In this chapter, Shree Krishna describes the two kinds of natures amongst human beings—the saintly and the demoniac. The saintly nature develops by following the instructions of the scriptures, cultivating the mode of goodness, and purifying the mind through spiritual practices. It leads to the enhancement of daivī sampatti (godly qualities), eventually culminating in God-realization. In contrast, there is also the demoniac nature that develops from associating with the modes of passion and ignorance, and embracing materialistic views. It breeds unwholesome traits in one’s personality, and eventually throws the soul into hellish kinds of existence.
The chapter begins by describing the saintly virtues of those endowed with a divine nature. It then goes on to describe the demoniac qualities that must be scrupulously shunned because they drag the soul further into ignorance and the samsara of life and death. Shree Krishna concludes the chapter by saying that the scriptures should be our authority in determining what should be done and what should not be done. We must understand these scriptural injunctions and then perform our actions in this world accordingly.
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, performance of 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 what actions are proper and what 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 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 my presence within 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, all should abandon these three.
Those who are freed 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.