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Destructive Emotions by Understanding Hinduism


By Dr.Herbert M.Shelton (USA).

The weakening influence of the destructive emotions-
Fear, Worry, Anger, Grief, Fretting, Jealousy etc., is well known.


FEAR often kills outright. No greater annihilator is known than fear. Fear is upon all, especially is this true in distressing times of financial and economic depression , wars and rumours of wars, political uncertainties etc. Fear of war, fear of death, fear of losing one's position, fear of poverty- fear is upon all. No one escapes. Fear that does not find normal muscular expression is the most destructive of all emotions. It benumbs and paralyses the body and wastes nerve energy as few other things do. There is a striking similarity between great fear and freezing. In both cases the face is blanched, the teeth chatter, the body trembles(shivers), becomes cramped and bent, the chest is contracted, breathing is slow and comes in short gasps. Fear greatly affects the heart. In one case of death of an animal, through fear, the heart was ruptured.

Violent fits of passion will often arrest , alter or derange the functions of the body as quickly as an electric shock. Digestion may be wholly suspended by a profound state of fear, worry, anxiety or suspense. Fright, anxiety or even sudden joy are often immediately followed by diarrhoea(running stomach). Many students who have been exceedingly anxious about their examinations have experienced a diarrhoea as a result. These same influences have all been observed to cause the appearance of sugar in the urine.

Mental shocks, anger, melancholy, and all disagreeable or abnormal mental and emotional states render the secretions of the body more or less morbid.

Violent rage makes the saliva poisonous-
Furious emotions will impair breasr milk

Anger quickly modifies the bile; grief arrests the secretion of the gastric juices; violent rage makes the saliva poisonous; fear relaxes the bowels, often resulting in a sudden and involuntary discharge of the contents of the bowels and bladder. It is claimed that many mothers have injured and even killed their nursing infants by furious emotions, which alter their milk. It is known that such emotions as fear, worry, jealousy, anger etc., will reduce the secretion of milk and impair its food value to such an extent that the infant does not thrive on it.

As another example of the effects of fear upon secretion, there is the well known greying of the hair in those who have been profoundly shocked through fear or by some great horror. Men sentenced to death often become grey haired in a few days. This loss of colour by the hair is due to the suspension of the secretion of minute glands at the roots of the hair caused by fear.

WORRY is a baby fear. It impairs secretion and excretion and depresses all the functions of the body. The secretions are altered and and nutrition is impaired. Poisons accumulate in the body. The victim gradually wastes away. None of the functions of the body are carried on properly under such a state of mind. The appetite is impaired and digestion is weakened. Everytime there is a panic in the stock market the stock brokers rush to their physicians to be cured of constipation or of a functional glycosuria (sugar in the urine).

GRIEF is among the mental states that exert the most profound, far-reaching and powerful effects upon the body. As in fear, in grief also, the hair has been changed from black to grey in a few days. The secretion of the mother's milk is checked and altered as surely and as quickly by grief as by lack of or by change of food. One of the most immediate effects of grief is to reduce and impair secretion and function. Intense grief often kills outright. Sorrow, as in disappointed love often produces a wasted, weakened state of the body resembling consumption. Blighted love constitutes one of the most fruitful source of indisposition. Grief takes away appetite instantly. It will be a punishment to eat under such circumstances. Food consumed under such conditions would have fermented and putrefied and poisoned the body.

A young boy disappeared from home. The mother was grief-stricken.Her very life was in danger. Her physician feared that if he did not return or send word of his whereabouts, she would die. Such is the power of grief to influence and impair the processes and functions of the body. It may cause collapse and death. Secretion and excretion are impaired, elimination is checked, digestion is deranged, nutrition perverted, profound enervation is produced and toxaemia grows daily. Weight is lost. Appetite is lacking. Disease and death may easily result.

Other mental states that expend nerve energy

Chess, card playing or any other similar game that puts the player under a mental or nervous strain is an enervating influence. Lying, stealing,cheating, gambling and all forms of dishonesty, produce enervation and hardening of the arteries. In all of these there is the fear of being found out. In gambling, there is tension and the fear of losing. Before conscience becomes hardened there is the stinging lash of remorse and loss of self respect. These things create a mental state that expends nerve energy.

Excessive mental effort-mental work-is likewise enervating.

As the mental state determines the physical state; so the mind makes its body

It does one little good to eat a perfect diet, if his mental state is such as to impair and prevent digestion. Gloominess and grouchiness lead to an early grave. Happiness, contentment and cheer should be cultivated with as much care and persistency as the gardener exercises in the cultivation of his plants.

