“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)
Two friends, Sarah and Sue, were having a discussion on the Bhagavad-gita. As part of their weekly meeting, they chose a specific verse to concentrate on. The verse for discussion this particular week related to attachment and how anger develops from there. Sarah had a story from her own life that she felt related to the verse very well.
It all started one day while I was cooking in the kitchen. It was a typical Saturday. My husband was in the backyard tending to his garden. This year, things were going well, as we were even eating some of the fruits he had grown. In fact, I was crushing some of the tomatoes from that garden for making sauce for pizza for dinner. My two boys were out playing tennis, as they typically did on a weekend.
At around seven o’clock, I heard the car pull into the driveway. Once they entered the front door, I knew things were not okay. I heard stomping of feet and yelling. I put down the pizza dough I was kneading to see what was going on.
“The way you behaved today was reprehensible. I can’t believe the things you were saying,” shouted my eldest son Ashu.
“Me? Those shots you were playing were ridiculous. Don’t even talk to me, alright,” responded my youngest son Girish, who then stormed upstairs to his room and slammed the door.
“What happened? Why are you guys fighting?” I asked Ashu.
“Mom, Girish was out of control today. Everything was fine, but after about an hour, he started yelling and cursing. First he threw his racket a couple of times, but then he finally broke it.”
“He broke another racket?”
“Yes, and we didn’t have any extras left in the bag. We still had an hour left on the court time that we paid for. I wanted to stay and practice my serve. You know, to get our money’s worth. But he insisted that we leave. He has a major temper problem, Mom. You need to control him.”
“Well, I’ll talk to him, but you’re the elder brother. You’re not supposed to get angry at him. Go take a shower and then set the table. Dinner should be ready soon.”
After giving Girish a few minutes to cool off, I walked upstairs and knocked on his door. “Girish? Open the door. This is your mom. I want to talk to you. I want to see if you’re okay.”
“Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk.”
“It’s okay. I’m not going to yell. I just want to see if you’re alright.”
At this Girish finally opened the door. I could see that he was still upset. I asked him to sit down and explain to me what happened. In talking about it, perhaps he would be able to calm down.
“Mom, it’s just so frustrating sometimes. We play tennis all the time, but there are good days and bad ones. Yesterday was a really good one. I was hitting the ball so good. I felt like Rafael Nadal out there.”
“Then why did you break another racket?” I asked him.
“Because today wasn’t good at all. Suddenly I couldn’t hit a backhand. Every time it would go way out. It’s like I was thinking too much. It was so frustrating. After a while, I couldn’t help but throw the racket. And then Ashu yelled at me for that, which made me even angrier. I don’t need him telling me what to do.”
“Well, he’s your elder brother. You should respect him. Never mind now, I need you to take a shower and get ready for dinner. We’re going to eat together, like a family.”
At the dinner table, my two boys weren’t speaking to each other. I decided the time was right to set things straight. “Listen, Girish, people get angry. It happens. We get used to things going our way, and when they don’t, we get upset. I’m glad that you guys like the pizza tonight, but you should know that it took me a while to perfect this recipe. At the beginning the pizza would come out wrong so many times. Then there’s still the odd time that things just don’t work out. I’ll forget an ingredient or I’ll neglect the dish while tending to something else. Anyway, it doesn’t mean that when things don’t go our way we break stuff. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mom. I do,” he said.
“And Ashu, you should know better than to stoke your brother’s anger. You should set a good example for him to follow by not getting so upset. You’re making matters worse by doing that.” After a few days, things were back to normal, but that incident stuck with me.
Sue enjoyed hearing this story from Sarah. They then discussed how the attachment to the good results for her son had led to the anger. They talked about how unmet desires bring anger, and from anger one loses their intelligence. With lost intelligence, anything is possible, including blaming an inanimate object like a tennis racket for troubles. They concluded that devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, is the only way to steer clear of harmful anger. They concurred that desires to please Him were spiritual and thus not in the category of lust. They remembered Hanuman, and how his anger was used in pleasing God. After chanting the maha-mantra in congregation, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, their meeting concluded.
Anger coming with a hefty cost,
Very soon intelligence lost.
When on desires mind set,
Then into frustration get.
By forgetfulness all started,
When from devotion departed.
Easy for situation to rectify,
Supreme Lord simply glorify.