Anger is Contagious

24th Jun 2013
Sudarshana devi dasi

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

When Dhruva Maharaj started killing all the Yakshas in an attempt to revenge the death of his brother Uttama, Svayambhuva Manu, Dhruva's grandfather appears in front of him and advises him to give up anger and not to slay all the Yakshas for the sake of sin committed by one of them. Manu was greatly affectionate towards his grandson Dhruva and he also knew that Dhruva is a great devotee since childhood who was gifted with direct darshan of the Lord when he was just 5 years old. So he didn't want Dhruva to be misled by anger now and degrade from the path of spiritual progress. In verse 4.11.31 of Srimad Bhagavatam he says,

saṁyaccha roṣaṁ bhadraṁ te pratīpaṁ śreyasāṁ param
śrutena bhūyasā rājann agadena yathāmayam

My dear King, just consider what I have said to you, which will act as medicinal treatment upon disease. Control your anger, for anger is the foremost enemy on the path of spiritual realization. I wish all good fortune for you. Please follow my instructions.

In his wonderful purport to the above verse Srila Prabhupada says, "Anger is such that if one increases it, it increases unlimitedly. In order that Dhruva Maharaja's kingly anger not exceed the limit, Manu was kind enough to check his grandson. Dhruva Maharaja could understand the purpose of his grandfather, and he immediately stopped the fighting. The words shrutena bhuyasaa, "by constantly hearing," are very important in this verse. By constantly hearing about devotional service, one can check the force of anger, which is detrimental to the process of devotional service. Srila Parikshit Maharaja said that the constant hearing of the pastimes of the Lord is the panacea for all material diseases. Everyone, therefore, should hear about the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly. By hearing one can always remain in equilibrium, and thus his progress in spiritual life will not be hampered."

In this regard we came across the following story. Once there lived a devotee by name Madhu. Madhu was eager to learn about devotional service and he approached a Guru and asked him to teach how he could become close to the Supreme Lord. The Guru was well aware of Madhu's defect of anger. He knew that this would prevent his spiritual progress. So the Guru decided to first prepare Madhu before teaching him serious spiritual practice. The Guru replied, "Dear Madhu, chant the Lord's Name during all your activities, for a month. Then take a bath and come back to me."

Starting the very next day, Madhu chanted the Lord's Name during all his activities. After a month, he went to a river, took a bath and put on fresh clothes to visit the Guru. On the way to the Guru's ashram (hermitage), his clothes got dirty as a sweeper was sweeping the street carelessly. Madhu was furious and shouted at the sweeper, "What you are doing, you fool? Now I have to go back, wash and dry these clothes and bathe again! Such waste of time!" The Guru had observed the scene. When Madhu reached the ashram, He said, "Dear Madhu, you are not yet ready for further spiritual practice. Chant the Lord's holy name during all your activities for another month, take a bath at the end of it and come to see me."

Madhu accepted the Guru's wish and went back to chanting along with his daily activities. When that month was over and Madhu was returning to the hermitage eagerly, a similar incident happened. This time, the sweeper accidentally brushed his dirty broom against Madhu. Again, Madhu became furious at the sweeper and again, the Guru sent him back and asked him to chant the Lord's names for another month. At the end of the third month, when Madhu was on his way to visit the Guru, something unusual happened. The sweeper saw Madhu approaching and remembered the way Madhu had berated him even though what had happened had been an accident. He noticed that Madhu was once again wearing new, clean clothes. This time, before Madhu could do or say anything, the sweeper, who was furious at Madhu, intentionally poured all the dirt from his garbage can onto Madhu's head. But this time, Madhu folded his hands and prayerfully said, "I thank you. You are my master. You taught me how to overcome anger." The sweeper was surprised and hung his head in shame.

This time, when Madhu reached the Guru's ashram, the Guru was waiting for him. The Guru was pleased and patted Madhu on the head, just as a mother pats a child on his achievement.

There are few lessons which we can learn from the above story. 

1. In our lives, we come across many such situations that make us angry. But it is possible for us to overcome the anger if we also take shelter of pure devotee, hear their instructions and sincerely attempt to practice the same.

2. Madhu completely overcame his anger after three months of chanting the Lord's holy names and by obeying the Guru. He viewed the sweeper as the master who helped him overcome his anger. Chanting the holy names makes us humble and to see everyone as master.

3. We can also see how anger is contagious like any other bad habit. The sweeper was initially doing his job without any intention of offending Madhu. But when he started receiving scolding for mistakes which he did not commit, then in the next instance he also became angry. The way we behave has an influence on other's behavior as well. So we should deal with everyone very carefully so that they are not provoked to become angry.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Sudarshana devi dasi.