73. Evil Nature According to the Bhagavadgita


by Jayaram V

Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. I am currently working on a revised edition with even more in-depth commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V

Summary: Hinduism draws a clear distinction between good and evil. This essay describes the qualities of Asuras or evil or demonic people according to the Bhagavadgita.

The sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavadgita enumerates divine and demonic qualities drawing a striking contrast between good and evil forces, who represent one of the fundamental dualities of creation. Primarily, what divides them is the nature of their desires or intentions, which are in turn influenced by the triple gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas). The good is represented by the Devas and the evil by Asuras or the demons. The conflict between the two is eternal and never ending. It is not that good always wins. There will be times (and they are many) when evil ascends and rules over the worlds, which require God's direct intervention.

In the Bhagavadgita, Lord Krishna explains that the divine qualities (daiva sampada) are responsible for liberation while the demonic qualities lead to bondage and prolonged suffering. The qualities which Lord Krishna listed as demonic qualities are dumbah (hypocrisy, deceit), darpa (arrogance), abhimana (excessive pride), krodha (anger), parushya (harshness), ajnana (ignorance). He also states that they lack discernment and do not know much of anything or how to perform actions or practice Dharma, prone to false arguments, delusion and sensuality.

The Vedas declare that Brahma created three classes of beings, devas (gods), asuras (demons) and manavas (humans). Devas are filled with light; asuras with darkness, and humans contain a mixture of light and darkness. Depending upon the qualities they strengthen in themselves, humans may become good or evil, and through their thoughts, desires and actions may service either gods or demons or both. The qualities which are listed in the scripture not only pertain to demons but also to those humans who are born with demonic nature (asura pravritti). They may also strengthen in some after they are born due to their actions and choices.

If you see today’s world, you will see that it is largely made of people who fall into this category. Wherever you find extreme violence and cruelty or total disregard for life, know that it is due to demonic or asuric nature. When it is on the ascendence, people lose their humanity and morality, Dharma declines and the world falls into chaos. This is characteristic of Kali Yuga (the age of death and darkness) during which it would be extremely difficult for virtuous people to safeguard their virtuosity or stay free from demonic nature and demonic influence.

While divine qualities arise from the predominance of sattva, demonic qualities arise from the predominance of rajas and tamas. These qualities make people more materialistic, atheistic, selfish and inhuman. They may help in the material progress of the humanity, but also contribute to depravity and spiritual downfall. Their presence denotes animality, excessive egoism or selfishness and propensity to engage in indiscriminate evil actions.

In the cosmic hierarchy human beings are uniquely endowed with the choice to determine their fate through their actions. They can either rise to the heights of Supreme Brahman and reach the immortal heaven which is not accessible to even gods or descend into the depths of dark and demonic worlds prolong their suffering and bondage. If you nourish the gods in you through sacrificial actions, you will strengthen the divine nature in you, but the opposite will happen if you nourish the demons or the demonic nature. Therefore, it is important what we do and think and what we nourish and energize through our thoughts and actions.

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