INTRODUCTION TO THE SIXTEENTH CHAPTER
AchArya RaamAnujA's commentary as translated by Swamy AdhidEvAnandha is as follows:
“In the preceding three chapters were elucidated the following:What constitutes the nature of the physical reality (Prakruthi), i.e., of the individual self (purusha) taken separately and in conjunction with each other; That their conjunction is the result of attachment to the GuNAs, and their separation, the result of nonattachment; That Prakruthi and the individual self in whatever modes of existence they be, both constitute the glory (VibhUthi) of the Lord and That the real nature of the Lord as the Supreme Person is distinct from unconscient matter and conscient entity in both the states of bondage and freedom, as He is immutable, pervading, supporting and ruling. Immediately afterwards, the Lord speaks (in this chapter) about the division into the divine and demonical creations. This division is based upon whether the person denoted follows the SaasthrAs or not. Those who follow the SaasthrAs are classed as divine, and the others who violate them as demonical. The purpose of this teaching is to impress that submission to the SaasthrAs (VedAs) is necessary for getting established in all the teachings given earlier, including those on conduct (anushtAnam)”.
SWAMY ALAVANTHAR'S SUMMARY OF THE 16TH CHAPTER
Deva Asura vibhagokti poorvika shastra vashyate I
Tattva anushtana vigyana sthemne shodasha uchyate II sloka 20
देव असुर विभागोक्ति पूर्विका शास्त्र वश्यता I
तत्व अनुष्टान विज्ञान स्थेम्ने षोडश उच्यते II श्लोक 20
The sixteenth chapter deals first with the distinction between the divine and the demoniac natures in order to establish what truth is and what right conduct, which can be attained by is submission to the SaasthrAs. In the creation of janthus, there are the divisions of DhaivAmsam and asurAmsam. Those with dhaivAmsam will be guided by the Bhagavath SaasthrAs (Saasthra- vasyA:). Those with asurAmsam (demoniac types)will transgress those ordained Saasthrams. BhagavAn instructs us through ArjunA that we must follow His SaasthrAs and belong to the divine type (DhaivAmsam) so that Tatthva Jn~Anam and UpAya Jn~Anam for mOksha siddhi can be firmly established in us.
SWAMY DESIKAN’S SUMMARY OF THE 16TH CHAPTER---17TH PAASURAM
ஆணை மறவாதர் தேவர் அல்வழ்க்கொர் அசுரர்
கோணை மாறாத குணச்செல்வ நீ குறிக்கோள் மறயைப்பேணிய
தத்துவமும் பிணியற்ற கிரிசைஹளும்
கண்ண இதனாய் விஷய என்று கண்ணன் இயம்பினனே
aaNai maRavAthar Devar alvazhakkOr asurar
kONai marAtha guNacchelva nee kuRikkoL maRayaippENiya
tatthuvamum piNiyaRRa kirisaihaLum
kANN ithanAl VisayA yenRu KaNNan iyampinanE
The dhaivAmsam is possessed by those with Dhaiva sampath (AaNai maraathavar). They follow the Vedic injunctions. That is their dominant behavioral feature. The key aspect of Aasura prakruthis is the transgression of Vedic commands. Oh ArjunA having dhaiva sampath! Please follow Vedam for guidance about what karmAs are to be done and what are to be discarded. Through VedAs, gain the Jn~Anam about the Para Tatthvam and cultivate the habit of doing your ordained karmAs without attachment to their fruits. Dhaiva sampath leads to Moksha saadhanam. Therefore follow the VedAs and SaasthrAs to gain MOksha sukham!
SOME KEY SLOKAMS OF THE SIXTEENTH CHAPTER:
The first three slOkams offer clear definitions of the Divine type. The Fourth slOkam sets the tone for the detailed description of the behavior of the demoniac type. BhagavAn dwells elaborately on the culture and mind set of the Demoniac types (SlOkams 7-17) so we can recognize these features and avoid them. We will follow now the commentary of Swamy Desikan in Taathparya Chandrikai here.
