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Gita Lesson - 1906: Cleaning Ourselves

Bhagavad Gita
Unit - 19
Lesson - 1906: Cleaning Ourselves
By Raja Subramaniyan

In order to understand the truth regarding Brahman and Atman, human beings are expected to be Aura dominant. Lord Krishna lists the good qualities, which reveals the Aura dominance. He elaborately discusses the evil qualities, which shows that we are under the influence of Energy and Matter. These evil qualities prevent us from understanding the knowledge revealed by Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna divides people into divine natured people and evil natured people. It is not that a person has only evil qualities totally devoid of any good qualities. Everyone has all sorts of qualities. We need to ensure that our good qualities are more and dominating over the evil qualities. We need to put in effort to gain good qualities and get rid of or reduce evil qualities.

Example: We need to take bath to clean our body. We do not have to do anything to become unclean. Mere existence in the world accumulates dirt and we have to take bath everyday to keep our body clean.

Similarly, we need to clean our mind by spending time and effort on it. Mere interaction with the world will make the mind dirty. If we do not take time to identify the evil qualities in us and remove them consciously, our life will become progressively more miserable.

Our mind is a subtle matter made up of three elements, Aura, Energy and Matter. The proportion and dominance of each of these elements keep changing continuously. While Aura dominance will lead us to good qualities, the other two will force us into develop bad qualities.

We determine our qualities based on our action. If we gain more knowledge, we will move towards more happiness ultimately reaching the destination of Joyful Living. If we act based on our current level of knowledge, without conscious attempt to increase our knowledge, we tend to develop more evil qualities. This will make life progressively more painful.

During the first part of our life, we may have more confidence that we are doing the right thing. However, as we advance in age, we will see that we are going in circles.

Example: While driving to a new place, it will take some time for us to realize that we are on the wrong road.

Similarly, in life most of us are stranded. Those who are intelligent will keep cleaning their mind by applying the knowledge from the scripture. If we do not do this, we will accumulate evil qualities and progressively we will fall into hell.

List of evil qualities


Desire is the root cause of all our evil qualities. Our ultimate goal is happiness. Due to ignorance, we assume that the material pursuit of earning name, fame, money, wealth, power, position, property, people etc will bring us happiness. Therefore, we have desires for such objects of the world.

Such desires are leading us in the opposite direction. The only purpose of all our desires is to make us happy. However, it can be seen that desire is the only cause for all our suffering as detailed below.


Desire leads to anger. If there is any hurdle in fulfilling our desire, we get anger. There is no possibility of anyone to be short-tempered if the expectations are absent. Everyone wishes something to happen or not happen all the time. If all such wishes are fulfilled without any difficulties, the evil quality, anger will disappear forever.

This is impossible. The immediate results are not directly proportional to the effort we put in. Besides, change is the essential nature of the environment. It is not possible to expect that we get our newspaper or coffee in the morning every day, when we want it. There will be days, when things do not go according to our expectations and this causes anger.

Anger will lead to irritation, hatred, animosity, violence (in thoughts, words and deeds) and vengeance.


Fear is very similar to anger. If the obstacle to the fulfillment of our desire is of very powerful, instead of anger we develop fear.

After gaining the object of our desire, we develop the fear of losing it.

Fear will lead to anxiety about the immediate future, worry about the future and guilt about the past.


Desire leads to greed. We desire for various things in life. Such desires can never be fulfilled completely. It is not possible to put off the fire by pouring petrol. Every drop of petrol will increase the fire. Similarly, all our attempts to fulfill our desires will make us greedier.

We desire to earn money so that we can lead a happy life. When we earn money, we find that it is not enough and we need more to be happy. Our expectations keep growing and this warrants that we struggle harder in life.

Continued success in life will make us arrogant.


When someone known to us gains something that is of value to us, little more than what we have, then we will be jealous. All these three conditions are important.

We will be jealous of someone known to us. We will never be jealous of unknown people. More we closer we know them, more jealous we will be.

We will be jealous only if the object involved is of importance to us. If we do not care much about health, we will not be jealous of a healthy person.

We will be jealous only if the other person gets little more than what we have. If the other person gets lot more, then our jealousy will come down.

