[Advaita-l] Analysis of the Mind-4

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 5 04:27:28 CST 2008

On Anger

PraNAms to everybody.

While this may be little bit off-topic and I was
planning to cover later under psychological
degradation of human mind, I chose to present here
now, since Swami Paramaarthanandaji just gave his
regular new-year discourse, taking this as his topic
on this January 1st.  When it is still fresh in my
mind, I decided to do the write-up on it, based on my
notes that I took on that day. The contents therefore
follow closely Shree Swamiji talk, which perhaps could
be down loaded when it becomes available on line. 

Hari Om!

                     On Anger

Anger is an emotion which is experienced by all, to
various degrees at various occasions.  Even the gods
are not free from this emotion, as our pouraanic
stories indicate. Some of the Gods are personified by
this emotion itself – In the rudram, it starts in the
praise of Lord Shiva – namaste rudra manjare..- manja
means krodha or anger.  Mother kaali is depicted as
incarnation of angry Durga.  Not that the gods are
angry, but anger in gods is invoked to stabilize the
human mind by destroying the demonic forces within and
without, or to keep the human mind under control.
Everybody has some opinion about the emotion called
‘anger’, starting from psychologists, philosophers to
lay men. One fellow said to his friend that he left
anger in Kaashi (It is beautiful tradition that a
person who makes a pilgrimage to Kaashi has to leave
something that one is attached to).  His friend just
smiled and asked, ‘What did you leave in Kaashi? The
friend responded, ‘I left anger in Kaashi’. His friend
kept bugging him, asking him the same question again
and again. The fellow got frustrated and become wild
after answering many times the same question; he
shouted with angry tone- ‘I told you I left anger in
Kaashii’. Well, that is how we leave our anger! At the
same time we do see lot of LakshmaNas around who get
angry with very little irritation, while also people
like Rama, even though very rarely, who are well
balanced and ready to forgive other’s mistakes, out of
compassion not out of weakness.  

During the sandhyavandanam or daily prayer, meditation
is done as a part of praayaschitta (cleansing action)–
kaamorkarshiit manjura kaarShiit namo namaH – to keep
the mind under control from desires and anger – the
two great twin enemies of the mind. Vedas and puraaNas
uniformly look upon anger as a serious problem of the
mind that affects its health.  Anger is considered as
an obstacle for the growth of the mind.  Many do not
recognize the seriousness of the problem.  We cannot
fight with any enemy unless we are aware of it along
with his strengths and weaknesses.  Awareness of the
problem that what anger can cause to the mind could
motivate us to overcome it.  The problems that arise
because of anger have been spelled out by Krishna in

For example, in B.G. 16-4 Krishna divides human beings
into two groups – those that have demonic qualities
and those that have divine qualities.  Anger is listed
as one of the demonic qualities. In third ch. Krishna
kaama esha krodha esha rajo guna samudbhavaH| 
mahaashino mahaapaapmaa viddhyenamiha vairiNam||

Arjuna, know that desire and anger, born of rajo guNa,
are the two unsatiated greatest enemies of a person
contributing to the highest sins.
Sin is that which disintegrates the person and takes
him away from his natural state of peace and
tranquility.  Anger makes the one to commit actions
that are not worthy of a human being, since in the
rage of anger one looses the discrimination of right
from wrong- 
kroddhaat bhavati sammohaH, sammohaat smRiti vibhamaH|

smRiti bhramshaa buddhiH naaShaH, buddhinaaShaat
praNasyati|| B.G.2-63

Thus anger causes jnaana-vijnaana naaShanam,
essentially destroys one’s spiritual knowledge, which
is a divine wealth (daivii sampatti). It takes one
away from moksha, the essential human goal, keeping a
person locked up in samsaara. Anger in fact
dehumanizes a human being, when he is overpowered by
it and acts with that emotion. Shankara says anger can
destroy the very humanness in a person and makes him
unsuitable even for material pursuits, or
purushaarthas; dharma, artha and kaama, besides moksha
stated above. Hence scriptures warn again and again
that anger need to be curtailed, if one wants to
evolve. Awareness of the problems that an anger can
cause should help to motivate a person to discipline
himself to get rid of this greatest enemy.

