Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

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Sombra
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Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Sombra »

So the Gita makes it very clear that God is absolutely loving and merciful, that everything ultimately is God, that karma is always changing, and that all existence is temporary and cyclical except God himself.

So I do not know what to make of 16.19-20, where it has Krishna saying:
16.19-20 Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.

Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence.
This seems completely counter to all the points above.

Could someone please explain how these verses do not denote eternal damnation? Eternal damnation must be an incorrect understanding as it seems quite counter to other Gita verses such as:
18.61 The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.


9.29 I am impartial towards all beings; to Me there is none detestable or none dear. But those who worship Me with devotion, they exist in Me, and I too exist in them.


9.18 (I am) the fruit of actions, the nourisher, the Lord, witness, abode, refuge, friend, origin, end, foundation, store and the imperishable seed.
Also perplexing is this quote, though since it is Arjuna speaking and not Krishna, I'm not sure if it is to be taken as utterly true:
1.43 O Krsna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell.
Please and thank you!
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Nicholas
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Nicholas »

Yogananda clarifies:
(19) These cruel and hating perpetrators of evil, worst among men, I hurl again and again
into demonic wombs in the spheres of transmigration.
(20) Entering the state of existence of the asuras, deluded birth after birth, failing to attain
Me, they thus descend to the very lowest depths.

God is not a vengeful judge who casts into everlasting hell those who transgress His commandments. But
He has set forth His karmic law of cause and effect governing human action as a teaching mechanism to
prevent incarnate souls from being caught forever in the outward pull of delusion. The God-given power
that works with this law for the evolutionary upliftment of man is the discriminative free choice unique to
the human species. Misuse of this endowment diminishes the influence of this saving inner voice of
guidance. Without divine discrimination, man becomes bestial, governed by base instincts and noxious
habits. In such persons, the evil tamasic propensities obscure the spiritual sattvic qualities and degrade
the activating materialistic rajasic traits. Thence, according to the divine ordinance of karma, these
“worst among men” attract in their next incarnation an inauspicious birth and environment commensurate
with their indulgence in profligate habits and behavior.

As proper use of the privilege of free choice serves to lodge the incarnating human in a divinely
endowed body and heavenly environment, so misuse of this freedom of will causes rebirth in demonic
“wombs”— states of hellish existence on earth or in other regions of the universe characterized by
suffering and violence, or in dark astral worlds of fearsome beings and nightmares. The karmic fate of the
asuras, demonic mentalities, is to remain entrapped in darkest delusion birth after birth if they do not
rouse themselves from ignorance by efforts at right determination and action. Thus may they descend to
the farthest possible depths, incarnating for a time even in an animal body or other medium (as may be the
case in some insane persons who have lost all power of reason), or in some astral bestial form. Such
instruments have no power of free choice and therefore accrue no karmic consequences for their actions.
Such an existence is the bottommost saving grace for the declining being. Working out past karma without
the possibility of accruing further entanglement, the descended being will then be given in his next life a
new and better opportunity to redeem himself.
May all seek, find and follow the Path of Buddhas.
Sombra
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Sombra »

Nicholas wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:13 pm
Thanks!

I like and agree with this but what is the logic? Or is it just the authority of Yogananda?

This:
Working out past karma without
the possibility of accruing further entanglement, the descended being will then be given in his next life a
new and better opportunity to redeem himself.
Sounds like standard Hindu karma teaching. Eventually karma burns up and people can cycle back around; no one is doomed to a low existence eternally.

But, while I agree with it and find it correct overall, it seems (likely due to my own lack of understanding) to contradict:
...such persons can never approach Me.
Last edited by Sombra on Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Nicholas
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Nicholas »

Sombra wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:36 pm
Nicholas wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:13 pm
Thanks!

I like and agree with this but what is the logic? Or is it just the authority of Yogananda?

This:
Working out past karma without
the possibility of accruing further entanglement, the descended being will then be given in his next life a
new and better opportunity to redeem himself.
Sounds like standard Hindu karma teaching. Eventually karma burns up and people can cycle back around; no one is doomed to a low existence eternally.

But, while I agree with it and find it correct overall, it seems (likely due to my own lack of understanding) to contradict:
...such persons can never approach Me.
Who is your translator?
Check other versions - here is Paramananda's version - "without attaining Me" which agrees with Yogananda.
"Never" is not the same as "without reaching" - the latter says maybe sometime, if one turns away from evil & toward the Good.
May all seek, find and follow the Path of Buddhas.
Sombra
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Sombra »

Nicholas wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:20 pm
Sombra wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:36 pm
Nicholas wrote: Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:13 pm
Thanks!