One who thinks hate, vengeance,spite all the time will quickly arouse corresponding emotions. He who thinks love, peace, goodwill, will be slow to anger. If man keeps his thoughts on things true, honourable, just, pure, love, courage, beauty, harmony, lovely, of good rapport and worthy of praise, there will be no room in his mind for things unchaste, dishonourable, unjust, untrue, of evil rapport and unworthy of praise.

Our thinking largely determines us. As the mental state determines the physical state; so the mind makes its body. He who cultivates a philosophical view of life and strives after emotional poise may have it. It is as easy to cultivate cheer, courage and contentment as it is to cultivate cabbage.

Dr.Paul Carton wrote:" People spiteful and vindictive towards other men, brutal and cruel to animals, destroying without reason inanimate things, live in a venomous and cataclysmic atmosphere. They doom themselves to unhappiness and sickness. Only those that are kindly and altruistic, that love not only their parents, their children, their friends, but are neither mean nor vindictive to their enemies, may enjoy complete physical peace and moral harmony."

In our emotional life there exists a perennial need of a steadying and directive principle, such as religion and ethics can supply. The individual who can bury himself in some worthy cause, some cause that is bigger than he is, and devote his energies and efforts to this cause is doubly safeguarded against emotional over-irritation. The over-selfish person who works for nothing save himself is doomed to emotional destruction.

Happiness is man's normal state, but excessive joy and happiness produce a weakening of the system. Joy and happiness are essential to health. There are few hygienic influences that are equally as conducive to health and long life as a cheerful, equitable state of mind. Cheer is to the body what sunshine and dew are to the grasses and flowers. It promotes digestion, paints the cheeks, puts a bright sparkle into the eyes and lends a buoyancy and elasticity to one's tread. Any mental state that does not promote cheer, that puts a harshness into ones words and expressions, that blanches one's cheeks and dulls the natural sparkle of the eyes, exerts a depressing effect upon every function of the body and plays havoc with all the forces of life.


"To keep his mental and organic balance
man must impose upon himself inner rule"

"When our activities are set toward a precise end, our mental and organic functions become completely harmonious.... In order to keep his mental and organic balance, man must impose upon himself an inner rule. The mind is hidden within the living matter.... completely neglected by physiologists and economists, almost unnoticed by physicians. Yet it is the most colossal power of this world."
 -Alexis Carrel, in his world famous book 'Man the unknown'.

From the Mahabharata on mental woes
Santi Parva, Section XVI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Bhimsen said: There are two kinds of diseases, viz., physical and mental. Each springs from the other. None of them can be seen existing independently. Without doubt, mental diseases spring from physical ones. Similarly physical diseases spring from mental ones. This is the truth.

He that indulges in regrets on account of past physical or mental woes, reaps woe from woe and suffers double woe.

Cold, heat and wind ,- these three are the attributes of the body. Their existence in harmony is the sign of health.

Goodness, passion and darkness are the three attributes of the mind. The existence of these three in harmony is the sign of mental health. If one of these prevails over the rest, remedies have been prescribed. Grief is checked by joy, and joy is checked by grief. One, living in the present enjoyment of this , wishes to recollect his past woes. Another, living in the present suffering of woe, wishes to recollect his past bliss.

From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Sec.XXVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Asma said to Janak:

The causes of all mental sorrows are two, viz., delusion of the mind and the accession of distress. No third cause exists. All these diverse kinds of causes as also those arising from attachment to earthly enjoyments, that overtake man, spring from such causes.

From Anandmayee, The universal mother.

A lady came to Anandamyee to seek solace. Her husband was in prison and she was in distress. Ma said: "This swami (husband) causes you pleasures and grief, but That Swami (Lord) never causes sorrow. Establish a relationship and you would always feel His presence in your mind."

From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CIXL
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Pujani said: He who takes everyday food that is nutritive, be it bitter or astringent or palatable or sweet, enjoys a long life. He, on the other hand, who disregards wholesome food and takes that which is injurious without an eye to consequences, soon meets with death.




Published with the kind permission of


Their ‘Understanding Hinduism’ website is an award winning site featuring a whole host of various articles promoting Hinduism. It truly is a wonderful, thoughtful and thought provoking work and a true beacon for the promotion of Hinduism and Vedic culture in the world today.


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This article was published on Monday 25 May, 2009.
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