Many do not agree with this spiritual teaching.  They
argue that there are two types of anger-good temper
and bad temper.  Good anger is that which is proper,
righteous and just, that is required to maintain the
good around. Bad anger is that which is unrighteous,
unjust, and improper.  Therefore proper anger in a
measured dosage is not bad. Now, question is, what is
the proper anger? Everybody has an opinion about it,
but in general, anger that one gets is proper and is
always justified, while the anger that others get is
improper and unjust. My anger is obviously caused by
genuine reason and sometimes has noble purpose, to get
the job done properly. Good anger is required for
success, and for life functioning properly.  Everyone
feels he is justified to get angry. Otherwise people
will use him as a doormat, stamping all over him to
get their things done. When people are stampeding on
others, we have to get angry, right? 

Scriptures do not agree with this assessment.  They do
not look at the anger from its cause, whether it is
justifiable or not. They look at it from what it
causes or its effects on the mind.  Anger deprives
cardinal positive values that are extremely important
for a well being – at the individual level, at the
family level, at the corporate level, at the national
level and ultimately at the international level. 
Anger being a very powerful emotion, it destroys three
fundamental virtues that are essential for one’s
spiritual growth. They are 1) samatvam 2) suukshmatvam
3) viveka, which are essential constituents or results
of four fold qualifications required for a spiritual
seeker, and these are discussed below.  
1. Equanimity (Samatvam): Equanimity of the mind is
required for well-being, both at micro level and macro
level- that is at an individual level and at the
collective level.  Krishna says, during the discussion
of karma yoga-  samatvam yoga yuchyate – the yoga is
defined as equanimity, samatvam – yoga means that
which integrates emotional and intellectual segments
of the mind. Karma yoga is that which prepares the
mind for jnaana yoga. Anger destroys the samatvam; all
the preparations of the mind get derailed and one has
to reestablish them all over again. In puraaNas we
hear stories that whenever somebody curses out of
anger, the one who curses has to spend many many years
in austerities to regain that equanimity that was lost
due to anger.  In jnanna yoga anger disturbs the mind,
making it unavailable for contemplation. An angry mind
cannot meditate on anything, much less on spiritual
things. Mental composure is a virtue and anger
destroys that. 

2. Sensitivity (suukshmatvam): Anger destroys the
sensitivity of the mind. Sensitivity means sensitivity
to the feelings of the others around. In the rage of
anger, mind becomes extremely gross and sees violence
as the only solution to the problem. Scripture says
‘ahimsaa paramodharmaH’ – non-violence is the supreme
virtue of a human being. Violence need not be at the
physical level.  It could be at mental level and at
speech level.  Some times, effects of physical
violence can be corrected.  But mental hurt or words
spoken to hurt people can be more damaging to the
integrity at the individual, family and at the
community level.  Lack of sensitivity of the mind
expresses at facial level with facial distortions and,
at speech level in terms of indecent, hurtful words
and negative language.  Mind justifies it as the only
remedy to the problem at hand. One regrets later about
one’s actions or about his spoken words that he cannot
take back. Whenever there is a regret, it is a sure
sign that the action done out of anger was not
appropriate. Sensitive person will understand that
violence is an expensive remedy.  The spiritual path
is derailed by violence.  A mind has to be sensitive
to discriminate the substantive from the superficial,
the reality from the falsehood of superimpositions. 
That sensitivity is last due to anger.

3. Viveka (Discriminative faculty): When one is angry,
the worst thing that can happen, as Krishna
emphasizes, is loss of discrimination of right from
wrong, dharma and adharma. In anger, one acts
impulsively. Any impulsive action lacks discrimination
and it is an instantaneous response.  In anger, words,
speech and actions come out without quality control.
During impulsive action, the intellect has become dull
and gets over powered by emotions. Actions that come
out will be baser and the behavior will be worse than
that of an animal.  Essentially the intellect or
buddhi which makes a human being distinct from animal
is lost temporarily. 

ahaara nidraa bhaya maitunanca saamanyam etat
paShubhiH naraaNaam|
buddhirhiteshaa adhiko visheShaH, budhyaa vihiinaaH
paShubhiH smaanaaH|| - says BartRihari. 

Eating, sleeping, fearing, producing, all are common
for a human being and an animal.  What makes a man
different is only his intellect (buddhi) and if that
is lost, he is no different from animal. In fact he
may behave worse than an animal, since animals do not
have vengeance while man can act with vengeance.

