Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canto XVI : Divine and Anti-Divine Natures

The Hindu hell is temporary, of course, and very easy to enter. According to the key last shloka of Canto XVI, 'Hell has three gates -- lust, anger, and greed (kama, krodha, lobha).' For the sake of his atman, Arjuna is advised to give up all three.

After the magnificent epiphany of the Wishing Tree symbol, the sermonising of Canto XVI may seem a bit of an anti-climax. There is, however, a practical reason for the long, meticulous detailing of the divine nature and the anti-diving nature. Arjuna must have started wondering if there is for him any hope at of attaining the Highest Purusha. The high-flying ethical idealism and luxuriant smbology might appear to be outside the ken of a Kshatriya.

Not so, suggests Krishna. The caste system, to which Krisha has referred earlier, is well and fine -- and not so well and fine. The three gunas are useful aids. The three Purushas are splendid philosophical constructs -- and not so splendid too.

What really matters is whether a person is well meaning or not. This is the ultimate, and only significant, distinction. Am I a deva or asura, divine or anti-divine ? Am I seriously motivated, constructively inclined; or am I aggressive, flippant, negative ? It is not difficult to find that out, because that classification cuts across guna, caste, creed and race. So, Krishna's message of goodwill and hope : 'Divine birth leads to moksha, anti-divine to bondage. Do not worry, Arjuna, your birth is divine.'

Krishna continued :

Absence of fear, a pure heart, firmness in the path of knowledge; charity, persistence, sacrifice, and study of scriptures;

Simplicity, integrity, non-violence, truth, mercy, modesty, kindness; absence of desires that lead to frustration;

Courage, compassion, patience, purity -- these are signs of the divine nature.

Pride, obstreperousness, vanity, anger, boorishness and ignorance are marks of the anti-divine nature.

Divine birth leads to moksha, and anti-divine to bondage. Do not fear, Arjuna, your birth is divine.

Two kinds of people inhabit this earth -- the divine and the anti-divine; the divine I have explained to you; let me explain the anti-divine.

The anti-divine confuse what should be done with what should not be done : they have neither virtue, nor good conduct, not truth.

They say : The world is false and immoral, godless, and born of lust.

With these beliefs, these unfortunate people become the world's enemies and its potential destroyers.

Hypocritical, vain and fierce, inflated with overreaching ambition, they let their ignorance breed ill thoughts, and strive for the world's ruin.

Tormented by endless worries which only death ends, considering sensual pleasure as the only goal in this world,

Locked in their lust, ambition, and anger, they run after sensual delights.

'Today I enjoyed this, tomorrow I'll enjoy that; this I have, that I'll get tomorrow;

'I killed this enemy today, tomorrow I'll get rid of others. I am kind; I enjoy.

'I know success, power and pleasure. I have untold wealth, I was born auspicious. Who is like me ?' Deluding themselves,

Whirled in their own bewilderment, slaves of the ego, they fall into a horrible hell.

Vain, selfish, and obsessed with possessions, they pay lip service to dharma;

Insolent and passionate, they loathe the atman in themselves and in others.

I cast these foolish ill-doers always in the womb of the anti-divine.

Born from anti-divine wombs, ignorant from their birth, they fail to reach me, and become even worse in their next birth.

Hell has three gates -- lust, anger, and greed. For your own sake, Arjuna, give up these three.

If a man gives up these three, and is absorbed in his own improvement, he may find the supreme goal.

But the man who ignores the rules of the scriptures, and is moved to action my impulse and lust, never finds perfection; no happiness for him, no supreme goal.

The scriptures tell you what should be done and what avoided : your actions should conform to the truths of the scriptures.

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