by Swami Krishnananda
Parushyam is cruelty, a cruel nature. We feel very happy at the suffering of other people. Even if we do not actually commit an act of cruelty, we would like it to be committed by somebody else; or if we ourselves do it, still better. This is called sadistic attitude. Masochism is feeling pleasure in our own suffering, and sadism is feeling pleasure by causing suffering to others. So we should be neither a sadist nor a masochist. Parushyam is cruelty. Let this quality not be in us.
Ajnanam means ignorance, which is the basis of all topsy-turvy perception of things and wrong evaluation of the world – lack of spiritual knowledge.
One who is born with these qualities may be said to be characterised as having asuric qualities. These asuric qualities and demoniacal natures that are described in this chapter are not actually characterisations of demons themselves. They are characterisations of human beings who behave like demons, and have all the qualities of a rakshasa or a pain giver, killer, exploiter and destroyer. The good qualities and the undivine qualities are, therefore, characterisations of human beings. They apply to everybody – me, you and everyone.
Daivi sampad vimokshaya (16.5): “These divine qualities, if they are adopted in your daily life, they will lead you to final liberation gradually, stage by stage.” Nibandhayasuri mata: “But if you resort to the undivine qualities, you shall be bound hand and foot more and more every day, until it will be difficult for you to extricate yourself from this bondage. Arjuna! Don’t be afraid. You are born of divine qualities.” Arjuna may have been wondering in which category he belonged. Ma suchah: “Don’t be afraid. Don’t grieve.” Sampadam daivim abhijato’si: “You are born with qualities that are divine. You are really good and gentlemanly in nature. You are a divine person.”
Dvau bhutasargau loke’smin (16.6): There are two characteristics present in this world. Living beings are classifiable into the good and the bad, the noble and the ignoble, the divine and the undivine, the saintly and the demoniacal – daiva asura eva cha.
Daivo vistarasah proktah: “Now, I have mentioned to you something about the good qualities, saintly qualities, divine qualities, in the earlier verses.” Lord Krishna has not actually gone into detail, but yet he says, “I have gone into detail in regard to the good qualities.” But actually he goes into greater detail in the description of the demoniacal qualities. Daivo vistarasah prokta asuram partha me srunu: “Now I shall tell you how demoniacal people behave.”
Actually there is no need for reading about these demoniacal qualities, because every day we are seeing them and reading about them in newspapers etc. When we go to the marketplace, the bus stand, the railway station or other places, we find some qualities of this kind; we can see them. But anyhow we can read about them as anticipated thousands of years ago in the Bhagavadgita.
Pravrttim cha nivrttim cha jana na vidur asurah (16.7): Neither do these asuric quality people know what is to be done, nor do they know what is not to be done. With whim and fancy, with the pressure of the moment, suddenly they engage themselves in doing something, and come to pain. They do not know the pros and cons of an occupation or a project or an undertaking. Knowing not what is the method to be adopted for a successful way of living, they blunder in the choice of means and ways of doing things in the world, and come to grief later on.
Na janah viduh asurah: What is pravrtti, what is nivrtti, what is to be done and what is not to be done, is not known to them. Na saucham: Very unclean are their habits, dirty is their behaviour – inwardly as well as outwardly. We would not like to go near them due to their unclean behaviour. Na saucham napi chacharo: They have no good conduct, no special routine of the day, and they are not aware of such a thing as tidiness, cleanliness – to be spic-and-span, as we say. All these are unknown to them. They just act according to their whim. Na cha acharah means, no truthfulness. They say anything they like, provided they are able to get something out of it, even if it means exploiting or even destroying other people. Exploitation is psychological killing; and apart from that, they may actually deal a blow to the very existence of people due to the wrong notion that untruth and exploitation succeed in this world.
Asatyam apratishtham te jagad ahur anisvaram (16.8): They do not believe in God. Anisvaram jadahuh: The world is complete in itself. Why should there be a creator for the world? The five elements constitute this body. God has not made this body. The body is made up of only this material stuff, and it has no transcendent support as others may say. Apratishtham: It has no transcendental support, and there is no God behind it. Therefore, it is transitory in its nature. It is unreal finally and, therefore, there is no necessity to be too scrupulous in dealing with anything in this world, on account of the simple fact that there is no ruling principle in this world. There is nobody to punish us. There is no God, no ruler, no administration, and the world itself is an unreal phantom. So we do what we like.
Asatyam apratishtham te jagad ahur anisvaram, aparaspara-sambhutam kim anyat kama-haitukam: The birth of beings – the coming into being of all existents in this world – is not due to the will of God, because God does not exist. It is only a chemical combination, the coming together of the properties – positive and negative – due to the desires and passions of people. The concourse of men and women, and qualities which are positive and negative, and such other combinations, biological as well as chemical, are the causes of the coming into being of anything in this world. There is no supernal Creator and there is no transcendent Being.