I like and agree with this but what is the logic? Or is it just the authority of Yogananda?

This:
Working out past karma without
the possibility of accruing further entanglement, the descended being will then be given in his next life a
new and better opportunity to redeem himself.
Sounds like standard Hindu karma teaching. Eventually karma burns up and people can cycle back around; no one is doomed to a low existence eternally.

But, while I agree with it and find it correct overall, it seems (likely due to my own lack of understanding) to contradict:
...such persons can never approach Me.
Who is your translator?
Check other versions - here is Paramananda's version - "without attaining Me" which agrees with Yogananda.
"Never" is not the same as "without reaching" - the latter says maybe sometime, if one turns away from evil & toward the Good.
Would you please post the entire 16.19-20 of Paramananda's version? I'm going off of several translations that have similar to the wording in my op. The one in the op is Gita As It Is since this translation is easily accessible and navigable on a quick web search. However I'd be delighted to learn that a different translation neatly circumvents the ostensible issue!
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Nicholas
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Nicholas »

Your version does not mention "deluded" as a qualifier. Here is Debroy:
‘In this world, I hurl those hateful, cruel, evil and worst among men into demonic births, several times.’

‘O son of Kunti! From birth to birth, the deluded don’t attain me and, obtaining demonic births, go down
even further.’
Here is Paramananda:
I hurl these malignant and cruel evildoers,
most degraded of men, into the
wombs of Asuras in the world (of birth
and death).
O son of Kunti, entering into the Asuric
(unclean) wombs and deluded birth after
birth, without attaining Me they fall into
a still lower state.
One more with Sri Jnanadeva's comments on verse 20 - Yardi translation:
20. Thus attaining demoniacal wombs, they become deluded birth after birth and sink into the lowest
state; without attaining Me, O son of Kunti.

Because of their demoniacal nature, they sink into the vilest state. Then I deprive them of
whatever little solace they have, in the body of the species of tiger etc. (411-415) and throw
them into the state of tamas, in which even darkness in blacked out. This state of tamas is
abhored by sin and dreaded by hell and the travail caused by it, makes toil giddy. The contact
of these demoniacal persons makes even filth more filthy, makes heat more heated and makes
the abject fear tremble. They are detested even by sins, even inauspicious things find their
touch unpropitious and even pollution is afraid of being polluted by them. O winner of wealth,
in this way these vile persons, after suffering birth in many tamasic species, ultimately reach
this tamas state (416-420). The faculty of speech mourns while describing this state and the
mind becomes startled by its remembrance. Alas, what means have these fools accumulated
to earn life in hell! Why do they cherish unnecessarily this demoniacal nature, which leads
to such a dreadful fall? Therefore, O Arjuna, you should avoid visiting the places where these
demoniacally endowed persons dwell. And do I have to tell you, that you should shun the
company of those who possess in a great measure, the six faults such as hypocrisy?
May all seek, find and follow the Path of Buddhas.
Sombra
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Sombra »

Nicholas wrote: Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:55 am Your version does not mention "deluded" as a qualifier. Here is Debroy:
‘In this world, I hurl those hateful, cruel, evil and worst among men into demonic births, several times.’

‘O son of Kunti! From birth to birth, the deluded don’t attain me and, obtaining demonic births, go down
even further.’
Here is Paramananda:
I hurl these malignant and cruel evildoers,
most degraded of men, into the
wombs of Asuras in the world (of birth
and death).
O son of Kunti, entering into the Asuric
(unclean) wombs and deluded birth after
birth, without attaining Me they fall into
a still lower state.
One more with Sri Jnanadeva's comments on verse 20 - Yardi translation:
20. Thus attaining demoniacal wombs, they become deluded birth after birth and sink into the lowest
state; without attaining Me, O son of Kunti.

Because of their demoniacal nature, they sink into the vilest state. Then I deprive them of
whatever little solace they have, in the body of the species of tiger etc. (411-415) and throw
them into the state of tamas, in which even darkness in blacked out. This state of tamas is
abhored by sin and dreaded by hell and the travail caused by it, makes toil giddy. The contact
of these demoniacal persons makes even filth more filthy, makes heat more heated and makes
the abject fear tremble. They are detested even by sins, even inauspicious things find their
touch unpropitious and even pollution is afraid of being polluted by them. O winner of wealth,
in this way these vile persons, after suffering birth in many tamasic species, ultimately reach
this tamas state (416-420). The faculty of speech mourns while describing this state and the
mind becomes startled by its remembrance. Alas, what means have these fools accumulated
to earn life in hell! Why do they cherish unnecessarily this demoniacal nature, which leads
to such a dreadful fall? Therefore, O Arjuna, you should avoid visiting the places where these
demoniacally endowed persons dwell. And do I have to tell you, that you should shun the
company of those who possess in a great measure, the six faults such as hypocrisy?
I'm really confused by the Sri Jnanadeva commentary. It sounds less like commentary and more like further verses from the Gita. The commentary also does not say whether these horrors are temporary or not, so I'm not sure what to make of any of that.

