“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)Download this episode (right click and save)
samo 'haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo 'sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
What is the disposition of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? The Sanskrit word Bhagavan implies that there is a disposition. There are feelings in the Divine, though the nature of those feelings is unlike anything we are accustomed to. Bhagavan does not suffer from duality. He is never in illusion, and He is not limited by the material elements.
What is duality? Think of the rainfall. On a cold winter day, the rain only makes matters worse. At least with the sun out, there is some extra warmth, especially inside of a car. When it rains, the sunlight gets blocked by the clouds. It makes the cold feel even worse.
Take the same rainfall and change the situation to a warm summer day. Now the rain has a different effect. It is soothing. It brings temporary relief from the scorching heat. The brave souls who rush to the front at a general admission concert in the summer get doused by water from a hose periodically. This can only happen if the water feels good.
The rainfall is the same in both instances; just the effect is different. This is duality. In the Supreme Lord it is absent. Even His anger is beneficial and bliss-inducing. The key is to have the proper qualification. The signal from an over-the-air television station goes out to every home, but unless there is an antenna there is no way to get reception. The station is not at fault.
In a similar manner, Bhagavan is kindness personified. What we see to be calamities are really temporary results pertaining to the perishable body only. To remove doubts on the issue, there are several ways to know for sure that God is nice.
1. He gives me freedom
“I think therefore I am,” is a line from a famous philosopher. It is an attempt to define an existence, to bring life down to its essence. This is mental speculation, but it comes close to the reality. Life is defined by spirit, and what distinguishes spirit from matter is consciousness. “I am conscious, therefore I am.”
That consciousness can be large or small, great in scope or limited to a particular area, and even highly developed or barely visible. Compared to when in the human body, consciousness is not so much developed in the form of a tree. Nevertheless, both the tree and the human being are living things. The presence of the soul is the determining factor.
The Supreme Lord gives me the freedom to use my consciousness however I wish. I can even choose against Him; enjoyment through personal effort, forgetting Him entirely. If I didn’t have this choice, then I really wouldn’t be alive. I would be like a robot. So would you and everyone else. The independence granted by the Almighty is one indication of His kindness.
2. He makes the necessary things in life relatively inexpensive and high in quantity
This comes from Goswami Tulsidas, a Hindi poet from the medieval period in India. He is a devotee of Bhagavan in the form of Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Tulsidas came upon this realization through practice of bhakti-yoga, which is love and devotion to God the person. Bhakti-yoga ties directly to the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic.
Tulsidas knows that Rama is indeed God because those things in life that we really need are relatively inexpensive. Based on the situation in industrialized nations today, it seems that the opposite is true. In the general situation, water and grains are relatively inexpensive. Water is everywhere as well. Though certain places suffer from drought from time to time, there is still plenty of water to be found in the world, especially in comparison to beverages like beer, wine and soda. Grains are easier to produce and come in greater quantity than meat.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam goes one step further. It says if a person becomes really destitute, they can find food, clothing and shelter without spending a penny. Take some torn rags that someone else threw away. Find a cave in a mountain somewhere. And eat the fruits that fall off trees. Mother nature is an extension of God’s mercy. The wise pick up on this and realize that the Supreme Lord is extremely kind to His people.
3. He travels with me as the Supersoul
Based on the independence given, if I make a bad choice, I have to suffer the consequences. That is the law of karma. If I tell my son not to play football, and they refuse to listen to me the reactions are in their hands. If they get a concussion afterwards, I am really not to blame. That is the meaning to freedom. For independence to exist, there has to be the option to choose unwisely.
tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān
kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān
āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu
“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.19)
The worst people get thrown into the lowest species. Shri Krishna confirms this in the Bhagavad-gita. Nevertheless, He still travels with those souls. He is within everyone in fact. There is the individual soul within the heart, and adjacent to it is the Supersoul, which is God’s expansion. The Supersoul is always ready to welcome the individual back into the eternal occupation of bhakti-yoga. The Supersoul is the all-pervading witness, which has seen everything and remembered the long span of time in which He has been forgotten.
4. He leaves the door open to return
Even though I’ve forgotten Him for so long, Bhagavan will welcome me back whenever I am ready. Since He has seen everything, this automatically makes Him the most forgiving person. Forgiveness is kindness. It’s easy to forgive an offense that you don’t even remember. If someone wronged me twenty years ago and apologizes to me today, I may not even remember what they did. What to speak of one hundred years even, the Supersoul remembers every offense for every spirit soul tracing back infinitely into the past.
5. He sends the acharya to rescue me
Shri Krishna says that He comes to this land in His personal form whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice and a rise in irreligion. Things look pretty bleak right now, so where is He? Why isn’t He here to rescue me?
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion - at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
The guru is considered to be one with God. This is not because they are God, but rather they share the same interest. They are a representative, and they are empowered to bring back one or many fallen souls. The guru only comes to me when I am sincere in my desire to again associate with Bhagavan. It should be known that those who have been fortunate enough to associate with the spiritual master, either in person or through instruction, have been rescued through the Divine will. Krishna is generally neutral, but anyone who renders service unto Him automatically becomes a friend.
Murder, deceit and vice,
How then God can be nice?
Just of temporary body seeing,
No effect on spiritual being.
To me always association’s choice giving,
Remembering all, thus most forgiving.
When sincere desire for return in me,
Sends guru who from illusion free.