etāḿ dṛṣṭim avaṣṭabhya
kṣayāya jagato ’hitāḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 16.9
Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The demoniac are engaged in activities that will lead the world to destruction. The Lord states here that they are less intelligent. The materialists, who have no concept of God, think that they are advancing. But according to Bhagavad-gita, they are unintelligent and devoid of all sense. They try to enjoy this material world to the utmost limit and therefore always engage in inventing something for sense gratification. Such materialistic inventions are considered to be advancement of human civilization, but the result is that people grow more and more violent and more and more cruel, cruel to animals and cruel to other human beings. They have no idea how to behave toward one another. Animal killing is very prominent amongst demoniac people. Such people are considered the enemies of the world because ultimately they will invent or create something which will bring destruction to all.
Indirectly, this verse anticipates the invention of nuclear weapons, of which the whole world is today very proud. At any moment war may take place, and these atomic weapons may create havoc. Such things are created solely for the destruction of the world, and this is indicated here. Due to godlessness, such weapons are invented in human society; they are not meant for the peace and prosperity of the world.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Some of these asuras who speak in this way are lost souls, some have little intelligence, some are violent, doing whatever they want, living hellish existence. This is described in eleven verses. Avastabhya means taking shelter of this conception.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
16.9 Holding this view, viz., supporting this view, these men of lost souls do not realise that the self is different from the body. They are of ‘feeble understanding,’ they lack the discernment that the self is to be known as different from the body, because of Its being the knower in the body which is an object of knowledge such as jars etc. These are of ‘cruel deeds’ viz., they do much harm to everybody; they are born to bring ruin to the world.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna explains that the perceptions of the demoniac stem from exceedingly impure minds and deranged intellects that are extremely limited and so materialistically orientated that they are only able to accept and believe what they can directly perceive by their mind and senses. They incorrigibly perform heinous and horrible deeds that lead to the degradation and destruction of all creation.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna confirms that the demoniac embracing the doctrine of atheism negate their own atma or immortal soul because of illusion and their inability to accept anything other than the direct perception of what they experience with their mind and senses. Hence life after life they are oblivious to the eternal spiritual position inherent within them and they become deluded lost souls. The conceptions they adhere to are fallacious and their activities are despicable because they lack discriminative knowledge of the difference between the atma and the physical body. What is eternal and what is not eternal. What should be accepted and what should be rejected. Thus they are evilly disposed, enemies of all, full of violence, devoted to diabolical actions and the root of chaos and destruction throughout creation.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
16.9 Avastabhya, holding on to; etam, this; drstim, view; (these people) who are nasta-atmanah, of depraved character, who have deviated from the disciplines leading to the other world; alpa-budhayah, of poor intellect, whose intellect is indeed limited, engrossed with material things; ugra-kamanah, given to fearful actions-who are cruel by nature; and ahitah, harmful; i.e. inimical to the world; prabhavanti, wax strong; ksayaya, for the ruin; jagatah, of the world. This is the construction.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
16.9-12 Etam etc. upto arthasancayam : Their anxiety ends only at the time of dissolution i.e. never ceases, becaue the rise and dissolution never end. This much alone : For them the highest goal to be achieved is but the gratification of desires, and when this (aim) is just ruined, there arises anger. Hence the Lord says ‘Devoted to their craving and anger’.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
etam drstim avastabhya
ksayaya jagato ’hitah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
etām — this; dṛṣṭim — vision; avaṣṭabhya — accepting; naṣṭa — having lost; ātmānaḥ — themselves; alpa-buddhayaḥ — the less intelligent; prabhavanti — ﬂourish; ugra-karmāṇaḥ — engaged in painful activities; kṣayāya — for destruction; jagataḥ — of the world; ahitāḥ — unbeneﬁcial.