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BG 16 (1968)

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada



1-3:     THE SUPREME PERSONALITY OF GODHEAD said: Fearlessness, the purification of one's existence, the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, charity, sense control, performance of sacrifice, study of the Veda, austerity and simplicity, non-violence, truthfulness, freedom from anger, renunciation, peacefulness, aversion to faultfinding, compassion toward every living entity, being without any greed, gentleness, shyness and determination, vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, cleanliness, freedom from both enviousness and the passion for honor—these are the transcendental qualities, born of the godly atmosphere, O son of Bharata.


IN THE BEGINNING of the Fifteenth Chapter, the banyan tree of this material world was explained. The extra roots coming out of it were compared to the activities of the living entities, some auspicious, some inauspicious. In the Ninth Chapter, also, it was stated who is the deva, or godly, and who is the asura, the ungodly, or demon. Now, according to Vedic rites, activities in the mode of goodness are considered auspicious for making progress on the path of liberation, and such activities are known as daivaprakriti, transcendental by nature. Those who are situated in the transcendental Nature are making progress on the path of liberation. For those who are acting in the modes of passion and ignorance, on the other hand, there is no possibility of liberation. Either they will have to remain in this material world as human beings, or they may descend among the species of animals, and others even lower. In this Sixteenth Chapter the Lord will explain the transcendental Nature and its attendant qualities; as well as the demoniac nature and its qualities. He will also explain the advantages and disadvantages of these qualities.

4:     Those who are born with demoniac qualities exhibit pride, arrogance, false prestige, anger, harshness, and ignorance, O son of Pritha.


IN THIS VERSE, the royal road to hell is described. The demoniac want to make a show of religiousness and advancement in spiritual science, although they do not follow the principles. They are always arrogant, possessing some type of education, in possession of wealth, desiring to be worshiped by others. They demand respectability, although they do not command respect. In trifles they grow very angry, and they speak harshly, not gently. They do not know what should be done and what should not be done. They do everything whimsically, according to their own desire, and they do not recognize any authority. These demoniac qualities are taken by them from the beginning of their bodies in the wombs of their mothers, and as they grow they manifest all these inauspicious things.

5:     The transcendental assets lead to liberation, whereas the demoniac assets are meant for bondage. But do not worry, O son of Pandu—you are born with transcendental qualities.

6:     O son of Pritha, in this world there are two kinds of created beings. One is called divine, and the other demoniac. I have already explained to you at length the divine qualities; and now I shall describe the demoniac.

7:     Those who are of demoniac quality do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done in propriety. They are unclean, neither do they know how to behave, nor is there any truth in them.

8:     They say that this world is unreal, that there is neither any foundation, nor any God in control. It is produced of sex desire; and has no other cause than lust.


THE DEMONIAC PEOPLE conclude that the creation of the world is a phantasm. There is no cause or effect, no controller, no purpose: Everything is unreal. As the will o' the wisp is caused by certain atmospheric changes, so this cosmic manifestation is due to chance material actions and reactions. That is their conclusion. They do not think that the world was created by God for a certain purpose. They have their own theory: that the world has come about in its own way, and there is no reason to believe that there could be a God behind it. For them there is no differentiation between spirit and matter, or acceptance of the Supreme Spirit. Everything is matter only, and the whole thing is supposed to be a mass of ignorance. According to them, everything is void, and whatever manifestation exists is due to our ignorance in perception. They take it for granted that all manifestation or diversity is a display of ignorance. Just as in a dream, we may create so many things, which actually have no existence; so, similarly, when we are awakened we shall see that everything is simply a dream. But factually, although the demons say that it is a dream, they are very expert in enjoying this dream. And so, instead of getting knowledge, they become more and more implicated in their dreamland.

9:     Following such conclusions, the demoniac people, lost to themselves and without intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.


THE DEMONIAC ARE engaged in such activities as will lead the world to destruction. The Lord states here that they are less intelligent. The materialistic people, who have no concept of God, think that they are advancing. But according to The Bhagavad Gita, they are less intelligent, and devoid of all sense. They try to enjoy this material world to the utmost limit, and therefore always engage in inventing something for sense gratification. Such materialistic inventions are considered the advancement of human civilization; and the result is that the people are growing more and more violent, and more and more cruel. Cruel to the animals, cruel to the human beings—they have no concept of how to behave toward one another. Animal killing is very prominent amongst demoniac people.

Such people are considered the enemies of the world. Because, ultimately, they invent or create something which will bring destruction to all. Indirectly, this verse points to the invention of nuclear weapons, for which the whole world is today very proud. At any moment war may take place, and these atomic weapons may create havoc: Such things are created solely for the destruction of the world—and this is indicated in The Bhagavad Gita. Due to Godlessness, such things are invented in human society, and are not meant for the peace and prosperity of the world.

10:     The demoniac, taking shelter of insatiable lust, pride, and false prestige, and being thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent.

11:     Their belief is that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus, there is no measurement for their anxiety.


