Ideals and Values/Krodha (Anger) - The Second Internal Enemy

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Krodha: The Second Internal Enemy

What is Krodha?

Krodha means getting angry. Why and when do one get angry? One gets angry when someone teases or being hurt. We also get angry when we do not understand our homework, lose a game and even when we do not like the rules that our parents ask us to follow. Anger manifests itself in three stages:

  1. Irritability
  2. Anger in the mind, feeling of being insulted.
  3. Hatred

Why should we avoid getting Angry?

  1. When I get angry, I start yelling and screaming at others. My face turns red. If I look at myself in the mirror when I get angry, I will look horrible. Therefore, by getting angry I make a fool of myself.
  2. When I get angry, I start doing wrong things. I forget my Dharma. My Dharma is to respect my parents but I start shouting at them. I start abusing my parents. When I show krodha, I forget what is right and what is wrong. I just want to yell and scream and hit the other person. Once my krodha has gone away, I see all the bad things I had done. Then I feel very sad about what I had done because of my krodha. Therefore, anger causes me to do inappropriate things. See the story of King Pareekshit below.
  3. When I do this, my parents get very hurt. When I scream at my friends, they think that I am mean. Sometimes when I get really very angry, I start fighting with my brother or sister or with my friend. In the fight, I can get hurt or I can even hurt others. Then, I need a bandage and medicines. My friends then stop playing with me. I am no longer their friend. Due to my angry nature, everyone starts hating me as if I were an enemy. Therefore, anger ruins my relationships with others.
  4. Krodha is also bad for my health. When I get angry, I start sweating. I can get a headache. My stomach can also start hurting. My heart starts pounding and I can even get a chest pain. I will have difficulty sleeping at night. Therefore, anger hurts me more than the other person.
  5. Our Krodha hurts others and therefore it displeases Bhagavān, because He resides within everyone. My anger annoys Bhagavān. He refuses to accept any good work or any worship of a man who is angry.

Therefore, anger harms us in many ways. For our own benefit, we must learn to control our anger. For this reason, the scriptures say

“Anger destroys fame, anger devours accumulated riches.”[1]

“Anger is a mortal enemy. It appears outwardly as a friend but is a dangerous enemy in truth. Anger is like a sharp sword that causes one’s downfall in every way.”[2]

Whatever an angry person offers in a yajna or a homa or in other worship – all that perishes in no time, just as a non-baked pot of clay dissolves soon after water is poured into it.[3]

Guru Śukracharya said – The Yajna, charity and austerity of an angry man are all futile. Only his yajna, charity and austerity bear great fruit who is free of anger. Children, servants, well-wishers, friends, wife, dharma and truth all go away from one who is angry by nature.  Wise people must not behave like innocent boys and girls who create mutual enmities, because these naïve children cannot gage the weakness and strengths of their adversaries.[4]

Yudhishthira said – An angry man can commit an evil. Overcome with anger, he can murder his own Gurus. Under the influence of anger, he can insult even venerable individuals with his harsh words.[5]

Bheema said – The stress caused by anger burns even more than anger. Stressed with anger, I cannot sleep in the day or during the night.[6]

Sage Gautama said – He who suppresses his anger within him for a long time, and does not commit any angry act will never do something that causes him remorse later. [7]

Yudhishthira says – He who does not retaliate with anger towards someone else who is angry with him saves himself and well as others from frightful outcomes. He becomes like a physician who removes his as was others’ flaws.[8]

Lord Dattātreya said to the Sādhyas – Do not abuse the person who abuses you. The withheld anger of the victim who bears the abuse is sufficient to burn the abuser and also takes his virtue from him.[9]

 

Medical Effects of Anger

The harmful effects of Anger on our body is summarized as follows:

  1. Disturbs digestive processes leading to problems like constipation or diarrhea. The stomach lining also produces more acid, causing heart burn.
  2. Increases blood pressure and raises heart rate.
  3. Causes mental fatigue because nerves and mind become over-loaded.
  4. Breathing becomes faster and shallow because the lungs are not able to inhale and exhale to their maximum capacity.
  5. The adrenal gland secretes excessive adrenaline hormone. Chronic anger causes the glad to become hyperactive continuously and this makes our long-term behavior rash, irritable and hyper.
  6. Due to improper breathing and blood circulation, different parts of the body get starved of oxygen resulting in symptoms like dark circles below eyes, blue lips etc.
  7. Increased phlegm.
  8. Difficulties of sleeping.
  9. Increase in blood sugar content, hastening the onset of diabetes.

Practical Methods of Overcoming Anger

  1. Take deep breaths. Sometimes, we get angry in a hurry because we have not studied the situation carefully before blaming someone else quickly. Therefore, taking deep breaths gives us some extra time to think it over, and also relaxes our agitated mind and heart.
  2. Think over the issue again to determine if you have become angry in haste. Try to study yourself and see if you are angry because you are tired or hungry and not because the other person is at fault.
  3. Start doing something different or think something else. This will divert your mind and your anger will wear off after some time.
  4. Drink a glass of cold water, or take a cold shower. Sometimes, we get angry because of the uncomfortable environment around us – too high humidity or temperature, thirst or hunger. These factors make us irritable. Therefore, try to make yourself more comfortable by quenching your thirst etc., and you will feel better.
  5. Go to an empty room and sit alone for some time. Getting away from the scene that caused you anger can be beneficial. In solitude, you can just vent your anger at yourself, instead of directing it towards others.
  6. Take some rest. Eat something.
  7. If the anger is towards a person, then think of the times when he has done good things to you. Use these more pleasant memories to forgive that person.
  8. When vicious and evil people make us angry, practice indifference[10] towards them. Just ignore them.

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Abraham Lincoln suggested a very practical way of controlling one’s anger. He said that whenever we get angry, we should write down in a letter why and on what we got angry. But we should not mail that letter. Instead, when the mind gets calm, read that letter and reflect whether it was OK to have got angry, and whether the person to whom the anger was directed has any positive qualities. Reflect whether that person committed the mistake that made you angry out of any genuine reason. You will realize that in most cases, your anger was not justified, and would have been an impulsive act that you could have taken without looking at the situation from all angles. File:Krodha (Anger) The Second Internal Enemy files/image004.jpg

Story: King Pareekshit’s Anger leads to his death Pareekshit was the Emperor of India. He was a very fair and just ruler. He made sure that there were no thieves and murderers in his kingdom. No one in his country went hungry. The rains came on time. He gave lots of donations to learned men and fed the poor. Everyone was happy in his kingdom and they thanked Bhagavān for making Pareekshit their king.

One day, on a hot summer day, Pareekshit went for hunting. After pursuing wild deer for several hours, he became very tired and searched for some water. Suddenly, he saw a small hut. He thought that the owner of the hut might have some water. When he entered the hut, he saw Ṛṣi Shamika inside. The Ṛṣi was meditating, with his eyes shut and his mind thinking of Bhagavān. Hence Shamika did not notice the king arrive.

Pareekshit asked Ṛṣi Shamika for some water. But the Ṛṣi was lost deep in meditation and did not hear him. Pareekshit felt insulted and he became very angry. He said, “How dare you ignore your own King? I will teach you a lesson!” Pareekshit looked around and found a dead snake in the grass. He picked the snake with his bow, and put it around the neck of Shamika, who was still meditating. Some students of the Ṛṣi who were playing outside the hut saw this. They were shocked. They rushed to Shringi, the son of Shamika, and told him everything. Meanwhile, Pareekshit left for his palace.

