71. Can God be Partial to His Devotees?
Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. I am currently working on a revised edition with even more indepth commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V
Summary: According to the Bhagavadgita, God takes care of the welfare of his pure devotees and resides in their heart just as they reside in his. Does this mean he is partial to his devotees and discriminates against others?
In the ninth chapter of the Bhagavadgita (9.29), Lord Krishna states, “I am equal to all beings. None is hateful to Me, none is dear. Those who worship Me with devotion, they exist in Me and I exist in them.” The second part of this verse seemingly contradicts his first statement that he is equal to all beings. In another verse in the same chapter he states, “Those people who worship Me everywhere and at all times without any other thoughts, ever absorbed in devotion, I take care of their wellbeing and safety (yoga kshema).” These statements create the impressions that somehow God’s devotees enjoy a special status and God is partial to them. Let us examine whether this is true.
From the teachings of the Bhagavadgita it becomes clear that the Supreme Lord of the universe does not love or hate anyone in particular because he is equal to all and detached from everything. However, an emotional connection forms between him and his devotees whereby he lives in their hearts just as they live in his. Does it mean that he is partial to his devotees? The answer is No because God does not discriminate. In whatever way they approach him, he responds to them accordingly. In each being, God allows Nature to do her part, remaining untouched, without imposing himself upon them. Therefore, he does not discriminate against anyone or show partiality to some. In another verse (9.30) he states,” Even if a person of very evil conduct worships Me with single minded devotion, surely he is to be considered pious because he has rightly positioned himself in life.”
The truth is that as the Lord and Controller of all, he establishes several universal laws, rules and restraints, and sets in motion the wheel of Dharma to enforce them. These laws are universal and applicable to different classes of beings according to their disposition and circumstances. For example, the law of karma is one such law. Another law is that when actions are offered to God, they do not taint people. Similarly, the law that God lives in the heart of his devotees and they in his heart is also a universal law. These laws are applicable to all. Therefore, it is true that God does not discriminate against anyone while implementing them. He rewards his devotees and punishes his enemies and haters according to such laws only. He treats them according to their faith, purity and predominant nature. Just as an enlightened king who upholds Dharma and implements the laws equally and impartially, he rules the universe.
The absolute state of Supreme Brahman is complete, perfect, independent and all-inclusive. It does not exclude anything or reject anything in particular because nothing can exist by itself or outside. The supreme reality of Brahman is a choiceless and desireless state of completeness, perfection and fulfillment. Some traditions may claim that God is partial to his devotees and vengeful towards nonbelievers and his enemies. Therefore, they believe that they should fight God’s battles against them and force them to surrender or change their faith. This cannot be true.
The Supreme Being is without a second. He is not in competition with anyone. Truly, none can equal him or compete with him. Therefore, it is not our duty to fight his battles or prove his superiority. He becomes active in those who constantly remember him and worship him with devotion, but inactive in those who worship material things or lessor gods, ignoring him. He may help his devotees when they pray to him for help, but leave the rest to their own fate. Thus, he impartially implements the laws which he sets in motion and lets the actions of each being determine its fate. He also takes care of the wellbeing of his pure devotees because it is one of the laws he sets in motion.
As the Vedas proclaim, Brahman is the Supreme Lord of all and Creator of the whole manifestation. He is comparable to the sun, who shines upon all equally when they come into his light. Whoever seeks his light, receives his warmth and love, but whoever shies away from it remains in darkness. Therefore, it is not God but our thoughts and actions which create the difference. If we want to secure his help or earn his love and attention, we have to abide in Dharma and follow the laws which he set in motion in the beginning of creation. We may learn those laws from experience, observation, study or from others. Once we know the laws that lead to liberation and those that lead to bondage and suffering, we have to cultivate discernment and engage in righteous actions to ensure that we do not punish ourselves with our own indiscretion.
True devotees of God are constantly absorbed in his contemplation. They are never separate from him because they surrender to him and dissolve in him their egos, sense of separation and duality. By their thoughts and acts of devotion, they overcome duality and attain oneness whereby they remain in him and he remains in them without any distinction. Others who cannot overcome their egos or desires or identities remain bound, ignorant and deluded. There is no otherness in Brahman. It exists only in our minds because of our delusion. Only when you drop your name and form and all the layers of protection and security which your build around yourself, you qualify for God’s true love. When you cultivate purity to the extent that you cannot reflect anything else but the radiance of your own Self and devotion for him, he becomes a part of your life and consciousness. Until then, you remain bound to your mind and body and your limited individuality.
A yogi who follows the path of knowledge is as qualified to attain liberation as a true devotee who practices unconditional devotion. In the journey of liberation, you first travel by the path of knowledge to reach the state of true devotion. When you truly know him as your very Self, you become devoted to him and dissolved in him. Therefore, remember that Brahman does not punish anyone in particular for not following him or not surrendering to him. We punish ourselves through our egoistic and desire-ridden thoughts and actions and our failure to abide in Dharma and follow his laws.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- The Wisdom of the Bhagavadgita, Main Page
- The Wisdom of the Upanishads, Main Page
- The Bhagavad-Gita Essays and Translations
- An Introduction To The Bhagavad-Gita And Its Three Secrets
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- The Abbreviated Bhagavadgita
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- The Many Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism
- Divine Qualities Of A True Worshipper Of God
- The Bhagavadgita on Karma, the Law of Actions
- Maya, The Grand Illusion Or The Delusion Of The Mind
- Aspects, Emanations, Incarnations and Forms of God Vishnu
- Dvaita or Advaita What is the Truth?
- Symbolism in the Bhagavadgita
- The Truth About Karma
- Meaning and Definition of Bhagavan
- Brahman the Supreme Universal Lord of All
- What is Bhakti or Devotion?
- Bhakti Marg, the Path of Devotion
- History and information about Mathura and Vrindavan Temples
- True Devotion and Qualities of a True Devotee
- Essays On Sorrow And Its Spiritual Significance
- The Yoga of Knowledge or the Samkhya Yoga, Verses and Commentary by Jayaram V
- Essays On Dharma
- Esoteric Mystic Hinduism
- Introduction to Hinduism
- Hindu Way of Life
- Essays On Karma
- Hindu Rites and Rituals
- The Origin of The Sanskrit Language
- Symbolism in Hinduism
- Essays on The Upanishads
- Concepts of Hinduism
- Essays on Atman
- Hindu Festivals
- Spiritual Practice
- Right Living
- Yoga of Sorrow
- Mental Health
- Concepts of Buddhism
- General Essays
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