Q: Gurudev, anger is both a weapon and a weakness. Many times anger erupts like a fiery weapon, but in those moments how can one prevent it from becoming one’s own weakness?
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Do you know why you feel angry? You feel angry because of some weakness. When you want to do something but are not able to do it, then that incapability evokes anger in you.
When you are capable and powerful, why would you feel angry? You never get angry over an ant or a fly. You never get angry with someone or something inferior. We get angry at someone who is greater or mightier than us. We feel angry when we see or find something that is beyond our skills or capabilities. We get angry when we feel that someone does not obey what we say. Anger arises when we think that our words carry far more importance than us. So anger does cause pain when it arises.
You feel angry because of some weakness. When you want to do something but are not able to do it, then that incapability evokes anger in you, and anger causes pain when it arises.
Sometimes it becomes necessary to display some anger too. Anger used simply for display should be used as a weapon. So you get angry, but you remain calm and unshaken from within. With such (display of) anger, your blood pressure will not rise, you will not become shaky and heated up.
See, a mother often scolds her child over something or the other, but at the same time she smiles at her husband. Although today the scenario could be reverse as well (laughter). She may scold someone in anger, and smile cheerfully at someone else. But this anger does not trouble her, or give her a headache. It does not ruin her sleep. So being angry for the sake of display is alright.
Why do we do that? It is because sometimes people do not understand things by simple words, even if you explain the same thing 10 times. So then in the 11th instance, you need to show some anger to make them serious.
It is alright to be angry for the sake of someone else’s welfare, but not for your own selfish motives. That will only harm you. Getting angry because someone is insulting you only brings harm to you and no one else. Getting angry at someone in order to stop them from harm when they are deliberately walking into a ditch (meaning a wrong path or action) – that anger is actually beneficial.
Anger that is born of 'I, Me, or Mine' is the one that causes pain and frustration. When you realize that someone is being foolish in his ways and then you get angry (to correct them), then such anger is actually beneficial.
Lord Krishna got angry at Bhishma as well, in the Mahabharata war. Why did he get angry? It was because Bhishma was prolonging the battle each day for no reason whatsoever when he could have ended it. So Lord Krishna broke his vow (to not wield weapons or participate in battle) and took up the Sudarshan Chakra. At that moment, Bhishma folded his hands before the Lord and said, 'O Lord! This is what I was waiting for. If You get angry at me, then my life will be cleansed and benefitted. My life will be perfect and complete if I receive death at Your hands. So your anger too is only a blessing for me'.
Anger that is born of 'I, Me, or Mine' is the one that causes pain and frustration.
But when you realize that someone is being foolish in his ways and then you get angry (to correct them), then such anger is actually beneficial.
Lord Krishna was revered as a Jagatguru (the Guru to the entire world). Both Kauravas and Pandavas regarded Him as a Guru. Bhishma in fact knew this fact for certain. He knew that there was no one greater than Lord Krishna. So he did all this deliberately so that Lord Krishna gets angry, and at least by way of anger, some connection gets established between him and the Lord.
After this incident, Bhishma himself gave the clever idea to the Pandavas to defeat him in battle. He said, 'If you make Shikhandi stand before me in battle, I will not take up arms and will lose the battle'.
At the end of the war, Duryodhana and all his kith and kin perished and died in battle. Seeing such vast bloodshed, Gandhari (mother of the Kauravas) gets angry and curses Lord Krishna for allowing such a terrible battle to happen.
This is what I have heard. She tells the Lord, 'You have brought death to all my children by unfair means and trickery in battle'.
At that moment, Lord Krishna reminds Gandhari by saying, 'Dear Mother, when your own son Duryodhana came to touch your feet and take your blessings for victory, do you know what words came from your mouth? You had said, 'Yato Dharmaha Tato-Jayaha' meaning, where there is Dharma, there will surely be victory. So you had blessed him saying that 'May Dharma be victorious'.
Then Lord Krishna says, 'O Mother, what is my fault then and how am I to be blamed? I only helped to fulfill the blessing that you gave to your own son'.
Upon hearing this, Gandhari became silent. She realizes that somewhere it was her mistake, because such were the words of blessing that came from her mouth for her own son. Had she directly blessed her son for victory in battle rather than saying what she had said, then such a blessing would have become her son’s invincible armor in battle. If that had happened, then no one could have defeated Duryodhana in battle.
Gandhari was a great Tapasvini (a pious female seeker), so if she had given that blessing to her son, it would have surely been true. Yet the words that came from her were that may Dharma alone be victorious. So in the end it was Dharma that was victorious.
