God does not play favorites, but he has his favorites

To play favorites means to bestow special favors on those whom one likes while overlooking others. To play favorites connotes a distasteful partiality.

To have favorites means to have personal preferences. Such preferences are natural expressions of one’s personality.

Let’s see how these two aspects manifest in Krishna. The Bhagavad-gita stresses that God, Krishna, doesn’t play favorites; he is equal to everyone (09.29). Simultaneously, the Gita stresses that God is a person. And as a person with his own personality, he has his preferences and his favorites.

However, his favorites signify not his favoritism, but his reciprocity. Krishna’s equality is not stone-like neutrality; it is loving reciprocity. If a stone is patted or punched, it remains insentient and unresponsive. In contrast, Krishna reciprocates as a living, loving person. Those who approach him with greater devotion, he reciprocates more with them. For example, Krishna has many gopis as his devotees, but Radharani is his favorite gopi. Why? Because Radharani has the greatest devotion for him.

Significantly however, though Krishna has his favorites, he doesn’t deprive others of his favor – that is available for all who choose to place him in their hearts. He opens the door of devotion for everyone. And all who cultivate devotion relish a sublime joy proportionate to their devotion. He is like the clouds that shower water impartially on the land; what grows on the land depends on the land, not on the rains.

Those who are fully devoted relish full contentment by their full absorption in Krishna. By his inconceivable all-attractiveness, he provides eternal joy to all his devotees, whatever be their specific relationship with him.

Thus, Krishna doesn’t play favorites because he doesn’t discriminate; he just reciprocates. And though he has his favorites, his favor is available for everyone. Such is his sweet transcendence.

Think it over:

  • What is the difference between playing favorites and having favorites?
  • How is Krishna’s equality not like a stone’s neutrality?
  • How does Krishna have his favorites and yet keep his favor open for everyone?

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