Anger Management-A Jain Perspective

(The  following  post is based on Acharya Mahapragya’s book “kyun ata hai krodh”)

Anger is created in the head and is controlled by the head. According to karmashastra  there are two bhaavs within us- audayik bhaav, which motivates greed, anger and egoism; and kshayopashamik bhaav, which controls these and leads us to the path of non-violence.

Because of the kshayopashmik bhaav, a person cannot be expressing anger for the whole day. This bhaav lets us know if we are exceeding in our anger or we’re eating excessively. If this did not exist mankind would not survive. The more aware a person is, the more active will be this bhaav.

Awareness comes from within and can blossom with the help of meditation. Meditation can silence vruttis such as anger, greed, fear, jealousy and hatred. It is the biggest tranquilizer.

While achieving full awareness of our thoughts and actions is a gradual process, it is important to know the apparent causes of anger. This can help us understand ourselves and others around us better.

Apparent Causes of Anger

Food: Food has an effect on the mind.Tamasik and rajasik food can cause anger. A Rajasik meal includes a lot of  spicy and pungent tastes which can make a person easily vulnerable to vruttis such as anger. A tamasik meal makes the intellect dull and forays him into inertia. A dull intellect can induce anger unreasonably.

Body: An illness in the body can cause grumpy behavior.

Mind: An unhealthy mind can be a cause. In this state, beneficial or good words can also sound ill intended and cause a furious reaction.(story of monkey and bird)

Desire: An unfulfilled desire can keep peace at bay. In this situation whoever seems to be a hindrance to the fulfillment of desire can make one angry. An undesirable life situation or non-occurrence of desirable event can also create anger.

Causeless: Sometimes anger comes on its own without an apparent cause.This kind of anger is a result of  past karmas.

Results of  Anger

Loss of Judgement – In anger the intellect stops working.An angry person says or does inappropriate things which he later regrets.

Loss of  Energy/Efficiency – Anger drains a lot of energy – energy which could be used in something constructive.

Loss of  Happiness and Health – Emotional and physical troubles are caused by anger.In anger, people forget their true nature and become unhappy.

Relationships Ruined – Anger leads to loss of judgement and that leads to regrettable actions which cause many friendships and relations to break.

Self  Harm – The biggest harm is done to one’s own soul as a lot of negative karma is collected.

Reduce Your Duration and Intensity of Anger : Improve Your Self

उत्तमस्य क्षणं कोपः,मध्यमे प्रहरद्वयम् |

अन्ध्मस्य् अहोरत्रम् ,प्र​ाणान्तधमाधमे ||

According to the above verse, the best kind of anger lasts for a moment.Anger of  an average kind lasts for two prahars (four prahars are morning, afternoon, evening, night).Anger lasting for one night and day indicates bad character while anger lasting for a lifetime indicates the worst kind.

Let us strive to reduce our duration of anger and become gifts to society.

Ways to Control Anger

Checking One’s Food: Excessive pitta aggravating food causes imbalance in our body and creates anger.So maintaining a sattvik diet is essential for a calm and balanced mind.A sattvik meal is one which does not create vruttis.

Focus On The Forehead: Acharya Hemchandra wrote- to silence anger and heal headache one should focus on the forehead.Forehead is where  our  passions (ie kahsayae) are created.Focusing and visualizing white colour  on it  silences anger.

Practicing One-Pointedness : The vata or wind element in the body takes pitta and kapha element wherever it goes.Therefore excessive vata causes loss of focus.The more unfocussed a person is, the more he will be susceptible to emotional disturbances such as anger.To make our minds more focused one can practice khechri mudra which involves keeping the tounge either in between the teeth or keeping the lower portion fixed inside the rear of our teeth.

Develop Opposite Emotion: Patanjali writes  प्रतिपक्श्भावनतः-that is, opposing emotions can change vruttis .Therefore, develop feelings of  upshaman or alleviation to reduce anger.Developing forbearance is one of its form.Abhaydevsuri has given an ideal teaching- the  forms of  mohaniye or deluding karma can be changed by developing an opposite feeling:-Anger can be silenced by alleviation; Egoism can be curtailed by softness; Greed can be silenced  by contentment.

Regular practice of developing appropriate feelings can gradually destroy the feelings which eventually give sorrow.

Not Letting Anger Succeed: Kashay or Passions have two states- success  or  failure.Anger attacks your mind-you get enslaved by it and speak rubbish , hit someone/something or pick a fight.When anger makes you do these unworthy acts, it becomes successful.If you want to reduce anger, fail it-Don’t express it through any of your precious sense and body organs. Limit the anger to yourself. Ignore it. Ignoring a vrutti  reduces it while encouraging it increases it. Your repeated ignoring  will eventually reduce anger and its enslaving ability to great proportions.

Silence : If  an anger inducing event or a person comes up, be in silence for the next ten minutes or so. In the moment of anger, take refuge in silence. Mahavir gave a solution for self protection- एंगतमवक्कमेज्जा -Go in silence-Become silent or get up and go to a silent place.

Intention and Kayotsarg : If  an apparently causeless anger strikes you-you become angry without a reason, an intention to silence the anger followed by kayotsarg  can help .The intention will start working on its own and produce the desired effect. This is the procedure for an intention to work-Take an intention, after a few minutes leave it and go into thoughtlessness.

Right Thought Process : A person in any situation should ask him/her self-what is his/her responsibility in this situation and place? What should he/she be doing? A person with this thought process will not get angry easily.

Humility : The most intense anger can be silenced with humility. It works like water on fire. A person who cultivates humility can silence others anger and will remain a peaceful person him/her self.

Total disappearance of anger is possible only in the state of enlightenment. But by practice if we gradually reduce its duration, intensity and occurrence in our lives, we will be able to achieve one phase towards our goal.