THE DEMONIAC PEOPLE have accepted that the enjoyment of the senses is the ultimate goal of life. And this concept is prolonged until death. They do not believe in life after death; and they do not believe there are different grades of bodies, according to one's karma, or activities in this world. Their plans for life are never finished, and they go on preparing plan after plan, all of which are never finished. We have personal experience of a person of such demoniac mentality, who, even at the point of death, was requesting the physician to prolong his life for four years more—because his plans were not yet complete. Such foolish people do not know that no physician can prolong life even for a moment. When the notice is there, without any consideration of man's desire, the laws of Nature allow not even a second beyond what one is destined to enjoy.

12:     Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.

13-15:     The demoniac person thinks: "So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy and I have killed him; and my other enemy will also be killed. I am the Lord of everything, I am the enjoyer, I am perfect, powerful, and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall make some charity, and thus I shall rejoice." In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance.

16:     Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, one becomes too strongly attached to sense enjoyment, and falls down into hell.


THE DEMONIAC MAN has no limit to his desire to acquire money. For that reason, he does not mind acting in any sinful way. This is known as black market or illegal gratification. Such demoniac persons are enamored by the possessions they have already—such as the land, the family, the house, and the bank balance. And they are always thinking to improve such things. And they believe in their own strength. They have no knowledge that whatever they are gaining is due to past good deeds. So they are given the opportunity to accumulate such things. But they have no conception of the past causes. They simply think that all this mass of wealth is due to their own endeavor. Demoniac people believe in the strength of their personal work. They do not believe in the law of karma: According to the law of karma, a man takes his birth in a high family, or becomes rich, or becomes very well-educated, or becomes very beautiful, on account of good work in the past. The demoniac think all these things are accidental, and due to the strength of one's personal ability. They do not sense any arrangement behind all these varieties of people, beauty, and education. And anyone who comes into competition with such a demoniac man is his enemy. There are many demoniac people, and each is enemy to the others. This enmity becomes more and more deep—between persons, then between families, then between societies, and at last between nations. And therefore there is constant strife, war, and enmity all

Each demoniac person thinks that he can live at the sacrifice over the world. of all others. Generally, a demoniac person thinks of himself as the Supreme God, and demoniac preachers instruct their followers: Why are you seeking God elsewhere? You are all yourselves God! Whatever you like you can do. Don't believe in God. Throw God away. God is dead. These are their preachings. The best example of such a demoniac man was Ravana, in the narrative of The Ramayana. He offered a program to the people by which he would prepare a staircase, so that anyone could reach the heavenly planets without performing sacrifices such as are prescribed in the Vedas. Similarly, at the present age, such demoniac men are thinking to reach the higher planetary systems by some mechanical arrangement. These are examples of the bewilderment of the demoniac people, and the result is that, without their knowledge, they are gliding toward hell. Here the Sanskrit word mohajala is very significant. Jala means net: Like fishes caught in a net, they have no way to come out.

17:     Self-complacent and always impudent, deluded by wealth and false prestige, they sometimes perform sacrifices in name only, without following any rules or regulations.

18:     Bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust, and anger, the demon becomes envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, situated in his own body and in others, and blasphemes against the real religion.


A DEMONIAC PERSON, being always against the existence of God's supremacy, does not like to believe in the scriptures. He is envious of both the scriptures and of the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, on account of his so-called prestige, and his accumulation of wealth and strength. He does not know that the present life is a background for preparing the next life. And, without knowing this, he is actually envious of his own self, as well as of others. He commits violence on other bodies and on his own. He does not care for the supreme control of the Personality of Godhead, because he has no knowledge. Being envious of the scriptures and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he puts forward illogic against the existence of God and refutes the scriptural authority. He thinks himself independent and powerful in every action. He thinks that no one can equal him in strength, power, or in wealth. He can, therefore, act in any way. No one can stop him; and if there is any enemy in the advancement of his sensual activities, he will think to cut down such enemies by his own power.

19:     Envious, mischievous, the lowest of Mankind, these do I ever put back into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.


IN THIS VERSE it is clearly indicated that to put a particular individual soul in a particular body is the prerogative of the Supreme Will. The demoniac person may not agree to accept the supremacy of the Lord, and it is a fact that he may act according to his own whims. But his next birth will depend upon the decision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and not on himself. In The Srimad Bhagwatam, Third Canto, it is stated that an individual soul, after his death, is put into the womb of a mother where he gets a particular type of body—under the supervision of Superior Power. Therefore, in the material existence, we find so many species of life—animals, men, and so on—and all are arranged by that Superior Power. They are not accidental. As for the demoniac, it is clearly said here that they are perpetually put into the wombs of demons and thus they continue to be envious, the lowest of Mankind. Such demoniac species of life are held to be always full of lust, always violent and hateful, without any cleanliness.

20:     Gaining repeated birth among the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me; and gradually they sink down to the most abominable position of existence.


