“The appearance of Lord Krishna at the deathbed of Bhishmaji is due to his being an unflinching devotee of the Lord. Arjuna had some bodily relation with Krishna because the Lord happened to be his maternal cousin. But Bhishma had no such bodily relation. Therefore the cause of attraction was due to the intimate relation of the soul.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.22 Purport)
“I am better. I am different. I am more favored by others. I carry a superior disposition. I do not succumb so easily to envy. If I do happen to get jealous on occasion, I do a better job of hiding it than others. You would never know that I was affected.
“I have a higher standing in life. I have less troubles than you. I am more focused in my tasks. I have resolve, while others cannot find peace. They jump from one activity to another. I am steady in my tasks. I have accepted my lot in life, while you are steadily unsure. You are miserable and petty, while I am full of bliss and liberally minded.”
The above are different instances of differentiation. They are ways to stand out. They are means by which segregation occurs. One side is rewarded precisely because they are different. They enjoy favors and preferential treatment, while the others are in de facto punishment due to the omission of the same.
These differentiations and more matter not to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains the lack of ahankara in Bhagavan through this lens. The absence of a false ego means that there is no effect from differentiation.
In simpler terms, God is as much inside of me as He is inside of you. He favors me just as much as He favors you. There is no difference. The example given is Arjuna on the chariot situated on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Krishna is there with Arjuna. Krishna and Arjuna are related as cousins. They are also known to be friends.
This closeness of relationship, which can be considered a kind of differentiation, does not impact Krishna’s outlook on life. It does not influence His behavior. The same Krishna approaches a warrior fighting for the opposing side. Krishna arrives on the scene at the critical moment of life ending.
Bhishma is about to depart for the next world. He is on his deathbed. He is ready to depart. Bhishma sees that Krishna chooses to be there. This is amazing because there is no obligation on Krishna’s side. The Supreme Lord is not obligated to do anything. He controls the various energies identified within this world; He is never controlled by them.
Bhishma receives the special favor because of his unflinching devotion. Though he fights on a different side in a military conflict, the devotion does not break. There is no interruption to the consciousness. There is always the link, which is known as yoga.
The same opportunity is available for everyone. Whether they are miserly or charitable. Whether they are young or old. Whether they are unpleasant to look at or exceptionally beautiful. Whether they are a man or a woman.
मां हि पार्थ व्यपाश्रित्य
ये ऽपि स्युः पाप-योनयः
स्त्रियो वैश्यास् तथा शूद्रास्
ते ऽपि यान्ति परां गतिम्
māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya
ye ‘pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te ‘pi yānti parāṁ gatim
“O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaishyas [merchants], as well as shudras [workers]— can approach the supreme destination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.32)
This means that genuine spiritual life is simply remembering the closeness. It is realizing that God is inside of me. It is creating a mechanism whereby I always remember, that I never forget His universal benevolence. It is a way to make sure that I stay in constant contact, such that I can also see Him when I am departing this world, ready for the next adventure in devotion to commence.
After steady in defense,
Ready for future to commence.
Bhishma about to depart,
Krishna in his direction to start.
Despite on side to oppose,
That affinity to disclose.
From devotion firmly set,
The best destination to get.