Chapter 16The Divine and the Demoniac Natures DefinedVerse 1,2,3


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

In order to discern the reality that jivas or embodied beings who fully renounce demoniac activities and exclusively engage in divine activities are awarded moksa or liberation from material existence and to grant the ability to clearly distinguish between the two; the Supreme Lord Krishna describes first the divine qualities and then the demoniac.

At the conclusion of chapter 15 Lord Krishna explained that one realising the eternal spiritual truths stated their is situated in actual wisdom and accomplished in all duties both eternal and occasional. Now in this chapter Lord Krishna is clarifying by qualities exactly who is a recipient of this knowledge and established in wisdom and who is not. He first describes the qualities of those jivas or embodied beings situated within the divine nature possessing divine qualities and then He describes those jivas situated within the demoniac nature possessing demoniac qualities. It is only after the goal of an accomplishment has been ascertained that an assessment of the requirements and who is qualified for it can be determined. As the old adage from sage Kumarila Bhatta has foretold: Only after a load has been weighed can it be determined who is fit to carry it.

So as the goal being the recipient of knowledge has been determined; the divine qualities that characterise an aspirant who is qualified are now being enumerated in these three verses beginning with abhayam meaning fearlessness, for in knowing one is eternal there is nothing to ever be afraid of. Other qualities are purity of heart, complete serenity of mind, steady absorption in knowledge of yoga or the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness. Charity is sharing with others what is valuable to oneself. Self control of the mind, the senses and the organs of action. Performing and taking part in ritualistic activities which propitiate and glorify the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His incarnations or expansions which are authorised in Vedic scriptures. Receiving instructions from the spiritual master and studying of the Vedic scriptures, singing Vedic hymns, chanting repetitively Vedic mantras or sacred incantations. Austerity and temperance in the habits and activities the physical body engages in. Enacting all activities without duplicity or deception. The word ahimsa means abstaining from injuring others by thought, word or deed. The one exception to this rule is when one's life and dependents are in danger.

Truthfulness is relating the facts as they are and not as one wants them to be perceived. Absence of anger is calmness within the mind without agitation even when rebuked, attacked or in the process of defending oneself. Tyagah is renunciation of possessions and thus natural generosity. Tranquillity is complete control of the mind. Freedom from slander is absence of envy and retaliation. Compassion is kindness to all living beings especially when they are in distress. Non-covetousness is self satisfaction with what one has been allotted in life. Gentleness is absence of cruelty or harshness. Modesty is shyness in decorum and hesitancy in even the thought of wrong doing. Absence of fickleness is the avoidance of frivolous activities. Boldness is courage in asserting what is truth and defending righteousness. Forgiveness is not becoming upset by humiliation. Fortitude is steadying the mind when under great duress. Purity is external and internal cleanliness. The lack of conceit is absence of thinking of oneself egotistically. These 26 qualities related by Lord Krishna are characterised by one who is situated in the divine nature and thus qualified to attain association with the Supreme Lord and His devotees.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Hari OM! The Supreme Lord Krishna elaborately describes the qualities of the divine nature and then describes the demoniac nature to clearly distinguish between the two. The meritorious qualities of the divine nature which follows the nature of Brahma who as the secondary creator manifested all creatures is self evident. The emphasis is on the word tapasya meaning austerity. Adherence to brahminical qualities and attributes is itself an austerity. Ahimsa is non-violence to any being. Animosity is the intent to cause injury to others, it is the defect pointed out in rulers and military commanders. The Amarakosa dictionary mentions this as well. Kings and emperors ruling without fear by the strength of their might proudly regard all others as inferior. This is said to be arrogance. Tyagah is renunciation of possessiveness such as obsession with position, family, wealth, etc. The word ksama meaning tolerance is the state of mind which forgives and refrains from harming those who have caused harm.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

In the previous three chapters the topics explained by the Supreme Lord Krishna were: 1) The essential nature of physical matter and spirit as the atma or immortal soul. 2) The fact that when the atma and physical matter are conjoined it is a result due to attachment to the gunas or three modes of material nature and when the atma is independent of matter it is a result due to being unattached to the gunas. 3) That both the atma and physical matter in whatever condition constitute two distinct aspects of the Supreme Lord's potencies. 4) That the Supreme Lord as the source of all that exists yet is factually distinct and separate from all aspects of His creation both achit or matter and chit or spirit which are contained within Him. This includes every jiva or embodied being in all creation; both baddha-jivas who are bound and mukta-jivas who are liberated. The Supreme Lord possesses all transcendental and divine powers such as: immortality, sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, omni-presence, etc.

