rākṣasīm āsurīḿ caiva
prakṛtiḿ mohinīḿ śritāḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 9.12
Those who are thus bewildered are attracted by demonic and atheistic views. In that deluded condition, their hopes for liberation, their fruitive activities, and their culture of knowledge are all defeated.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
There are many devotees who assume themselves to be in Krishna consciousness and devotional service but at heart do not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, as the Absolute Truth. For them, the fruit of devotional service—going back to Godhead—will never be tasted. Similarly, those who are engaged in fruitive pious activities and who are ultimately hoping to be liberated from this material entanglement will never be successful either, because they deride the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. In other words, persons who mock Krishna are to be understood to be demonic or atheistic. As described in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, such demonic miscreants never surrender to Krishna. Therefore their mental speculations to arrive at the Absolute Truth bring them to the false conclusion that the ordinary living entity and Krishna are one and the same. With such a false conviction, they think that the body of any human being is now simply covered by material nature and that as soon as one is liberated from this material body there is no difference between God and himself. This attempt to become one with Krishna will be baffled because of delusion. Such atheistic and demoniac cultivation of spiritual knowledge is always futile. That is the indication of this verse. For such persons, cultivation of the knowledge in the Vedic literature, like the Vedanta-sutra and the Upanishads. is always baffled.
It is a great offense, therefore, to consider Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to be an ordinary man. Those who do so are certainly deluded because they cannot understand the eternal form of Krishna. The Brihad-vishnu-smriti clearly states:
yo vetti bhautikam deham
sa sarvasmad bahis-karyah
sa-celam snanam acaret
“One who considers the body of Krishna to be material should be driven out from all rituals and activities of the shruti and the smriti. And if one by chance sees his face, one should at once take bath in the Ganges to rid himself of infection. People jeer at Krishna because they are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Their destiny is certainly to take birth after birth in the species of atheistic and demoniac life. Perpetually, their real knowledge will remain under delusion, and gradually they will regress to the darkest region of creation.”
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
What is the destination of those you do not accept you, Krishna as the Lord and think that you have a human material body? Even if devotees are in this condition, their aspirations are in vain (moghasah). They do not achieve salokya or whatever else they have desired. If they are karmis, they do not attain the results of their actions such as svarga (mogha karmanah). If they are jnanis they do not attain the results of knowledge, liberation (mogha jnana). Then what do they attain? They assume the nature (prakrtim) of raksasas.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
9.12 Men yielding to the deluding nature characteristics of Asuras and Raksas and not aware of My higher nature like compassion etc. When I am in a human form, are possessed of vain hopes, i.e, their hopes remain fruitless, and their knowledge also is vain, i.e., is fruitless. They are so because of their erroneous understanding which fails to know that all things, mobile and immobile, belong to Me. They are ignorant on account of their being devoid of knowledge of truth everywhere. Whatever they do regarding Me, the Lord of all, is done with an attitude that I am an ordinary mortal. So their efforts go in vain. All this springs from their partaking of the nature of Raksasas and Asuras.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Deluded fools full of vain hopes and dreams entertain the futile misconception that the lesser gods whom they worship can bequeath results more efficiently than the Supreme Lord and therefore such fools turn away from Lord Krishna and are often even inimical towards Him. All of their hopes and dreams are in vain and to no avail because their fundamental knowledge is not based on the reality presented in the Vedic scriptures; but rather on a concocted conglomeration of fallacious speculations. Consequently they follow flawed and misdirected concepts and hypothesis which are deceptive and devoid of proper discrimination which lead to raja guna or the mode of passion characterized by ostentatious arrogance and unwarranted pride. From there they sink even lower to tama guna or the mode of ignorance which gradually degrades itself into demoniac natures predominating in cruelty and heinous activities against oneself and others. Such unfortunates greatly disrespect and deride Lord Krishna as well. This verse is the conclusion of the previous verse and should be understood in this light.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna explains those who do not know about His Supreme position and why. For those who are deluded their human body appears to be what they are and not simply a container for the jiva or the embodied soul. Therefore in the Moksa Dharma it is stated: In this world all the things associated with the body are endowed with the five gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether as ordained by the will of the Supreme Lord who is the sole source of all creation. The Supreme Lord Krishna is also paramatma or the Supreme Soul residing within all living entities as the eternal witness of everything. He exists with form and He exists without form. He is the giver of blessings and boons and He is the master of the unmanifest power which regulates destruction and creation.
