“For our understanding it is sometimes said that the Lord is situated in the heart of the thief as well as in the heart of the householder, but the Supersoul in the heart of the thief dictates, ‘Go and steal things from that particular house,’ and at the same time the Lord tells the householder, ‘Now be careful of thieves and burglars.’ These instructions to different persons appear contradictory, yet we should know that the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has some plan, and we should not consider such activities contradictory.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.17.36 Purport)
Friend1: I will get straight to it today.
Friend1: I saw something passing around on the internet, amongst devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna.
Friend2: Is it a meme? One of those pictures with large text written on it, intended to elicit some immediate response?
Friend1: Not quite. It’s more of a list. It definitely makes you think. At least it made me think. That’s why I am bringing it up today.
Friend2: Okay, so what was on the list?
Friend1: Well, let’s start with the premise. It’s not stated in the list, but you can infer. Basically, the leaders of the various institutions managing bhakti-yoga centers and distributing Krishna consciousness throughout the world are too strict. They pass judgment quickly, without considering the consequences. They are not inclusive enough.
Friend2: You can certainly make that argument. It’s been my experience that people in those circles get into arguments very quickly. I am always baffled by it, since I consider it a great blessing from above that there is even one other person in this world practicing bhakti-yoga, who likes to read the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Not that I am a saint or anything, but I try my best to be tolerant and pray that others will be forgiving of my mistakes as well.
Friend1: Yeah, some people have really bad experiences. I’m sure that’s what led to the formation of this list.
Friend2: So it’s a form of rebellion?
Friend1: I’m speculating, but probably. Anyway, on the list are various kinds of people who would be considered deficient or imperfect in the eyes of the leaders of the establishment. The title of the list is something like, “People Who Krishna Loves Anyway.”
Friend2: Interesting. Do you make the list?
Friend1: Funny. People who can’t follow all of the regulative principles. People who haven’t shaved their head. Situations where the husband is formally initiated, while the wife is not, or vice versa. People who haven’t attended a weekly gathering in a while but want to start going again. People who are still attached to the religion inherited from their parents.
Friend2: And the idea is that Krishna, or God, still loves these people, despite their faults?
Friend1: Exactly. Faults from the perspective of the leaders. Basically, the oddballs. The ones who aren’t normal.
Friend2: I see.
Friend1: What is your opinion of such a list?
Friend2: First, let me ask for yours.
Friend1: I tend to agree with it. It’s depressing that such a list needs to be made, but of course the Supreme Lord loves and appreciates anyone who is genuinely trying to reconnect with Him. I second your sentiment, where we should be happy that we can find like-minded people in this world. In ages past, it wasn’t as easy.
Friend2: I completely agree with you, but I would add one thing. The premise is somewhat incomplete.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Krishna automatically loves everyone. And by everyone, you have to think of the full spectrum of life and behavior.
Friend1: Beyond the human being?
Friend2: That too, but also the worst of the worst. Murderers, thieves, liars, cheaters. Krishna loves them all. He is in the heart of every living being as the Supersoul. There is the verse in the Bhagavad-gita where He describes that the living entities are like seated on a machine, while the Supersoul is directing everything.
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
Friend1: Well, I know that Krishna is within everyone. But how does He love both the thief and the murderer? That doesn’t make sense. The behaviors are contradictory. Isn’t God synonymous with pious behavior?
Friend2: He is there with them as the Supersoul. That is the love. He is a neutral party. He fulfills desires. If the thief wants to steal, Krishna provides the intelligence from within. If the householder, the potential victim, wants to protect themselves, Krishna is also there to provide intelligence.
Friend1: Okay, but then how does anything get resolved? I thought Krishna takes the side of the good.
Friend2: Those who wish to connect directly with Him get a special benediction. That unique circumstance is beautifully symbolized in the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna was not a direct participant in the Bharata War. He did not directly choose sides. Arjuna asked for His guidance, though. That’s when the Supreme Lord stepped out of His position of neutrality. That’s why Arjuna and the Pandavas emerged victorious. More important than winning the war was slashing the doubts borne of ignorance. Krishna gave the key to open the door to eternal, blissful life.
Friend1: I’ve forgotten about the list, already. Oh, so you’re saying the list isn’t really necessary?
Friend2: It is a great reminder to anyone causing trouble, who wants to exclude people from trying bhakti-yoga in earnest. But yeah, the presence of the Supersoul everywhere automatically establishes the universal loving position of the Supreme Lord. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, when there is devotion, that person becomes a friend. That’s when the situation changes.
“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)
Friend1: Okay, so could you say that the list is in terms of comparing level of friendship? Basically, Krishna is as friendly towards the deficient devotee as He is towards the advanced?
Friend2: Oh, for sure. That’s a great point, in fact. He loves the sweeper in the temple as much as the guru sitting on the seat of Vyasadeva. There is no doubt about it. It’s all about authenticity in sentiment. The neophyte who is genuine will eventually correct whatever faults they may have. Okay, so I see what you are saying now. That list makes sense in that respect.
Inside of thief bent on sin,
Householder protecting also him.
Supreme Lord giving love to all,
But only in devotion friend to call.
From neutrality stepping away,
Directing towards success’s way.
Sweeper in the temple just as dear,
As guru providing wisdom clear.