The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 16: Classification of Divine and Demonic Qualities

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 16

Classification of Divine and Demonic Qualities

The difference between divine and demonic:

Each person is potentially divine and the goal of human life is to manifest that divinity in one’s life.

A person is called divine, when this divinity shines through his/her thoughts, speech and actions. When that divinity gets blocked and non-divine qualities manifest, that same person is called a demonic person.

The qualities which help us manifest this inner divinity are called the divine qualities. These divine qualities free us from all our limitations and bondages. On the other hand, the qualities, which block our divinity, create confusion and ignorance are called the demonic qualities.  These demonic qualities, in turn, lead us toward a miserable life and to our destruction.  Such demonic qualities make us slaves of our weaknesses. In this chapter Shri Krishna clearly defines divine and demonic qualities.

The divine qualities:

The following are the divine qualities or virtues.  These virtues are inter-connected.  If a person practices one of these qualities with proper understanding, then the other qualities follow.

(1) fearlessness, (2) purity of mind, (3) being established in the True Knowledge of the Self and an ability to focus mind on the Self, (4) charity, (5) control on one’s senses, (6) sacrifice or unselfish service (7) study of the scriptures and habit of reflecting upon their teachings in order to practice them, (8) austerities – bearing the pain caused due to spiritual practices (9) being simple minded (lack of crookedness), (10) not to hurt anyone through thought, speech and action, (11) being truthful, (12) devoid of anger, (13) renunciation – ability to renounce what comes in the way of spiritual development (14) peaceful nature, (15) not to think or talk about ills of others, (16) compassion towards all beings, (17) not being greedy, (18) having gentle nature (not being rude), (19) modesty; feeling shame in doing unrighteous things, (20) not restless (21) possessing an aura of divinity (22) forgiveness, (23) ability to hold on to spiritual practices until realization of one’s divinity, (24) purity – external and internal, (25) having no animosity towards anyone and (26) not craving for special honor or respect.

The demonic qualities:

The following are the demonic qualities which conceal the divinity of a person and lead one to ignorance and destruction:

(1) Pretension, (2) Arrogance, (3) Being egotistic, (4) Lack of control on anger, (5) Rudeness, (6) Ignorance, (7) Being confused between “what should be done,” and “what should not be done,” (8) Lacking purity (9) Being unrighteous (10) Being untruthful

(11)  People with demonic qualities think that the world is devoid of truth, has no moral basis, is without God, and it is a creation of combination of male and female element having no other cause except fulfillment of lust. Having such views these lost souls with little understanding and fierce actions rise as the enemies of the world for its destruction.

(12) Being filled with hypocrisy, pride, and arrogance, and giving themselves up to insatiable desires they hold false views through delusion and act with impure resolve.

(13) Living with infinite worries which last till their deaths, and thinking that ‘acquiring pleasures of body and mind is the only goal of life,’ they crave for sense-pleasures.

(14) Being slaves of thousands of hopes of worldly desires and filled with lust and anger, they are busy to collect money for sense pleasures through unethical means.

(15) People with demonic qualities think that, “Today I have gained one thing and later on I will fulfil another longing. This much money I have collected and in future I will collect more. I have killed this enemy and I will kill more in future.  I am the Lord of the Universe.  I enjoy the world.  I am endowed with all the cleverness. I am powerful and I am happy.  I am rich and I am from ‘high family.’  There is no one equal to me.  I give in charity, perform religious rituals, and I will enjoy the world.”  Thus, being deluded by ignorance, caught in the net of ‘attachment’, with messed-up minds, and craving for sense pleasures they fall into a hell, meaning live very low-level human lives.

(16)  Considering them as great, drunken by the wealth and worldly respect these arrogant people perform religious rituals whimsically for their worldly pleasures.  They do not properly follow scriptural injunctions.

(17) Minds being filled with ego, pride of their physical strength, arrogance, worldly desires, anger and jealousy they torture Me (the Self) which lies in themselves and others.

To these demonic minded people, who are cruel, filled with hatred and living low-level human lives, I (meaning the Law of Nature) throw them again and again into an environment which sinks them into lower and lower levels of life without realizing their inner divinity.

Three Doors:

O Arjuna!  Know that the three doors to hell (or to low-level of life) are unethical sense pleasures, anger and greed which bring self-destruction.  Therefore, you should renounce these three doors to hell.

Those who save themselves from these three doors and who engage in their spiritual development, attain the highest state in their lives, meaning acquire the supreme Knowledge, Infinite Bliss and Awareness of their inner Divinity.

Follow the Guidelines of the Scriptures:

Those who disregard the teachings of the scriptures and of Saints and Sages and live whimsically following their own worldly desires, they neither attain any success, nor happiness and nor any higher state in life.

Therefore, you must learn the teachings of the scriptures and of Saints and Sages, make these teachings your guidelines to decide ‘what to do and what not to do’ and then perform actions.


The Law of Nature is such that sooner or later each being will realize its true identity, which is divine and is called by Vedanta as Atman. Divine qualities help a person to realize one’s divinity lying within.

The divine and demonic qualities are in the mind. If the weaknesses take over the mind, then a divine person can turn into a demonic person. Similarly, if a person’s mind realizes the harm and miseries that demonic qualities bring and he/she makes efforts to acquire divine qualities, then he/she becomes divine. We have an example of the highway man Valio or Ratnakar who was robbing and killing people for a living. However, when he was brought to senses by Sage Narada, he realized that he was doing hideous things.  He then plunged into spiritual practices to realize the divinity within and became Sage Valmiki who wrote the great epic Ramayana.

When a person’s mind is dominated by the divine qualities, he/she will attract people with divine qualities whose company will help strengthen his/her divine qualities. Similarly, when a person’s mind is dominated by the demonic qualities, he/she will attract people with demonic qualities whose company will drag him/her into more demonic qualities. But, in this case, at one point by the sufferings and the fear of complete annihilation, a demonic mind wakes up and starts journey towards one’s true divine nature.

(Thanks to Nina Sivadasan-Nair for editing this post.)


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