That said, all the translations you provided do not support eternal punishment at all but could easily be read as referencing the normal Hindu teaching of temporary existence in a lower state until karma is expunged.

For example
"In this world, I hurl those hateful, cruel, evil and worst among men into demonic births, several times.’

‘O son of Kunti! From birth to birth, the deluded don’t attain me and, obtaining demonic births, go down
even further.’
Not a word about "never" and in fact "several times". And since it says "the deluded go down even further", we can assume the non deluded do not, and this surely leaves open the deluded becoming non deluded eventually and going back up. And of course similar logic for the other translations.

Much appreciated!

Thank you so much for clearing that up!
Sombra
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Sombra »

Nicholas wrote: Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:55 am
Did a little more digging and believe I very much confirmed your position. Seems the term being translated as "never" is "aprapya".
16.20 asurim yonim apanna
mudha janmani janmani
mam aprapyaiva kaunteya
tato yanty adhamam gatim
‘O son of Kunti! From birth to birth, the deluded don’t attain me and, obtaining demonic births, go down
even further.’
-Debroy
Here is a Sanskrit dictionary:
Sanskrit-English dictionary
[«previous (A) next»] — Aprapya in Sanskrit glossary
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary
Aprāpya (अप्राप्य).—(a-prāpya), adj. (neg. of prāpya, q.v.), not easy, difficult: Mahāvastu i.89.17 (bhāra; see s.v. prāpya).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary
1) Aprāpya (अप्राप्य):—[=a-prāpya] [from a-prāpta] 1. a-prāpya mfn. unobtainable, [Mahābhārata etc.]

2) [v.s. ...] superl.

3) [=a-prāpya] [from a-prāpta] 2. a-prāpya [indeclinable participle] not having obtained

4) [v.s. ...] not reaching.
And what causes them to have difficulty reaching God is not their permanent predestination for a past sin, but "mudha"
asurim yonim apanna
mudha janmani janmani
mam aprapyaiva kaunteya
tato yanty adhamam gatim
‘O son of Kunti! From birth to birth, the deluded don’t attain me and, obtaining demonic births, go down
even further.’
-Debroy
Sanskrit-English dictionary
[«previous (M) next»] — Mudha in Sanskrit glossary
Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
Mudhā (मुधा).—ind.

1) In vain, to no purpose, uselessly, unprofitably; यत्किंचिदपि संवीक्ष्य कुरुते हसितं मुधा (yatkiṃcidapi saṃvīkṣya kurute hasitaṃ mudhā) S. D.

2) Wrongly, falsely; रात्रिः सैव पुनः स एव दिवसो मत्वा मुधा जन्तवः (rātriḥ saiva punaḥ sa eva divaso matvā mudhā jantavaḥ) Bh.3.78 (v. l.).

--- OR ---

Mūḍha (मूढ).—p. p. [muh-kta]

1) Stupefied, infatuated; मूढाः शोणितगन्धेन निपेतुर्धरणीतले (mūḍhāḥ śoṇitagandhena nipeturdharaṇītale) Rām.6.52.15; प्रत्यासन्नविपत्तिमूढ- मनसां प्रायो मतिः क्षीयते (pratyāsannavipattimūḍha- manasāṃ prāyo matiḥ kṣīyate) Pt.2.4.

2) Perplexed, bewildered, confounded, at a loss; किंकर्तव्यतामूढः (kiṃkartavyatāmūḍhaḥ) 'being at a loss what to do'; so ह्रीमूढ (hrīmūḍha) Me.7.

3) Foolish, silly, dull, stupid, ignorant; अल्पस्य हेतोर्बहु हातुमिच्छन् विचारमूढः प्रतिभासि मे त्वम् (alpasya hetorbahu hātumicchan vicāramūḍhaḥ pratibhāsi me tvam) R.2.47.

4) Mistaken, erring, deceived, gone astray.

5) Abortive.

6) Confounding.

-ḍhaḥ A fool, blockhead, dolt, an ignorant person; मूढः परप्रत्ययनेयबुद्धिः (mūḍhaḥ parapratyayaneyabuddhiḥ) M.1.2.

