Cynicism is a recognized major risk factor for coronary artery disease (blockages in the channels supplying blood to the heart). And, anger, jealousy and irritability form the triad responsible for this.

Anger is the enemy of peace, knowledge and devotion. According to Ayurveda, anger is a manifestation of Pitta (metabolism) imbalance and is a predisposing risk factor for causation of heart attack, paralysis, gall bladder stone, kidney stone, acidity, ulcer and cancer.

In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the pathway of anger leading to destruction in Chapter 2 Sloka 62 and 63. According to Lord Krishna, when a man’s desires are not fulfilled or expectations are not met, then he/she becomes angry. When one is under the influence of anger, he does all types of sinful activities. One loses the distinction between good and bad, loses one’s memory, understanding becomes clouded and the intellect gets perverted. Loss of intellect leads to animal-like behavior, and ultimately to destruction of oneself.

Many kinds of repercussions can occur with anger, such as injustice, rashness, persecution, jealousy, taking possession of other’s property, killing, speaking harsh words and cruelty. The degree of anger may vary from irritation, frowning, resentment, indignation, rage, fury and wrath.

Anger is not always bad. It is only when the anger is an outcome of greed or selfish motives, is it bad.

Righteous or spiritual anger is a type of anger caused with good intentions. This anger passes off the next moment as a wave subsides in the sea. The classical example of righteous anger is when you become angry in a situation where you see a person doing something wrong to check that person.

The root cause of anger is ignorance, egoism, and passion (strong desires), with passion being the root cause. To control anger, therefore, passion should be controlled first.

In Vedic language, both anger and passion are Rajo-Vriti disorders and get exaggerated with any Rajas-increasing lifestyle. Living a life with less of Rajas characteristics will reduce the chances of getting into passion and anger.

Rajas-increasing foods are eggs, fish, onion, garlic, fermented foods, etc. Modern fashion, night clubs, reading novels with stories of violence, living in the company of bad people, indulging in sexual talks, use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs are all Rajas-increasing lifestyles. A typical Rajasik person is one who indulges in eating, drinking and procreating.

Controlling anger and passion is a procedure involving effort. As a fish swims upstream against the current in a river to breathe, a person has to work against the disturbing thoughts. To balance and stabilize the mind, consuming ‘satvik’ foods like fresh food, vegetables, milk, and barley bread will help. Many exercises can also help to control anger. For example, observing silence for 20 to 30 minutes in a day, walking regularly, practicing speaking kind words, doing regular meditation, practicing non-violent communication daily and learning to think differently.

During an episode of anger, one can try left nostril pranayama, a short deep breathing exercise, taking a walk, drinking cold or simple water or chanting AUM or I AM. With inspiration, one chants “I” and with expiration “AM” reminding one who I AM. That I am the expression of pure spirit and my purpose of life is not to become angry. Remember the person who gets angry will have high blood pressure. The person who you are angry with may not have any change in the blood pressure.

One should realize that during anger, the power of discrimination is lost along with intellectual impairment. Therefore, anger has to be controlled much before it becomes full blown. The initial stage of anger is irritability, and therefore, with the onset of irritability, one should try to control it at the earliest.

One should never judge an individual with his own level of perception. One should realize that if a servant starts working with your level of expectations, he or she will not be working with you as a servant.

One should also make sure that one is not hungry at the time of feeling angry or irritable. Regular meals prevent development of anger.

Anger can be expressive or suppressive. Expressive anger presents with aggressive behavior and the outbursts of anger can cause social unhealthiness. It can cause sudden rise in upper blood pressure or cause rupture of a plaque in the artery supplying blood to the heart, precipitating a heart attack.

Suppressive anger can lead to acidity, asthma, formation of plaques in the heart arteries, etc. In the long run, suppressed anger, if not expressed, may end up with depression, despondency, guilt, etc.

Therefore, anger should neither be passed on to others (expressive) nor taken within (suppressed or repressed). Anger, therefore, should be altered, neutralized, or modified. This can be done by temporarily holding it for some time and then taking timely action. Temporary holding can be achieved by using the above exercises. Remember both passion and anger are energies which should be conserved and not wasted.

The mythological explanation of Shiva, the Neelkanth, is also the same. One should neither throw the poison (anger), nor drink it, but keep it in the throat for some time and take the right action after the anger manifestations are over.

From Vedic text point of view, every thought arises from the silent potential web of energized information or consciousness. This thought from the mind is then analyzed by the intellect and modified by the ego. At this stage, it leads to an action. An action leads to memory and memory leads to desire for the action again.

If this desire is fulfilled, it leads to action again and then desire again. Repeated fulfilment of desires leads to habit formation, addictions and development of a particular personality.

If the desire is not fulfilled, it leads to irritability and irritability leads to anger which then can be expressive or suppressive.

The answer, therefore, lies in changing the perception at the level of the thought or controlling the desires and/or the expectation.