The Sixteenth Teaching
Divine and Demonic Character Traits
Fearlessness, purity of heart, determination in the discipline of knowledge, charity, self-control, non-violence, gentleness, honesty;
Integrity, truth, joys in the study of the scriptures, a tranquil mind, compassion for all beings, lack of greed, modesty, patience, and reliability,
dignity, kindness, resolve, clarity, absence of envy and of pride; these characterize a man born with divine traits.
Hypocrisy, arrogance, vanity, anger, harshness, ignorance; these characterize a man born with demonic traits.
The divine traits lead to freedom, the demonic to suffering and bondage. But do not despair, Arjuna, you were born with the divine traits.
All the beings in the world are either divine or demonic; I have described the divine at length hear what I say of the demonic.
Demonic men do not know what should and should not be done; there is no purity of heart, no morality, no truth inside them.
They say that the universe has no truth, no moral order, no God, that life is an accident caused by only sexual desire.
Mired in this belief, drawn into cruelty and malice, these fiends contrive terrible acts to destroy the world.
Driven by insatiable lusts, drunk on the arrogance of power, hypocritical, deluded, they act foul with self seeking,
Convinced that life’s sole aim is the gratification of desires, they suffer immeasurable anxiety that ends only with death.
Bound by a hundred fetters of hope, obsessed by desire and anger, they hoard wealth in stealthy ways to satisfy their desires.
“I gained this desire today, and tomorrow I shall attain that one; this wealth is mine, and soon there will be more.
“I have already killed that enemy, and soon I shall kill others too; I am the lord, the enjoyer, successful, strong and happy.
“I am wealthy, and noble and famous. Who on earth is my equal? I will worship, give, alms and rejoice.” Thus think these deluded fools.
Confused by endless thinking, caught in the net of delusion, addicted to desire, they fall into hell’s foul abyss.
Self-aggrandizing, stubborn, drunk with insolence of wealth, they go through the outward forms of worship, but their hearts are elsewhere.
Submitting to the I-sense, to power, to arrogance, lust and anger, they hate me, denying my presence in their own and in others’ bodies.
These hateful, cruel, vile men of misfortune, I cast into demonic wombs through cycles of rebirth.
Trapped in demonic womb, deluded in birth after birth, they fail to reach me, Arjuna, and sink to the lowest state.
The three gates of hell that destroy the Self are desire, anger, and greed.
One must relinquish them.
The one who refuse to enter the three gates of darkness, Arjuna, does best for himself and attains the ultimate goal.
But the man who rejects the scriptures and lives to fulfill his desires, he does not reach perfection of happiness and success.
Let scriptures be your guide, know what to do and what to avoid.
Understand the injunction then perform right actions in the world.
As I Understand It:
This chapter discusses divine character traits that liberate and demonic traits that enslave. The divine traits lead to increasing happiness on the path to liberation and demonic lead to suffering and enslavement of atman.
The demonic personality that is described here is basically atheistic. Krishna says that such people think that their life is not grounded in God but in biology and originates in sexual desire. Atheists cause suffering to themselves as well as others. Such people have selfish desires. They are greedy but give alms to show off their wealth and generosity. Thus they live in the hell of their own making often in this very life. When they die they sink to the lowest state and never attain moksha, the ultimate freedom.
Krishna advices Arjuna that he must avoid the three doors to hell: lust, anger and greed, let scriptures guide him in all actions and be completely devoted to Him.
The Bhagavad Gita, Introduced and Translated by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, California. Second Edition, 2008 (1st Pub. 1985).
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna Counsel in Time of War, Translation and Introduction by Barbara Stoler Miller. Bantam Doubleday Dell Group, Inc. New York. Bantam Books, 1986.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation, Stephen Mitchell, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2000.