Gita Series – 148: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVI. Verse 1 – 3

The XVI chapter of Bhagavad Gita is known as “daivāsurasampadvibhāgayogaḥ”(Daivasura Sampad Vibhaga Yoga), the yoga of discrimination between godly and demonic properties. This bhagavad gita 16 chapter has 24 verses. This bhagavad gita chapter deals with moral virtues that are to be pursued and the demonic qualities that are to be shunned.

Kṛṣṇa begins this bhagavad gita chapter 16  by saying, “Fearlessness, purity of mind, pursuing the yoga of knowledge for realizing the Self, charity, conquering senses, performing sacrificial rites, to study holy scriptures, controlling impulses, straightforwardness, practicing non-violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, tranquillity, criticizing others, compassion to all the beings, absence of avariciousness, politeness, modesty, devoid of restlessness, devoid of faithlessness, magnanimity, patience, courageousness, purity, absence of hatred, absence of vanity are the divine qualities.”

Kṛṣṇa enumerates twenty six types of divine qualities. These divine qualities are considered as essential components to pursue the spiritual path.

1. Fearlessness arises out of ignorance and causes the depletion of energy level of the body. Mostly, fear is unfounded and causes a huge dent in one’s awareness. Fear also causes a weak foundation for spiritual pursuit. Fearlessness also forms the foundational principle of all other qualities and causes alignment of all other principles to fall in line with one’s spiritual pursuit.

2. Purity of mind is being repeatedly stressed by Kṛṣṇa, as the spiritual unfoldment happens only in the mind that remains un-afflicted by senses. Sensory inputs cause deep impressions in the mind making the mind impure. When the mind is embedded with impressions, it loses its luster making a person susceptible to distraction. A distracted mind cannot progress in a meaningful meditation. Meditation can advance only if thoughts are silenced. As long as the mind remains with the remnants of thoughts, it cannot be purified. Any amount of meditation will be of no help if meditation is not done with a purified mind.

3. Yoga of knowledge or jñāna yoga is another important aspect in spirituality. But what is knowledge that is being spoken of here? It is the purest form of consciousnesses. Knowledge and consciousness are interrelated. The higher the level of consciousness, higher would be the level of one’s knowledge. It is only the knowledge that helps a spiritual aspirant to seek the Brahman through his mind. Knowledge alone makes a person to differentiate between what is perishable and what is imperishable.

4. Charity reflects one’s unselfishness and generosity. Charity does not depend upon the money or material. Charity should be done only within one’s means. It is only the inclination that matters in charity. It is important to give charity, only to the deserving one.

5. Conquering senses is not easy. Senses are prone to enjoyment and pleasure. Conquering senses can be begun by talking less. Senses lead to desires and attachments.

6. Performing sacrificial rites is the symbolic representation of pouring in as oblation, one’s spiritual ignorance in the fire of supreme knowledge. Sacrificial rites also refer to religious practices that are prescribed by śāstra-s. It is always advisable to begin spiritual pursuits after learning religious practices along with reasoning, which form a strong foundation for spirituality.

7. Study of Holy Scriptures is important to attain knowledge about the Brahman. Unless one fully understands what is sought by him, it is not possible to achieve the goal with perfection. If one does not know the route to reach his destination, he cannot obviously reach the destination. Spirituality culminates in the realization of the Brahman, in His total glory. Who is Brahman and how can He be attained are taught only by the scriptures.

8. Impulses are the results of sudden spurt of desires and anger. If the mind is kept under restraint, impulses will never sprout. The results of impulses are sometimes disastrous. Impulses are mostly associated with anger and lust. Conquering senses will never lead to impulsive desires.

9. Straightforwardness, honesty and sincerity always go together. If there is a marginal affliction in any of these, the qualities of all the three get affected.

10. Non-violence is the source to compassion. Nothing can be achieved by resorting to violence. Violence arises out of impulsions.

11. Speaking truth gives less strain to the mind. Suppression of truth leads to enormous pressure on the mind, as one lie leads to series of lies in order to corroborate each other that ultimately prove to be disastrous.

12. Anger also arises out of impulsions. A calm and steady mind never becomes repulsive.

13. Renunciation is often referred to, in all the scriptures. Renunciation is not the end of a spiritual journey, but the commencement of it. When one practices renunciation, most of the qualities described here automatically blossoms forth.

14. Tranquillity evolves from a quietened mind. Pursuing spiritual path to its logical conclusion, realizing the Brahman, surely needs a tranquil mind. A restless mind is the source for too many thoughts, unconnected to spirituality.

15. Criticizing others exposes one’s own inability and causes serious agitation in his mind. If one finds fault in others, it is always advisable to call him in privacy and discuss with him, his shortcomings. This not only corrects the person, but also exposes one’s magnanimity. Particularly, this is helpful in working environment.

16. Compassion is a divine quality. It is only the compassion that leads to universal love, a form of divine manifestation.

17. Avariciousness never gives satisfaction and leads to unabated desire and greed and overrides most of the qualities discussed here.

18. Politeness is the quality in man that embellishes most of the qualities discussed here. This is one of the qualities that outshine most of the other qualities, when one is nearing the Lord. By being polite, one commands respect.

19. Modesty leads to simple way of living, which avoids most of the desires. The Lord never likes pomp and vanity. Modesty establishes grace in a person.

20. Restlessness becomes the worst quality in general and becomes worst quality for any spiritual seekers. Restlessness is a clear symptom of an agitated mind. Spiritual realization is a slow process and is directly relevant to one’s efforts and dedication. Any minor impediment in the mind is sure to postpone the realization of the Self.

21. Faithfulness is another important aspect in spirituality. It can also be said that faithfulness forms the foundational factor of spirituality. One has to repose faith in his spiritual preceptors. Being unfaithful, makes a person treacherous and unreliable and no guru would ever take this kind of man as his disciple.

22. Magnanimity wards off ego. It is yet another quality, when practiced, enables a person to command respect and love. One has to always remain generous in nature.

23. Patience is the inevitable quality in spirituality. One has to patiently pursue the spiritual path, waiting for the time of liberation.

24. Purity of mind and body is important. By keeping the body pure, mind automatically becomes pure, as the mind receives its inputs from the sensory organs. A polluted mind becomes incapable of proper perception of the Lord.

25. Hatred causes mental agitation. If the mind is to be calmed down, hatred is to be eliminated. Hatred is the emotional swing of the mind, causing irreparable mental degradation.

26. Vanity is a trait of being unduly vain and conceited pride. Even while performing rituals, vanity is to be totally avoided as the Lord Himself is devoid of pride and vanity. Vanity is yet another manifestation of one’s ego. If one continues to be affected by ego, the mind can never be cleansed.

All these qualities are related to the mind. Kṛṣṇa has not included even a single quality about matter. While pursuing the spiritual path, one should not get deluded with matter, the main source of all negativities. Unless one is able to differentiate between mind and matter, spiritual progression cannot be made. The mind has to always remain in sublime state, as no one knows, when realization will take place.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XV. 18 - 20

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVI. 4 - 6

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVI. 7 - 12