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87. Divine and Diabolic Tendencies:

In the sixteenth chapter there is a description of the divine daivŸ (dEvI) and diabolic ˜surŸ (AasurI) tendencies. Qualities which uplift man such as truth, non-violence, renunciation, austerity, charity and compassion, are called divine tendencies. Qualities utterly contrary to these and which lead to one's downfall are diabolic tendencies. Some of these are hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit and ignorance. The effects of these diabolic tendencies on society have been described in detail in the sixteenth chapter. Only when we become aware of the tragic consequences of such diabolic tendencies upon society, will our mind naturally turn towards the divine tendencies. Unless we suffer from darkness we cannot appreciate the efficacy of light. This is why the Gita has harrowingly painted the deadly consequences of diabolic tendencies in this chapter. The description in the Gita of the diabolic tendencies brings to our mind the present-day society itself. If denying the reality of the world and turning their faces from duty to the society is a kind of dark tendency, the denial of the existence of the Almighty God Himself and leading an undisciplined and wanton life throwing all ethics to the winds is another sort:
AsTymàitó< te jgda÷rnIñrm!,
asatyam-apratiÿ÷haÕ te jagad-˜hur-anŸþvaram -- XVI-8
(They say that the world is unreal and baseless and is without the Lord.)

If the sense of the unreality of the world leads them to inactivity, the denial of God gives them an open access to an immoral and undisciplined life. The philosophies denying the reality of the world which stares us in the face and denying the existence of God who is the Lord of this universe, have caused confusion and led to people shirking their duty and living a wanton life. The one who says that the world is unreal will lose the very enthusiastic eagerness to relieve the misery of a troubled people or the pains of an afflicted man. To him the world is made of a stuff of dreams. If we place the real world on par with the dream world all our individual and social responsibilities scatter away. Denying the existence of Almighty God who is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient is still more detrimental. If some people accept the reality of the world and deny only the existence of God, others dismiss the world as imaginary and the Lord of the world as but a creature of the Maya.

88. The Evil of Atheism:

The atheistic philosophy cuts at the very root of the progress of the world. Just as the planets revolve round the sun, all good qualities in man revolve round the central idea of his faith in God. If you deny God and super-sensory (atŸõdriya AtIi{Ôy) entities like righteousness (dharma xmR) then you would not attach any importance to the world-sustaining qualities like truth, compassion and non-violence. Why should we speak the truth alone? Why should we not cheat and deceive people if it is going to give us wealth and happiness? Is not the sense of sacrifice, which scorns one's own comfort for the good of others, an utter madness? How would a mere materialist answer these questions? For him man is a mere machine like a radio, for example. The materialist does not show any concern for others grief, affliction and oppression. He is not bothered by fear or suspicion regarding the dangerous consequences of his evil deeds in the future life. If he can get something in this life by deceiving others, why should he hesitate to do it? Thus, to gain some selfish ends the materialist would get ready to commit any heinous crime. Only the sense of righteousness and the sense of God could give rise to a better way of life by warning him of the far-reaching consequences of his evil deeds. Such a sense alone can control the licentiousness of man and keep him from stepping into the abyss of destruction. The man who forsakes the sense of God and tries to sustain himself with the mere materialism of science is like a vehicle without a brake, or a horse without a rein. if we can enjoy to our fill by misdeeds and dishonesty, why should we not enjoy our short life in such happiness? Why should we fall a prey to sentiments like charity, goodness to others, non-violence and deny ourselves moments of happiness? Atheism brings in only such arguments to enmesh men and lead them into a path of utter wickedness. Only because godliness and a sense of righteousness are firmly rooted in the mind of man do we see at least the dim twinkling of honesty and virtue in the otherwise dark atmosphere of deceit and insincerity. Whether they believe in God or not, all believe in goodness, morality and character at least. They have realised that it is necessary to cultivate them in our daily life. Even when he commits a crime, almost everyone is conscious that he is committing a sin and he feels a sense of guilt in himself. There are very few who so not hear the inner voice that the wrong he is committing is improper.