Etam drshtim avashtabhya nashtatmano’lpa-buddhayah, prabhavanty ugra-karmanah kshayaya jagato ’hitah (16.9): They become terrorists – ugrakarmanah. They are a terror for everybody because they have a vision of life which is bent on self-satisfaction and the destruction of everybody except themselves. Nashtatmanah: They have lost their own souls, and they cannot see that there is a soul in everybody else. Inasmuch as there is no soul – they have lost it, and they cannot visualise souls in anybody other than themselves – they see no value in human life. There is no human feeling, there is no respect for humanity, and there is no necessity to work for the welfare of other people; because the very vision of other people requires the perception of humanity in them also, whereas the vision of these people who are terror incarnate, is a consuming attitude and not a creative attitude, so that they veritably appear to be incarnations of vehement violence and destruction. Nashtatmanah alpa-buddhayah means, he who has no brains to think. Ugrakarmanah: They become very dangerous, and capable of violent action. They are apparently intent on the abolition of all life in this world. These are the despots and the tyrants which history has sometimes seen. They would not like anybody else to live except themselves. Jagatah ahitah: They are the people who do great injustice to the world.
Kamam asrtya dushpuram (16.10): Their desires are endless. Insatiable longing and passion is their quality. Dambha-mana-madanvitah: I have already mentioned that dambha is vanity; egoism, pretentiousness and pride are their qualities. Mohad grhitvasad-grahan: They have ideologies which are entirely materialistic, sensory, outward, and hedonistic at the worst. Dambha-mana-madanvitah mohad grhitvasad-grahan: Their ideology – the philosophy of life that they entertain – is something which is pleasing to their egos and totally destructive of the higher, real values of life which are spiritually awakening, to which they are totally opposed. Mohad grhitvasad-grahan pravartante’suchi-vratah: Their resolutions are impure. How could there be any kind of pure resolve in the minds of such people?
Chintam aparimeyam cha pralayantam upasrtah (16.11): They are worried, vexed and always in a state of anxiety, which is going to pursue them even till the end of their lives. There is not even a moment of rest in their minds. Kamopabhoga-parama etavad iti nischitah: While there is life, drink ghee and purchase delicacies by borrowing money from other people – because nothing happens when the body dies. This is the Charvaka doctrine, a materialistic attitude of enjoyment. “I must enjoy all things; all the goods should belong to me, and there is no other value in this world. The joy of the senses and the satisfaction of the mind and the ego – these are the highest values of life.” And to fulfil these morbid intentions they keep themselves in a state of restlessness and agony which will end only with their death.
Kamopabhoga-parama etavad iti nischitah: These qualities, to some extent, apply to pure hedonistic materialism and what is sometimes known as the Charvaka doctrine.
Asa-pasa-satair baddhah (16.12) means full of desires. They are bound by the cord of endless longing for things which they cannot obtain even if they live for thousands of years. Kama-krodha-parayanah: They are intent on anger, passion, and desire. Ihante kama-bhogartham anyayenartha-sanchayan: For the sake of the fulfilment of their own desires and crude longings, they do not mind accumulating wealth by any means whatsoever. “The end justifies the means so we may employ any means, provided we get the treasure of wealth.” Anyayena: They try to accumulate wealth by unjust means – arthasanchayan.
Idam adya maya labdham (16.13): “See how rich I am. So much I have got. I shall have more afterwards. So many millions are there, but some more millions must be added.” Idam adya maya labdham: “I have got this now.” Idam prapsye manoratham: “I shall have more afterwards.” What are the ways of getting more? This is the business mentality. They have so much, more than what they need, but that is not enough. They want more. “I must extend my business more and more, more and more, more and more.” And he breathes his last with this desire of obtaining more and more. Idamadya maya labdham idam prapsye manoratham; idam asti: “This is mine.” Idam api me: “All this belongs to me.” Bhavishyati punar dhanam: “I will accumulate more wealth.”
Asau maya hatah satrur (16.14): “I have destroyed this enemy, and I shall destroy the other enemy also in a few days. I shall have no opponent in front of me.” Hanishye chaparan api: “This opponent has gone to the land of eternity, and I will cut short the lives of all my opponents.” Isvaro’ham: “I am the lord. Who can stand before me! Let them come and show their might. I shall see to them.” Aham bhogi: “I shall have all the appurtenances of a pleasurable life.” Siddho’ham: “All perfection I have attained.” Ravana was like that to some extent. Charvaka and Ravana both had these qualities. Ravana thought that he was the lord of the three worlds and had all the enjoyments of the celestials. He thought he was a perfect person, that nobody could be equal to him, what to talk of being superior to him. Balavan: “Very strong am I, and I am blessed, most blessed indeed.”
Adhyo abhijanavan asmi (16.15): “I am born to a noble family.” All rich people seem to come from noble families. Adhyah: “I am very wealthy. There is nothing lacking in me.” Ko’nyo’sti sadrso maya: “Who is equal to me in this world?” I think perhaps people like Hiranyakasipu, Ravana and others may be the ones Lord Krishna had in mind when He described qualities of this terrible nature. Yakshye: Even demons such as Ravana, Hiranyakasipu and others – even Bali Chakravarti – gave charity, but it was all demoniacal charity. All these come under this category of “I shall do sacrifice. I shall give. I shall enjoy.” Moha-jala-samavrtah (16.16): Thus, completely deluded in their minds, they get caught up in the net of the illusion of this world.