“Fulfilling my desire and sacrificing His own promise, He got down from the chariot, took up its wheel, and ran towards me hurriedly, just as a lion goes to kill an elephant. He even dropped His outer garment on the way.” (Bhishmadeva, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.37)Download this episode (right click and save)
The Supreme Lord is atmarama. This compound Sanskrit word means “satisfied in the self.” This is one of limitless wonderful and perfect descriptions of God, who is originally a person, having a distinct spiritual identity. He is within all of us as the Supersoul, but we are not identical to Him. All beings are in Him, but He not in them.
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)
Since He is atmarama, He has no reason to be angry. This debunks the mentally concocted theory of God being an old man, angrily looking down upon the sinners residing in the earthly realm. As the material world is a reflection of the spiritual world, anger is something legitimate. It does exist in God from time to time, but even an emotion typically considered negative and a sign of weakness brings auspiciousness to everyone affected.
1. The garland of intestines with Narasimhadeva
What an image! A time-honored tradition in Vedic culture, the garland of flowers is offered as a sign of respect. The gesture takes time and effort. Like the powerful smartphone constructed on an assembly line and engineered with expert intelligence, the flower garland doesn’t randomly come together. Someone has to take the effort to pluck the flowers, arrange them, and then thread a string through them.
Narasimhadeva once wore a garland of intestines. It wasn’t voluntarily offered, either. The Supreme Lord in this special half-man/half-lion incarnation ripped those intestines out of a wicked character. The victim was immune from all sorts of weapons due to boons he received from a celestial. Taking advantage of his immunity, with ill intent this person caused havoc throughout the world.
Yet even then the Supreme Lord didn’t intervene. Hiranyakashipu was living in the material world, after all. It is a place where the independence to choose against service to God can be exercised to its fullest. Time, or kala, devours everything eventually. There is no need for the direct intervention of the person who is satisfied in the self.
Hiranyakashipu started to persecute his five year old son. Named Prahlada, the boy was innocent in every way. His only crime was love for God in His personal form. Hiranyakashipu considered Vishnu to be an enemy. A friend of his enemy naturally became his enemy as well. The father tried to kill the boy in various ways, but nothing worked. Finally, Vishnu arrived in an angry form, tearing the king in half using the transcendental nails on the hands. The garland of intestines was a sign of auspiciousness since it meant liberation for the king and protection for the boy.
2. Rama on the battlefield preparing to shoot an arrow
Shri Rama is another incarnation of Vishnu. This time God appeared as a warrior prince, perfectly matched to the vulnerability in boons received by another wicked king. Named Ravana, the leader of Lanka was immune against attack from all sorts of creatures, both heavenly and hellish. The one mistake he made was to forget human beings. An apparently mortal person could defeat him in battle, though who in the world was strong enough to put up enough resistance?
Shri Rama was committed to dharma, or virtue, and so He was naturally peaceful. Despite being a member of the warrior race, even those He punished weren’t angry with Him. He was like the most honest police officer, who never held anyone’s crimes against them; Rama simply did His job.
When Rama was on the battlefield, He would sometimes get angry. Strong emotion is necessary to continue in such a hostile environment. Like the garland of intestines, the arrows drawn to Rama’s bow were auspicious for everyone involved. They would pierce through the armor of the enemies, who had gotten away with violent crimes for far too long. Those arrows removed the influence of the wicked king of Lanka, who had made the fatal error of taking away Rama’s wife in secret.
3. The sudarshana-chakra chasing Durvasa
This was a conflict that should have never occurred. On one side you had a powerful yogi, who could travel to any planet at will. On the other you had a pious king, who though a householder was affectionate to everyone. The two should work together. The yogi should be respected. He should be wise and offer sound words of advice to everyone. The king should happily welcome the wise yogi to his home whenever there is a visit and listen attentively and submissively.
Unfortunately, the situation turned ugly . Durvasa Muni became jealous of Ambarisha Maharaja. Durvasa did not like all the attention Ambarisha was getting. The king was a great devotee of Vishnu, and as such he should not have had any enemies. When Durvasa offended the king, Lord Vishnu sent His sudarshana-chakra in anger.
The very name of this weapon references auspiciousness. Though it is a disc, it is a beautiful one, spinning in a way to cut down its target easily. The beautiful looking spinning wheel chased Durvasa Muni around the universe, as the yogi could not find shelter anywhere. Finally, in front of Vishnu Himself Durvasa was told the only way to avoid destruction was to approach Ambarisha and ask for forgiveness. Thus once again everyone was benefitted by the Supreme Lord’s anger.
4. Krishna ready to hurl a wheel at Bhishma
The Bharata War saw battles between some of the greatest fighters this world has ever seen. This wasn’t your classic struggle between good and evil, either. Some people on the acknowledged “bad” side were of good character. They just remained on their side for their own reasons. One example is Bhishmadeva. He was respected by members of both sides, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, who were cousins. He was the grandfather. He was pious in every way. He was a great devotee of Vishnu.
So was Arjuna, the leading fighter for the Pandavas. Krishna, who is Vishnu Himself, remained neutral in the conflict, but He assisted Arjuna by acting as charioteer. The promise from the Supreme Lord was that He would not take part in the conflict. Knowing about this Bhishma one day proclaimed that either Arjuna would die in battle or Krishna would have to break His promise.
Bhishma attacked Arjuna so fiercely that it looked like the leading warrior for the Pandavas was going to be defeated. At that time Krishna took one of the wheels from the chariot and rushed towards Bhishma in anger. Bhishma continued to shoot arrows, breaking Krishna’s armor. This display of transcendental anger greatly pleased Bhishma, who later remembered it fondly while on his deathbed. Indeed, it was the preferred vision on his mind as he exited his body for the next life.
5. Krishna’s punch to Kamsa
Kamsa was the king of Mathura, and among other things he was known as a baby killer. He had taken all of his sister Devaki’s newborn children and thrown them against a stone slab. Krishna was the last of those children, and He escaped to Gokula before anything could happen.
That baby would make a triumphant return to Mathura to fulfill the destiny revealed to the wicked king on the day of Devaki’s marriage. A voice from the sky warned Kamsa that his sister’s eighth child would kill him. Krishna arrived on the scene and took part in a wrestling match in front of a gathered assembly. Reserving the strongest punch for last, the son of Devaki ended the life of the ruler. There was anger in that blow, but the result was auspicious for everyone involved. Devaki and her husband Vasudeva were released from jail, the innocent people of the world no longer had to worry, and the Supreme Lord once again protected His devotees.
Atmarama, self-situated is He,
But sometimes anger in Him to see.
Since transcendental everything understood,
Even that emotion bringing to all good.
Like Narasimha garland of intestines wearing,
And Rama’s arrows through enemy armor tearing.
Krishna rushing towards Bhishma with wheel,
Single punch fate of wicked Kamsa to seal.