Scriptures are concerned about the effects of anger on
the human mind. Therefore there is no good anger and
bad anger, if the anger affects the above three
virtues. One has to look back and examine oneself if
his anger affected the above three. Any nagging
feeling about the past action done in anger is a sure
sign that it caused damage in the mind.  By conscious
effort one can control oneself from being angry or act
in anger.  One can become insensitive to that feeling,
by habitual suppression.  Insensitivity only means the
mind has become very gross. I remember that whenever I
return from States and see many child- beggars on the
street with no decent meals or education, or see some
mothers carrying babies and begging, I feel very bad. 
Slowly I loose that sensitivity as I encounter many of
them every day. Habitual anger also makes the mind

Now what are the remedies to overcome anger. Swami
Chinmayanda used to say – ‘you should get hold of
anger, before it gets hold of you’. Several remedies
are suggested, one can follow all of them until one
has established in oneself.  Forbearance (titiksha) is
emphasized as part of Shadsampatti (the wealth of six
values) for spiritual journey.  Krishna advises Arjuna
– contact with the world through the senses causes all
these dual emotions at physical, mental and
intellectual level; cold and heat, pleasant and
unpleasant and praise and insult – they come and go
(what comes must go). Hence, one has to forbear these
rather than act impulsively.

Hence scriptures are not much concerned about the
cause for anger to differentiate it as good or bad,
just or unjust, but about what it causes on the
quietitude of the mind.  In anger, we compromise our
equanimity, sensitivity and sensibility, which are
essential for one’s evolution. Since everybody is
prone to get anger, from cradle to the grave, what are
the remedies available to control anger? The following
provides a brief list. 

1. Prayer.  Prayer involves surrenderance to the
supreme. Mind that is ready to pray is the mind
already free from anger since attitude of prayer is
counter to the attitude in anger. In anger, the ‘ego’
is maximized or gets blotted up.  In prayer the ‘ego’
is surrendered or becomes small. Prayer to the Lord
increases one’s tolerance level.  Anger is a sign of
lack of tolerance.  Unfavorable situations that go
beyond the level of tolerance-threshold contribute to
anger. Repeated situations, uncompromising situations,
situations that are beyond one’s control causes
frustrations and takes one to go beyond his tolerance
level.  Pray to the Lord to give titikshaa or
forbearance to face whatever the situations that are
beyond one’s control.   Here the prayer of serenity
comes to my mind.  

2. Pratijnaa – self-commitment. When I get angry, it
means a being or a situation is causing me to loose
control of my own mind – That is, I surrendered my
mind to somebody or some situation for it to control.
Essentially I lost my freedom to act.  Getting angry
implies that I let my mind to be conquered by a
situation or person other than I. Normally we think by
getting angry we are trying to control the situation. 
But it is actually the other way around.  There is
saying -‘shesham kopena puurayit..’ – the strength of
the remaining arguments is provided by being angry or
shouting at the opponent.  What it means is whenever
the arguments get heated up, it implies that logic has
become weak, and one is resorting to anger to enforce
his logic. It only implies the argument is already
lost.  In addition, in anger, the intellect gets
weekend and any further arguments become weaker, since
intellect is not strong enough to present them
effectively. By prayer, the intellect gains the
strength to operate effectively; one can say, it is a
blessing from the Lord. 
Also one can make an auto suggestion, to enforce the
mind that ‘I should not get angry, even if I feel I am
justified’. I will make better impact by being firm,
but polite. Pratijnaa is a promise to oneself or auto
suggestion, that I behave properly or request the lord
to make sure I behave properly. It is like New Year
commitment, of course, to be followed, not to put
under the pillow.  The pratijnaa has to be renewed
daily to make sure that the mind gets slowly locked in
as an assimilated value.  Introspection would help to
reinforce the mind to be vigilant next time, so that
it will remember not to repeat the same reaction. 

