It is quite possible that we are wronged at some point in life. It can be someone bullying us on the social media, someone knocking us off the footpath, someone badmouthing about us etc. One of the possible response is to become angry and wanting to seek revenge.
What seeking revenge does to us?
We want to get back on them. We want to see them suffer. Does this end at the first instant? No. Anger by nature is insatiable (BG 3.37). It is all consuming. Revenge does not satiate itself with the first act. It impels one to inflict further damage on the opponent. It diverts our focus and energy into something that is detrimental to others and even to us.
This can potentially lead to fear and insecurity. Because the opponent can also become a victim of anger and potentially strike back. This is evident in the case of Dronacarya where Drupada strikes through Drustadyumna. This can become a chain reaction.
Revenge also has a cascading effect. It makes us increasingly self-centered. This self-centeredness permeates into other dealings and relationships. It affects them negatively.
How to reduce the tendency to seek revenge?
One question to ask before succumbing to vengeance is to ask the question – “Is revenge necessary?” i.e. to give benefit of doubt. The offence can be unintentional. It can be out of ignorance. The opponent himself may be feeling guilty about it. It is worth seeing the situation from this perspective before responding to it.
Even if the offence is intentional, will seeking revenge help? It is not helping us on the first hand as discussed above. It may not prevent future threats. The opponents can get back and can make the situation worse. Evil is a fundamental element in this world. At most it may change its form from time to time. Accepting this truth will go a long way in preventing us from succumbing to vengeance.
To the extent we see ourselves in terms of external and temporary identities, to that extent we are prone to be affected when we are wronged. The external identities – body, social position, opulence are subject to change anyway either by the forces of time. If we understand our spiritual essence as spirit soul (BG 2.13) that is unchangeable and eternal to that extent we are not affected by the evil acts of others.
If we put aside the question – “how can we be wronged? , why are we wronged?”, we can focus on the question – “Am I wrong in any way?”. We can explore and see if we can improve our behavior, outlook in any way.
Transforming revenge into compassion
Another noble and progressive way to respond to an offensive act is compassion. We see that the offender is acting out of ignorance or evil influence. We can consider what we can do so that the offender is helped from furthering his evil acts and is reformed in his conduct and attitude. This is enacted on the platform of selflessness not on selfishness.
Being wronged is a part of being in this world. Seeking revenge is a very unhealthy way of responding to it. Either self-restraint based on a realistic philosophical understanding or selfless spiritual compassion are healthy ways to respond to it.