The Destiny of the Sages and the Ignorant
1. Fearlessness, purity of mind, stability in the yoga of knowledge, charity, control, sacrificial observance, self-study, asceticism, and simplicity-
2. Non-violence, truth, non-anger, selflessness, peace, and non-gossiping, modesty, non-fickleness-
3. Brilliance of confidence, forgiveness, sustenance, purity, non-animosity, not seeking of honor-these appear in one who is highborn in divine wealth, O Descendant of Bharata.
It is important to cultivate the qualities that make one’s path easy and smooth. Without certain qualities the stumbling blocks, obstacles, and barriers cannot be removed. For some the path is clear, but for others it is full of obstructions. Those who are endowed with good qualities find their path to be easy, whereas those who do not cultivate good qualities constantly create difficulties for themselves. All follow one and the same path, to the Light of lights, but each person creates his own problems, confrontations, and obstacles along the path. Preparation is important before one begins to tread the path of light. To light the fire one must first gather the scattered twigs of those thoughts, desires, and emotions that dissipate his energy and rob him of dignity, courage, willpower, strength, and love. These qualities are virtues and their opposites vices. We all have the capacity to cultivate virtue, to replace vices with qualities that are genuinely needed to tread the path.
4. Hypocrisy, pride, seeking of honor, anger, harshness, as well as ignorance-these occur in one born to demonic wealth.
You are the architect of your own destiny. You are the composer of the songs that you sing. You are the surveyor of all that you survey. You are the redeemer of your life. Your destiny is created by you. A man who suffers as a result of hypocrisy, pride, vanity, anger, and arrogance, and who shows off, is an ignorant man. He constantly creates misery through his self-conceit. The qualities he possesses are of a demonic nature and lead him to darkness.
Yoga therapy and training teach a definite and profound way to replace demonic qualities with the spiritual qualities that are the necessary means to pursue the path of knowledge. There is no such training program offered by modern therapists and psychologists. Modern psychology does not focus on the whole being or on helping one to set up a training program for self-transformation. Modern psychology is still learning to understand the cause of suffering, whereas yoga psychology has discovered the cause methods for self-transformation.
6. There are two kinds of created beings in this world: the divine and the demonic. The divine has been explained in detail. Now hear about the demonic from Me, O Son of Pritha.
7. Demonic people know neither right conduct nor prohibition; in them there is neither purity nor character nor truth.
8. They say that the world is untrue, without foundation, and Godless-that it is produced only through sexual union and that it has no cause other than what comes from passion.
9. Blocked by this vision, their true nature destroyed, those of little intelligence, doing fearsome acts, come into power as male-factors for the world.
10. Resorting to passion and desire, which is difficult to fulfill possessed of hypocrisy, seeking honor frenzy, they of impure observances operate, seizing upon false holdings, out of delusion.
11. They have recourse only to immeasurable worry that goes on until dissolution. They are certain that the enjoyment of passions is supreme, that it is everything.
12. Bound by a hundred snares of expectation, intent upon passion and anger, they undertake the gathering of wealth by injustice for the purpose of enjoying passions.
13. ‘This I have received today, this wish of mine I shall gain later; this I have, and this wealth shall yet be mine;
14. That enemy I have killed, others too I shall destroy; I am sovereign, I am enjoyer, I am accomplished, strong, happy;
15. I am rich, I have influential relations. Who else is equal to me? I shall perform sacrifices. I shall enjoy myself.’ Thus deluded in ignorance,
16. Confused by the many divisions in their minds, covered by the net of delusion, stuck in the enjoyment of passions, they fall into the impure and lowly place.
17. Holding high opinion of themselves, lacking humility, possessed of honor and frenzy due to wealth, they sacrifice by sacrifices in name alone, in hypocrisy, and without regard to correct injunctions.
18. Resorting to ego, power, pride, passion, and anger, full of malice, hating Me in the bodies of others and in their own,
19. These hateful, cruel, base humans in the world-the ugly ones- I ever throw into demonic species alone.
20. Fallen into demonic species stupefied in life after life, without ever finding Me, O Son of kunti, they then go to lowest state.
Having explained the virtues that the aspirant should cultivate, Sri Krishna now explains that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are endowed with good qualities and those who are endowed with bad qualities. The latter are not aware of what is good and therefore do not know how to perform good actions. They have no knowledge of either the path of action or the path of renunciation. They cannot discriminate between right and wrong. Buy habit they do harmful actions and suffer. They only work for sensual enjoyments. They do not have any sense of purity. They delight in lying and do not discriminate between a lie and the truth. Outwardly they may appear to be holy, good and kind, but within their hearts and minds they are not.
Such people do not believe in God. They do not regard this world as an orderly creation of the powers of the Lord. They think that there is no primary cause behind this world. They think that the pleasures of the world are everything and that the world has neither been created by nor supported by God. Those ignorant people remain inflated and deluded, considering themselves to be great enjoyers. They live according to a materialistic and hedonistic view of the world: they consider the world to be full of objects of enjoyment and think that they should take as much pleasure as they can. Such people continually seek the objects of enjoyment.
