Godly Wrath

A multifaith guide to wrath.

Continued from page 2

One Hindu

story in the Mahabharata

teaches the difference between a man of forgiveness and a man of wrath. The Mahabharata describes the man of wrath as someone "surrounded by darkness," who "is hated by both relatives and strangers. Such a man, because he insults others, suffers loss of wealth and reaps disregard and sorrow and hatred and confusion and enemies."

The king in the story explains, "Anger is the slayer of men and is again their protector. Know this, O thou possessed of great wisdom, that anger is the root of all prosperity and all adversity. O thou beautiful one, he that suppresses his anger earns prosperity."

Man must "ever forsake anger," the king says, because it will only lead to the world's destruction.

Other Hindu texts concur. The Tirukkural warns:

Forget anger toward all who have offended you,


For from anger springs a multitude of wrongs.



The face's smile and the heart's joy are slain by anger.


Does there exist a greater enemy than one's own anger? (Tirukkural 31: 303-304).

The Upanishads also teach that one who is angry cannot realize Brahman. The Tejabindu Upanishad explains, "Brahman cannot be realized by those who are subject to greed, fear, and anger. . . Brahman cannot be realized by those who are enmeshed in life's duality." But, the text continues, "to all those who pierce this duality, wse hearts are given to the Lord of Love, He gives himself through his infinite grace."

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Islam

The Qur'an depicts Allah as both a wrathful and merciful God. Several surahs warn believers about the wrath of Allah. "If they accuse thee of falsehood, say: "Your Lord is full of mercy all-embracing; but from people in guilt never will His wrath be turned back (6:147)."

Later the Qur'an states, "But those who have earned evil will have a reward of like evil: ignominy will cover their (faces): No defender will they have from (the wrath of) Allah (10:27)."

As one hadith explains, Muhammad taught that God was more merciful than wrathful. Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet Muhammad said, "Before He created life, the Almighty Allah declared, 'My Mercy shall surpass My Wrath.' Thus was it written."

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