MANAGING ANGER and The BHAGAWAD GITA’S ADIVCE

MANAGING ANGER and The BHAGAWAD GITA’S ADIVCE

Shagun Bhushan

ANGER IS RISING

In today’s stressful life, anger management or rather the lack of it is causing a lot of grief to many people. This is grief that is much more in proportion to the issue that caused the anger. We read about road rage incidents when someone is murdered or grievously injured because his motorcycle scratched someone’s car. We hear about acid attacks simply because a girl spurned a boy’s advances. We also hear about neighbourly brawls spiralling into full-fledged wars. And we are only too familiar with how an angry group of people can unleash mob violence that destroys scores of lives and national property. 

In recent times, we have witnessed cases when families have translated their mourning for the loss of a dear one into anger and beating up doctors and hospital staff. People commit despicable acts by not just uttering acid words but also getting physically violent. This anger is often justified on the pretext that the other person started it. But is that right? As Mahatma Gandhi famously said ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’. 

BHAGAWAD GITA ON ANGER

Anger, they say impairs the judgment; it makes people say and do things that they later regret. Anger creates a dark cloud of emotions over our intellect. An angry person cannot properly judge what is right and what is wrong. The following verse from the Bhagawad Gita seems very true and applicable in today’s day and age.

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛiti-vibhramaḥ

smṛiti-bhranśhād buddhi-nāśho buddhi-nāśhāt praṇaśhyati

(Chapter 2, Verse 63)

‘Anger causes the judgment to be clouded, which results in blurring of the memory. If the memory is disoriented, the intellect gets diminished; and when the intellect is diminished, one is destroyed.’

So, what is one ideally supposed to do when one is unable to deal with one’s flying temper and a sudden rush of vengeance? Giving in to rage impulsively inevitably means having to face and regret the consequences later; maybe for an entire lifetime. The Bhagawad Gita advises that when you come close to your tipping point, you must learn to exercise caution. Control your temper, take a step back and evaluate the situation, think about why you are angry, whose fault was it, are circumstances to be blamed, and what was it that compelled the other person to behave the way they did. 

USE YOUR INTELLECT

Before letting anger take control over our faculties, we must deploy the intellect. Failure to do this will send us down the stairway to ruin. Only the intellect safeguards us from losing control. The above-mentioned verse points out that often when achievement of a desire is obstructed by an extraneous element, it leads to anger. When a person is angry, he/she gets deluded. This delusion in turn causes loss of memory and judgment. In the heat of the moment, we tend to forget our relationship with the object of our anger and also what the consequences of our actions will be.

Loss of memory causes clouding of the intellect. The emotions build up to such an extent that self-destruction is inevitable. It is therefore critical to rationalise our anger and the situation to work out the best possible solution, if possible, without hurting anyone.

The Bhagwad Gita, however, does not profess that if any wrong is done, justice should not be sought. Justice must prevail, but without anger obfuscating rational thought.