na māḿ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
prapadyante narādhamāḥ
āsuraḿ bhāvam āśritāḥ

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 7.15

Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.

Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

It is said in Bhagavad-gita that simply by surrendering oneself unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality Krishna one can surmount the stringent laws of material nature. At this point a question arises: How is it that educated philosophers, scientists, businessmen, administrators and all the leaders of ordinary men do not surrender to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna, the all-powerful Personality of Godhead? Mukti, or liberation from the laws of material nature, is sought by the leaders of mankind in different ways and with great plans and perseverance for a great many years and births. But if that liberation is possible by simply surrendering unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then why don’t these intelligent and hard-working leaders adopt this simple method?

The Gita answers this question very frankly. Those really learned leaders of society like Brahma, Shiva, Kapila, the Kumaras, Manu, Vyasa, Devala, Asita, Janaka, Prahlada, Bali, and later on Madhvacarya, Ramanujacarya, Sri Caitanya and many others—who are faithful philosophers, politicians, educators, scientists, etc.—surrender to the lotus feet of the Supreme Person, the all-powerful authority. Those who are not actually philosophers, scientists, educators, administrators, etc., but who pose themselves as such for material gain, do not accept the plan or path of the Supreme Lord. They have no idea of God; they simply manufacture their own worldly plans and consequently complicate the problems of material existence in their vain attempts to solve them. Because material energy (nature) is so powerful, it can resist the unauthorized plans of the atheists and baffle the knowledge of “planning commissions.”

The atheistic planmakers are described herein by the word duskritinah, or “miscreants.” Kriti means one who has performed meritorious work. The atheist planmaker is sometimes very intelligent and meritorious also, because any gigantic plan, good or bad, must take intelligence to execute. But because the atheist’s brain is improperly utilized in opposing the plan of the Supreme Lord, the atheistic planmaker is called duskriti. which indicates that his intelligence and efforts are misdirected.

In the Gita it is clearly mentioned that material energy works fully under the direction of the Supreme Lord. It has no independent authority. It works as the shadow moves, in accordance with the movements of the object. But still material energy is very powerful, and the atheist, due to his godless temperament, cannot know how it works; nor can he know the plan of the Supreme Lord. Under illusion and the modes of passion and ignorance, all his plans are baffled, as in the case of Hiranyakasipu and Ravana, whose plans were smashed to dust although they were both materially learned as scientists, philosophers, administrators and educators. These duskritinas, or miscreants, are of four different patterns, as outlined below.

(1) The mudhas are those who are grossly foolish, like hardworking beasts of burden. They want to enjoy the fruits of their labor by themselves, and so do not want to part with them for the Supreme. The typical example of the beast of burden is the ass. This humble beast is made to work very hard by his master. The ass does not really know for whom he works so hard day and night. He remains satisfied by filling his stomach with a bundle of grass, sleeping for a while under fear of being beaten by his master, and satisfying his sex appetite at the risk of being repeatedly kicked by the opposite party. The ass sings poetry and philosophy sometimes, but this braying sound only disturbs others. This is the position of the foolish fruitive worker who does not know for whom he should work. He does not know that karma (action) is meant for yajna (sacrifice).

Most often, those who work very hard day and night to clear the burden of self-created duties say that they have no time to hear of the immortality of the living being. To such mudhas, material gains, which are destructible, are life’s all in all—despite the fact that the mudhas enjoy only a very small fraction of the fruit of labor. Sometimes they spend sleepless days and nights for fruitive gain, and although they may have ulcers or indigestion, they are satisfied with practically no food; they are simply absorbed in working hard day and night for the benefit of illusory masters. Ignorant of their real master, the foolish workers waste their valuable time serving mammon. Unfortunately, they never surrender to the supreme master of all masters, nor do they take time to hear of Him from the proper sources. The swine who eat the night soil do not care to accept sweetmeats made of sugar and ghee. Similarly, the foolish worker will untiringly continue to hear of the sense-enjoyable tidings of the flickering mundane world, but will have very little time to hear about the eternal living force that moves the material world.

