“One who executes his duties according to My injunctions and who follows this teaching faithfully, without envy, becomes free from the bondage of fruitive actions.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.31)
ये मे मतमिदं नित्यमनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः ।
श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तो मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः ॥
ye me matam idaṁ nityam
mucyante te ’pi karmabhiḥ
“How do we resolve what we see as contradictions within shastra? We can take Bhagavad-gita, for example. We understand the final conclusion. It is to surrender to Krishna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Become His devotee. Always think of Him.
“If we are unsure of success in the path, if we hesitate in our decisions, if we feel inadequate in our contemplative skills, there is no reason to worry. The same Krishna will guide from within. As the entire universe has a source of light, a spark of energy, so that same light is within us.
“We are spirit soul, animating the body which is otherwise lifeless. At the same time, the light of the entire universe is within us. That is Shri Krishna. He will guide from within. He will show us the way.
“The contradiction I see is the listing of ideal qualities. There is a section where Krishna describes people who are very dear to Him. The list is not difficult to understand. We appreciate the same kinds of people. Those who are level-headed. Those who view people equally and who are fair in their dealings.
“We especially prefer those who are not envious. That makes life a lot easier when you can share your struggles and triumphs with someone, without worrying about hurting their feelings, putting them down, or retaliation due to inadequacies from an honest comparison.
“The question is, which is more important? Should we become a devotee of Krishna or should we be free of envy? Can we just excuse all bad behavior if we are supposedly following the path of bhakti? That doesn’t sit right with me. It feels like a license to lie, cheat, steal, and abuse.”
अहम् अज्ञान-जं तमः
aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)
We resolve the contradiction through the understanding of the associated benefits of the connection to the Supreme Consciousness. If we are truly devoted to the source of everything, thinking only of His interests, what need is there to envy?
We may feel that others are better than us, that they are serving in a superior way, but there is no malice involved. The envy in this case would be beneficial, as it would serve as motivation to do better, to reach new heights. The resulting envy is a kind of appreciation and glorification.
यस्यास्ति भक्तिर् भगवत्य् अकिञ्चना
सर्वैर् गुणैस् तत्र समासते सुराः
हराव् अभक्तस्य कुतो महद्-गुणा
मनोरथेनासति धावतो बहिः
yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā
sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ
harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā
manorathenāsati dhāvato bahiḥ
“All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord’s external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man?” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.18.12)
There is an additional way to resolve the contradiction. There is the teaching that devotees of Hari automatically acquire all the qualities of the demigods. A demigod resides in the heavenly region. This is a reward for behavior in the mode of goodness. The mode of goodness is being able to see properly, to see spirit soul everywhere, and to understand the fleeting nature of the spirit-body combination.
ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि
शुनि चैव श्व-पाके च
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)
If a person argues that devotion to Krishna is everything and that the associated qualities are not that important, why would they accept living in miserable circumstances? Would we rather be full of envy or be at peace? Would we rather be constantly agitated by the senses or be able to tolerate difficulties? Would we rather live life hating others, drawing distinctions between friends and enemies, or be universally benevolent?
माम् एकं शरणं व्रज
अहं त्वां सर्व-पापेभ्यो
मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
It is not surprising that well-known servants of Hari also have good qualities. They are free of envy. They treat others with fairness, kindness, compassion, all while keeping the ultimate goal of life in mind. The servants of Hari are a symbol of sacrifice, and through their example they show others the way towards transcendence.
With surrender to see,
With envy free.
Towards Krishna the one,
And others to come.
A double advantage to take,
Since a peaceful existence to make.
Where protected through to the end,
Shining example to send.