Even when one ignores this voice of conscience due to momentary passion and commits the crime, the sense of having been improper will always haunt him. From this we can understand how deep-rooted spirituality and culture are in the collective conscience of the people. The atheist and the undaunted materialist can trample on this culture of the conscience. He would not budge to root out and throw away such fine feelings as blind superstitions when they impede his life of pleasure. From his materialistic point of view there is no basis for such moral principles. He may call them as mere prejudices formed out of a frenzy of faith and throw all these moral principles overboard by what he calls his independent critical outlook. The consequences of such an attitude are obvious. It is horrifying even to conceive of a world from which spirituality and moral principles have faded away completely. Shri Madhvacharya has stated in his Vishnu Tatwa Nirnaya that in such an event the world would be turned into a hotbed of strife, insecurity and disorganisation.
@ta< †iòmvò_y nòaTmanae=LpbuÏy>,
à-vNTyu¢kmaR[> ]yay jgtae=ihta>.
et˜Õ d®ÿ÷im-avaÿ÷abhya naÿ÷˜tm˜no'lpa-buddhaya×
prabhavanty-ugra-karm˜õa× kÿay˜ya jagato'hit˜×
-- XVI-9
(Taking recourse to false knowledge the inimical, lost and narrow souls are born, full of cruel deeds, for the destruction of the world.)

The selfish atheists will lead the world to destruction by their horrid deeds.
kamaep-aegprma @tavidit iniít>.
k˜mopabhoga-param˜ et˜vad-iti niþcita× -- XVI-11
(Those who set the highest value on the enjoyment of sensual pleasures, who are sure that this fruit alone is real ....)

The people with the diabolic tendencies steeped in worldly activities, indulge in the enjoyment of worldly pleasures as the supreme goal of life. Nowadays this has become the individual and national ideal for many people. There is a fierce competition among people in earning money and possessing the means of luxury. A man's fulfilment and success in life is measured by the money he has earned, by the number of mansions he has erected, and by the number of luxury articles he has been enjoying. The culture and civilization of the nation is measured by the number of luxury goods one is consuming and not by gentleness and goodness. We have been despising a society which has no exhibitionism and fashion parades, as backward. Thus, today we have a desire and appetite-oriented civilisation. What can be the outcome of this Godlessness and worship of the Mammon?
$hNte kam-aegawRmNyayenawRsÁcyan!,
Ÿhante k˜ma-bhog˜rtham-any˜yen˜rtha-sañcay˜n -- XVI-12
(For the sake of their pleasures they desire to amass money in unjust ways.)

To lead a luxurious life people will take recourse to the attitude of earning money by crooked means. We see the macabre dance of this attitude in the various forms in our society: corruption, blackmarketing, adulteration, tax-evasion, misappropriation and misuse of public money. Sometimes we feel that the Gita has depicted in this section the prevailing situation in our country itself as it were.
#dmStIdmip me -iv:yit punxRnm!.
idam-astŸdam-api me bhaviÿyati punar-dhanam -- XVI-13
AaF(ae=i-jnvaniSm kae=Nyae=iSt s†zae mya,
˜ýhyo'bhijanav˜n-asmi ko'nyo'sti sad®þo may˜ -- XVI-15
( "I have this property; this money will again be mine I am rich, born in a high family; who is there equal to me?" "I have earned so much money today. Tomorrow I shall earn more." "I am powerful, I can do anything I like." )

We see all around us a veritable sway of greed and vanity.

The only way to escape from the evil consequences of the diabolic forces is by developing the divine tendencies. If the sense of God becomes deep-rooted in a society, people will naturally follow the path of righteousness and obligations laid down by God for the welfare of the whole world and the individual as well. There will be scope for crime to diminish. Devotion to God and faith in God's justice which punishes the wicked and upholds the righteous will deter us from stooping to any sinful activity. God who is Providence will certainly punish us squarely for our misdeeds. The awareness that there is a Superior Power which can look into our deeds will guard us from sin and unjust works.

89. The Need for Faith in God:

Is there no law and order in countries which are irreligious and atheistic? They have not lagged behind in the organisation of their countries as compared with those who believe in God. Hence for a good social order a belief in God is not indispensable, some may argue. True, in the matter of law and order, much difference may not be found between countries which are theistic and those which are not. The whole mankind is under the influence of ancient culture which says that we must cultivate honesty and goodness in our lives. Nobody seems to have freely inquired into the origin of this culture, or why we should stick to moral principles. If we go empirically or by mere logic, these customs or culture suffer by mutilation or dissection. Even if several countries are able to maintain law and order they cannot last long in the absence of faith in God. By the atrocities of a vicious logic the culture may go to bits leading to a collapse of the social system. The order which is not based on faith in God is impermanent and we should not be under the impression that it is firmly rooted. It may crumble like a house of sand any time. That is why the Gita declares that faith in God alone should be the foundation of our life. There is another theme which crops up: It cannot be said that if we have faith and devotion in God everything will run smoothly. There are many religious persons who are engaged in misdeeds. We see many, for all the name of God in their mouth, who are steeped in evil practices. There are not a few examples of people who spend considerable time in prayers and worship of God, but deceive and amass wealth by dishonest means. When that is the case how can we accept that theism contributes to social betterment?