Lord Krishna will substantiate the reality of what has previously been declared in accordance to the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures which are the absolute authority. This is done by initiating a comparison between the divine nature and the demoniac nature as it is verified throughout creation. The divine nature expresses complete allegiance to righteousness and adherence to the authority of the Vedic scriptures. The demoniac nature does not follow righteousness, neither does it accept the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures; contrarily adopting inauspicious activities befitting impure concoctions and unrighteous conceptions.

Lord Krishna begins by describing the 26 divine qualities: 1) abhayam is fearlessness due to the absence of anxiety which arises from the dread of harm to the physical body or the prospect of losing what is precious. 2) sattva-samsuddhih is purification of one's existence and denotes purity of heart consisting of pure goodness undefiled with the taint of passion and ignorance. 3) jnana-yoga-vyavasthitih means situated in the knowledge of devotion resulting from discriminating the atma or immortal soul from physical matter as the individual consciousness attains communion with the ultimate consciousness. 4) danam is the charity given to worthy recipients from what one legitimately owns. 5) damah is self restraint, controlling the mind to be uninfluenced by sense objects. 6) yagna is Vedically authorised ritualistic ceremonies in propitiation and devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna exclusively for His satisfaction without any self interests. This also applies to His authorised incarnations and expansions. 7) svadhyayah is devoted study of Vedic scriptures, knowing that they alone teach the glories of the Supreme Lord and are the quintessence of all that is spiritual. 8) tapas is austerity and penance. Performing expiatory activities is a duty for all human beings such as Ekadasi which is mandatory fasting from all grains on the 11th day of the waxing and waning moons. As well there are occasional expiatory activities such as candrayana which are fasts synchronised with the cycles of the moon and also kricchra which is extreme ascetic penance performed under very hot or very cold conditions and prajapatya and santapana. Such activities purifies an aspirant and prepares and qualifies them for devotion to the Supreme Lord. 9) arjavam is simplicity, straight forwardness to others in thought, word and deeds. 10) ahimsa is non-violence to all living entities by thought, word and deed. 11) satyam is truthfulness verily speaking what is true that is beneficial to all beings. 12) akrodah is freedom from anger due to absence of resentment for others. 13) tyagah is renunciation of whatever is opposed to atma-tattva or soul realisation. o 14) santih is tranquillity, keeping the senses peaceful and impervious to agitation. 15) apaisunam is aversion to fault finding and slandering others even if warranted. 16) daya is mercy, sympathy for life, empathy for the distress and misery of others. 17) aloluptvam is absence of greed for sense gratification. 18) mardavam is gentleness and humility which is appropriate for saintly association. 19) hrih is modesty, the feeling of shame at the thought of anything inappropriate. 20) acapalam is determination to remain firm against temptations presented to one. 21) tejas is radiance, luster. The illustrious proof of the efficacy of spiritual practice. 22) ksama is forgiveness. The absence of vengeful feelings against those harmed by. 23) dhritih is fortitude. The capacity for righteousness while enduring great duress. 24) saucam is cleanliness both internally and externally to be spiritually worthy. 25) adrohah is absence of envy, non-interference in the interests of others. 26) natimanita absence of false ego, lack of desire for honour and prestige.

The divine qualities and nature are for those aspiring to activate their divinity following the time tested eternal, divine ordinances and injunctions as revealed in the Vedic scriptures by the Supreme Lord Krishna. Their virtues of these 26 qualities are revealed by following them and living them in this manner. The word abhijatasya refers to those who were born with the divine nature destined to follow the divine path and who are naturally in harmony with divinity.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

In the thirteenth chapter it was revealed that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna is the topmost way to inevitably achieve moksa or liberation from material existence by the guaranteed attainment of the Supreme Lord. Also it was disclosed that knowledge of the atma or immortal soul is true knowledge of the ksetrajna or knower of the field of activity and that the contact of the gunas or the three modes of material nature which are goodness, passion and ignorance keep one enslaved in the transmigratory disease of samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

In chapter 14 was explained the characteristics of the three gunas along with their attributes and the types of bondage associated with each as well as the conclusion that by transcending them one achieves the supreme state of consciousness.

In chapter 15 was described the destruction of the tree of material bondage with the weapon of wisdom sharpened by detachment. The knowledge that all jivas or embodied beings whether in bondage or liberated are both aspects of the Supreme Lord. The sun and fire, etc. are the Supreme Lords divine opulence. The Supreme Lord is beyond both the perishable and the imperishable and one who realises His transcendence and His supreme, paramount position surrenders joyfully as His exclusive devotee understanding all that needs to be known and becomes completely satisfied.

Now in order to establish the criteria for determining which jivas or embodied beings are appropriate to receive the confidential and esoteric teachings presented in chapter 15, the Supreme Lord Krishna elaborates first on the qualities of the divine nature and then on the qualities of the demoniac nature in order to enable a clear ability to distinguish between them both. Previously in chapter nine He has alluded to those of demoniac nature in verse 11: The ignorant blaspheme the Supreme Lord considering Him to be only human and in verse 12: Ignorant fools so deluded become atheists and adopt the fiendish mentality of the demoniac. Also in chapter nine Lord Krishna referred to those of divine nature in verse 13: The great souls devote themselves exclusively unto the Supreme Lord knowing He is the eternal origin of all, belong to the divine nature and in verse 14: Endeavouring with great determination the great souls perpetually worship the Supreme Lord with exclusive loving devotion.

As such the conclusion is apparent and clear that demoniac influences are to be rejected and divine endowments are to be cultivated. The demoniac mentality is the root cause of perpetual hellish conditions in material existence and should be completely abandoned and avoided. Whereas the divine qualities are the root cause of moksa or liberation from material existence and should be wholeheartedly embraced.

Now Lord Krishna describes the divine qualities which are prerequisite to qualify for bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord beginning with absolute fearlessness meaning completely unworried by the apprehension of present or future miseries. Total purity of heart means free from passion and hatred. Constant absorption of the mind in meditation means established is self-realisation. Danam or charity is donating to a worthy recipient what has been gained honestly by one's own efforts. Damah is control of the senses, withdrawing the mind from the outward flow towards sense objects. Yagna is propitiation and ritualistic worship of the Supreme Lord in the form of chanting mantras, learning the Vedas or performing fire ceremonies as given in chapter three, verses13 and 14. Svadahyah is study of the Vedas by receiving confidential instructions from the spiritual master concerning the glories of the names, divine pastimes, attributes, and associates of the Supreme Lord and His eternal abode. Tapah is penance and is the practice of pure austerities such as fasting and meditation. Arjavam is the simplicity of not being complicated in mind and dealings. Ahimsa is non-violence to any living entity by thought, word or action. An exception to this is in the protection of one's own life and the lives of others. Satyam is truthfulness and means not distorting the facts while speaking plainly what is beneficial for others. Akrodah means the absence of anger which is a result of frustrated greed and lust. Tyagah is renunciation or absence of attachment to the senses and sense objects. Santih is complete tranquillity and control of the mind and senses. Apaisanunam is abstaining from malicious gossip and fault finding. Daya is mercy and compassion to all living entities. Aloluptvam means freedom from avarice and greed. The addition of the p to this word is in accordance with the Vedic rules of grammar by Panini. Hrih is modesty or respectful decorum for righteousness, a sense of indecency in performing frivolous activities and a feeling of shame at the thought of prohibited activities. Acapalam is determination unshakable fortitude even in adversity. Tejah means strength or the power to aid those needing protection. Saucam means cleanliness internal and external. Ksama is forgiveness amd means the absence of anger towards one's offenders. Natimanita is lack of all desire for honor and prestige. So these qualities can be recognised as naturally endowed with divine virtues and attributes. Those who embrace and follow the instructions and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures are naturally endowed with these qualities as they are adhering to the Supreme Lord's decrees and thus every action they perform is in propitiation to the Lord Krishna.

The conclusive understanding is that those possessing divine qualities will undoubtedly achieve the Supreme state because they are born endowed with these qualities.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 16, verse 1,2,3 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 1,2,3

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