Based on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 16, Text 03
By Chaitanya Charan Das
Generic envy refers to the general negativity that one class of people feel towards another better-endowed class, say, the lower class towards the middle class or the upper class. Specific envy refers to the concentrated animosity that one person feels towards another person.
Both forms of envy are debilitating — they sap our mental energy, sentencing us to agonize over what we don’t have. But specific envy is doubly dangerous because it hurts not only us but also others. It conjures up perverse fantasies about the downfall of those whom we envy and impels us to act in evil ways to bring about their ruin. And whereas our normal human sensitivity makes us feel saddened on seeing the suffering of others, envy slaughters this sensitivity. It makes us sadistic, finding a sick delight in not just seeing misery come upon others, but in even inflicting misery upon them.
In the Mahabharata, Duryodhana had a generic envious nature. But his envy became specific when it became focused on the Pandavas, especially on their prosperity after the celebrated Rajasuya sacrifice. Being blinded by this envy, he became so malicious that he tried to disrobe and dishonor their wife in a public assembly in the presence of his elders — something that even uncivilized people would have hesitated to do.