Effectively one raises one’s threshold for tolerance
or titiksha a bit more than yesterday’s.  Lord is
called ‘shaantaakaaram, bhujaga shayanam 
’ Shanti or
peace comes once the threshold for tolerance becomes
unlimited! Bhugaja shayaanam –Lord is sleeping on the
snake-bed.   Snake symbolizes anger (LakshmaNa or
Balaraama gets angry with least provocation since they
are avatara of adhisesha). The anger itself is coiled
down and formed a water bed for the Lord to sleep on.
Lord Shiva made the snakes into his ornaments.  That
is what happens when one prays to the Lord and invokes
his blessings.  Our anger also becomes a bhuushaNam,
ornament.  We getting angry is different from we use
anger as an instrument.  We can use it only if we have
a control on the emotion.  With prayer, anger turns
into a firm abidance in one’s dharma.  

3. Prasaada bhaavana – The surrenderance to the Lord,
involves an acceptance of what it is.  ‘What I have is
His gift and what I do with want I have is my offering
to Him- says Swami Chinmayanandaji. Also he says –
‘what I have is praarabda and what I do with what I
have is purushaartha’.  The given situation demands an
action.  When I offer my action itself to the Lord as
an offering (kainkaryam or naivedyam), the result that
comes out of that action is prasaadam. That is there
is an attitude of acceptance of the result without any
reaction. Anger is a reaction to a situation at hand. 
If the current situation is the result of precious
action, I have to accept ‘what is’ in facing the
situation and act with a goal in mind. If it is going
to be offering to the Lord, then I am automatically
constraining the goals to be proper and the means to
achieve the goals should also be proper.  Here proper
implies it should be dhaarmic. Dharma is rather
complex and one can follow a simple rule and he would
not go wrong.  Whatever I expect others to do in a
given situation, I should do the same; and whatever I
expect others not do in that situation, I should not
do.  In the process, I would not have any internal
conflicts.  I expect others to be faithful, sincere
and do their best efforts.  I should do the same.  I
do not expect the others to do short cut or compromise
or undermine my efforts and take advantage of me or my
position.  I should not do that to others.  That kind
action is a dhaarmic action and is acceptable for an
offering to the Lord.  The results are shaped by the
laws and factors beyond my control.  He is the author
of these laws. Hence results come from Him. Whatever
that comes from Him is His prasaada or blessings and
are accepted with reverential attitude or with
non-reactive mind.  Thus if I recognize that all that
comes to me in the form of objects, people, and
situations is His prasaad or blesssings, I develop an
attitude of acceptance and act accordingly as the
situation demands. The next result is also Prasad and
my next action will also be an offering to the Lord –
This is what Krishna calls as cycle of action and
results. He says when you perform all actions in the
spirit of yagna or offering, then the gods (production
potential of the field) will bless the results and you
please the gods again and maintain this wheel of
action and results. With this attitude, the result is
my mind is freed from all agitations and is ready to
appreciate the truth expounded in the Vedas.  

4. pratipakshaa bhaavana – Substitution by the
opposite. In spite of all this understanding, anger
still comes, particularly during contemplative stage.
There are always situations that will be frustrating
due to inefficiency around or others not doing their
dharma or not fulfilling your expectations. One can
sit down and brood about these, but nothing will
happen, other than we miss the boat of proper action
that is demanded of us. Many things are suggested to
take the mind away from the situation for it to stand
apart and reexamine the situation correctly.  Counting
1 to 10 or 1 to 100 helps the mind to divert from the
situation.  If action can be put off for the time
being for the mind to cool off and to rethink the
situation, that helps.  Recognition of the presence of
the Lord even in the person with whom I am angry,
helps to change my attitude towards that person.  If
the Lord is able to stay in him all the time
tolerating him without any complaints, I do not have
much of a reason not to tolerate him for few hours,
days or years.  Susbstitution therefore involves
positive attitude towards others, towards situations. 
This helps to cool the mind and helps to look at the
problem in better perspective.  It helps to  diffuse
the anger and channels the mind to more productive
direction. There is a saying – every frustration is a
seed for new invention. 

Finally the best way to follow how the mind is able to
follow these suggested remedies is ruthlessly keep
track of the mental attitudes and introspection. 
Swami Chinmayandaji used to suggest us to maintain a
spiritual diary.  Since the New Year is beginning, we
can commit ourselves and follow these guide lines to
help our mind to overcome these baser emotions so that
it becomes healthier and more productive not only in
the material world but more importantly in the
spiritual world.  

Hari Om!

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