sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!

No.22 (Kartik 2010)
Posted: 21 May 2024

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Mātsarya - Envy

by Śrīla Saccidānanda Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura

The meaning of the word ‘mātsarya’ & who is fit for the non-envious religion of love?

The word mātsarya is used with different meanings in different contexts. Among its various meanings we find ‘enviousness of others’ good-fortune’, ‘distressed because of their success’, ‘malice’ and ‘jealousy’. Wherever the word mātsarya has been used in the Vaiṣṇava scriptures, it refers to that mood which is adverse to prema (pure love).

dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śivadaṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ’tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2)

“In this Bhāgavata Purāṇa, where fraudulent religiosity and all other mundane goals of humankind have been utterly forsaken, the supreme spiritual duty (parama-dharma) has been expounded. That parama-dharma is pure bhakti-yoga, exemplified by those saints who are absolutely free from envy and full of compassion for all living beings. The Supreme Truth within uproots the three forms of misery and grants the highest form of bliss. When those with ample spiritual merit desire to listen to the message of this beautiful Bhāgavatam, which was authored by Mahāmuni Śrī Nārāyaṇa Himself, then the Supreme Lord Śrī Hari is immediately and permanently captured within their hearts. What is the need of any other message?”

This statement defines who is fit to practise parama-dharma – that supreme spiritual duty propounded by Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. And to relish the liquid humours of pure love (prema-rasa) is truly the supreme spiritual duty that this gospel enjoins. Those who are without envy (nirmatsara) are the only ones fit to practise this parama-dharma. Nirmatsaratā means ‘the quality of being free from mātsarya(envy)’. Within the context of this verse, commentators have explained matsaratā as feeling happiness upon seeing the misery of others and misery upon seeing their happiness, but if the meaning of the word matsaratā is not illuminated in detail, it will not be understood by common people.

The gang of six foes & the cause of their combined appearance

The jīvas, confined by ignorance, have been entrapped in mundanity by the rope of the six foes (ṣaḍ-varga). Lust (kāma), anger (krodha), greed (lobha), delusion (moha), pride (mada) and envy (mātsarya) – these six are called ṣaḍ-varga, and they are nothing but other forms of the five types of misery, namely ignorance (avidya), egotism (asmitā), infatuation (abhiniveśa), vehemence (rāga) and hatred (dveṣa).

Extreme absorption in gross material objects gives rise to lust. In Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā (2.62–63), lust is described as follows:

dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ / saṅgas teṣūpajāyate
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ / kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ / sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ
smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo / buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati

The meaning of these verses is as follows: [By meditating on the sense objects, one inwardly mingles with them. As such] association with the sense objects, in the form of acute absorption in them, gives rise to lust (kāma), which inevitably leads to anger (krodha). Anger gives rise to (sammoha) – that is, greed (lobha) to enjoy the sense objects even by unfair means. Greed for sense objects leads to loss of memory (moha) which in turn destroys the intelligence, or in other words it leads to pride (mada), wherein one fails to distinguish between virtue and evil. That pride leads to utter ruination – mātsarya, which severely distorts the living entity’s natural, loving tendency.

The means to conquer the enemy

Bhagavad-gītā (3.43) instructs us:

evaṁ buddheḥ paraṁ buddhvā / saṁstabhyātmānam ātmanā
jahi śatruṁ mahā-bāho / kāma-rūpaṁ durāsadam

The meaning is as follows: Realize that the soul, who belongs to the spiritual domain, transcends the intelligence. Controlling the mind through the principle of resolute determination, conquer that inextinguishable enemy known as kāma.

All the foes are within mātsarya

From all these instructions it is clearly understood that by misunderstanding the nature of our true self – in other words, due to svarūpa-bhrama – the seed of lust sprouts in our hearts and gradually grows into the tree of envy, thus sending prema, which is jaiva-dharma, or the true nature of all living entities, far away. Lust (kāma), anger (krodha), greed (lobha), delusion (moha) and pride (mada) are all included in envy (mātsarya). Lust is included in anger. Lust and anger are both included in greed. Lust, anger and greed are within delusion. And lust, anger, greed and delusion are found within pride, which refers to all kinds of pride, including pride in one’s wealth, in one’s beauty, in one’s bodily prowess, in one’s high caste and in one’s erudition. But envy (mātsarya) encompasses all of this: lust, anger, greed, delusion and all kinds of pride.

