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Shishupala: Can we control our Jealousy before it consumes us?

Updated: Feb 27, 2022


Blog #24

  • What if appealing to reason and common sense meets stubborn resistance?

  • Why do some of us dig in so deeply into ideology and dogma and forsake reason?

  • What if we refuse to listen to every voice of reason and wisdom?

  • Is violence ever an option over peaceful negotiation? Can violence be justified, ever?

  • Should one of us be sacrificed to demonstrate the futility of violence to other warmongers?

  • Can a gory demonstration of violence avert an apocalyptic war?

  • Are we really that obstinate a society that planet earth needs to be cleansed of us all periodically in order to save herself from us?

The Mahabharata Context:

Prince Shishupala was Lord Krishna's cousin and was born with three eyes and four arms. It was foretold that when placed in the lap of the one who will bring about his demise, the child would lose its extra arms and eye. The child Shishupala shed its extra eye and arms upon being placed in the lap of Lord Krishna. Shishupala's mother immediately pleaded with Lord Krishna to forgive a hundred insults and transgressions of the child in the hope that it would give it a long lease on life. Sadly, Shishupala grew up resentful of Lord Krishna's fame and glory and became angry and bitter over time.

When Prince Yudhisthira was finally being crowned as Emperor after the successful completion of the Ashvamedha sacrifice, elders of the Hastinapura court including Prince Bheeshma agreed that Lord Krishna was the most pre-eminent scholar to be honored. Losing his cool, Prince Shishupala flew into a rage and starting spewing venomous insults to Lord Krishna. When reminded that his transgressions would be stopped after he reached one hundred insults, he proceeded to accelerate his rate of insults. Finally, Lord Krishna had enough and in a radiant display of his invincible power, he unleashed the Sudarshana Chakra to behead his own cousin in open court in full view of the court elders in a brazen display of power and violence. Alas, even this display from the Lord himself failed to deliver its message of deterrence and prevent the war that was about to ensue.

Our null hypothesis about the Shishupala persona

The persona of Prince Sishupala is a archetypical negative persona but lets look for some positive attributes anyway. One cannot ignore that it took great courage for Prince Shishupala to resist the tendency to capitulate. He was brave, confident, strong and resolute in his conviction that Lord Krishna was not worthy of the great honor. Sadly, the persona clearly reflects some of the strong negative behaviors including naked ambition, stubbornness, jealousy and resentment of other's success.

Lessons Learned

  • Why can't we be happy when those around us are more successful than we are?

  • How can their success be hurtful to us unless we are willing to play poor me?

  • Why can't we be more content and stop comparing ourselves to others?

  • Why do we play victim when we fall short in our own measures of ambition?

  • Can we afford growing resentful of those amongst us who succeed?

  • Is it worth the vitriol and the hate it creates in our hearts?

  • Why do we not see that that in the end, it hurts us the most and indeed may end up killing us?

Prince Shishupala has a timeless message for all of us: Be content with what the Lord gives you. Be happy with what you have rather than covet what you don't have. Others having more than you does not mean you have any less than you deserve. Watch for the negative instincts in you that make you resentful of other's success and it will help you live a long and healthy life. What % of Prince Shishupala do you have in you?

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