When Shringi arrived and saw the dead snake around his father’s neck, he too became very angry. Shringi was also a great Ṛṣi. The words of a Ṛṣi always come true. Therefore, he now cursed Pareekshit, “Seven days from now, a flying snake will bite you to death.” After a few moments, Ṛṣi Shamika came out of his meditation. When he heard what his son had done, he scolded him, “Shringi, what was the need to curse a great king like Pareekshit? He did not do anything that hurt me or harmed me. Ṛṣi should learn to control the anger. What you did was very wrong.” Ṛṣi Shringi now felt very guilty, but he could not take back the curse.

File:Krodha (Anger) The Second Internal Enemy files/image006.jpgMeanwhile, Pareekshit felt very sorry about what he had done to Rishi

Pariksheet thought, “I have always loved everyone. I have always respected Ṛṣi and Pundits. Why did I do such a wicked deed today? May be I was irritated because I was thirsty. But even then, I should not have gotten angry at Ṛṣi Shamika. I am sure he did not hear me because he was in deep meditation. Now, what can I do to get punishment for my evil deed, which I did because I did not control my anger?”

Shamika sent a messenger to Pariksheet to inform him that his son had cursed the king to die after 7 days of a snake-bite. When Pareekshit heard of this, he sent his apologies to Sage Shamika. Then he thought, “I do deserve this punishment. It serves me right. I will now leave my palace and go to the banks of river Ganga. There, I will spend the remaining seven days of my life in worshiping Bhagavān Viṣṇu and will wait for my death.”

Pareekshit listened to stories of Viṣṇu for seven days. Then, a snake came a bit him and he died. The story of Pareekshit shows how even good people can behave very badly when they get angry. Therefore, we should try to control our anger at every time.

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Story: The Brāhmaṇa and the Mongoose A Brāhmaṇa[11] once had a pet mongoose. A mongoose is a large rat that kills snakes. The Brāhmaṇa took good care of his mongoose and treated it like a child. The Brāhmaṇa and his wife had a little baby boy. One day, when the baby was sleeping in a cradle, the mother had to go out to get grocery. While she was out, a messenger came to their house from the palace of the king. He said that the king wanted to meet the Brāhmaṇa immediately. The Brāhmaṇa got worried. He did not want to leave his little baby boy alone. But then, he thought that he can leave the mongoose to guard the boy. So, he went with the messenger to the palace to see the king.

While both the Brāhmaṇa and his wife were out, a snake started crawling towards the cradle. The mongoose saw the snake. It thought that the snake might bite and kill the baby. So the mongoose attacked the snake and killed it. When the Brāhmaṇa returned home, the mongoose rushed to him. The Brahmana saw that there was blood on the mouth of the mongoose.

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The Brāhmaṇa did not have patience. He thought that the mongoose had killed the baby boy. So he got very angry. The Brāhmaṇa picked a stick, and started beating the mongoose till it died. Then, he rushed inside to check on his baby boy. To his surprise, the Brāhmaṇa saw that the baby boy was completely fine. In fact, a dead snake lay below the cradle. Now the Brāhmaṇa understood what had happened. When the mongoose saw the snake coming towards the cradle, it attacked the snake and killed it. The Brāhmaṇa now felt very sorry for what he had had done. He said, “If only I had patience and not got angry, I would have found out that my dear pet mongoose had not killed the snake.” But it was too late now. The Brāhmaṇa had lost his pet forever.

Story: Living as if it were the Last Day or our Life “One day a devotee came to Sant Tukāram and asked him: “Maharaj, you are so open and free in life; you have no secrets. You never become angry with anyone, you are so cool, collected, and so together. How has that happened to you? Please tell me the secret of your life?” Instead of answering his question, Tukāram said, “Look, I know a secret about you.” The man did not know what to say. He asked, “Maharaj, what is that?”

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Tukāram said, “You are going to die in seven days.” As Tukāram was a great saint, the man could not disbelieve his words. He went back home and did all that had to be done in those seven days. He became wonderful with his wife and children because he had only seven days more to live, and he tried to be the very best that he could be. On the seventh day someone told Tukāram that the man was now going to die.

