Free Press Journal

Aggression, violence and onset of peace

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Arousal of violent tendencies in an individual may happen under the burden of enormous negative emotional feelings, writes RAVI VALLURI

Aeons ago lived an overbearing, self-opinionated and hubristic monarch. He scuttled all dissent and those opposed to his modus operandi were either exiled or obliterated. The only modus vivendi available to the denizens of his kingdom was to meekly accept the autarkical ways.

In order to escape his wrath, several of the denizens and vassal states decided to seek refuge in the sublime grace of Sakhya Muni, Lord Buddha. This act of defiance incensed the zealot. In a maximal fit of rage, he marched with his army to wage war against the apostle of peace and non-violence.


The suzerain, in an act, that he clearly intended to intimidate and pique the Buddha, spat at him thrice. The benevolent and solicitous soul smiled and merely remarked, “I do not accept this.” This deceptively simple remark incensed, indeed rattled the querulous monarch. Lord Buddha maintained absolute composure despite the odious and deplorable act.

In the face of such dignity and equanimity, the monarch was forced to ask where the Buddha found the deep reserves of piety and composure.  In reply, Lord Buddha invited him to eschew antipathetic thoughts and join the sangha. Such was the peace radiated by the Enlightened One, that the monarch dramatically announced that he would indeed join the sangha.

Serenity prevailed upon aggression and violence.

Anger and brutality: Gordian knots in human evolution

Corrupted and reproachable acts of aggression and violence are major gremlins in our society. They act as impediments in the growth and evolution an individual and society as a whole. In their entirety, the spectrum encompasses libertine and reprobate acts such as immodesty towards women, libidinous behaviour towards women, rape (can one forget the reprehensible Nirbhaya case, which shook the spine and the soul of an entire nation), child abuse, young gun-toting teenagers in the west going on a murderous rampage, the ragging witnessed in our educational institutions, intolerance towards the faith and beliefs of  people, imposition of  sectarian values and views, rioting and treacherous acts of  Naxalism, nihilism and terrorism, among destructive others.

Aggression Vs violence

Pre-eminent psychologists distinguish aggression from violence. They postulate forceful destructive behaviour towards another individual or society as violence. Aggression, on the other hand, is based on the paradigm of an antipathetic intent. Psychologists deploy the word aggression to refer to the behaviour by an individual or a group that is intended to intentionally cause harm to other individuals or groups of persons. It is a wanton act and is usually demonstrated through the usage of guttural and cacophonous words, criticism, extreme acts of hostility and obstructive emotions and feelings towards people.

Aggressive behaviour is based on the premise to torment or indulge in defilement of a person or property. Violence is the perpetration of such an act. It is quite possible that a suffering individual, mortified and bedevilled by the society perpetrates violence. He may not have been an aggressive prototype, but simmers with violent tendencies. Some take to the barrel of the gun by following a particular ideology.

 Understanding the cause

The maniacal desire to achieve a certain goal, desire or objective leads to aggressive behaviour and could result in a wanton violent act. Do we recall the famous or rather infamous Bodyline Series (1932-33)? The term was coined the celebrated Australian cricketer and writer Jack Worral.

Douglas Jardine, the English captain deployed his fastest bowlers- Harold Larwood and Bill Voce – to intimidate the batting machinery of Don Bradman, Bill Woodfull, Bill Ponsford and Alan Kippax. High pitched deliveries were bowled on the leg stump incessantly. The English cricket team bruised several Australian batsmen but triumphed 4-1 to lift the Ashes that year.

Hostile aggression

It is riveting that hostile aggression and violent acts find root when an individual indulges in criminality in order to be charge sheeted and aspires to ‘glory’ via notoriety. Human mind often operates in repulsive and intriguing ways. A criminal could be born, from the seemingly ‘non-criminal’ act of roughing up a junior or a hapless person. Such an act provides the newborn criminal an aberrant or freakish high.

Distinguished psychologists have identified certain underlying reasons for harbouring aggressive feelings and the concomitant violence. This could be certain inborn tendency, essentially in the DNA of the individual. The springboard, as in the animal kingdom, may be an act of self-defence. But over a period of time it develops into unabated aggression and violent behaviour.

Aggression and violence could be triggered by certain physiological imbalances. Certain parts of the brain play a pivotal role in an unpleasant emotional experience which results in aggressive and violent behaviour. Arousal of such tendencies in an individual may happen under the burden of enormous negative emotional feelings; such individuals may resort to crime out of sheer helplessness, agony and frustration.

Peace and the Art of Living way

There have been apostles of peace in both the occidental and oriental world who have even given up their lives to maintain peace and harmony. The paths chosen by Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi resonate our minds.

In recent times, Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has transformed the lives of several Maoists, Naxals and extremists, who have eschewed violence, given up arms and joined the mainstream once again. Their minds have been transfigured and transmuted by practising the unique breathing technique of Sudarshan Kriya. Simultaneously their energies have been channelised to do sadhana, Seva and Satsang by practising yoga, pranayama and meditation.

“Non-violence is an active force of the highest order. It is the soul-force or the power of the Godhead within us. Imperfect man cannot grasp the whole of that essence- he would not be able to bear its full blaze, but even an infinitesimal fraction of it, when it becomes active within us, can work wonders,” wrote Gandhiji.