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An example: How to control anger when provoked?

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How to control anger when provoked?

Anger itself is difficult to control. But to control anger when provoked is the most difficult thing to do. In Bhagavad Gita 16.21, Lord Krishna says that anger is gateway to hell. We all have experienced this in our life. As soon as we succumb to anger our peace of mind goes away, we feel terrible from within. So, Bhagavad Gita says that in all situations, we should try to control anger.

Even when we are provoked, still we should try to control anger. Difficult to practice but not impossible. If we read the life of great devotees of Lord like Ambarish Maharaj or Haridas Thakura we see that they were able to control anger even in very difficult situations. This is why they attained perfection in their life. If we study the lives of great spiritual personalities then we can learn a lot from them. And if we implement those learnings in our life then we will also attain perfection. Today also there are sincere spiritual leaders who are applying the teachings of scriptures and following the footsteps of acharyas (great spiritual teachers) int their lives.

I heard an incident related to HH Bhakti Rasamrita Swami Maharaj from HG Radheshyam Prabhu. Maharaj faced an awkward situation at an airport. He was provoked by a person but Maharaj without becoming provoked handled the situation effectively.

From this example we can learn how to control anger when provoked.

HH Bhakti Rasamrita Swami is accused by a fellow traveler

HH Bhakti Rasamrita Swami Maharaj

HH Bhakti Rasamrita Swami Maharaj is a senior sannyasi in Iskcon. He is a disciple of HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj. Once at an airport he faced a very difficult situation, rather embarrassing one. He was standing near the belt, waiting to collect his luggage. He saw one bag which he thought was his and he picked it up.

Immediately a man rushed towards him and grabbed the bag. “This is mine,” the man said rudely. Maharaj said sorry and gave him the bag.  Maharaj had picked the bag because it looked exactly like his own bag.

We all have experienced this at airport. Many bags come and sometimes it looks exactly like ours. We pick it up and soon realize that it is not ours and so we put it back on the belt or if the bag’s owner comes, we hand it to them. It is quite normal.

But this man had a different mindset.  He did not just snatch the bag from Maharaj but started yelling at him. “How dare you take my bag? Did you want to steal it?”

Maharaj was taken aback. People standing there started looking towards Maharaj and the man. It was so embarrassing for Maharaj. Maharaj maintained his composure. “Your bag looks similar to mine, so I thought it was mine and took it,” he said politely.

The man was not ready to accept Maharaj’s apology. “I do not believe you”, he shouted. The man’s wife rushed to the scene and tried to calm her husband. “It seems it was a genuine mistake. Do not use unkind words. Let’s go now. We have our luggage,” his wife reasoned. The man who seemed to suffer from bad temper did not listen to his wife. He continued with his accusation.

Without becoming angry Bhakti Rasamrita Swami won the battle

Maharaj was being falsely accused of stealing a bag in front of so many people. But Maharaj did not lose his temper.  He did not raise his voice. He did not use any harsh words.

But Maharaj tried his best to make the man understand that he did not have any wrong motive. It was done by mistake and these things normally happens while collecting luggage at airport.  Although Maharaj spoke politely but he did not allow the man to accuse him and take him for granted.

In few minutes Maharaj’s bag also came. He immediately picked his bag and showed to the man. Maharaj put his bag near the man’s bag. They were exactly similar. Only the bag’s owner after close examination could differentiate between the two.

The man looked extremely upset. His wife felt embarrassed. The people present there could easily understand who was right.

In normal situations many of us would have become wild when someone would have accused us of stealing. We would have responded harshly.  It is difficult to tolerate insults and that to publicly.

But Maharaj handled the situation calmly and intelligently. He did not allow the man to dominate. The man spoke harshly. Maharaj spoke politely. The man accused Maharaj. But Maharaj logically countered the accusation. The man continued using unkind words even when his wife was asking him not to do so. Maharaj did not utter any unkind words but did not silently tolerate the accusation. Later Maharaj proved that he is right by showing that his bag and the man’s bag looks similar.

It was a provoking situation, but Maharaj did not become angry. He controlled his anger.  He managed the embarrassing situation intelligently. Without losing his temper Maharaj won the battle. He controlled his anger during the provoking situation.

Strong spiritual foundation can help us to control anger

We all have seen people fighting and quarreling over trivial things at public places. Sometimes people even get into fisticuffs.  They even use cuss words for which they may later feel embarrassed.

When we are insulted or when we are falsely accused of things which we have not done then we should not suffer silently. We should not allow others to insult or dominate us. But it is also not a good idea to lose our cool and behave in an irrational way.  But such situations although difficult to handle can be managed intelligently.

Controlling anger even in provoking situations is possible when we have a strong spiritual foundation.  When we try to connect ourselves with God through spiritual practices like mantra meditation then we develop ability to control our inner self. We do not easily get carried away by our emotions. In fact, we develop inner strength to take charge of our emotions.  

We are able to control our anger. We do not get easily provoked by trivial issues. Even if the issue is serious as in the case of Maharaj we are able to handle it properly.

Three effective ways to control anger when provoked

From Maharaj’s incident we learn how to control anger when provoked and how to handle such situations.

We learn three lessons:

  1. Do not suffer silently when someone is misbehaving or insulting. As we saw Maharaj responded to all the allegations, he did not suffer silently.
  2. Even in provoking situations do not lose your temper or become angry. Maharaj remained calm and at no point he spoke harshly with the man.
  3. Be polite but be firm and present your facts logically. Maharaj countered all the allegations with logics and facts. Finally it was proven that he was right.

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