SLOKAMS 1-3 (FEATURES OF THE DIVINE TYPE)
The distinguishing features of those with DhaivAmsam are:
- Fearlessness (abhayam) and freedom from sorrow over losing what is dear.
- Purity of mind (Satthva-- samsuddhi) characterized by the freedom from desire, anger, jealousy and deceit.
- Jn~Ana yOga Vyavasthai: Devotion to meditation on the knowledge of the self (Jn~Ana yOga vyavasTithithi); focused existence to comprehend the true nature of the Self.
- Saathvika dhAnam (alms giving of rightfully earned things to the qualified Saathvika adhikAris).
- Dhama: self-control and preventing the mind from straying into improper areas.
- Yajn~a: the performance of Nithya naimithtika KarmAs like Bhagavath AarAdhanam, Deva Yajn~am, Pithru Yajn~am, BhUtha Yajn~Am, Manushya Yaj~nam and Brahma Yajn~am.
- SvAdhyAya: The study of the VedAs with the clear understanding that the subject of the VedAs is all about BhagavAn's glories and the ways to worship Him.
- Tapa: Penance /austerity to shrink the BhOgAnubhavam of the material kind (e.g), Krichra, SaanthrAyaNa, DhvAdasi and EkAdasi vrathams as well as SravaNa dhvAdasi UpavAsam.
- Aarjavam (uprightness); the compatibility of mind, body and speech with respect to interaction with others. Consistency in three karaNams, when it comes to interactions with others.
- Non-violence (ahimsA): The guiding line is - Ahimsa ParamO Dharma:
- Sathya (Truthful behavior at all levels): “Sathyam BhUtha hitham prOktham” is the pramANam.
- KrOdha--thyAga: abandonment of anger towards oneself and others.
- Saanthi: Peaceful attitude developed by control over external/sensory organs.
- Apaisunam: non-slandering of others.
- DayA bhUthEshu: compassion to all beings.
- alOlupathvam: distaste for things unfit for pursuit. Control of desire leading to action to acquire or taste them.
- Maardhavam: gentleness to others to enhance approachability.
- HrI: the development of a sense of shame over doing unfit things inconsistent with the SaashthrAs.
- achApalam: Removal of desire from tempting things even if they are near (Vishaya saanidhya achApalam ).
- tEja: Grandeur or ability to stay over insults of ill meaning ones (Parai:napaneeyathvam.
- KshamA: Forbearance and tolerance towards those who offend.
- Dhruthi: Firmness of resolve even during times of danger and observance of SaashtrOktha karmAs at all times without slipping. “SmarthavyO BhagavAn Hari:” (To think of the Lord with resolve at those times instead of panicking).
- Soucham: Cleanliness and Purity of body, mind & Speech.
- adhrOham: freedom from hatred and control of conduct by the strong towards the weak in a unfair fashion.
- NaathimAnithA: controlling over-pride (asTAnE garva.
GEETHA SLOKAMS 16.23 & 24
The importance of Saasthrams (VedAs) in guiding one towards Dhaivee Sampath is stressed by the Lord at the end of the 16th Chapter of Bhagavath GeethA. Our Lord says that anyone following his desires and abandoning the injunctions of His SaasthrAs will never attain perfection or happiness in this world nor siddhi in the other world. That defiant and wilful one is doomed forever.
“Therefore let SaasthrAs be your authority for determining what should be done and what should not be done. Knowing what is enjoyed in the injunctions of the SaasthrAs, You should perform work here”. The Vedic injunctions complimented by the dharma SaasthrAs are identified by the Lord as the sure means to please Him and to attain Him.
