Chapter 16 – Daivāsura Sampath Vibhāga Yoga

In this chapter, the Lord enumerates the divine and evil qualities, so we know what to adapt and what to give up. In fact, most part of the chapter goes dwelling into the evil qualities, to make it crystal clear in what ways, evil can mislead us into path of self destruction. The name of the chapter literally means classification of divine and demoniac traits. By classifying the the divine and demons by means of traits – it’s made amply clear that divine devatas and evil asurās are not necessarily any extra terrestrial beings – but they exist amongst us too.
It’s the traits we possess that makes us nearer to the supreme, by cultivating divine qualities. Or, nearer to ignorance by not giving up evil traits.

The Lord begins the chapter describing what are the divine qualities. These are described in the first 3 stanzas of the chapter:

Fearlessness, purity of thoughts, constantly engaging the mind in seeking right knowledge, engaging in charity, control over sense organs, sacrifice, study of scriptures, austerity, simplicity.

Non-violence, Truthfulness, having a check on anger, always at peace, not nit picking others faults, compassion towards all beings, free from greed, kindness, modesty, unflinching determination.

Vigour, being forgiving, fortitude, cleanliness, absence of hatred, absence of pride – these are the divine qualities that one must possess.

These are not disparate set of qualities, but complement each other and aid in gaining the knowledge about the supreme. Now these qualities are not limited to the seeking of the supreme alone. These are very much applicable in any of our pursuits in life. For example, consider you are preparing for some tough exam – say IAS. This requires months of preparation – austerity’. During such a period, you certainly cannot be fooling around with your friends, roaming around in malls, or indulging in any extravagance – this is the ‘control over sense organs and mind’. Instead of indulging in such extravagance, better utility of time is in introspection of what you’ve learnt so far – ‘constantly engaging the mind in seeking right knowledge’.
Modesty, Simplicity – helps in clarifying knowledge better – the moment we say ‘I know’, we are essentially closing our mind for any new inputs! It requires Vigour and Fortitude to stick to the study schedule, no matter how external situations may entice you to give up study for a day or two! The more closely you look, you’ll relate to each quality – how it has a significant positive impact, in your pursuit – isn’t it? Although the qualities may seem difficult to practice, the end result is positive, and helps elevate our thoughts and practices. That is why, they are divine qualities! And not possessed by many, although many may claim they do possess them all.

On the other hand, hypocrisy, arrogance, pride, anger, rudeness, ignorance, are the qualities that evil / demoniac people possess.

While the divine qualities helps in spiritual progress leading to knowledge, the evil traits binds us even more strongly to the cycle of life and death.

The Lord now elaborates the behaviours and traits of evil people. Such people know not what must be done, what must not be done – they are ignorant about right vs wrong, good vs bad. Neither are their thoughts/actions honest, nor can one expect truthfulness from them. They are simply driven by greed, lust – the only objective being self gratification.

Concept of atheism is not new to Hindu culture. If you think that free thinking, atheism is trendy, new and based on ‘modern science’ – hold on – Lord Krishna has spoken of such people already in Bhagavad Gita.
While explaining about demoniac people, he declares such people do not believe in any supreme being – they believe all this existence is purely for their own self enjoyment. When self gratification becomes the sole objective, the line between right and wrong starts blurring due to greed. Respect towards fellow beings starts decreasing, as self satisfaction takes precedence. This will slowly gather moss, turning to be a society devoid of moral values. Each being, filled with hundreds of desires, they’d be typically engrossed in anxiety and anger – they eventually won’t hesitate taking to wrong means for the sake of amassing wealth, fulfilling lust. What starts as – I shall satisfy this desire, I shall obtain that, this is mine; slowly starts transforming to be ‘this is only for me’, ‘I am the only enjoyer’, ‘I am perfect, I am all powerful’ and so on! While such statements may seem enticing, it necessarily entails a lot of negative emotion. Anxiety, jealousy, negativity, anger are all byproducts of such greed. And as desires and lust is endless, achieving one is simply going to trigger the next set of desires – forcing into the churn of same set of negative emotions again. Imagine everyone gyrating towards this attitude – self destruction would be imminent.

On the other hand, knowledge about the supreme helps the society stay grounded, with well meaning direction that allows for collective well being. Typical argument from atheists is that religion enforces fear, for societal well being. Pity on them, that they are not well informed. The premise of supreme starts at the minutest level – that such supreme energy exists right within us – ALL OF US. So then it is the respect and unconditional love we MUST give to all fellow beings, for the presence of the supreme in them, that fosters collective well being! This is the premise from which arises the brilliant verse – Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (all beings on this planet/universe is one family).

Returning to the topic that Lord was elaborating about demoniac people – he declares that such people will get into a never ending spiral of misdeeds. Even after death, they will get another life, in similar ecosystem with worsening conditions. This is in-line with what Lord declared in Chapter 8 about the significance of the last thought at the time of death. That thought / mindset dictates, what you derive in the next life. Thus, such people are born again to suffer the same set of anxieties, fear, anger and all such negative emotions yet again.

At this point he declares – DESIRE, ANGER and GREED are the 3 doors to hell. In other words, these 3 are at the root of all misdeeds! One who understands this and gets away from these 3 tendencies, he’ll set himself in the path of knowledge.

A note of caution for the reader here, about desires. Desire in itself is not bad. Qualification of desire, based on what it achieves is important to consider. For example, desire to know about the supreme is a good desire to have. In fact, the Lord declared in Chapter 7 that, he himself is at the source of desires in those that are in the path of dharma! Such a desire is considered to be Satvik. Desires that are Rajasic / Tamasic, that are aimed at only satisfying the sense organs or ego, are the ones to be given up!

The Lord concludes the chapter with a sound advice – to follow the guidance in the scriptures to determine what is right and what is wrong; what needs done, what should NOT be done. Such assessments are never to be done, by your own impulsive mind which has an implicit tendency to tilt the decision towards satisfying ones’ own desires!

DISCLAIMER: This our sincere attempt to summarise the Gitōpadesha, via a series of short blogs. This is NOT the whole translation, or commentary of the divine book. We seek forgiveness of reader and the lord, for omissions which is inevitable to keep the blog short. The write-ups include both, writer’s personal opinion and summarised version of many shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita. Intent of blog was never to be a commentary of Bhagavad Gita, but simply inspire the reader to read Bhagavad Gita in it’s entirety. The writer is neither a scholar, nor a bummer, somewhere in between, with a firm belief that the lord gets him to do all the things he does. Being human, he still keeps erring. Forgive him for all such mistakes.