September 18 2008

People in general often have the impression that a spiritual person should never become angry. Anger of course, is seen as a sign of contaminated consciousness

I’m an angry, angry man… 

Whoops! How did he get back in here….

When we become purified, there is no more anger. Indeed, Srila Rupa Goswami states in the opening verse of the Upadeshamrta that one of the six forces that have to be subdued in order to qualify oneself as a spiritual master is anger. Yet we see that devotees–great devotees–sometimes become angry. Is it a fault or not?

In Krsna consciousness, we see that all the emotions are employed in the Lord’s service. He is sentient, and as His eternal parts and parcels, we are also sentient. The interplay of emotion (rasa) is the highest form of spirituality and in transcendental consciousness, anger has its part to play.

Here’s a couple of examples cited in Nectar of Devotion:

“When Krsna was trying to capture the demon Sankha, Radharani began trembling out of fearfulness. Similar trembling of the body was exhibited in Sahadeva, the younger brother of Nakula. When Sisupala was vehemently blaspheming the Lord, Sahadeva began to tremble out of anger.”

Sisupala insults Krsna

“Perspiration due to anger was exhibited by Garuda, the eagle who is the carrier of Visnu. Once the heavenly king, Indra, was sending torrents of rain over Vrndavana. Garuda was observing the incident from above the clouds, and because of his anger, he began perspiring.”

balinese Garuda

“An example of shedding tears because of anger was exhibited by Bhima when he saw that Sisupala was insulting Krsna in the Rajasuya arena of sacrifice. Bhima wanted to kill Sisupala immediately, but because Krsna did not order him to do so, he became morose with anger. It is described that there were hot tears covering his eyes, as a thin cloud sometimes covers the evening moon. In the evening, when the moon is slightly covered by a thin cloud, it looks very nice, and when Bhima was shedding tears on account of his anger, he also looked very nice.”

In the Mahabharata it is described that Bhima was so angry with the Kurus at their treatment of the Pandavas that he couldn’t sleep for 12 years. Finally when the Kurushetra war was declared, Bhima exulted at the thought of finishing the Kurus. His anger culminated with his fulfilling his vows to kill Dushasana and drinking his blood.


In service to the Lord of their hearts, great devotees exhibit their attachment to Krsna whenever a protagonist appears. This intensifies their love and increases their ecstasy.

These examples are of extraordinary devotees who are eternal associates of the Lord. What about within our own Kaliyuga context, here and now on this planet? When, if at all, is it alright for a devotee to become angry. Dravida das from Russia asked this question last April:


I thank you for the interesting instructing stories from Transcendental Diary. I have another request: Can you please give examples of correct usage of anger by Shrila Prabhupada, a use of anger to defend devotees? I thank you in advance.


There is the story about the early days in India (before I went there) when Srila Prabhupada and the devotees attended a program hosted by some mayavadis at Chowpatty, Bombay.


The first night they appeared, they did kirtan and it set the whole crowd alight. The devotees were enthused, and they got down from the stage and went among the crowd chanting and inviting them to join in. It caused a sensation. The next night the devotees were more subdued and just chanted on the stage. The organizers had made Srila Prabhupada wait until the very end because they wanted to keep the crowd there. All the previous speakers were mayavadis and Srila Prabhupada just wanted to speak and go, so he was not very happy about being made to wait. Then when the devotees began chanting, the organizers wanted them to repeat the previous night’s efforts by having them come down into the crowd again. But these things are spontaneous and the devotees were in a different mood. So the organizers tried to force them to emulate it by pulling on their dhotis and saris to make them come down into the audience. When Srila Prabhupada saw this he became very angry. He was playing his kartals and he moved quickly forward and clashed his karatals angrily in the face of one of the organizers to make him back off.After this incident Srila Prabhupada would not go back to the program anymore. This is partially narrated in the Prabhupada Lilamrta, but not the part where Srila Prabhupada got angry.

One example within my own experience was Srila Prabhupada’s response to the attacks on the movement by the so-called ‘deprogrammers’, persons who were accusing us of brainwashing etc. They took several devotees in New York to court on charges of brainwashing, extortion, mind-control etc. It put Srila Prabhupada into a real fighting mood. The more they accused us, the stronger he became. It was a major legal challenge and he relished the fight. When he received a long letter from Tamal Krishna Goswami describing the charges against us he responded:

Vrindaban 30 October, 1976

“They are now feeling the weight of this movement. Formerly they thought these people come and go, but now they see we are staying. Now we have set fire. It will go on, it cannot be stopped. You can bring big, big fire brigades but the fire will act. The brainwash books are already there. Even if they stop externally, internally it will go on. Our first class campaign is book distribution. Go house to house. The real fighting is now. Krsna will give you all protection. So, chant Hare Krsna and fight. One movie expert has opined there are so many ideas in our movement. Try to get our ideas into movies. “Get some Indian professor’s opinions. Get a list of standing orders from Indian Universities. Take this opportunity for being well advertised. They are afraid. So many young men are being affected. They have rightly said that it is an epidemic. Let all the Indians say that this is bona fide. Have profuse testimony. Collect testimony in London and Toronto. Ask SubhaVilasa to collect opinions that this is bona fide Indian culture. This same attack came in Germany. By propaganda you cannot suppress the truth. You cannot suppress fire by propaganda. Now we have to become strong to defend. The fighting has become acute, but if you stick to the regulative principles, Krsna will give all strength. Whatever is done is by Krsna’s mercy. They are afraid that a different culture is conquering over their culture. param drstva nivartate [Bg. 9.59]. That is natural. If someone finds something better he’ll give up the old, how can he stop? It is a fight, do not be afraid.”

Srila Prabhupada often said that unless Hanuman and Arjuna became angry, how could they fight so valiantly for the Lord? Anger is a natural sentiment, but the devotee never displays it except on behalf of Krsna or his devotees, not for himself.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Footer Line
Home  |  Blog  |  Books  |  Audio  |  Video  |   Photos  |  Links  |  Contact