2. Virakti : or Desirelessness - being without desire for sense objects; being unmoved, when a desirable thing is present, and being without anger and fear. Anger is the state of mind, the effect of which is injury of others; feat is the feeling that arises, when the loss of something desired, orthe coming of something unwelcome is anticipated. Both of them are connected with desire
3. Attitude towards others: abstention from doing injury to others; abstention from pacing any restraint upon their freedom; abstention from tale bearing ie. stating something that will end in something unpleasant to others; truth speaking, ie stating a thing as seen, provided that it does good to a person; putting up with an injury done by another; that is the mind being unruffled, while the injury is being felt; mercy towards one in suffering; that is inability to see another's suffering; this should be shown towards all; rectitude - agreement of action and speech with thought and feeling in one's behaviour towards others; absence of pride not justified by any cause. The intention is that when there is sufficient cause for pride, it may be put up with accessibility to good men; and inaccessibiity to bad people;
4. Qualification for Prescribed duties : The mind not being affected by rajas and tamas; fitness of the mind for doing one's duty, to be secured by following one's means pointed out by the shastras, destroying the inclination of the mind and the senses towards some sense objcts by practise, perseverance in one's duty in spite of any trouble however great; being ashamed when something improper has been done; giving up any possession injurious to one's good
5. Doing of prescribed duties : Giving to others what has been obtained properly; the making of offerings to devatas without a desire for the fruits as the worship of the highest atma; reciting the vedas with the thought that the whole of it gives instruction as to the highest atma with his vibhutis and the mode of worshipping him; and acquiring fitness for the doing of such things as will please the highest atma, like krichra, chandrayana, etc. fasting on ekadasi and observance of dwadasi.
- The doing of one's duties with the desire that others should think highly of one
- Such pleasures as comes from the enjoyment of sense objects and prevents one from separating what should be done from what should not be done;
- Pride not justified by one's learning or birth
- Anger, a nature that will make good men tremble
- Inability to separate the higher tattvas from the lower, and what should be done from what should not be done (verse 4)
In verse 7 to 18 the nature of the asuras and their doings are described in detail. They do not admit that the world has been created by the highest atma; that is supported and controlled by him. They state that it has come into existence by the sexual union of men and women (verse 8). They urge false arguments to prove that he does not exist, though he is present in their bodies and in the bodies of others and they can not bear the mention of Him (verse 18). This being their attitude, they do not see the atma as distinct from the body; for they are unable to see that the body. (verse 9). They deny existence of adrishta (the pleasure of the highest atma secured by good deeds) and comtend that it has been invented by persons of dull intelligence. They therefore think that they can do anything with their own powers (verse 13 to 15). They are filled with desires for the unattainable, and in order to attain them they procure the means improperly, and with observances not sanctioned by the shastra, do diverse karmas (verse 10). They regard the enjoyments of this world as the highest goal, and are convinced that nothing higher exists either in swarga or in the highest heaven. Their thoughts cannot be counted, and relate to matters, the attainment of which will take up all the time to cosmic rest;they forget that they will die today or tomorrow (verse 11). They donot know the means of attainment of swarga or the bliss of the highest heaven; truth speaking, purity that qualifies for the performance of prescribed karmas and right conduct or achara taht brings purity about are not found among them (verse 7). By their doings they injure all and contribute to the ruin of the world (verse 9), After giving this decription, Sri Krishna observes:
By the term samasara reference is made to teh stream, that comes round and round in the form of birth, old age and death. By throwing the into the wombs of asuras it is meant that he gives them the knowledge that will make them do karmas, that will make them birth asura families. And this He himself does. Reaching these births, they do not know Him properly in any life, and without ever reaching Him, they attain the lowest condition possible (verse 20)
The principal elements in asura nature are stated in verse 21. They are desire (kama), anger and unwillingess to part with one's property (lobha). The verse speaks of them as hell; the intention is that there can be no greater hell than they; They are said to be the means of destroying the atma; for they prevent one from knowing the highest atma; and the veda states that one not knwoing Him has no existence. Verse 23 states the root from which they spring:
One that neglects My commands in the form of the vedas, and acts in accordance with his own will, cannot complete the means for attainment of happiness in another world; he can not attain that happiness. How can he attain the highest goal?
Shastra, being thus of the highest importance, the advice is given that one should know from it the highest tattva and the karma that pleases him and is the means of reaching him; That he should do the karma as it is taught. For the shastra is the only guide in knowing what should be done and what should not be. By the terms shastra reference is made to the vedas as explained in the dharma shastras, itihasas adn puranas.