediately demands the same.

Friend2:  I understand, but I am trying to explain the attitude to you.  Some people do wish the best for others. Extend the same desire out to the entire society.  That is one idea of non-enviousness. When extended to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is wanting only the best for Him.

Friend1:  Even though He doesn’t need anything.

Friend2:  Exactly. Just see the workings of bhakti.  See what a pure consciousness actually is.  Another indication of lack of envy is to take joy in another’s triumph.

Friend1:  Like if something good happens to my friend, I am happy about it instead of worrying that I didn’t receive the same reward.

Friend2:  There is the example in shastra of Anasuya meeting with Sita Devi.  Anasuya’s name means “non-envious,” so it is only fitting that she asked Sita to explain the story of her marriage to Shri Rama.  Anasuya was not showing off anything about her own life. She was not eager to tell everyone how well she was doing. Instead, she genuinely took delight in hearing the amazing victory of Dasharatha’s son, which brought the greatest joy to Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka.

Friend1:  It certainly is a nice story.

[Sita-Rama]Friend2:  And that is why it is included in the Ramayana.  Anasuya had the great fortune of receiving the Supreme Lord and His wife as guests.  Usually we travel to holy places to meet saintly people to receive such information. In special circumstances, if you are pure of heart, Bhagavan will travel to you.  He will go to where you are and delight you with Hari-katha.

In Closing:

With Hari-katha delighting,
Of Sita with Rama uniting,

By Anasuya heard,
The non-envious deserved.

Where not to myself to compare,
Of others experience aware.

Then for receiving wisdom fit,
And liberated before body to quit.

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