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Swami Vivekananda on ‘Anger’

November 18, 2012

Anger is one emotion that all of us have experienced at one time or the other. We get angry at ourselves, at people around us, at circumstances that we cannot control or manage. We would have experienced situations in which we get rightfully angry, but many a time we feel guilty that we lost our temper. We feel that we could have accomplished more if we had not lost ourselves in a display of this emotion. Despite knowing the consequences of uncontrolled anger, we get angry with people we are close with and love. In the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna expounds the dangers and consequences of getting angry. He explains how it clouds our thinking and leaves us ineffective and irrational. As per the Gita, when anger is aroused in a person, it deprives him of his power of discrimination. He is unable to weigh the pros and cons of a question or a situation. He will not heed the consequences of whatever he does in a fit of rage. Such is the nature of the delusion caused by anger. When this delusion grows, man forgets in what relationship he stands with those around him, what he should do and what he should not, how he had planned to do a thing, and what he is actually doing. He is thus unable to carry out his predetermined plans as his memory of the past is torn asunder. When the mind is clouded, man loses his reasoning abilities and he can exhibit acrimony, harshness, violence, vindictiveness and stupidity. All these expressions of emotion could result in very expensive consequences and leave the person regretful later on.

In his early days, Swami Vivekananda was also known for his fits of anger, though he understood later that controlling and managing it was far more useful than displaying it. He not only understood how one can lose oneself and one’s mind in a state of anger, but also had his own experiential way of describing how one needed to subsume it. He had this to say about anger, “When I am angry, my whole mind becomes a huge wave of anger. I feel it, see it, handle it, can easily manipulate it, can fight with it; but I shall not succeed perfectly in the fight until I can get down below to its causes. A man says something very harsh to me, and I begin to feel that I am getting heated, and he goes on till I am perfectly angry and forget myself, identify myself with anger. When he first began to abuse me, I thought, “I am going to be angry”. Anger was one thing, and I was another; but when I became angry, I was anger. These feelings have to be controlled in the germ, the root, in their fine forms, before even we have become conscious that they are acting on us. With the vast majority of mankind the fine states of these passions are not even known – the states in which they emerge from sub consciousness. When a bubble is rising from the bottom of the lake, we do not see it, nor even when it has nearly come to the surface; it is only when it bursts and makes a ripple that we know it is there. 

We shall only be successful in grappling with the waves when we can get hold of them in their fine causes, and until you can get hold of them, and subdue them before they become gross, there is no hope of conquering any passion perfectly. To control our passions we have to control them at their very roots; then alone shall we be able to burn out their very seeds. As fried seeds thrown into the ground will never come up, so these passions will never arise.”

Kannada version in Prajavani (22-Nov-12)

Balu

  1. Swaminath
    November 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Anger was one thing, and I was another; but when I became angry, I was anger. What a profound observation. Excellent one. I think if we have genuine tolerance the risk of anger is less.

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