Those who anger us conquer us
Sports are sometimes marred by unwholesome practices such as sledging. In cricket, for example, fielders may provoke a batsman by taunting. If the batsman gets angry, he plays a rash shot and gets out. Thus, the fielders who anger the batsman conquer him.
Anger is a natural reaction when things important to us are attacked. Though anger is natural, the way we express it is not always desirable. If we are conditioned to acting indiscriminately on our anger, we give others inordinate control over us. They can, by pressing the buttons that drive us wild, make us act self-destructively.
The Bhagavad-gita (16.04) cautions that anger characterizes the ungodly. This suggests that the further we go from God, the more vulnerable we become to anger. And conversely, the closer we go to God, the more we can channel constructively the energy underlying anger. By regular devotional practices, we become strongly rooted in our relationship with God. Thereby, we develop the inner strength to choose our actions based on our higher purposes and principles – and not get goaded into actions by circumstantial provocations.
In the Mahabharata, the Kauravas, especially Duryodhana and Dushasana, provoked the Pandavas repeatedly, by swindling them of their kingdom and dishonoring their wife. Naturally, the Pandavas were furious, but they didn’t impulsively act on their anger. Instead, they, with great fortitude, bided their time, living through the thirteen-year exile period. Then they offered peace on the most accommodating terms. When the arrogant Kauravas predictably rejected the peace proposal, their bellicosity and viciousness was exposed for the whole world to see. In the ensuing war, the Pandavas channeled the energy underlying their righteous anger and attained an extraordinary victory.
By thus refusing to let the Kauravas’ provocations deviate them from dharma, the devoted Pandavas exemplify how to respond to provocations wisely and firmly.
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