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Bhagavad-gita Chapter 16

CHAPTER 16
THE DIVINE AND DEMONIAC NATURES
Transcendental and demoniac qualities (16.1-6)
The Demoniac nature (16.7-20)

Main theme:
According to one's level of general detachment and selflessness, he is an eligible candidate for liberation.

Sub points:
The Sixteenth Chapter will describe and contrast the types of mentalities that are conducive for both bondage and for liberation from the banyan tree of material existence. These are the divine and demoniac
natures.

One interesting point is that this chapter appears in the jnana-yoga section of Bhagavad-gita. At first look it does not present itself in the same way as other jnana-yoga chapters. It is not so much an analysis of
philosophical themes as it is a description of certain modes of being. But it is designed to give one the
proper discrimination. By hearing in depth about the qualities that liberate and the qualities that bind, one can detach himself from activities based upon false ego. He can thus establish himself in the true conception of the self.


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A. The demoniac are qualified by their neglect of sastric injunctions (16.7-8,23-24).
In one sense, the dividing line between one who is a demon and one who is divine is whether
he follows the injunctions presented in scripture. Making the sincere adherence to sastra the
dividing line between divine and demoniac (and not just one's behavior as the dividing line)
has some interesting consequences. For example, one who may have improper tendencies is not considered demoniac if he is following sastra properly and strictly. This is because it is understood that he is following the process of rectification.

1. Because of their rejection of sastra, the demoniac no not develop the higher qualities of
life, and remain unclean, immoral and untruthful (16.7).
2. They ultimately deny the world's connection with God. They make up their own theories
to explain creation. With no God in control, they conceive of themselves as the highest
authority to choose what to do with the world (16.8, 10-16).
a). In one sense the real root of the demoniac mentality is the inner choice of the soul
to be "for Krsna" or "against Krsna." All subsequent choices are really a result of
this foundational one. Thus, the divine and demoniac natures ultimately reflect the soul's inner
direction toward Krsna.
b). There are two types of people who fit the general description of the demoniac:
atheistic materialists and impersonalists. Neither of them see Krsna's energies in
connection with Him. The materialists see the world as theirs to enjoy, and thus unconnected
from Him. The impersonalists ultimately say that the material world does not exist; it
has no connection to the Absolute.

B. Lord Krsna repeatedly sends the demoniac to take birth in the lowest species of life.

1. One may object that if the Lord repeatedly sends the demoniac into lower births, He must not be all-merciful. Part of the Lord’s mercy is how He reciprocates with the consciousness of the living entity. If the living entity desires to be in a position where he can have total forgetfulness of Krsna, while grossly lording over the material energy, Krsna gives that position to him.

The choice: Escaping to the supreme destination (16.21-24)
Main theme:
To achieve release from the state of conditional life one must follow the dictations of scripture, and not the
dictations of the lower modes.

Sub Points:
How does one become demoniac and thus get cast into hellish life? There are three gates to hell: lust, anger, and greed. Lord Krsna will describe how one can avoid being controlled by these tendencies - through acting on the injunction of sastra, rather than one's conditioned impulses.

A. One who neglects scriptural injunctions cannot attain perfection (16.23-24).

1. The essence of all Vedic knowledge is to be a devotee of the Lord. One who is fully engaged in
devotional service has understood the import of all Vedic knowledge. One who is not at this high
platform, however, must follow the scriptural injunctions for gradual elevation through one’s work.

2. The scriptures provide rules and regulations of action for all of the different members of the varnashrama system. These rules are moral codes, which, if followed correctly, lead one towards self-realization. The cause of the living entity's bondage is the desire to enjoy sense gratification. Sastric injunctions regulate sense gratification. This regulation results in detachment from bodily identification. Not following the sastric injunctions simply leads to increased material bondage, and increased misery because of that bondage.

3. Following the directions of scripture raise one from the lower modes of nature to the mode of goodness. Without being elevated to goodness, one will be under the modes of ignorance and passion, which are the cause of demoniac life.

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