-ḍhāḥ (m. pl.) An epithet of the elements in the Sāṅkhya philosophy.

-ḍham confusion of mind.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary
So it seems you are correct indeed; there is no need to assume it must be translated as "never", and this makes the eternal punishment reading unnecessary.

Further "mudha" sounds like a temporary quality, confused, foolish need not apply eternally in cyclic existence.

So the deluded (mudha) cannot obtain god and so are born in lower states.

This does not at all rule out these beings becoming undeluded after their karma burns off and reaching god.

So, instead of something like "these beings (mudha) never reach (aprapya) me" it can be read as "the deluded (mudha) don't attain (aprapya) me".
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Brahma Das
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Brahma Das »

It seems you are having trouble understanding this Verse:
16.19-20 Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.

Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence.
It is only saying that until someone stops being envious of God they never approach Him. When they stop being envious, then they can approach Him. This is the Teaching of the Gita.

I would like to point out however that no one is born envious, nor does a consciousness of envy transfer over from a past life into a child who is in the womb. There are some self evident truths. Demons are not born into wombs. Cute little animals aren't demons nor are they subhuman, little baby tigers or puppies Love just as much as humans do, and that makes them just as intelligent, because real intelligence is that of the Jiva, measured by Love. Many Self-Realized souls are born into animal bodies, and it is said that Krishna descends into every species of life. Demons are generally un-renewed, un-born-again beings who after death go to a place of punishment, and demonic species of life in hell or in the lower realms are a continuation of their previous consciousness without a birth, it is without being sent into a womb of a mother. Being made new and being born again or for the first time makes you innocent, and that innocence can be Eternal, then if one becomes fallen they have to become twice-born, which is the standard ritual for Vaishnavisa initiation for everyone who enters the Brahma Sampradaya, even though there are many naturally twice-born beings. Just like Jesus Christ says "to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must be born again." Birth is a purifying thing.

For lack of a better word demons are said to be born in demonic species, but no one can be born a demon. After death the servants of Yamaraj may send a demon to another body in a process of transmigration, but this is not a birth. For example after one burns up in the Lake of Fire without repentance they can be sent to a Universe where their body is composed of a dark mound on an empty planet. These bodies are made by the creative impetus of the servants of Brahma of that Universe and of Yamaraj, and ultimately the Supreme Lord who presides over that Universe. The demons in these bodies are traumatized by their own sins and past, so they have little consciousness and hardly remember anything. I have meditated on that Brahma walking inbetween these mound-like bodies of these fallen beings and helping them with his mind, and there was overwhelming darkness. For many of them, in that Universe, it is a long road to recovery. That is what is meant by a demonic species of life. It is not a birth from a womb but a transmigration of the soul by another means to ensure peace and order in the material world, so that no one is born evil. There are no evil children.

I know that both the Vedic and Buddhist Scriptures use the term that demons are born into hell, but since things have been bent in the philosophy for so long it is difficult to provide this type of explanation for such a long going misunderstanding every time it comes up, so even those who are fully aware of these things, just like the Buddha and Krishna are and were, still use ancient terminology and such traditional terms, although they are not accurate. It is possible to be born into a hellish condition or even on a low planet for a human being or animal, but these are not demons, just unfortunate innocents. Children who come from wombs are always pure and innocent.

:console:
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Brahma Das
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Re: Confused about some Gita verses that I'm clearly misapprehending

Post by Brahma Das »

Chapter 10: The Opulence of the Absolute

TEXT 29


anantas casmi naganam
varuno yadasam aham
pitrnam aryama casmi
yamah samyamatam aham


SYNONYMS

anantah—Ananta; ca—also; asmi—I am; naganam—of all serpents; varunah—the demigod controlling the water; yadasam—of all aquatics; aham—I am; pitrnam—of the ancestors; aryama—Aryama; ca—also; asmi—I am; yamah—the controller of death; samyamatam—of all regulators; aham—I am.

TRANSLATION

Of the celestial Naga snakes I am Ananta; of the aquatic deities I am Varuna. Of departed ancestors I am Aryama, and among the dispensers of law I am Yama, lord of death.


PURPORT

Among the many celestial Naga serpents, Ananta is the greatest, as is Varuna among the aquatics. They both represent Krsna. There is also a planet of trees presided over by Aryama, who represents Krsna. There are many living entities who give punishment to the miscreants, and among them Yama is the chief. Yama is situated in a planet near this earthly planet, and after death those who are very sinful are taken there, and Yama arranges different kinds of punishments for them.

-Bhagavad Gita As It Is
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