(2) Another class of duskriti, or miscreant, is called the naradhama, or the lowest of mankind. Nara means human being, and adhama means the lowest. Out of the 8,400,000 different species of living beings, there are 400,000 human species. Out of these there are numerous lower forms of human life that are mostly uncivilized. The civilized human beings are those who have regulative principles of social, political and religious life. Those who are socially and politically developed but who have no religious principles must be considered naradhamas. Nor is religion without God religion, because the purpose of following religious principles is to know the Supreme Truth and man’s relation with Him. In the Gita the Personality of Godhead clearly states that there is no authority above Him and that He is the Supreme Truth. The civilized form of human life is meant for man’s reviving the lost consciousness of his eternal relation with the Supreme Truth, the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, who is all-powerful. Whoever loses this chance is classified as a naradhama. We get information from revealed scriptures that when the baby is in the mother’s womb (an extremely uncomfortable situation) he prays to God for deliverance and promises to worship Him alone as soon as he gets out. To pray to God when he is in difficulty is a natural instinct in every living being because he is eternally related with God. But after his deliverance, the child forgets the difficulties of birth and forgets his deliverer also, being influenced by maya, the illusory energy.

It is the duty of the guardians of children to revive the divine consciousness dormant in them. The ten processes of reformatory ceremonies, as enjoined in the Manu-smriti. which is the guide to religious principles, are meant for reviving God consciousness in the system of varnashrama. However, no process is strictly followed now in any part of the world, and therefore 99.9 percent of the population is naradhama.

When the whole population becomes naradhama. naturally all their so-called education is made null and void by the all-powerful energy of physical nature. According to the standard of the Gita, a learned man is he who sees on equal terms the learned brahmana. the dog. the cow, the elephant and the dog-eater. That is the vision of a true devotee. Sri Nityananda Prabhu, who is the incarnation of Godhead as divine master, delivered the typical naradhamas. the brothers Jagai and Madhai, and showed how the mercy of a real devotee is bestowed upon the lowest of mankind. So the naradhama who is condemned by the Personality of Godhead can again revive his spiritual consciousness only by the mercy of a devotee.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in propagating the bhagavata-dharma, or activities of the devotees, has recommended that people submissively hear the message of the Personality of Godhead. The essence of this message is Bhagavad-gita. The lowest amongst human beings can be delivered by this submissive hearing process only, but unfortunately they even refuse to give an aural reception to these messages, and what to speak of surrendering to the will of the Supreme Lord? Naradhamas, or the lowest of mankind, will fully neglect the prime duty of the human being.

(3) The next class of duskriti is called mayayapahrta-jnanah, or those persons whose erudite knowledge has been nullified by the influence of illusory material energy. They are mostly very learned fellows—great philosophers, poets, literati, scientists, etc.—but the illusory energy misguides them, and therefore they disobey the Supreme Lord.

There are a great number of mayayapahrta-jnanah at the present moment, even amongst the scholars of the Bhagavad-gita. In the Gita, in plain and simple language, it is stated that Sri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is none equal to or greater than Him. He is mentioned as the father of Brahma, the original father of all human beings. In fact, Sri Krishna is said to be not only the father of Brahma but also the father of all species of life. He is the root of the impersonal Brahman and Paramatma; the Supersoul in every entity is His plenary portion. He is the fountainhead of everything, and everyone is advised to surrender unto His lotus feet. Despite all these clear statements, the mayayapahrta-jnanah deride the personality of the Supreme Lord and consider Him merely another human being. They do not know that the blessed form of human life is designed after the eternal and transcendental feature of the Supreme Lord.

All the unauthorized interpretations of the Gita by the class of mayayapahrta-jnanah, outside the purview of the parampara system, are so many stumbling blocks on the path of spiritual understanding. The deluded interpreters do not surrender unto the lotus feet of Sri Krishna, nor do they teach others to follow this principle.

(4) The last class of duskriti is called asuram bhavam asritah, or those of demonic principles. This class is openly atheistic. Some of them argue that the Supreme Lord can never descend upon this material world, but they are unable to give any tangible reasons as to why not. There are others who make Him subordinate to the impersonal feature, although the opposite is declared in the Gita. Envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the atheist will present a number of illicit incarnations manufactured in the factory of his brain. Such persons, whose very principle of life is to decry the Personality of Godhead, cannot surrender unto the lotus feet of Sri Krishna.