Jealousy begins with our desire. If we do not have any desire, there is no chance that we will be jealous of anyone.

Jealousy will lead us to the evil quality of enjoying others misery. It will also lead to malice, talking and thinking ill of others.


Whenever our desires are not fulfilled in line with our expectations, we have displeasure. Disappointment and losing hope in life are directly related to our desires.


Whenever we lose our object of desire, grief strikes us. We are immersed in sorrow until we console ourselves that we can make up for the loss. When our efforts to fulfill our desires fail, we lose self-confidence and feel miserable.

We feel ashamed to face others, if we feel that we are incapable of fulfilling our desires.


We know for sure that most of our desires can be fulfilled by money. Therefore, there is a rat race in earning more and more money. In this race, everyone around us is our opponent. Therefore, we suspect that they will prevent us from achieving our goal.

Results of the evil qualities
1. Delusion: Our natural intelligence is blinded. Under the influence of these evil qualities, one will not know the difference between Dharma and Adharma. Most often Dharma will appear Adharma and Adharma will appear as Dharma. We will then tend to do what is not good for ourselves and suffer more in life.
2. Strengthening of Likes and Dislikes: The objects of the world will continue to influence us steadily increasing our likes and dislikes. This will make us vulnerable to the pairs of the opposites in life. We will be prone to suffering more often.
3. Increase in the ten sociological evils namely gambling, robbery, drinking, smoking, murder, suicide, rape, divorce, drug addiction and pollution of Environment
4. Increase in the five political evils namely corruption, nepotism, hypocrisy, turncoats and loose values
5. Increase in the five economic evils namely slavery, beggary, luxury, poverty and exploitation
6. Increase in the five cultural evils namely dogmatism, bigotry, religious prejudice, race or caste prejudice and superstition.

It should be understood that the evil qualities make our life miserable. All of us want to live life happily. These evil qualities prevent us from living happily. We should make use of our intelligence and live a happy life by freeing ourselves from such evil qualities.

Only when we reduce the influence of these evil qualities, we can hope to commence our journey towards Joyful Living.

Teaching 141: Good qualities that give happiness to self and others are to be cultivated.

Teaching 142: Bad qualities that hurt us and others are to be reduced or eliminated.

Cause of the evil qualities

Teaching 143: Desire is the root cause of all evil qualities

As discussed earlier the desire is the root cause of all the evil qualities. People live life as dictated by their senses without using the intelligence. This gives the power to the sense objects of the world to control our life. If we use our intelligence, we will see that we should live life in line with the guidelines given in the user manual of life, namely the Vedas.

If our life is controlled by our emotions and feelings, we will develop evil qualities and suffer. Instead, if our intelligence could overpower and guide our life, we will reduce the intensity of the evil qualities and life will become progressively happier.

People, who are less intelligent, would merely like to survive. They do not have mental maturity to reflect on the quality of our life. They do not give importance to Vedas and live life as it comes. Their life will become progressively miserable without any hope of reversal of the trend.

Therefore, we should attempt to reduce and avoid the evil qualities in life by following the prescription in Vedas. Vedas do not prescribe that the desires are to be abandoned since it is not possible. Therefore, it prescribes a correct course of treatment, which will progressively relieve us from the influence of these evil qualities.

Step 1: Desires are permitted as long as they are in line with Dharma

Step 2: The means of fulfilling desires should be line with Dharma

Step 3: Moderate the desires.

Step 4: Unselfish desires, which expands from self, family, society to humanity

Step 5: Non-binding desires, which do not lead to anger/fear or greed.

Teaching 144: Dharma in all our actions will release us from the clutches of desire.

Effect of overcoming the evil qualities

Life will become progressively peaceful as our evil qualities are reduced. The feeling of inadequateness is common among all the human beings. This inadequateness expresses itself as desire for objects of the world leading to all the evil qualities. When we follow the above steps and overcome the evil qualities, we will see that we need to work on our mind to gain the sense of fulfillment.

Complete satisfaction and fulfillment is the hallmark of Joyful Living. This can come about only when we gain the knowledge of Brahman. Our mind under the influence of evil qualities is incapable of gaining this knowledge. Therefore, after we complete the above steps, we will be progressing faster towards Joyful Living.