This complaint is genuine. But it is not proper to question the necessity of religion from the instances of the hypocrites. These mockeries have happened only because of lack of true faith. A true devotee will never stoop to contemptible deeds. We cannot judge one's devotion and righteousness by his external actions. From chanting of hymns and counting of beads we cannot gauge the depth of his interior devotion. It has really become difficult to distinguish and identify the genuine servants of religion when they are found in a world teeming with the fake ones who are trying to cloak their sins with the garb of religion. In some societies people cry loudly when somebody dies. Since it has become a custom they hire mourners for crying, feeding them fully. The crying does not come from the heart. Some people practise religion in the same way. Like hired mourning or forced smile, it is but a mockery of religion. We should not deem this to be genuine religion. One whose life is permeated by a religious sense, like warp and woof, is pure and virtuous. Even when we believe in the existence of God, we see the wantonness of atheism in our life because faith has not taken deep roots in our inmost selves. If the genuine spirit of devotion spreads among people there will be undoubtedly a revolutionary change in the behaviour- pattern of the people. The little devotion that exists in our mind has been greatly helpful in curbing the vehemence of the diabolic tendency in our mind by a sense of ethical values.

If one develops this spirit of devotion and enriches it with sincerity and firmness, people will see only its good fruits. The Lord depicts the sorry state of those who defy God and disrupt the social organisation.
AasurI— yaeinmapÚa mUFa jNminjNmin,
mamàaPyEv kaENtey ttae yaNTyxma< gitm!.
˜surŸÕ yonim-˜pann˜ m¨ýh˜ janmani janmani
m˜m-apr˜pyaiva kaunteya tato y˜nty-adham˜Õ gatim
-- XVI-20
(The deluded, who are born diabolically, life after life, go down into darkness, without finding Me.)

The crime takes them further away from God along the slippery road leading to destruction where they lose completely the very possibilities of attaining God. They hurl their souls away into abysmal darkness. Just as the diabolic-minded get to the farthest bottom of darkness by incurring the displeasure of God, those who have cultivated the divine qualities in themselves rise higher and higher on the spiritual ladder and finally get infinite bliss of salvation in the glorious home of God. Thus the difference of paths and goals attained by the good souls and the bad, and the law of punishment for misdeeds and the law of assurance and reward of grace for good deeds in the bar of God's unshakable justice, have put a check on man's materialistic tendencies and desires, and by devising ways which are conducive to the progress and movement of the world, have chalked out a programme and plan of life which is well controlled and well organised.

90. Therefore let Scriptures be your Guide:

How are we to get this spiritual outlook which is to change the very direction of our life? How are we to understand things such as God, righteousness and sin which are beyond the grasp of direct sense experience? Even if we may realise the existence of God, to some extent through the exercise of logic, we cannot know him deeply through direct sense experience. God's form, qualities, potency and His ways of creation and design are inscrutable and we cannot know them through logic. Which are the good deeds and which are the bad ones? What is the difference between these? Which deeds are responsible for one's downfall? Such subjects cannot be determined by logic. If we enter the deep wilderness of logic, there is a greater possibility of our losing the way in the confusion of logic and counter-logic. It is not difficult to turn every subject upside down by the power of logic. A seeker who treads only the path of logic becomes a greater prey to scepticism and cynicism. Then, how can we know the spiritual principles? How to discriminate our obligation to do things from those which we should not? These questions remain to be answered. Lord Krishna shows a way out.
tSmaCDaSTr< àma[<tekayaRkayRVyviSwtaE,
tasm˜c-ch˜straÕ pram˜õaÕ-te-k˜ry˜k˜rya-vyavasthitau -- XVI-24
(Therefore the scriptures should be your guide to determine the course of what you should and should not do.)

