Chapter 16. Good and Bad

1Courage, purity of heart,
pursuit of knowledge,
generosity, self-control,
spirit of sacrifice, study of scriptures,
austerity, simplicity, righteousness,
2benevolence, honesty, freedom from anger,
a sense of renunciation, serenity,
not finding fault with others,
kindness, gentleness, modesty,
absence of greed and fickleness,
3radiance, patience, strength, cleanliness, and
absence of malice and false pride –
these are the qualities of a person
of divine nature.

4Hypocrisy, arrogance, vanity, anger, cruelty, and ignorance
are the traits of a person with demonic nature.
Here, ‘ignorance’ refers to
lack of perseverance in the path of knowledge.

In a strict traditional sense, divine and demonic qualities belong to one who is ‘born with’ a divine or demonic nature. Actions performed in one’s previous lives determine future births with divine or demonic qualities.

5The divine qualities lead to liberation.
The demonic qualities lead to bondage.
But don’t worry Arjuna,
you are endowed with divine qualities.

6There are two types of people in the world:
the divine and the demonic.
I have spoken about the divine ones in detail.
Now, hear from me about the demonic ones.
Krishna has explained divine attributes
in 12:13-20 and 13:7-11.
7Demonic people don’t understand
what should be done and what shouldn’t.
They are neither pure nor honest;
even their behavior is not good.

8They proclaim:
“The universe has no basis and no abiding truth.
There is no greater force governing it.
Life is merely a product of mutual union, driven by lust!”
Here, ‘basis’ refers to dharma, that which supports and sustains everything. Such people claim that the universe has no meaningful order; they also fail to see a larger purpose for any activity.

9Rigidly holding on to such views,
these lost souls of limited understanding
commit many cruel deeds.
They are indeed enemies of the world,
bent upon its destruction.
These people neither perceive a grander cosmic order of the universe nor recognize a greater social order of the world and disturb the overall harmony for satisfying momentary pleasures.

10Clinging on to unquenchable passions,
drunk with pride and hypocrisy,
they live in delusion with false notions,
and act with impure motives.

11Till their last breath
they are lost in
boundless wishes and anxieties.
Gratification of desire is their highest aim,
as if that is all there is to one’s life!

12Bound by a hundred chains of vain hope and
driven by lust and anger,
they amass wealth by unjust means
for sensual enjoyment.
13“I have gained this today and
I shall attain that tomorrow.
All these riches are mine, and
soon I shall have more!
14I am the lord.
I have killed this enemy and
I will also destroy all other enemies.
I am successful and I am powerful;
I am healthy and I enjoy life.
15I am noble and I am rich.
Who is my equal?
I will perform elaborate rituals,
I will give alms and
I will rejoice as per my will” –
thus they boast out of sheer ignorance.

16Carried away
by countless fanciful thoughts,
they get caught in the web of illusion
and are addicted to
gratification of the senses.

Thus they plunge into the hell
of their own making.
17They are arrogant and stubborn.
Intoxicated by wealth and pride,
they engage in worship
only in name (and not in spirit)
focusing more on pomp and show,
without regard for rules or regulations.

18Clinging on to egoism and vanity,
exhibiting force, lust, and rage,
these malicious people
undermine the divine presence
in their own bodies and
in the bodies of others.

19I constantly throw these
cruel, hateful, and worst of men,
into demonic wombs
in the vast cycles of birth and death.
Here ‘demonic womb’ signifies
rebirth with demonic qualities.

20Again and again
these deluded people are born
with demonic traits
and fail to attain the supreme;
they sink to the lowest of depths.

21Lust, anger, and greed
are the three gates to hell
that degrade the self.
One should renounce them!
Lust, anger, and greed are impediments in the path of self-realization. In this context, ‘hell’ is a confused state of mind that degrades the self.

In the literal sense, hell is an after-death transient place
where one is punished for their sins.

22One who is liberated
from these three gates of darkness
elevates his inner self and
attains the ultimate goal.

23One who ignores the established rules
and follows his own preferences
driven by selfish desires
does not attain perfection, happiness, or liberation.
The wise have given us practical guides and principles to lead a good life. Krishna is advising Arjuna to engage in battle but Arjuna has to use his own knowledge and skill of warfare. Texts like the Bhagavad-Gita suffice for eternal aspects, but we still have to know the rules for the roles we play in daily life.

24Therefore, let the words of the wise
be your guide in determining
what should be done and what should not.
Having understood the eternal wisdom,
you should act accordingly.

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