Role of our mind

Mind is the sole cause for all our suffering. However, we need to use the very same mind to help us reach our destination of Joyful Living.

The world is made up of AEM, which is constantly changing. The earth rotates and revolves around the sun. The inert objects also undergo changes continuously. The living beings are not exempted. They are also part of this changing environment and they change. However, in the case of living beings, the changes are seen as actions.

Example: I get up, walk to the refrigerator, take a soft drink and come back to my chair.

This is seen as a set of actions and not assumed as a part of the total change. The mind cannot comprehend that these actions are prompted by thoughts, which in turn are prompted by the environment. It is not possible to fire a gun without loading the gun with bullets. Similarly, all our actions are prompted by corresponding thoughts in our mind. However, we do not have any control on what we think in the present. Our thoughts are result of our accumulated preferences and impressions. We can control our future thoughts by refining our mind through the fourteen steps as suggested by Lord Krishna in the Chapter 6.

If we do that, we will be able to free ourselves from this cycle. Our mind will be free from the evil qualities and then gain the knowledge of the absolute. When we reach the destination, we will see that we are part of the movement called life.

We enjoy life all the time since there is nothing to be done and we are not responsible to do anything. We will have a sense of fulfillment of having achieved the ultimate goal of life. This does not mean that we will be inactive and a burden to the society. On the contrary, we will be working very hard. Since we will be enjoying our work, we will not feel that we are working. We will continue to interact with the society as before but there will not be any risk of we getting affected. The relationships will never get strained.

It is a long journey and we need to take the first step by reducing the evil qualities.

Chapter 16: Good Qualities and Evil Qualities [Verses: 01 - 24]

16.1-3 The Lord said - Fearlessness, mental purity, steadfast in knowledge, charity, sense-control, sacrifice, study of the Vedas, austerity, straightforwardness and simplicity, nonviolence, truthfulness, freedom from anger, renunciation, tranquility, aversion to faultfinding, compassion to all beings, freedom from temptation, gentleness, modesty, freedom from restlessness, freedom from sluggishness, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of ill will and humility - these good qualities are endowed with a person with divine nature, Oh Arjuna!

16.4 Pretension, Arrogance, vanity, anger, harshness and ignorance - these bad qualities belong to a person with evil nature, Oh Arjuna!

16.5 The good qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the evil qualities lead to bondage. Do not worry, Oh Arjuna, for you are born with the divine qualities.

16.6 Oh Arjuna, in this world there are two kinds of created beings - divine in nature and evil in nature. I have already explained to you at length the divine qualities. Now hear from Me about the evil qualities.

16.7 Those who are evil do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.

16.8 They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.

16.9 Following such conclusions, the evil, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engages in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.

16.10 Taking to insatiable desire, they are full of pretensions, vanity and arrogance. Holding wrong views due to delusion, they act with impure resolve.

16.11-12 They believe that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime goal of human civilization. Thus, there is no end to their anxiety. Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they seek hoards of wealth by unrighteous means for sense gratification.

16.13-15 The person with evil nature thinks, "So much wealth I earned today and I will gain more soon. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him; and my other enemy will be killed soon. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice." In this way, such persons are deluded by Matter.

16.16 Thoroughly confused by such innumerable anxieties, encircled in the net of delusion and deeply engaged in the enjoyment of sense objects, they fall down into hell of suffering.

16.17 Self-complacent and always impudent, deluded by wealth and false prestige, they perform sacrifices in name only without following any scriptural rules.

16.18 Bewildered by false ego, power, arrogance, pride, desire and anger, they hate Me, who is situated in the bodies of themselves and others.

16.19 Those who are envious and hating everyone, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various evil species of life.

16.20 Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of evil life, these indiscriminate people do not reach Me. They fall into still lower condition of existence, Oh Arjuna!

16.21 There are three gates leading to this hell, desire, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the self.

16.22 The man who has escapes these three gates of hell, Oh Arjuna, performs acts conducive to self-realization and thus gradually attains the supreme goal.

16.23 But he who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own impulse of his desires attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.

16.24 Therefore, one should understand what duty is and what it is not from the scriptures, which is the only source on this. Having known the teaching, you should do your duty now.

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