patanti narake ’śucau
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 16.16
Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, they become too strongly attached to sense enjoyment and fall down into hell.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The demoniac man knows no limit to his desire to acquire money. That is unlimited. He thinks only of how much assessment he has just now and schemes to engage that stock of wealth further and further. For that reason, he does not hesitate to act in any sinful way and so deals in the black market for illegal gratification. He is enamored by the possessions he has already, such as land, family, house and bank balance, and he is always planning to improve them. He believes in his own strength, and he does not know that whatever he is gaining is due to his past good deeds. He is given an opportunity to accumulate such things, but he has no conception of past causes. He simply thinks that all his mass of wealth is due to his own endeavor. A demoniac person believes in the strength of his personal work, not in the law of karma. According to the law of karma, a man takes his birth in a high family, or becomes rich, or very well educated, or very beautiful because of good work in the past. The demoniac think that all these things are accidental and due to the strength of one’s personal ability. They do not sense any arrangement behind all the varieties of people, beauty and education. Anyone who comes into competition with such a demoniac man is his enemy. There are many demoniac people, and each is enemy to the others. This enmity becomes more and more deep—between persons, then between families, then between societies, and at last between nations. Therefore there is constant strife, war and enmity all over the world.
Each demoniac person thinks that he can live at the sacrifice of all others. Generally, a demoniac person thinks of himself as the Supreme God, and a demoniac preacher tells his followers: “Why are you seeking God elsewhere? You are all yourselves God! Whatever you like, you can do. Don’t believe in God. Throw away God. God is dead.” These are the demoniac’s preachings.
Although the demoniac person sees others equally rich and influential, or even more so, he thinks that no one is richer than he and that no one is more influential than he.
As far as promotion to the higher planetary system is concerned, he does not believe in performing yajnas, or sacrifices. Demons think that they will manufacture their own process of yajna and prepare some machine by which they will be able to reach any higher planet. The best example of such a demoniac man was Ravana. He offered a program to the people by which he would prepare a staircase so that anyone could reach the heavenly planets without performing sacrifices, such as are prescribed in the Vedas. Similarly, in the present age such demoniac men are striving to reach the higher planetary systems by mechanical arrangements. These are examples of bewilderment. The result is that, without their knowledge, they are gliding toward hell. Here the Sanskrit word moha-jala is very significant. Jala means “net”; like fish caught in a net, they have no way to come out.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Attached to the enjoyment of their desired objects, they fall to unclean hell, into such places as Vaitarani (filled with blood and pus).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
16.16 As do not accept the need for the help of past Karma and the Lord for their achievements and believe them to be only due to their own efforts, they are ‘bewildered’ by many thoughts, ‘Thus I shall do, this I shall accomplish, and still another I shall achieve.’ In this way they are ensnared by the net of delusion. Highly addicted to sensual enjoyments, they die in the middle of such enjoyments and fall into foul Naraka [Naraka is sometimes translated as hell. This is the Christian conception. In the Hindu view it is purgatory where through intense sufferings the Jiva is purged of sins].
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Continuing Lord Krishna explains that perplexed and deluded by the innumerable desires waiting to be fulfilled in their minds which they are determined to realize; the demoniac become ensnared and entangled caught in the net of illusion even as fish are ensnared and caught by a fisherman’s net in water. Inescapably caught in the net of illusion the demoniac pursue their nefarious activities in the never ending attempt to satisfy their addiction to sense gratification and when their span of life has come to an end they are forced to enter the lowest regions of hell to suffer immeasurably.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
The demoniac infatuated by illusion and bewildered by ignorance foolishly base all their hopes and dreams upon the material existence which is transitory, temporary and impermanent. Consequently they are deluded by their incessant desires, grand ambitions and grandiose schemes of what they shall do, what they shall accomplish, what they shall acquire and what they shall enjoy all propelled by the desire of power and wealth which they think will give them longevity. But in reality devoid of the grace of the Supreme Lord Krishna who is the ultimate controller of all; the demoniac no matter how powerful they may be or how much they appear to be controlling are completely enmeshed in the web of illusion like fish trapped in a net which although appearing to be swimming freely are factually caught when the net is tightened. The demoniac incorrigibly addicted to lust, greed and insatiable propensities for sense gratification. The demoniac possess diabolical dispositions and depraved degraded habits and activities that doom them to descend and suffer proportionately for their sinful activities in one of the 28 hellish planets which are vile and detestable such as Rauvara confirmed in the Bhagavat Purana known as Srimad Bhagavatam: Canto 5, chapter 26, verse 11: They are forced in their subtle bodies after death to be tormented and attacked incessantly by rurus which are creatures more cruel and vicious than a snake. Also confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam: Canto 5, chapter 26, verse 22 is another hellish planet where the demoniac are forced to enter in their subtle body is a hellish world known as Vaitarani that is a river full of mucus, puss, faeces, urine and phlegm surrounding the entire planet and is full of predatory fish of horrible visage who bite and attack ferociously.
In all there are 28 principle categories of hellish planetary systems in which some lanets are more then 800,000 miles in circumference and there are hundreds and thousands of such planets. Srimad Bhagavatam: Canto 5, chapter 26, verse 37 confirms: There are hundreds and thousands of hellish planets. These hellish planets are all operating continuously without cessation under the administration of Yamaraj the demigod in charge of death in order to chastise and punish the demoniac and impious without compunction in accordance to the precise degree of their sinfulness.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
16.16 Aneka-citta-vibhrantah, bewildered by numerous thoughts, confounded variously by thoughts of the kind stated above; moha-jala-samavrtah, caught in the net of delusion-moha is non-discrimination, lack of understanding; that itself is like a net because of its nature of covering; enshrouded by that; prasaktah, engrossed; kama-bhogesu, in the enjoyment of desirable objects, being immersed in that itself; they patanti, fall, owing to the sins accumulated thereby; asucau, into a foul; narake, hell, such as Vaitarani. [Vaitarani: It is the most terrible place of punishment; a river filled with all kinds of filth-blood, hair, bones etc., and running with great impetuosity, hot and fetid. The other hells are Tamisra, Andhatamisra, Raurava, Kumbhipaka, and so on.]
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
16.13-16 Idam adya etc. upto asucau. Endowed with many thoughts etc. For, they do not have any conviction. Into the hell and what is foul : in the [hell] Avici and the like and in the regular succession of birth and death.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
patanti narake ’sucau
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
aneka — numerous; citta — by anxieties; vibhrāntāḥ — perplexed; moha — of illusions; jāla — by a network; samāvṛtāḥ — surrounded; prasaktāḥ — attached; kāma-bhogeṣu — to sense gratiﬁcation; patanti — they glide down; narake — into hell; aśucau — unclean.