The results of delusion are explained here by Lord Krishna. Vain hopes, ineffectual desires and unobtainable dreams. These are the rewards for all those who disrespect and disregard the Supreme Lord. There is no success in their efforts. The actions which they undertake are useless to them as even whatever knowledge they possess is worthless and of no avail. Even the efforts they make to insure a pleasant destination in the next life have no value and will not bear any results because such miscreants and offenders who disrespect and disregard the Supreme Lord Krishna are hurled from the platform of humanity into the lower species of life such as reptile and insect to revolve in samsara or the endless cycle of birth and death. The Moksa Dharma specifically states that anyone who derides, disrespects or detests the Supreme Lord Krishna by thought, by speech or by actions are sentenced to eternal perdition in hell along with all their ancestors. How can such unfortunates who are inimical to the very Supreme Being who resides within them as paramatma or the Supreme Soul in all created beings not deserve such a censure along with all their corrupted line. In the Shandilya section of the Sama Veda it is even stated that those who detest and disrespect the excellent devotees of the Supreme Lord who mercifully distribute knowledge of His glories to all the conditioned jivas or embodied souls, such offenders are not only the lowest of all but are not even equal to the despicable beings who perform abortions being killers of embryos.
In the Vedic scriptures are mentioned the stories of kings who were liberated even by hatred of the Supreme Lord. How is this to be understood? Such kings as Sishupala, Paundra, Salva and others while harbouring animosity against the Supreme Lord still received sayuja moksa or liberation by nearness to Him and thus able to assimilate His look, His gait, His smile, His style etc. So if liberation is awarded even to those who were inimical to Him then needless to say that those who are totally devoted to Him will surely attain moksa as well. All these pastimes are for the purpose of eulogising the Supreme Lord’s compassion for those devotees that have continuous remembrance of Him. For His devotees in any life who due to the powerful influence of being cursed can only constantly remember Him in a mood of antagonism, Lord Krishna still bequeaths upon them the reward of their devotion. Thus devotees from previous lives such as Sishupala who were so cursed in this manner that they were unable to be affectionate to the Supreme Lord. They were full of so much animosity and antagonism due to the influence of curses. The same holds true for Jaya and Vijaya who later became Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyagarbha as well as Ravana and Kumbakarna. Therefore by mentioning various incidents those who detested the Supreme Lord and were awarded moksa is explained. Otherwise why would there be any reference to such non-consequential events. It is only to remind the doubters that the Supreme Lord is equally compassionate to those who disparage and deride Him after taking into consideration their past life services of devotion. Lord Krishna confirms this Himself in verse 31 of this chapter where He proclaims kaunteya pratijanahi na me bhaktah pranasyati which translates: Declare it boldly O Arjuna that My devotee is never vanquished.
Still there may be some doubt that remembrance in any manner could be seen as a contradiction. It is quite natural that those who cherish hatred will always hate, in which case it could be erroneously surmised that by hating one’s teacher one will also gain the greatness of the teacher. But there is no such contradiction in the Supreme Lord by accepting both the worshipper and the detractor giving identical rewards to their actions due to His being instantly omniscient and able to perceive their past life service to Him. Great devotees in past lives like Hiranakasipu who became inimical to the Supreme Lord Krishna’s incarnation of Narasimhadeva and was slain and liberated by Him and released from the effects of the curse due to his son’s great devotion and his praying for the Supreme Lord’s grace to redeem his father. Yet these are special instances that correspond to the Supreme Lord performing some specific lila or divine pastime and they are the exception and not the rule. Animosity to the Supreme Lord and antagonism against Him is absolutely not the means or achieving moksa by any means and it should not be construed as such. The Supreme Lord is of course always free to liberate whomsoever He desires but because those who hate cannot reciprocate love and affection towards Him they can never be situated in a state of normal devotion and hence are unable to experience Him in a loving devotee relationship. It has already been stated by Lord Krishna that he considers those who hate the Supreme Lord as asuric not divine and raksasas or demoniac and very evil minded. Therefore it is established and should be understood that it is never possible for the demoniac and satanic to ever attain moksa or liberation from the material existence.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Therefore due to disrespecting and deriding the Supreme Lord living entities incur great sin and demerits and becoming bereft of all righteousness they instead sink into demoniac activities hence becoming fit candidates for entering hell. Such negligent fools unconsciousness of their own best welfare never meditate on the Supreme Lord Krishna instead they hopelessly pursue temporary material rewards which they think their concocted gods will fulfil. They simply waste their time indulging in futile actions worshipping lesser gods in vain. Lessor because no god or even demi-god can bestow any benedictions without the sanction of the Supreme Lord and this is the factual reality. Because such beings disregard the Supreme Lord and even blaspheme Him, all there endeavours have no power to succeed as He is the ultimate bestower of all rewards.