Tukāram went to see the man and asked, ‘Tell me what happened?” The man said, “Maharaj, I am going to die now. Please bless me, pray for me.” Tukāram said, “All right, but how have you lived for the past seven days? Were you angry with your wife, children or with your friends?” The man replied, “Maharaj, how could I get angry with anyone if I were to die after seven days?” Tukāram said, “Now you know my secret of keeping my mind cool, calm, and collected all the time. I remember that particular relationships can end at any moment!” This was the secret of Tukāram’s calm and peaceful mind. He knew that the next moment could be the last moment. He lived with an understanding and not with fear.”[1]

Story: Bhagavān appears Himself to treat Purandaradasa’s Anger issues Although he was a saint, Purandaradāsa would lose his patience and anger very quickly. He had a disciple named Appanna who lived with him. One night, when he was thirsty, he called out to Appanna to get him some water. But Appanna did not respond. Finally after he had been called many times, Appanna showed up with a glass of water. When Purandaradāsa sipped the water, he was furious. First, Appanna took a long time to come and then he brought warm water for his Guru to drink in that really hot night! Out of anger, Purandaradāsa hit the cheek of Appanna with that glass of water.

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Poor Appanna wept, and went back to his room. After half an hour, Purandaradāsa felt guilty for having hit Appanna, and went to his student’s room to apologize. To his surprise, Appanna said, “Gurudev, I did not serve water to you, nor did you ever hit me. It must have been someone else who came to give you that glass of water.”

Purandaradāsa was surprised at this, and he went back to sleep. The next morning, he went to the local Kṛṣṇa temple to worship, and a bigger surprise lay in store for him. The Murti of Kṛṣṇa had a swollen cheek! Purandaradāsa was terrified. It was none other than Kṛṣṇa who had come to serve him water in the form of Appanna. Purandaradāsa learned his lesson – Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa took the blow from his devotee Purandaradāsa to make him realize that we should not get angry, because in anger, we can do really bad things without realizing it. After that incident, Purandaradāsa overcame anger. He was no longer short tempered. From now on, he was always patient with people, and did not get upset or angry with them very easily.[2]

Is all Anger Really Bad?

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All anger is not bad and we cannot forgive everyone every time. Parents are angry when their children misbehave. It is the fear of this anger that motivates children to behave better in future. In the Rāmāyaṇa, when Bhagavān Rāma was ready to construct a bridge across the ocean from India to Lanka, he sat three days in prayer. He appealed to Varuṇa, the Deva of the Ocean, to show him the best path on which the bridge could be constructed with least effort. But Varuṇa behaved in an arrogant manner and refused to help Rāma.

After three days therefore, Rāma showed his anger, and threatened to dry up the entire ocean with a fiery arrow. Now, Varuṇa got scared and apologized to Rāma, and showed him the best path to construct the bridge. Had Rāma not shown his anger, Varuṇa would not have appeared to help at all. Rāma accepted his apology and forgave him. In fact, Rishis say that a person who is truly great might become angry, but as soon as the culprit apologizes, the great man quickly forgives and forgets the crime.

“The anger of virtuous men is pacified easily but the wicked never give up their grievances. After all, gold can be melted, but who can melt mere grass?” [12]


Notes & References

  1. Matsya Purāṇa 157.3
  2. Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa
  3. Āpastamba Smṛti 10.8
  4. Mahābhārata 1.79.5-7
  5. Mahābhārata 3.29.4
  6. Mahābhārata 3.35.11
  7. Mahābhārata 122.266.75
  8. Mahābhārata 3.29.9
  9. Mahābhārata 5.36.5
  10. It is called as 'upekshā’.
  11. It means a Pundit.
  12. Nītidvishashtikā of Sundara Pāndya, verse 106
  • References :
  1. Swami Suddhananda, “Understanding Death,” pages 4-10 in The Sages Speak About Life & Death. 1995. Chinmaya Mission West. Piercy (California)
  2. Krishnamani, pp. 428-429