This chapter expounds on the two kinds of human nature—the saintly and the demoniac. Shree Krishna explains that the saintly-nature develops in humans by cultivating the modes of goodness, by following the instructions given in the scriptures, and purifying the mind with spiritual practices. Such behavior attracts daivī sampatti or godlike qualities, eventually leading to God-realization. Contrary to this, the demoniac-nature develops by associating with modes of passion and ignorance and materially focused lifestyles that breed unwholesome traits in human personality. This leads the soul finally to a hell-like existence.
Shree Krishna enumerates the saintly virtues of those endowed with a divine nature and then describes the demoniac qualities that should be shunned consciously. Else, these will drag the soul further into ignorance and samsara or the cycle of life and death. In the end, Shree Krishna declares that the knowledge of the scriptures helps in overcoming ignorance and passion. They also guide us to make the right choices in life. Therefore, we must understand their teachings and injunctions and accordingly perform our actions in this world.
The Supreme Divine Personality said: O scion of Bharat, these are the saintly virtues of those endowed with a divine nature—fearlessness, purity of mind, steadfastness in spiritual knowledge, charity, control of the senses, sacrifice, study of the sacred books, austerity, and straightforwardness; non-violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, peacefulness, restraint from fault-finding, compassion toward all living beings, absence of covetousness, gentleness, modesty, and lack of fickleness; vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, cleanliness, bearing enmity toward none, and absence of vanity.
O Parth, the qualities of those who possess a demoniac nature are hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness, and ignorance.
The divine qualities lead to liberation, while the demoniac qualities are the cause for a continuing destiny of bondage. Grieve not, O Arjun, as you were born with saintly virtues.
There are two kinds of beings in this world—those endowed with a divine nature and those possessing a demoniac nature. I have described the divine qualities in detail, O Arjun. Now hear from me about the demoniac nature.
Those possessing a demoniac nature do not comprehend which actions are proper and which are improper. Hence, they possess neither purity, nor good conduct, nor even truthfulness.
They say, “The world is without Absolute Truth, without any basis (for moral order), and without a God (who has created or is controlling it). It is created from the combination of the two sexes, and has no purpose other than sexual gratification.”
Holding fast to such views, these misdirected souls, with small intellect and cruel actions, arise as enemies of the world threatening its destruction.
Harboring insatiable lust, full of hypocrisy, pride and arrogance, the demoniac cling to their false tenets. Thus illusioned, they are attracted to the impermanent and work with impure resolve.
They are obsessed with endless anxieties that end only with death. Still, they maintain with complete assurance that gratification of desires and accumulation of wealth is the highest purpose of life.
Held in bondage by hundreds of desires, and driven by lust and anger, they strive to accumulate wealth by unjust means, all for the gratification of their senses.
The demoniac persons think, “I have gained so much wealth today, and I shall now fulfill this desire of mine. This is mine, and tomorrow I shall have even more. That enemy has been destroyed by me, and I shall destroy the others too! I am like God Himself, I am the enjoyer, I am perfect, I am powerful, and I am happy. I am wealthy and I have highly placed relatives. Who else is equal to me? I shall perform sacrifices (to the celestial gods); I shall give alms; I shall rejoice.” In this way, they are deluded by ignorance.
Possessed and led astray by such imaginings, enveloped in a mesh of delusion, and addicted to the gratification of sensuous pleasures, they descend to the murkiest hell.
Such self-conceited and stubborn people, full of pride and arrogant in their wealth, perform ostentatious sacrifices in name only, with no regard to the rules of the scriptures.
Blinded by egotism, strength, arrogance, desire, and anger, the demonic abuse Me, who am present in their own body and in the bodies of others.
These cruel and hateful persons, the vile and vicious of humankind, I constantly hurl into the wombs of those with similar demoniac natures in the cycle of rebirth in the material world. These ignorant souls take birth again and again in demoniac wombs. Failing to reach Me, O Arjun, they gradually sink to the most abominable type of existence.
There are three gates leading to the hell of self-destruction for the soul—lust, anger, and greed. Therefore, one should abandon all three.
Those who are free from the three gates to darkness endeavor for the welfare of their soul, and thereby attain the supreme goal.
Those who act under the impulse of desire, discarding the injunctions of the scriptures, attain neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme goal in life.
Therefore, let the scriptures be your authority in determining what should be done and what should not be done. Understand the scriptural injunctions and teachings, and then perform your actions in this world accordingly.