Laws of Dharma: 10. Absence of anger (khroda)

There is a version of what we call ‘anger’ that is indispensable for our survival. We see it glinting like fire diamonds in the eyes of a mother in the wild who has just given birth. Even as she’s licking the afterbirth off her new cub’s fur, she looks up at you and you know not to take a step further if you value your life.

But this is not the anger to which today’s law is referring – it is rather highlighting a fault in our own language, which is like a clumsy blunt knife compared to the sharpened stiletto of Sanskrit.

The khroda we mostly experience is born of ignorance and frustration, because we don’t understand that there is a natural rhyme and rhythm to the template our day, and thus we rush ahead and stub our toe on life itself, and then we burst into rage. Sometimes we stub our toe on someone else’s life, which produces the same fiery response coming back at us like a flame thrower.

“More haste, less speed,” as my mother would say.

I used to experience this kind of anger when I was first in India, when I was stubbing my toe a lot! It was because I had no idea, at first, that I was joining a dance with people whose very language with which they think and speak was the flowering of a seed of a much more ancient wisdom.

For instance, the Vedic Sanskrit word for Earth is Bhugol. Bhu means ‘Earth’; gol means ‘round’. Another Sanskrit name for the Earth is Jagat, meaning ‘that which moves’. And the Sanskrit term for the solar system is Suryamalika. Surya means ‘Sun’; malika means ‘garland’. Thus, millennia before the time when the people of the West believed that the Earth was flat and that the Sun went round it, the rishi composers of Sanskrit knew the true shape of the Earth and that it was part of a “garland” of other planets which moved around the Sun.

Then given that knowledge, we can go on to understand the meaning of the tradition of offering garlands to saints and gurus in India, and why the garlanded Vishnu dreams this creation into existence as he floats on the Gharbhodaka ocean.

Another example from India: There are hundreds of tall obelisks that have been erected – no-one knows when or why – all over the country. They are made of iron that doesn’t rust. Even today, with all our great ‘advances’, we still don’t know how to make iron doesn’t rust.

I could go on with dozens of examples… But to cut a long story short, there is so much that we don’t know about the world and our place and role in it that we are like children, in that sense, and the anger that sometimes erupts hotly within us is really just that of a child having a spoilt tantrum.

So whenever I’m about to throw one of these khroda outbursts, I find it helps to think back to when I was in India and undergoing such a huge culture shock of which nothing in the West could have prepared me because the greater wisdom of the East has been largely hidden from us.