Those deluded ones are always competing with others in their desire to be stronger and to have more than others. They do not have enough intelligence to acknowledge the existence of others and are overrun by animosity and thoughts of destruction. Their minds remain busy in securing arms and armaments to destroy others and to become victorious. They only believe in increasing physical power and trust that physical might alone is right. Engrossed in hypocrisy and arrogance, they are deluded by their evil desire and thoughts. They are mean, selfish, vicious, and malicious. They are always puffed up with pride, with the thought that they are great and that society cannot survive without them. Such people are egotistical and think, “I am the Lord of my life. I am great because I have immense wealth.” They perform sacrifices and give gifts with an egotistical attitude and then boast about it. Their ideals are impure and false. They work hard to attain those goals that lead them to ruin.
Having innumerable worries, they are never happy. Therefore they do not have peace of mind. They believe that human life is a means for sensual enjoyment, and that is the goal of their lives. But even if they have many sensual enjoyments, they are never satisfied. They do not care whether they obtain wealth by deceptive or dishonest means, for they have no sense of justice. They have endless desires, and when they are not fulfilled, they commit crimes in order to fulfill them. Deluded by such desires they remain distracted and dissipated and suffer hellish lives both here and hereafter. Conceited, arrogant, full of lust and anger, they disturb and destroy others. They find pleasure in being violent. Full of desires they are always restless, and they fight and kill one another.
The allurements of the external world are but temporary, transitory, and momentary, so no one is ever satisfied with the pursuit of mundane pleasure. Intrinsically the human being is in search of permanent happiness, peace, and bliss. After examining all the objects of the external world, one finally realizes that they offer only a fragment of happiness but are not able to quench one’s thirst. Real happiness lies within. But the majority of people are not awakened to the reality that there are other dimensions of life that are more glorious and enlightening. The aspirant should avoid the company of such people, for their influence could be injurious.
These verses harshly condemn those who are caught up in materialism and the pursuit of sensory pleasure. They provide a strong warning to the students to avoid that way of being, to open his eyes to the dire consequences of living that way. But all is not hopeless for those who are caught in the snare of illusion. Though they must undergo many experiences and many births and deaths to satisfy their cravings, they finally become disillusioned with the mundane pleasures of the world, and they too slowly grow toward the Light.
21. This is the three-fold gate of hell that destroys one’s self: passion, anger, and greed. Therefore one should give up these three.
22. One freed from these three doors of darkness, O Son of Kunti, conducts himself toward benefaction for himself and thereby reaches the highest state.
This lifetime is just a small passage in the book of life, and it is an essential preparation for the life that lies ahead. Those who cling to life here, who are greedy and passionately desire the objects of sense enjoyment, become angry when they are unsuccessful in obtaining those objects. Kama, krodha, and lobha (selfish desire, anger, and greed) are three negative emotions that lead the human being to unhappiness and misery here and to a life hereafter that is of the same quality as his life in the body. Having all sorts of objects of pleasure in this world, selfish and greedy people are still unsatisfied. They do not enjoy the objects of pleasure they accumulate, for they are continually afraid of losing what they already have and not gaining what they want. Selfish desire, anger, and greed are harmful emotions that need to be shunned.
Such ignorant people are invariably afraid of dying. They sometimes do charitable things because they foolishly think that they will get returns after death. That is not possible, for whatever we do here in this lifetime, we carry the samskaras of our deeds with us. If one is miserable here, how can he expect to be happy in the life hereafter? Unaware of the power of the soul and lacking inner strength one remains weak, feeble, deluded, and afraid of death. Selfish desire, anger, and greed disrupt and destroy inner strength. The aspirant should renounce these great obstacles. Selfish desire creates strong bonds of passion, anger and greed-the three openings to hell. Sri Krishna says, “O Arjuna, one who is able to renounce these three harmful habits is free from these dark openings.” If the aspirant genuinely renounces these human weaknesses, he can attain the highest state.
23. One who, abandoning the injunctions of the scriptures, conducts himself through actions based on desire does not attain fulfillment or happiness or the highest state.
24. Therefore for you the scripture is the authority in order to determine what ought to be done and what ought not to be done; knowing the act as taught in the scriptural injunctions, you should perform your actions.
To achieve the goal of life, one should learn to follow in the footsteps of the ancients whose experiences are recorded in the scriptures. The authentic scriptures serve as authorities and guide the aspirant. One who does not follow the teachings of the great sages but instead follows his own whims does not attain happiness or the goal of life. The scriptures are the testimony to guide the aspirant, enabling him to know what to do and what not to do. Any experience during sadhana should be examined carefully; the validity of the aspirant’s experience during spiritual should be verified by scriptural knowledge. Many have trodden the path of spirituality before us and have left accurate records that help one to know if he is properly progressing on the path. Many fake teachers perform so-called miracles that are never referred to in scriptures. They perform those tricks to acquire a large following just to satisfy their egos, The seeker should be careful and should not follow a modern teacher without knowing him well and comparing his teachings with those of the authentic scriptures. The scriptures guide the aspirant if they are properly understood and not interpreted merely according to one’s own convenience.
Here ends the sixteenth chapter, in which the yoga of discrimination between spirituality and ignorance is described.