Anger comes from desire and has many unpleasant consequences. When what we ardently desire remains out of reach, we are angry with those around us. We are sometimes angry with ourselves, or even with God. We take it out on anyone who is unfortunate to come into contact with us at the time. Our words and gestures indicate how angry we are, and our anger is evident even in our eyes and the way in which our lips twitch. Thus we reveal our agitated frame of mind. Once the anger has passed, we may forget the words we used to abuse others, but the recipient of the abuse remembers and remains hurt. Anger is like the Ganga river, breaking all barriers, and destroying everything in its path, said Goda Venkateswara Sastrigal, in a discourse. We should learn to keep our temper in check. But how should we react when someone abuses us angrily? We should remain as passive as a stone. We should not respond to the outburst. After Vali is mortally wounded, he speaks to Rama harshly, and yet Rama does not respond angrily. He calmly listens to Vali and then explains to him what dharma means. Thus Rama was calm, even though Vali’s words were harsh. One who never loses his temper will reach his goalpost.
The consequences of anger are long lasting. It takes us just a second to throw a stone into a bucket of water, but the ripples that this sets off, take awhile to settle. In the same way, it is easy to lose one’s temper in a second, but the consequences last for a long time. But how do we control anger? This takes practice. If we give ourselves time, any angry feeling that we have, will eventually subside. Once this stage is crossed, we will, in course of time, learn not to react angrily, no matter what the provocation. If someone insults us, we must introspect, and see if we deserve his censure. If we do, then we must correct ourselves. If we do not deserve his scolding, then we should ignore his words. If we have been wrongly accused, then once the abuser realises this, he will be sorry for his words, and will develop respect for us. If we have hurt someone, we should not feel ashamed to apologise. Control of anger, thus, is the first step in the attempt at spiritual progress.