By Vidagdha Madhav Das
An angry outburst is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharath and the Srimad Bhagavatam reveal deeper aspects of anger — its root cause, what it can lead to, and the method to overcome it.
Anger is often impulsive, and pushes us to act quickly and irrationally. What exactly happens when we are under the sway of anger is explained in the Bhagavad Gita.
1. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one is ruined. —Bhagavad Gita 2.63
Anger seems ‘cool’, but causes ‘cold-burns’
2. Only fools praise anger, considering it equivalent to energy. The wise keep anger at a distance. —Mahabharath
In reel life, anger is portrayed as ‘cool’; but in real life, anger leads to ‘cold-burns’. Anger is like a glistening dagger — made of frozen water — that we hold in our hand with the intention of stabbing our enemy. But as we hold it, it first cold-burns our own hands; anger causes a range of health problems such as headaches, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and even heart attack.
3. Men suffer from eight vices that steal their life duration: desire, anger, greed, vanity, insolence, pride, malice, and selfishness. —Mahabharath
Anger is bad in the long run, and also in the short run, because it distracts us from our goals – both short term and long term.
4. With patience and peace everything can be done, but if one is agitated by anger, the goal is not achieved. —Srimad Bhagavatam
5. He is said to be a wise man that cannot be deviated from his duties by anger, exultation, pride, lust or ignorance, and who remains fixed on the highest goals of life. —Mahabharath
6. Yaksha asked Yudhistir: “What is it that, by renouncing, makes a man dear to others? What is it which if given up never leads to misery? What is it which if renounced leads to wealth, and what is it which if renounced leads to happiness.” In reply, Yudhistir said: “Giving up pride makes one dear. Abandoning anger never leads to misery. Desire, if renounced, makes one wealthy, and abandonment of avarice leads to happiness.” —Mahabharath
7. If one is able to check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and is happy in this world. —Bhagavad Gita 5.23
8. The man consumed by anger does not easily acquire generosity, dignity, courage, skill or the other attributes possessed by men of character. —Mahabharath
9. There are three gates leading to hell—lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul. —Bhagavad Gita 16.21
How to save ourselves from these degrading effects of anger?
Anger ‘melts away’ in the presence of love
A mother might get circumstantially angry with her child’s tantrums. But eventually her anger melts away in the warmth of love she feels for her child. This is the power of love.
Techniques like deep breathing might symptomatically check our anger but don’t free us from feelings of hate. In fact, mere suppression of these negative emotions leads to cancer according to worldwide studies. We need to address the root cause of this deadly disease.
10. While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment selfish passion develops, and from selfish passion anger arises. —Bhagavad Gita 2.62
11. By giving up envy one should conquer anger, by discussing the disadvantages of accumulating wealth one should give up greed, and by discussing the truth one should give up fear. —Srimad Bhagavatam
Selfish passion and envy are the root causes of anger. And only selfless love can replace selfish passion and envy in our hearts. How to cultivate such love? When we love God, we simultaneously love all living beings because every being is a sacred child of God. And the practice of spirituality nourishes our heart with such selfless love for God.
12. Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me. —Bhagavad Gita 4.10