Sri Yamunacarya Albandaru of South India said, “O my Lord! You are unknowable to persons involved with atheistic principles, despite Your uncommon qualities, features and activities, despite Your personality’s being confirmed by all the revealed scriptures in the quality of goodness, and despite Your being acknowledged by the famous authorities renowned for their depth of knowledge in the transcendental science and situated in the godly qualities.”

Therefore, (1) grossly foolish persons, (2) the lowest of mankind, (3) the deluded speculators, and (4) the professed atheists, as above mentioned, never surrender unto the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead in spite of all scriptural and authoritative advice.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

“Do not the wise then surrender unto you?”

Yes, those who are wise surrender to me, but those who only think themselves wise do not. Dusta means evil or spoiled, and krtinah means clever. Those who have evil intelligence (duskrtinah) are of four types. One is the mudhah, the fool equal to an animal, the person pursuing enjoyment through his work. It is said:

nunam daivena nihata ye cacyuta-katha-sudham
hitva srnvanty asad-gathah purisam iva vid-bhujah

Because they are averse to the nectar of the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are compared to stool eating hogs. They give up hearing the transcendental activities of the Lord and indulge in hearing of the abominable activities of materialistic persons. SB 3.32.19

mukundam ko vai na seveta vina naretarah

Who would not serve Mukunda except a non-human?

Others are naradhamas. For some time they attain the status of a human by accepting the process of bhakti, but then reject it by their own will, thinking that it is not useful as a practice for attaining their goals. They become the lowest (adhama) because of giving up bhakti.

Others, though having studied the scriptures, have their knowledge stolen by maya. They think that Narayana residing in Vaikuntha is obtainable by constant bhakti, but not Krishna or Rama, whom they consider humans. It is said, avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam (BG 9.11). These fools think that I have a human body. This means that though they surrender to me, they do not surrender to me.

Others take shelter of the mood of the asuras. Asuras like Jarasandha, seeing my form, attack it with arrows. They even try to destroy my form in Vaikuntha by their bad arguments, based on faulty logic such as insisting on visible proof. They do not surrender at all.

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

7.15 ‘Evil-doers’, those who commit evil deeds, do not resort to Me. They are of four types, according to the degree of their evil deeds: (i) the foolish, (ii) the lowest of men, (iii) those persons deprived of knowledge by Maya, and (iv) those given to demoniac nature. ‘The foolish’ are those who have misconceived knowledge. True knowledge consists in understanding that the self is dependent on the Lord and exists for Him. But ‘the foolish’ think they are independent and also that all enjoyable things of the world are their own and for their enjoyment. ‘The lowest of men’ are those who are incapable of turning towards Me, even though My essential nature is known to them generally. ‘Persons who are deprived of knowledge by Maya’ are those who, though possessing knowledge about Me and My manifestations, are moved by deceitful reasonings to contend that such knowledge is inconsistent and impossible. ‘Those of demoniac nature’ are those who have positive knowledge about Myself and My manifestation but hate Me. The intensity of sinfulness in these types in the order in which they are successively placed.

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

Why then does not everyone worship Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord? This verse tersely answers this question describing because they are duskrtino or miscreants, wretches among human beings. Because they are so incorrigible they do not take refuge in the Supreme Lord and offer devotion to Him. What is the cause of their wretchedness? It is because they are in ignorance and bereft of discrimination. Why are they ignorant? It is because they are wicked and sinful. Therefore those who are deprived of discrimination due to the absence of spiritual knowledge from the holy preceptor arising from the teachings of the Vedic scriptures are conscripted by maya’s illusory impressions superimposed upon the mind and engage themselves in despicable and deplorable, diabolical activities. Subsequently they assume a demoniac attitude which has been described as pompous, ostentatious, aggrandising, arrogant, conceited, egocentric, perverted, cruel and vulgar. Such miscreants never even have the opportunity to worship the Supreme Lord.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Why all intelligent beings do not surrender unto the Supreme Lord Krishna is being declared in this verse. It is because they become degraded due to perverted activities like the most wretched of beings. Deprived of discrimination their intelligence becomes polluted and they perform diabolical activities against creation and themselves and assume demoniac mentalities. Here the word mayayapahrta means stolen by the illusory energy. The Vyasa Yoga states: Awareness is the natural tendency of living entities; by maya or illusory impressions superimposed upon the mind awareness becomes distorted. The word asuram indicating the demoniac comes from the root word a-sura meaning without light. In the Narada Purana it states that among the demigods there is a predominance of knowledge which is light; but among the demoniac asuras there is a predominance of sense entanglement which is the absence of light.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

