An incident in the life of the eldest of the Pandava brothers explains the true meaning of Sathyam Vad Krodham Maakuroo. As boys, Pandavas went to an ashrama and the very first teaching passed on to them by their guru was – “Sathyam Vad Krodham maakuroo!” which means “speak the truth and never get angry!”
The next day the teacher asked the Pandava brothers if they had learnt the lesson. All of them, expect Yudhishtira, the eldest, said they had remembered the lesson. Yudhishtira said, “Sir, I have learnt only the first half of the lesson. The latter half I have not yet been able to learn!” So, the teacher very patiently made him repeat the words, “Krodham maakuroo! Krodham maakuroo!”
But again, on the following, day when the teacher asked his students if they had remembered the teaching, Yudhishtira said he had not been able to memorize the second half of the lesson.
So the Guru again made him repeat the words. This continued for a week.
After a week when Yudhishtira insisted that he had no yet learnt the latter part of the teaching, the Guru lost his temper and shouted at him – “How can you be so stupid? Your younger brothers learnt the lesson on the very first day. Why is it that you cannot remember two simple words, Krodham Maakuroo?”
Then suddenly Yudhishtira clapped his hands in joy and said – “Sir, I can say now that I have learnt the lesson!”
“How is it that a moment ago, you could not recall the words and you assert that you have learnt them?” asked the Guru, greatly surprise.
Yudhishtira said – “The first half of the lesson was easy to remember, because I always speak the truth. The latter half, viz., never yield to anger, I could not be sure if I had mastered, unless someone got angry at me, and in return, I remained calm. Today, I found that in the face of anger I was unruffled and so I can truthfully say that I have remembered the teaching.”