Anger cannot be tamed by anything other than meditation.
When you feel anger arising in you, just before that you can feel some sensations in your body. Observing all those sensations at that very moment can help you conquer anger very easily.
These aspects and understanding of Dharma is very beautiful and also very deep. Nature works in mysterious and surprising ways.
So, one kind of anger is that which is expressed with full awareness. The other kind is the one that is without awareness, and with ignorance.
So when you feel anger arising in you, just before that you can feel some sensations in your body, like a tingling sensation on the top of your head, or in the forehead or the back of your head; or you will feel some stiffness at the neck and shoulder region. Observing all those sensations at that very moment is a skill. When you become habitual of observing those sensations, then you can conquer anger very easily. This is why meditation is so important. Anger cannot be tamed by anything other than meditation.
Lord Krishna says that there are three doorways to Hell. They are Krodha (Anger), Kaama (feverishness or lust) and Lobha (greed).
Today, we see that these three are also the doorways to prison. People today are so terribly caught in the clutches of lust. You would be shocked to know what wicked deeds 60 or 80 year old people commit today. They have to suffer in jail because of what they do out of lust. It is so shocking to know what wicked acts some 65 year old person did with innocent children. He grew tired of doing such things with adults, so now he turned to children for such wrong deeds. These are indications of an ailing and sick society. The intellect of such people gets distorted and deluded.
If someone has too much lust in them, then should get married in the proper traditional way and then satiate whatever desires they have with their spouse. Nowadays if people grow uncomfortable with their spouse in a year or two, they immediately divorce their partner and remarry a second time. There should be some self-control over oneself and one’s actions. When you do not have self-control over yourself, then you have to suffer in prison.
The second is anger. So many people today steal, or murder someone in a fit of anger. A few moments of anger arises in them and they end up doing some wicked deed or another because of which they have to be behind bars. Anger destroys relationships. So when you are unable to keep your anger in check, then too you have to go to jail, and experience misery in society.
There are three doorways to Hell that can cause misery and suffering. They are:
1. Krodha (Anger)
2. Kaama (feverishness or lust) and
3. Lobha (greed).
The third is greed. You all are already aware of the many financial scams that have happened in our country. There is rampant corruption both in our country and abroad. It is all because of unchecked greed. What wrong can happen if someone does business ethically and follows the laws of the land? But instead people resort to unfair means to make money. Why is this so? It is purely out of greed.
If you are going to get Rs. 100 from a transaction, you instead hanker to get Rs. 200 out of greed. If you get Rs. 200, then you hanker for getting Rs. 400. Then also one does not become content and wishes for Rs. 500 or more. It is all due to greed. I am not saying it is wrong to desire or expect more. Dispassion does not work in business, business is driven by passion (to progress and make gains). Doing business with a sense of detachment or dispassion is foolishness. Do business with full passion and zeal, but do not resort to fraudulent and unfair means to make money. If you do business in an unfair manner, then you will surely have to suffer in jail for that, one day or the other. You must have heard of this IT company called Satyam (meaning Truth) that recently went bankrupt and suffered huge financial losses. It was called Satyam only for namesake, while its executives used all unjust and unfair means to make money. Ultimately they all had to go to jail.
There was a great businessman in America. He was so rich and popular that every politician in America wanted to have a photo clicked with him. But one fine day his own son disclosed the wrong doings that his father was up to. His son told that the ways his father was adopting to make money were wrong and unethical. So the son disclosed the dark truth behind all that his father had been doing to make money.
The 80-year old father had to go to prison for his wicked deeds. Just see the courage and spirit of the son. His father owned millions in money, yet the son had the courage to stand up against his father and tell the world that his father had earned money using unethical ways.
Until he spoke, no one knew what that businessman had been up to. Once this news became public, everyone who had clicked their photos with this businessman began hiding or destroying those pictures out of shame. People would run away at the very name of that businessman. Just see the courage and character of the son.
He said, 'We have no need for so much money. Why should we fool and cheat people to make money this way?'
The poor businessman is still in jail today. That is why it is said that even greed brings misery to a person.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, 'Tri-vidham narakasyedam dvaram nashanam atmanah. Kamah krodhas tatha lobhas tasmad etat trayam tyajet'. (16.21)
There are three doors that can cause misery and suffering for the soul: anger, lust and greed. That is why Lord Krishna urges Arjuna to renounce and do away with all three.