Saturday, February 11, 2012

Conquer evil with good - अक्रोधेन जयेत् क्रोधम्

This  wonderful pearl of human psychology comes from the wise minister Vidura (vidura, विदुर) of the Emperor Dhritarashtra (dhRitarAShTra, धृतराष्ट्र) of the Kuru (कुरु) empire. The Emperor had real untrue policies, unjust actions which caused the major civil war of historic India. The wise minister in over 500 shloka-s advices the king in the epic Mahabharata.

This is one of the gems.

The advice applies if you are overcoming anger (or evil, greed, lie) in others or in yourself.

Conquer Anger with Calmness.
Anger (krodha) is something we confront regularly. Either expressed violently or slowly simmering. Neither one is good. One spoils the relationship, other our intestines. Anger is like the fire that burns the angry, as much or more than it scorches the recipient of anger.

So when you find someone angry, what do you do over come it? Will your getting more angry help? It is like one who has had hot mirchi-masala Indian curry and is unable to even breathe properly be given another plate of the same hot stuff. That doesn't help. She needs water, or sugar, or butter to soothe out the heat.

Similarly, when you confront anger, keep calm. Showing more anger will worsen the situation by making it a contest and ego issue. Overcome anger with calmness. Take a deep breath if needed. Remain focused. Give a pause. Back off a bit, if required.

Anger mainly comes when our desires are obstructed. Valid anger may comes when someone really obstructs our duties. Unnecessary anger comes when our petty desires are obstructed. We must examine what we are angry about, is it worth it? Should we reduce the red meat in the diet?

When anger is valid, there are firm ways to express the concern and get desired results. Just being angry won't help much. Of course, we are talking about civil discourses. Anger as a reaction to injustice can be an important tool and weapon to charge ourselves to do something. But even then, anger hurts by taking away our ability to think straight, even to get what we want.

Calmness is the water that extinguishes the fire of anger.

Conquer Evil with Good.
One who does bad, evil, knows very well the actions and their result on others. Mostly, these can be blamed on the cliched 'troubled childhood'. Some day we will find the gene for it and blame them. But, true evil which is not for mere survival, comes when we have arrogance and pride and are not connected to another human being at a true and sincere level.

When we connect with another human being, it is the first sign of caring. As soon as we care, we have grown our horizons of love. That is the first axe at the roots of the tree of evil. Doing more evil only hardens the evil doer. It becomes a competition, as in anger against anger. Mercy and forgiving when we can afford to retaliate is a big thing. True, forgiving only adorns the powerful. But that is the only time when you have the option. If you are overpowered what option do you have?

With the world changing rapidly and life becoming more of a chase for more money, the message of Jesus is becoming less popular today. But the wisdom expressed in Mahabharata by the wise minister Vidura still applies. It is how the mind works, it is psychology, timeless.

Kindness can overcome hatred.

Conquer Miserliness with Giving.
Being miser is another symptom of utter selfishness. Wealth has only three end results - enjoy yourself, give to others or it be stolen. What use is that strength that doesn't protect, money that is not given to help, tongue that is not used to speak sweet?

It is true that we need resources for our consumption as well. And it is never suggested that give everything. But, we should know the difference between need and want. Our wants should not block others' needs. Show with your big heart what is giving. What it is to help someone else. Someone who doesn't help already, will not learn to give if you hold back as well.

Help others, even if they don't help you. Heroes are not only in the sky, they walk and breathe among us. Help. Set an example. Others may not follow immediately, but they will still be wishing they could. Once their horizons of love expand, they will follow suit. After all, how much do we really need to survive and live decently?

Don't just spend on the latest fad and waste all your resource. Help someone instead. People, like children, don't learn by listening, but by watching.

Conquer Untruth with Truth.
There are times when we lie. And there are times when we lie habitually, for no good reason. Lying has been sanctioned in desperate measures only. But what a web we weave that we fall in desperate situations we shouldn't be in.

We lie to usually gain something that we don't deserve. Then there are diplomatic truths which are just neither lie nor truth. The wise seer Manu advices that "we should speak the truth, speak sweet, and not speak sweet lies or harsh truths." What he means is that we must say the truth and say it sweetly, sincerely and with compassion.

No matter what the situation is, lying only lasts so much. A wooden pan doesn't go on the stove twice. Truth will set you free, because lies make you tell more lies. Come clean and you can sleep. When you tell lies, you have to remember what all you lied, but when you tell the truth there is only one version of it.

anger by calmness; evil by good; miserliness by charity and lies by truth.

अक्रोधेन जयेत् क्रोधमसाधुं साधुना जयेत् ।
जयेत् कदर्यं दानेन जयेत् सत्येन चानृतम् ॥

a-krodhéna jayét krodham_asādhum sādhunā jayét |
jayét kadaryam dānéna, jayét satyéna chānṛitam || [IAST]

a-krodhena jayet krodham_asAdhum sAdhunA jayet |
jayet kadaryam dAnena, jayet satyena chAnRitam || [ITRANS]
[mahAbhArata udyoga parva 39:72]

And now the language aspects -

a-krodhéna = by (-éna) not (a-) anger (krodha)
jayét = one should win
krodham = anger
asādhum = not (a-) good (sādhu)
sādhunā = by goodness
kadaryam = miserliness, stinginess
dānéna = by (-éna) giving (dāna)
satyéna = by (-éna) truth (satya)
chānṛitam = and (cha) not (an-) true (ṛitam)

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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