Feelings of Revenge and Controlling the Mind

Question: Is it OK to seek revenge? I have the tendency to want to get even with people. I am working on myself, but it’s a challenge. I try to justify my actions by referring to the Mahābhārata. When Draupadī was insulted in the assembly of the Kuru dynasty, Bhīma took a vow to avenge the insult. He broke Duryodhana’s thigh and tore open Duḥśāsana’s chest. I justify my actions by referring to this story. Is this right? 

Answer: It is a natural tendency of the human mind to take revenge but it comes with a price. First of all, to take revenge, you have to become mentally disturbed. Secondly, to take revenge, you may engage in an adharmic act and create further karma. Just because it is a natural tendency does not mean it is good. Not everything natural is good. There is a natural tendency in human beings not to follow the law. That does not mean it is good. If there were no police, many people would steal. It has been seen that sometimes when there are riots because of some social or political issue, the rioters loot or burn shops or demolish somebody’s property. This has no relation to the issue for which they are rioting. But because a mob is not an individual person, there is no fear of punishment, so they act in an irrational manner being pushed by their nature.

Moreover, what is natural for you may not be natural for someone else. Therefore, just because something is natural does not mean it is good and one must act upon it. In fact, dharma or the state law is meant to curb our unhealthy natural tendencies.

We have a right to defend ourselves within legal limits. We are not in the Mahābhārata age. When Bhīma broke Duryodhana’s thigh, the latter could not go to the police and file a complaint against Bhīma.

There was no authority above the king. Now we live in a democratic state and there is the law of the country. 

So you have to consider three things while taking revenge:

1.     The state law

2.     The karma

3.     The mental disturbance or physical harm that can occur with revenge. 

Moreover, do not think that the matter would end with your revenge. It will incite another revenge against you and the cycle will continue until one party is defeated or wiped out. Sometimes it can continue for generations.

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Question: My mind is always thinking about different things, moving in different directions and expecting results quickly. As in the real world, results come very slowly. This is true in devotional practice also. How does one train the mind for this?

Answer: In Bhagavad Gītā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa repeatedly stresses the importance of buddhi, such as in Gītā 2.39, 2.41, 2.49–53, 2.65–66, etc. Please study these verses thoroughly and then practice using the buddhi to control the mind. Even Arjuna posed a similar question to Kṛṣṇa in Gītā 6.34. Śrī Kṛṣṇa recommends regular practice of mind control and giving up actions that bring disturbance to the mind. There is a need to regulate the mind with a regulated life-style, and not engaging in  unnecessary endeavors. Too many desires bring restlessness to the mind. It is important to investigate every desire before we act upon it. Do I really need to act on it? How does it help me in achieving my goal? One should ponder upon these questions.

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Comments ( 2 )
  1. परीक्षित् | Parīkṣit

    Bhagavad Gītā 2.55 states who is a sthitaprajña, “one who has no desire and delights in the self.” Is this state temporary or permanent/irreversible once attained?

    Thank you!

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