“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
कर्ताहम् इति मन्यते
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
“How would you respond to the charge against God that says He really isn’t that nice of a person? The accusation is based on the disparity in prosperity. Evidence is the existence of high and low. You could throw middle in there, also, if you want.
“I realize that these positions are relative to one another, but there can be no doubt that there is unimaginable suffering in the world. One person has a palatial residence, while another is reduced to a tiny hut. One person has to worry about how strong to blast the central air conditioning during the heat of summer, while another person wonders how they will get through the night with mosquitos biting at them, in an area lacking electricity.
“One person eats so well that they must intentionally exercise in order to keep the weight off. Another person is emaciated, through no choice of their own. Food is in scarce supply. One person lives a long life of luxury, while another succumbs to a tragic illness at a young age.
“How can you say that God is kind, in the face of these realities? Perhaps doesn’t this provide more evidence that there is no God, that the concept of a Supreme Deity is a manmade creation, a myth meant to ameliorate doubts as to the unknown future?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has a harsh assessment on the preceding judgment. Though the person raising the objection thinks they are intelligent, they actually have no knowledge of spirituality. They are not even close to understanding the Almighty and the way the world operates.
The simplest refutation is to take two people in an identical starting point. For instance, let’s say they are sitting down to eat dinner. It is a modest family gathering, and the chosen fare is pizza. Multiple pies ordered from the popular local establishment, so no one will have to go hungry.
The first person maintains a watchful eye on their intake. They have a few slices and then stop. They eat to satisfaction, but not beyond. The second person devours slice after slice. They cannot believe the superior taste. They know that the same cannot be replicated the next day, that the pie must be fresh out of the oven in order to give such wonderful satisfaction.
The next day, the person who maintained control over eating wakes up just fine. They go about their day without issues. The other person is in terrible distress. Though they slept for a significant amount of time, they feel lethargic the next day. They can barely function. They are in so much physical discomfort that they swear off pizza moving forward.
Is God to blame for the disparity in outcomes? Is He ultimately responsible for causing the distress? Notice that not everyone will have the same outcome, based on an identical action. Not every person is destined to suffer in the same way. It is indeed true that the living entity is not the doer. Material nature must first cooperate.
The Vedic explanation confirms the maxim of, “Man proposes and God disposes.” We have the choice in action, but ultimately it is a higher force that sanctions the outcome. The Supreme Lord is an all-pervading witness. He stands by as a neutral observer. He does not interfere.
There will always be variety in outcomes, due precisely to the variety in desire. If Shri Krishna were to remove the disparity, He would first have to take away independence. Without free will, there is no living. This means that the difference in outcomes is tied to the existence itself.
The supreme kindness is evident in the ability to shape destiny. I can change what happens to me. I do not have to suffer forever. I have a way out. I can learn about material nature, the living entity, action and reaction, and the driving force behind the entire production.
Shri Krishna is so kind because He allows me to connect with Him at any moment. I do not have to wait for the unclear picture of the afterlife to experience a higher taste. It awaits me today, right now, as I move closer to the original home of the shelter of the lotus feet of the Divine: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Too much of that pie to eat,
So difficulty last night to sleep.
My brother self-controlled,
So today free of issues told.
For disparity God not to blame,
To each of us consequences came.
Kindness evident in chance to steer,
Where consciousness to Him coming near.