Rivalry and Competition

BY: CAITANYA DAS - 13.7 2020

In the following verse and purport, on the need for forgiveness and cooperation even though a degree of competition and envy and rivalry in service may be there in the hearts of devotees, it's always recommended to try to put past differences aside, holding no grudges. Srila Prabhupada in his great transcendental vision and acceptance says these things can be adjusted without difficulties in the greater service of the Lord.

In today's ISKCON it is drummed into us how we should become shanti shanti shanti, peaceful and completely homogeneously one in our behaviour and surrender to authority. It's a great sin to feel a rivalry or a strong competitive spirit or have feelings of maliciousness. One should humbly dispose of such passion, what to speak of envy, surly... this is the world of demons. Yet in passion in serving Krishna, sometimes these emotions bubble to the surface. One could say at least things get done and said, rightly or wrongly.

The individual spirit is so strong, and sometimes in service to Krishna instead of oneness, much difference is on display, it appears. This is the verse and purport, and it appears the greater need to spread Krishna Consciousness takes the precedent. Of course, transcendental rivalry is not unknown in Goloka Vrndavana.

"As King Indra was standing by, he became ashamed of his own activities and fell down before King Pṛthu to touch his lotus feet. But Pṛthu Mahārāja immediately embraced him in great ecstasy and gave up all envy against him for his having stolen the horse meant for the sacrifice.


There are many cases in which a person becomes an offender to the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava and later becomes repentant. Here also we find that although the King of heaven, Indra, was so powerful that he accompanied Lord Viṣṇu, he felt himself a great offender for stealing Pṛthu Mahārāja's horse that was meant for sacrifice. An offender at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava is never excused by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are many instances illustrating this fact. Ambarīṣa Mahārāja was offended by Durvāsā Muni, a great sage and mystic yogī, and Durvāsā also had to fall down at the lotus feet of Ambarīṣa Mahārāja. Indra decided to fall down at the lotus feet of King Pṛthu, but the King was so magnanimous a Vaiṣṇava that he did not want Mahārāja Indra to fall down at his feet. Instead, King Pṛthu immediately picked him up and embraced him, and both of them forgot all the past incidents. Both King Indra and Mahārāja Pṛthu were envious and angry with each other, but since both of them were Vaiṣṇavas, or servants of Lord Viṣṇu, it was their duty to adjust the cause of their envy. This is also a first-class example of cooperative behavior between Vaiṣṇavas. In the present days, however, because people are not Vaiṣṇavas, they fight perpetually among one another and are vanquished without finishing the mission of human life. There is a great need to propagate the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in the world so that even though people sometimes become angry and malicious toward one another, because of their being Kṛṣṇa conscious such rivalry, competition and envy can be adjusted without difficulty."

(Srimad Bhagavatam 4.20.18)