The scriptures are the only infallible means of knowing supersensuous things. The senses cannot grasp every- thing. Their power is limited. They can grasp only certain kinds of forms and objects. The ear grasps sound which the eye cannot grasp. Thus all the senses have a limited capacity to grasp, those too of a certain sort. From this, it would be ridiculous to say in this vast creation, that there do not exist things which the senses cannot grasp. When the scientists are unearthing more and more mysteries of Nature every day they expose the worthlessness of the theory which holds that there are no objects which the senses cannot perceive. If we say that whatever we have perceived with our senses alone is real, we should realise that we have known very little in this vast creation. We can infer the existence of a supersensuous world from the words of self-realised saints who have attained the mystery-piercing divine eye through meditation, yoga and penance. By powerful microscopes and telescopes the scientists see objects which are not normally visible to our naked eye and we believe in their existence from the words of the scientists. Similarly, the sages by their devotion and constant practice have acquired powers to see these supersensuous entities invisible to us. Do we deny what the scientist has found out by his deep researches and sensitive instruments, since we do not see them with our own eyes? If we want to contradict the scientist we can do it only by conducting more accurate experiments with more powerful instruments and not by sitting idle and merely charging him with untruth since we do not see the things. Our ancient saints by rigorous yogic practice and deep concentration of mind have discovered this supersensuous world; unless we acquire such yogic powers and concentration of mind, is there any sense on the basis of our gross observations, in denying what they have said? When we are sick we go to a doctor and take medicines prescribed by him without getting into any argument with him. Our actual experience and logic have no business there. If we ignore the doctor's advice we shall be in for more trouble. Similarly, in matters like righteousness we have to follow the advice of ancient sages who have realised these things by virtue of their supersensuous powers. If we resort to mere logic in these matters, we have nothing but confusion, waste of time and noise. By reasoning we may achieve some idea of the supersensuous matters but the clearest realisation of those things is beyond the reach of sense-perfection and logic. How can we determine our way of life without the know ledge of the deeper and hidden principles of the creation and on the basis of our imperfect understanding? For that we must take refuge in the scriptures alone.

When we say so it does not mean that we should dispense with logic altogether. Reasoning has an extraordinary place in our philosophy. Our Vedanta is but a perfectly logical exposition.
yStkeR[anusNxÄesxm< vednetr>,
yastarkeõ˜nusandhattesadhamaÕ vedanetara×
(Only he who understands logically knows dharma and none else.)

The preceptors have opined that the one who does not use his logical intellect can never understand dharma fully. But if he depends only on logic for decisive understanding of a thing the seeker is more confused than possessed of definite knowledge. Logic can never be the great vehicle which takes us on the pilgrimage of knowledge; it is just an instrument useful for a better running of the vehicle. Scriptures alone are the great vehicle for the pilgrimage and logic is just a helping factor. Even if logical intellect has a definite role in our decision-making, there is a limit to its scope. We let the child play within the four walls of our compound and we do not let it go out into the streets. Our main intention is that the child should not come to harm. We can give logic a free rein within the framework of pratyakSha (sense perception) and the scriptures. But if we allow it to move beyond these limits, there is a possibility of more harm than good. That is why we should not use logic unrestrainedly in the realm of supersensuous knowledge. The train will run safely and reach its destination only if its wheels are on the rails. If there is any derailment it is doomed for accident. Similarly, for the train of logic the sensible world and the scriptures are the two rails. The train should go on its high journey without outstripping the rails and reach the destination, There is a story that in Panchavati when Lakshmana went out in search of his brother Rama, he drew a line and warned Sita not to overstep it. As ill-luck would have it, in the excitement of giving alms to Ravana in the disguise of a sadhu, she overstepped this line and Ravana was able to snatch her away. If our reasoning is confined to its limits of perception and scriptures there is no harm. Then there is a great scope for a healthy developing of philosophy. That is why tarko'pratiÿ÷ha× (tkaeR=àitó>) (logic has no basis) and k˜m˜cy˜n˜nam˜n˜pekÿa (kamaCyananmanape]) (logic should not be used as pleasure). Such statements have been vividly made to convince us that we cannot decide any question by logic alone. Questions which are beyond the pale of perception and logic should be decided with the help of scriptures only. If we ignore the scriptures and take to our own independent decision, we would only be landing into trouble. The life that is guided by the scriptures saves us from wantonness. We can get the message of spiritual richness only through the scriptures is the substance of this section of the Gita.

The Vedas, Upanishads and other holy works based on these constitute the scriptures. The Vedas are perennial and authorless. If they had been composed by an author, there would have been a possibility of their being tainted by limitations and defects of his intellect. Since the Vedas are not written by any author, utterly untainted by any human defects or weaknesses and are imperishable, we should shape our lives on the basis of their perennial message. These Vedas alone can give us the true knowledge of God and other supersensuous entities of this world. I am not going to dilate on the subject of the authorlessness of the Vedas because it is a vast subject by itself. However, the Vedas and the Upanishads are our scriptures and to this category may be added the other works which are in consonance with the Vedas. These scriptures not only reveal to us the true goal of life but also, like the lodestone, help us in our march towards this goal.

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This page prepared by  Ramadas
Created March 02, 2000; last modified March 08, 2000