The Brahma Sutra III.II.IIL states: From the Supreme Lord comes the fruit of actions for this is logical. So all of the knowledge of the foolish offenders who disregard and disrespect the Supreme Lord is in vain with no purpose because it has no connection to the Supreme Lord and has arisen out of the speculative concoctions of hypothetical philosophies and pseudo religions which is conclusively confirmed by the fact that they ignore or deny the paramount position of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Thus they have embraced beliefs which are false and degraded and sinking further and further into tamas or darkness they eventually become demoniac, performing heinous activities with thoughts of violence against other living beings for food, for power for dominion. Possessed by false ego, lust, arrogance, envy, violence and vindictiveness they become totally deluded and adverse to righteousness which is the actual purpose of human existence and human evolution and being so degraded they are adverse and antagonistic, belligerent and bellicose to the Supreme Lord. The consequences for such deluded behaviour will be specifically addressed later in chapter 16, verses XVIII to XX where Lord Krishna states that such sinful and degraded beings are cast into the wombs of lower and lower species of demoniac beings birth after birth.
Narada Muni states in the Sabhaparva section of Mahabharata: That those who do not worship the Supreme Lord Krishna should be considered as dead and one should not even converse with them. Prahlad states in the in the Vaman Purana: That one who is against Lord Krishna has no value in this world and all their knowledge, penance, hard work and efforts as well as fame are all fruitless and for naught. The Bhagavad Purana X.XXIII.XL states: Fie on our three births being seminal, by initiation and sacrificial. Fie upon our learning, fie upon our vows, fie upon our erudition, fie upon our noble birth, fie upon our expertise in rituals. Because becoming full of pride all theses activities have diverted us from true devotion to the Supreme Lord. The Skanda Purana also follows this theme by stating: One who is Lord Krishna’s devotee is the real performer of all righteous activities and one who is not Lord Krishna’s devotee is the performer of all sinful actions for a person who performs righteous acts without being a devotee of Lord Krishna still must go to hell.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
9.12 Moghasah, of vain hopes. So also, mogha-karmanah, of vain actions: their rites, such as Agnihotra etc. which are undertaken by them, verily become vain, fruitless actions, because of dishonouring the Lord, disregarding Him who is their own Self. In this way they are of vain actions. Similarly, mogha-jnanah, of vain knowledge: of fruitless knowledge; even their knowledge verily becomes useless. And vicetasah, senseless: i.e., they lose their power of discrimination. Besides, [Besides, in the next birth…] they become sritah, possessed of; the mohinim, self-deceptive, self-delusive; prakritim, disposition; raksasim, of fiends; and asurim, of demons-according to which the body is the Self; i.e., they become habitually inclined to act cruelly, saying, ‘cut, break, drink, eat, steal others’ wealth,’ etc. [The habit to cut, break, drink, eat, etc. is characteristic of fiends. The habit of stealing others’ wealth, etc. is characteristic of demons.] This is stated in the Sruti, ‘Those worlds of devils (are covered by blinding darkness)’ (Is. 3).
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
9.12 Mogha-etc. Their action, knowledge and aspirations are all futile, as these are concerned with the unreal. The demoniac and devilish nature etc. They are of the nature of excessive desire and ignorance.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
raksasim asurim caiva
prakrtim mohinim sritah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
mogha-āśāḥ — bafﬂed in their hopes; mogha-karmāṇaḥ — bafﬂed in fruitive activities; mogha-jñānāḥ — bafﬂed in knowledge; vicetasaḥ — bewildered; rākṣasīm — demonic; āsurīm — atheistic; ca — and; eva — certainly; prakṛtim — nature; mohinīm — bewildering; śritāḥ — taking shelter of.