IT IS KNOWN THAT God is all-merciful. But here we find that God is never merciful to the demoniac. It is clearly stated that the demoniac people, life after life, are put into the wombs of similar demons. And, without achieving the mercy of the Supreme Lord, they go down and down, so that at last they achieve bodies like those of the cats and dogs and hogs. It is clearly stated that such demons have practically no chance of receiving the mercy of God at any stage of later life. In the Vedas also it is stated that such persons gradually go down to become dogs and hogs. It may then be argued in this connection that God should not be advertised as all-merciful, as He is not merciful to such demons. To answer this question, in The Vedanta Sutra we find that the Supreme Lord has no such thing as hatred or favor for anyone. To put the asuras, the demons, into the lowest status of life is simply another feature of His merciful action. Sometimes the asuras are killed by the Supreme Lord. This killing is also good for them: In Vedic literature, we find that anyone who is killed by the Supreme Lord becomes liberated, and we have instances in history that there were many asuras—Ravana, Kansa, Hiranya Kashipu—to whom the Lord appeared in various incarnations just to kill them. Therefore, God's mercy is shown to the asuras, if they are fortunate enough to be killed by Him.

21:     There are three gates leading down to hell; these are lust, anger, and greed. Every sane man should, therefore, give up these three things.

22:     One who is freed from these three gates to hell, O son of Kunti, performs good for his self-realization, and thus gradually attains to the Supreme destination.


ONE SHOULD BE VERY careful of these three enemies to human life: lust, anger, and greed. The more a person is freed from lust, anger, and greed, the more his existence becomes pure. Then he can follow the rules and regulations enjoined in the Vedic literature. And, by following the regulative principles of human life, he gradually raises himself to the platform of spiritual realization. If one is so fortunate, by such practice, to rise to the platform of Krishna consciousness, then success is guaranteed for him. In the Vedic literature, the ways of action and reaction are prescribed just in order to come to the stage of purification. The whole method is based on the giving up of lust, greed, and anger. By cultivating knowledge of how to do this, one is elevated to the highest position of self-realization; and thus self-realization is perfect in devotional service. In that devotional service, the liberation of the conditioned soul is guaranteed. Therefore, according to the Vedic system, there are instituted the four orders of life and the four social ranks called the spiritual order system and the caste system. There are different rules and regulations for different castes or divisions of society; and if a person is able to follow them, he will be automatically raised to the highest platform of spiritual realization. And then he can have liberation without any doubt.

23:     Anyone, therefore, who acts whimsically, without caring for the regulations of the scriptures, can never have perfection in his life, nor happiness, nor the Supreme destination.

24:     One should understand what is duty and what is not duty, by the regulations of the scriptures. And, knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated.


AS STATED IN THE Fifteenth Chapter, all the rules and regulations of the Vedas are meant for knowing Krishna. So if anyone understands Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita, and becomes situated in Krishna consciousness, engaging himself in devotional service—he has reached the highest perfection of knowledge offered by the Vedic literature. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made this process very easy: He asked people simply to chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—and to engage in the devotional service of the Lord, and eat the remnants of foodstuff offered to the deity. One who is directly engaged in all these devotional activities is to be understood as having studied all the Vedic literature, and has come to the conclusion perfectly. Of course, for the ordinary persons who are not in Krishna consciousness, or engaged in devotional service, what is to be done and what is not to be done must be decided by the injunctions of the Vedas; and one should act accordingly, without any argument. That is called following the principles of Shastra, or scripture. Shastra is without the four principal defects that are visible in the conditioned soul: imperfect senses, the propensity for cheating, certainty of committing mistakes, and certainty of being illusioned. These four principal defects in conditioned life disqualify one from putting forth rules and regulations. Therefore, the rules and regulations as described in the Shastra—being above these defects—are accepted without any alteration by all great saints, Acharyas, and great souls.

In India especially there are many parties of spiritual understanding, generally classified as two: the impersonalist and the personalist. Both of them, however, lead their lives according to the principles of the Vedas. Without following the principles of the scriptures, no one can elevate himself to the perfectional stage.

In human society, aversion to the principles of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the cause of all fall-down. That is the greatest offense of human life. Therefore, Maya, the material energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is always giving us trouble, in the shape of the threefold miseries. This material energy is constituted of the three modes of material Nature. One has to raise himself at least to the mode of goodness, before the path to understanding the Supreme Lord can be open. Without raising oneself to the standard of the mode of goodness, one remains in ignorance and passion—which is the cause of gradually becoming demoniac. Those in the modes of passion and ignorance deride the scriptures, deride the holy men, and deride the proper understanding of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They disobey the instructions of the spiritual master, and they do not care for the regulations of the scriptures. In spite of hearing the glories of devotional service, they are not attracted to this, and therefore they manufacture their own way of elevation. These are some of the defects of human society, which lead to the demoniac condition of life. If, however, one is able to be guided by a proper and bona fide spiritual master, who can lead him to the path of elevation—to the highest stage—then his life becomes successful.

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Sixteenth Chapter of The Srimad Bhagavad Gita, in the matter of the Divine and Demoniac Natures.