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Understanding Lust and Anger Through Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita notes that ‘dwelling on sense objects leads to attachment; attachment gives rise to desire, and desire breeds anger. Anger generates delusion, and delusion results in loss of memory; from loss of memory, destruction of discernment, and loss of discernment spells the person’s ruin.’

Lust and anger are two emotions that can completely hijack one’s body and mind: When a person first abuses me, I know I am going to be angry. Anger is one thing, I another; but before I realize it, I am turned into anger itself.

However, those attempting to control lust and anger notice something interesting: Our psychophysical system cannot sustain a strong upsurge of lust or anger for long; allowed time, both drop away as rapidly as they arise, albeit only to rise again a little later. This total identification with lust and anger is a false identification of the self; to the thoughtful, the subsequent release from their spell should provide insight into the ‘illusory’ nature of their identity with one’s self.

But how do we break free from this false identification. The Gita itself shows the way in the case of lust and anger: ‘One who is able to withstand the force of lust and anger even here before quitting the body is a yogi; he is happy man.’

A mind overpowered by lust or anger is in a state of moha, delusion; and delusion is characterized by loss of discernment and paralysis of willpower. The only course possible is to attempt standing the surge without acting on it. Every time we manage to do this successfully, the instinctual network of samskaras orchestrating this upsurge gets a wee bit weaker. That is the reason why vairagya, detachment, and titiksha, fortitude, are fundamental requisites for the pursuit of Vedanta. If we allow the senses to be carried away by the external world, which is a product of false identification of the self, we cannot know the reality of our Self, which the false identification swamps.

Source - Prabuddha Bharata January 2010 Issue