May 8, 2024

Chapter 16 of Gita and its relevance in the social media influencers era

 I recently learned Chapter 16 of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. This chapter outlines the characteristics of Daivi Sampath and Aasuri Sampath. While listening to a lecture by Prof Mahadevan on this chapter, some of the insights were hard-hitting and eye-opening. I'm now more and more aligned with the belief that if we have questions regarding values, life choices, conflicts, relationships, self-improvement, goals, and the purpose of our existence, it is best to look at our scriptures for answers. This will take time and effort, but the clarity that emerges during this process is rewarding.

Both groups (people with qualities of Daivi Sampath and Aasuri Sampath) have greatness, but only people with Daivi Sampath have goodness in them.

In the lecture, Professor talks about how Aasuri Sampath unfolds as a 6-step process. 

  1. Aasuras develop enormous strength through Tapas (one-pointed, concentrated effort). During this process, they also develop enormous ego.
  2. Because of the new-found power, they get into Adharmic indulgence, acquire more and more wealth in unscrupulous ways, and pursue activities that hurt/harm others (physically or emotionally). They brim with ego and exude a"no one can match me" attitude deluded by ignorance.
  3. As they continue such behaviors, they start to get more curses from the affected people. More debit points get added to their karma. By their own acts, they fix their destiny.
  4. Destruction begins, though they tend to ignore the early warning signs. They tend to dismiss the counseling and advice coming their way from well-wishers.
  5. Destruction is now imminent. They try to deny the reality but are unable to do so. They get into a phase of repentance but it is too late realization though they were given many chances to relook at their choices.
  6. The aftermath is colossal. Destruction not only affects them, but also their family and their circles.

I reflected on this process in the context of social media influencers gone rogue (Aasuras of modern times, if we may say so!). They start with concentrated effort, though not at the scale to be qualified as "tapas". There is a certain exhibition of greatness.

Followers and people who would blindly believe them start to increase, which reflects as high power.

This high power gets projected through a high ego. They tend to think that they are superior and no one can question them.

More egoistic behaviors start to show up with an attitude of "I know everything". They start showing authority in areas they have no expertise/experience. In this process, they also start being criticized and sometimes, to the extent of getting curses. 

Steps 4, 5, and 6 and the consequences may or may not be visible to the outside world through their carefully curated social media posts.

The important takeaway is that they are writing their destiny with their acts, for which they will pay a price. As people who are observers or those who are/were at the receiving end, we don't need to feel affected or impacted when we observe behaviors of modern-day Aasuras who operate with a motive of milking more money or power.

This is only my interpretation and I might be completely wrong. But it brought a sense of closure to the issues my mind had been grappling with.

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