The question could arise from the previous verse that if devotion to Lord Krishna is the way to salvation then what is stopping everyone from recognising this reality and taking refuge in Him by following the teachings of the bonafide spiritual master from the authorised Vedic scriptures and avail themselves to the means to surmount this difficult maya which is the root cause of perpetual bondage in the material existence. Lord Krishna states duskrtino or miscreants in nescience being of four types do not surrender to the Supreme Lord.

1) mudhahs are grossly foolish persons pursuing material gains like beasts of burden 2) naradhamas are the lowest level of society bereft of even any moral principles 3) mayayapahrta-jnana are empirical philosophers deluded by the illusory energy 4) asuram bhavam asrita are those of demoniac nature engaged in abominable activities

Such miscreants through open deceit and covert subterfuge fabricate false doctrines and concoct erroneous philosophies to contradict the truth of the Supreme Lords glories, attributes and qualities as confirmed in the Vedic scriptures. Such intentional deceptions upon unsuspecting humanity are aparadhas or heinous offences against the Supreme Lord the source of all existence. These activities causes them to be infected and overwhelmed with sinful reactions which propels them to embrace a demoniac mentality with the propensity to perform evil and diabolical activities against all created beings. Thus for them it is impossible to accept the Supreme Lord and even go out of their way to oppose Him and His devotees whenever they have the opportunity. These demons assuming various human forms as well as other hybrid forms have been antagonistic to the Supreme Lord since time immemorial. They are adverse to hearing about the nature, form, qualities, pastimes and powers of the Supreme Lord and they blaspheme and minimise Him in every way possible to them. Because of this due to their ignorance their accumulation of sins multiplies exigently effecting that they permanently remain unfit to accept the truth of the Supreme Lord Krishna’s paramount position as the Supreme controller of all creation. Although many demons are intelligent enough to be able to comprehend the eternal knowledge of divinity as revealed exclusively within the Vedic scriptures; to the contrary they promote their own deluded philosophies in the name of religion always zealously keeping their gods without form, qualities and personality insuring that their gods are perpetually unfathomable, and unreachable, hence permanently unattainable for humanity. Deluded by maya or illusory impressions superimposed upon the mind and being only engrossed in their external senses such demons have no chance in surrendering unto the Supreme Lord Krishna and recognising and accepting Him as the Supreme Controller of all.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

7.15 Mudhah, the foolish; duskrtinah, evildoers, sinners; who are nara-adhamah, the most depraved among men; who are also apa-hrta-jnanah, deprived of, despoiled of (their) wisdom; mayaya, by Maya; and asritah, who resort to; asuram bhavam, demoniacal, ways, such as cruelty, untruthfulness, etc.; na, do not; prapadyante, take refuge; man, in Me, the supreme God.

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

7.15 Na mam etc. Those who do not take refuge with attention in Me, even while their body remains fit for the purpose, they are evil-doers and the basest of men, deluded, demoniac, i.e. given to darkness (ignorance). Hence, this is only the power of the trick-of-illusion.

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

na mam duskrtino mudhah
prapadyante naradhamah
asuram bhavam asritah

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

na — not; mām — unto Me; duṣkṛtinaḥ — miscreants; mūḍhāḥ — foolish; prapadyante — surrender; nara-adhamāḥ — lowest among mankind; māyayā — by the illusory energy; apahṛta — stolen; jñānāḥ — whose knowledge; āsuram — demonic; bhāvam — nature; āśritāḥ — accepting.