All sorts of miseries are included in envy & a man prone to envy is devoid of compassion for other living beings

All the miseries of the living beings are truly embodied in envy. Two types of ignorance, namely, unrighteous ignorance and righteous ignorance; wicked acts and the desire to act wickedly (pāpa and pāpa-vāsanā); and commendable acts and the desire to act commendably (puṇya and puṇya-vāsanā), are all included within envy. The principles of Vaiṣṇavism (vaiṣṇava-dharma) – namely compassion for all living entities (jīve-dayā), the loving inclination to chant the holy name (nāme-ruci), and service to the Vaiṣṇavas (vaiṣṇava-sevā) – stand directly opposed to the condition of envy. Those who feel distress upon seeing the happiness of others can never feel compassion for the living entities, and their hearts can never be suffused with the nectar of love of God. They maintain hatred and jealousy towards Vaiṣṇavas, a hatred that arises from the long standing distortion of their constitutional nature.

Only those who are free from envy can embrace the import of ‘even humbler than grass’

Only those who are free from envy have imbibed the true meaning of the verse beginning tṛṇād api. Śrīman Mahāprabhu has said:

tṛṇād api sunīcena / taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena / kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka (3)

“Only he who feels lower than a blade of grass and who is more tolerant than a tree; who expects no honour for himself but who is able to give due respect to all others is qualified to perpetually chant the holy names of Hari.”

A person who is free from envy possesses no false pride for wealth, beauty, high caste, education or mundane physical strength, and therefore regards himself as even more insignificant (sunīcena) than a blade of grass. Such a person is also free from anger, aggressiveness and violence. On account of that he is even more tolerant (sahiṣṇunā) than a tree. That is, he is exceedingly compassionate. A person such as this, who is free from envy and false pride in his caste, education and so on, despite being blessed with all virtue, never craves recognition or adoration from others. Thus he is amānī, one who does not expect honour from anyone. That person, being free from envy, always feels happiness in the happiness of others, and pain in their sorrow. And so, he treats all living beings with due honour (mānadā).

In general, by being compassionate toward all living beings, he shows respect to them all. By offering great honour to noble souls like brāhmaṇas (priests) and vaiṣṇava-praya (unperfected Vaiṣṇavas), he pleases them. And while devoting himself to the lotus feet of perfected Vaiṣṇavas, he serves them.

The ten symptoms of the non-envious

(1) He who is free from envy, by his very nature, never criticizes sādhus (saints).

(2) He does not consider demigods to be independent lords, for his intelligence is absorbed only in Śrī Kṛṣṇa, yet he does not disregard them.

(3) He has faith (śraddhā) in śrī guru and all other superior devotees as befits each of them.

(4) He offers respect to the bhakti scriptures like Śruti[1].

(5) Abandoning meaningless arguments, he apprehends how the holy name is the topmost, meaningful attainment (paramārtha), a perception rooted in perfect conviction that the holy name (nāma) and its owner (nāmī) are one and the same.

(6) He never engages in wickedness while depending on the protection of the holy name.

(7) He does not consider the auspiciousness of ordinary piety – such as societal dharma, religious vows (vrata) or renunciation – to be comparable in any way to chanting the holy names.

(8) He tries to inculcate faith in the faithless, but never grants them the holy name until that faith has awakened.

(9) He believes completely in the glories of the holy name as described in the scriptures.

(10) And he is devoid of any sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ in relation to mundanity.

O readers! Non-enviousness alone is liberation for the living being, and envy his only bondage. In Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 9.361) it has therefore been said:

caitanya-carita śuno śraddhā-bhakti kari’
mātsarya chāḓiyā mukhe bolo ‘hari’ ‘hari’

Endowed with full faith and devotion, listen to the lifework of Śrī Caitanya… Cast aside envy and let your mouth sing, “Hari, Hari!”

Translated from Śrī Gauḍīya Patrikā,
Year 5, Issue 5, September 1949,
& Published in Rays of The Harmonist,
Volume 22, Kartika 2010

[1] Which includes Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the Upaniṣads.

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