Bhagavad-Gita Summary and Analysis of 16-18


Krishna tells Arjuna to be fearless and pure, and not to waver in his dedication to his spiritual life. He will find freedom by being self-controlled, sincere, truthful, loving, and full of the desire to serve. Other positive qualities include realizing the truth of the scriptures, learning to be detached, avoiding anger, being compassionate, gentle, cultivating vigor, patience, will, purity, and avoiding malice and pride.

Conversely, the qualities which can make a person inhuman include hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, cruelty, and ignorance. The demonic, says Kirshna, "do things they should avoid and avoid the things they should do. They have no sense of uprightness, purity, or truth." Indeed, the inhuman use the fact that they don't believe in God to justify a belief in life based on sex -- leading them to become enemies of the world, causing suffering and destruction.

These demonic types cling to anxiety and anger and greed, believing themselves all powerful and unequaled. They fall into a dark hell -- egotistical, violent, arrogant, lustful, envious of everyone, they abuse the divine in their bodies and in their minds. Birth after birth, they will be reborn to those with demonic tendencies until they rise out of the hell they have created for themselves. The three gates to this self-destructive hell are lust, anger, and greed -- those who escape these three gates find life's supreme goal.

Krishna says that every creature is born with an inclination to either saatva, rajas, or tamas. Those who are more saatvic worship the forms of God, those who are more rajasic worship power and wealth, those who are more tamasic worship spirits and ghosts. Krishna points to those who invent "harsh penances," as being motivated by hypocrisy and egotism -- for they torture their innocent bodies because of a misguided believe in strength and passion. He says you can tell the difference between saatvic, rajasic and tamasic people by looking at the food they like, the work they do, and the disciplines they practice.

Saatvic people enjoy food that is mild and healthy, while rajasic people like food that is hot and salty -- food that is uncomfortable. Tamasic people like overcooked or impure food - with little taste or nutritional value. Saatvic people are focused on the purpose -- rajasic people are focused on the result -- and tamasic people just go through the motions.

Krishna draws the distinction between sannyasa, or renunciation of selfish acts, and tyaga, or the renunciation of results-based action. Krishna says tyaga comes when you fulfill your obligations, knowing they are obligatory, but desiring nothing for yourself. True renunciation comes with the loss of desire for physical rewards.

In order to reach tyaga, a body must learn to master the body, the means, the ego, the performance of service, and the divine will. A saatvic worker will have no stress, because he is not bound by ego or self-will, and instead sees himself in service of a larger indestructible Being. He is free from egotism and selfish attachments, and full of enthusiasm and fortitude in success and failure alike, knowing he is part of the fabric of a larger consciousness.

Krishna asks Arjuna whether is he is now free from doubts and confusion and Arjuna thanks him, agreeing that his faith is now firm and he will do his will. Sanjaya closes the Gita by saying that this was the supreme secret of spiritual union, directly from Lord Krishna, and that wherever he is, there will be prosperity, victory, happiness, and sound judgment.


For all of his focus on the qualities one should cultivate, now Krishna begins to outline those characteristics which make one 'demonic.' The chief characteristic of the demonic, says Krishna, is not necessarily agnosticism as much as a lack of belief in a higher sense of order or energy. Without spiritual law, a person becomes an enemy of the world because he believes he is superior to it -- it is an outside force that must be tamed, controlled, dominated.

Because this view is so distorted, says Krishna, people will cling even harder to their deluded ideas of themselves no matter how much their body and soul fight against them. Born of this clinging and fight cycle, then, is an addiction to lust and other momentary pleasures, and compulsions that distract them from the painful truth -- that they live from craving to craving without higher purpose.

But rather than help them see the light easily, Krishna says he casts these malicious, hateful, cruel creatures into the wombs of those with similar demonic natures. Over the course of lifetimes, then, if they do not begin to change their karma, they fall deeper and deeper into demonic tendencies, further and further away from the salvation of yogic wisdom.

The distinction between the gunas should be quite apparent at this point. Saatvic is of course the ideal state, based in an understanding and respect for the power of the divine, and a life of moderation, humility and movement towards the center. Rajasic is perhaps the most destructive form of life -- one based in ego and passion, that leads to self-destruction. And tamas is a the root of disconnection -- an ignorance that leads one to believe in rituals for rituals' sake. No matter what samsaric cycle a person is born to, he will naturally be inclined to one of these. But if one is born of rajas or tamas, it is their karmic duty to find yoga through meditation and selfless action to counterbalance their debt.

Krishna also expounds on the nature of a kshatriya, or a true warrior. A kshatriya must, in addition to yogic self-awareness, maintain courage, strength, fortitude, dexterity, generosity, leadership, and firm resolve never to retreat from battle. In this, he's pointing directly at Arjuna and saying that not only is Arjuna far from the path of yoga, but he's far from the path of his own duties as a warrior. If he pays attention to his own particular duty, however, he can find perfection - for he is fulfilling the obligations he is born with, and thus will find cosmic peace.

Krishna tells Arjuna that if he does not fight the battle, his resolve is useless. His own nature will somehow drive him to do it -- because it is his karma, it is his duty, and delusions can only last so long. Those who do not fight the Lord's will, who do not succumb to these delusions so easily will be free. Arjuna finally understands, and with this understanding, the song of the Gita comes to an end.