Deva and Asura (Chapter XVI)

Publisher’s Note: The translation of the Gita presented here was compiled mainly from Sri Aurobindo’s “Essays on the Gita”. It first appeared in “The Message of the Gita”, edited by Anilbaran Roy, in 1938. Sri Aurobindo approved this book for publication; however, he made it clear in one of his letters that the translations in the Essays were “more explanatory than textually precise or cast in a literary style”. Many of them are paraphrases rather than strict translations.

Sri Aurobindo also wrote that he did not wish extracts from the Essays “to go out as my translation of the Gita”. This should be borne in mind by the reader as he makes use of this translation, which has been provided as a bridge between the Gita and Sri Aurobindo’s Essays.

1-3. The Blessed Lord said: Fearlessness, purity of temperament, steadfastness in the Yoga of Knowledge, giving, self-control, sacrifice, the study of Scripture, askesis, candour and straightforwardness, harmlessness, truth, absence of wrath, self-denial, calm, absence of fault-finding, compassion to all beings, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty, freedom from restlessness, energy, forgiveness, patience, cleanness, absence of envy and pride – these are the wealth of the man born into the Deva nature.

4. Pride, arrogance, excessive self-esteem, wrath, harshness, ignorance, these, O Partha, are the wealth of the man born into the Asuric nature.

5. The Daivic qualities lead towards liberation, the Asuric towards bondage. Grieve not, thou art born in the Deva-nature, O Pandava.

6. There are two creations of beings in this material world, the Daivic and the Asuric; the Daivic hath been described at length: hear from Me, O Partha, the Asuric.

7. Asuric men have no true knowledge of the way of action or the way of abstention; truth is not in them, nor clean doing, nor faithful observance.

8. “The world is without God,” they say, “not true, not founded in truth, brought about by a mutual union, with Desire for its sole cause, a world of Chance.”

9. Leaning on that way of seeing life, and by its falsehood ruining their souls and their reason, the Asuric men become the centre or instrument of a fierce, Titanic, violent action, a power of destruction in the world, a fount of injury and evil.

10. Resorting to insatiable desire, arrogant, full of self-esteem and the drunkenness of their pride, these misguided souls delude themselves, persist in false and obstinate aims and pursue the fixed impure resolution of their longings.

11. They imagine that desire and enjoyment are all the aim of life and (in their inordinate and insatiable pursuit of it) they are the prey of a devouring, a measurelessly unceasing care and thought and endeavour and anxiety till the moment of their death.

12-15. Bound by a hundred bonds, devoured by wrath and lust, unweariedly occupied in amassing unjust gains which may serve their enjoyment and the satisfaction of their craving, always they think. “To-day I have gained this object of desire, to-morrow I shall have that other; to-day I have so much wealth, more I will get to-morrow. I have killed this my enemy, the rest too I will kill. I am a lord and king of men, I am perfect, accomplished, strong, happy, fortunate, a privileged enjoyer of the world; I am wealthy, I am of high birth; who is there like unto me? I will sacrifice, I will give, I will enjoy.”

16. Thus occupied by many egoistic ideas, deluded, addicted to the gratification of desire (doing works, but doing them wrongly, acting mightily, but for themselves, for desire, for enjoyment, not for God in themselves and God in man), they fall into the unclean hell of their own evil.

17. They sacrifice and give not in the true order, but from a self-regarding ostentation, from vanity and with a stiff and foolish pride.

18. In the egoism of their strength and power, in the violence of their wrath and arrogance they hate, despise and belittle the God hidden in themselves and the God in man.

19. These proud haters (of good and of God), evil, cruel, vilest among men in the world, I cast down continually into more and more Asuric births.

20. Cast into Asuric wombs, deluded birth after birth, they find Me not (as they do not seek Me) and sink down into the lowest status of soul-nature.

21. Threefold are the doors of Hell, destructive of the soul – desire, wrath and greed: therefore let man renounce these three.

22. A man liberated from these doors of darkness, O son of Kunti, follows his own higher good and arrives at the highest soul-status.

23. He who, having cast aside the rules of the Shastra, followeth the promptings of desire, attaineth not to perfection, nor happiness, nor the highest soul-status.

24. Therefore let the Shastra be thy authority in determining what ought to be done or what ought not to be done. Knowing what hath been declared by the rules of the Shastra, thou oughtest to work in this world.

as translated by
Sri Aurobindo

in: SABCL, volume 13 “Essays on the Gita, with Sanskrit Text and Translation of the Gita”
pages 730- 735
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA