The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita Discourse 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Krishna elaborates some crucial characteristics that exemplify one “born / to the divine condition”: truthfulness, fearlessness, wisdom, self-control and sacrifice, discipline and study, peacefulness and compassion, modesty and energy, courage and moderation. Conversely, fraud, hostility, anger, and ignorance exemplify birth in the “demonic condition.” The divine condition brings freedom and the demonic one bondage, but Arjuna was born to the first.
Although people have control over their degree of attachment to the gunas, Krishna makes it clear that each individual has a particular nature that is more or less suited to achieving enlightenment and related to one’s orientation in past lives. He also confirms that Arjuna’s worthiness for wisdom comes partly from this inborn nature.
Themes
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
There are divine and demonic beings, but Krishna has not yet explicated the latter. “Demonic men” do not comprehend effort or purity, goodness or truth. They refuse god and believe the earth was “caused by desire.” As enemies, they want to destroy the world and cannot overcome desire, proclaiming false ideas and feeling endless anxiety. They cling hopefully to the goal of dissolution but only truly want to fulfill their desires and anger, seeking wealth and power, sacrificing out of ignorance, pride, and confusion rather than devotion.
Demonic people are governed by rajas, focused solely on worldly desires. Crucially, one can undertake all the rituals of worship Krishna advocates and still be demonic if one does them out of a desire for worldly or spiritual advancement, rather than for the sake of sacrifice (from which spiritual advancement results nevertheless).
Themes
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
Krishna ensures that the demonic are reincarnated in demonic wombs. The most sinister vices are greed, anger, and desire. Those governed by tamas set themselves on a path to hell, and tamas must be cast off to ensure enlightenment. By rejecting the Vedic laws and following one’s own desires, one loses the opportunity to find fulfillment, happiness, and transcendence. Therefore, it is crucial for people to know and obey Vedic law.
Krishna again sustains the authority of the Vedas while subsuming them to his own teachings and resolving the contradictions between the two sets of beliefs. In this case, “Hell” is not an afterlife, but rather the conundrum of proceeding through cycles of rebirth without advancement while clinging to the world and losing sight of the real, higher self. Worship in accordance with Vedic law may not bring people directly to Krishna, but it still appears as a step along the path from ignorance to enlightenment because it forces people to acknowledge the truth of a higher power.
Themes
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon