Conquering Anger

[Rama's lotus feet]“According to the minds of the saints the tradition of bhakti is to love Rama, while following the proper conduct and conquering attachment and anger, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 86)

prīti rāma soṁ nīti patha caliya rāga risa jīti |
tulasī santana ke mate ihai bhagati kī rīti ||86||

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Wouldn’t it be nice to conquer anger? Does the rehabilitation therapy known as “anger management” actually work? Goswami Tulsidas here gives the corresponding item necessary for victory: detachment. A person must conquer both anger and attachment in order to practice bhakti perfectly. Practicing bhakti takes care of every nagging issue, including the personal traits that we’d like to fix in ourselves.

It is in the nature of the soul to love. Spirit is our essence, and as small sparks of spirit we are samples of the much larger spirit. One way to define that larger spirit is unconditional love. There is no duality of hatred and like in Him. He is not partial to one group because of the influence they can wield for Him. He is already the greatest conqueror, Ajita. Therefore He doesn’t need anything from anyone. He can make anything happen at a moment’s notice.

We descend from Him, so we have this purity of vision deep within us. We see glimpses of it in our loving dealings. No one taught us to care for our parents, our siblings, our friends or our dependents. The love shown to them is not done to make advancement in any sort of discipline. We don’t keep track of how well we’re doing in loving our children. It comes naturally.

In the same way, pure love and devotion to the Supreme Lord is already within is. Through the illusory energy known as maya, we have forgotten our actual position. We mistakenly try to become the Supreme Lord, imitating His abilities in the areas of creation, maintenance and destruction. Due to this unfortunate turn, we come across all sorts of dualities.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna describes the slippery slope started by anger. When we get angry, we become deluded. Then we have bewilderment of memory. From there we lose our intelligence, and if that isn’t corrected by the time of death, we have to take birth again.

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ

sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ

smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo

buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati

“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)

[throwing tennis racket]We don’t have to rely on only Krishna’s words to understand this. Take the example of throwing a tennis racket. There is the frustration over not hitting the ball as intended. This brings anger. From that anger the player becomes deluded to the point that they toss the racket, which is an inanimate object. Then the memory is bewildered to the point that they forget that they need the racket to keep playing. Breaking the racket is not going to help things. The loss of the racket shows a loss of intelligence, and then they have to again go back to the starting point. They would have been better off not getting angry in the first place.

This is a simple example and the consequences don’t seem too harsh, but we know from the size of the prison population the true danger of anger. The actual starting point is attachment. If we have attachment to something, we will naturally get angry if something gets in the way of that attachment. Therefore the wise saints of the bhakti tradition recommend conquering over attachment and anger.

But this isn’t to be done in isolation. It is not a victory to be commemorated by a trophy. When we defeat the enemies of attachment and anger, we’re supposed to use the enhanced clarity to continue along the path of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. There must be good conduct as well. How can you say you love God if you’re killing innocent people on a daily basis? Do you really love the creator of all things when you have no problem with violence against His innocent creatures?

The most important factor is priti, or love. It must be directed at God the person; hence the mention of Rama by Tulsidas. Rama is both a personal expansion of God and also a way to describe His transcendental features. The name Rama says that the Supreme Lord is full of pleasure. He is always happy. That happy person shares the good cheer with those who associate with Him.

[Lord Rama]To associate with Him means to know that He is a person. God is Rama, the son of Dasharatha. He is also Krishna, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita. He is Vishnu, the maintainer of the universe. He is Paramatma, the Supersoul residing within the heart of every living thing. He is the virata-rupa, the impersonal universal form, the sum total of everything packed into one collection for analysis purposes. The person who has conquered anger is uniquely qualified to experience the bliss of surrender to the Supreme Lord, which is the purpose to an existence.

In Closing:

When consumed by anger to go,

The valuable tennis racket to throw.

Not a very wise decision,

Since again to rely on its precision.

Anger and attachment in larger scheme,

Conquer to find pure bhakti’s scene.

With Rama of full pleasure associate,

And from maya’s trap soon disassociate.

Categories: dohavali 81-120

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1 reply

  1. Thanks for sharing very knowledgeable……Will do all that’s with in me to not get angry

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