(Mother Durga praying to Lord Vishnu—click to enlarge)
"In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, 'Give up everything and just surrender unto Me.' This process of realizing the Supreme Personality of Godhead is open for everyone, but still it is the choice of the particular living entity whether to accept or reject this proposal. In the last portion of the Bhagavad-gītā, Lord Kṛṣṇa very plainly says to Arjuna, 'My dear Arjuna, now I have spoken everything to you. Now you may choose to accept it or not.' Similarly, the living entities who have come down to this material world have made their own choice to enjoy this material world. It is not that Kṛṣṇa sent them into this world. The material world was created for the enjoyment of living entities who wanted to give up the eternal service of the Lord to become the supreme enjoyer themselves. According to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, when a living entity desires to gratify his senses and forgets the service of the Lord, he is given a place in the material world to act freely according to his desire, and therefore he creates a condition of life in which he either enjoys or suffers. We should definitely know that both the Lord and the living entities are eternally cognizant. There is no birth and death for either the Lord or the living entities. When creation takes place, this does not mean that the living entities are created. The Lord creates the material world to give the conditioned souls a chance to elevate themselves to the higher platform of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If a conditioned soul does not take advantage of this opportunity, after the dissolution of this material world he enters into the body of Nārāyaṇa and remains there in deep sleep until the time of another creation.
In this connection the example of the rainy season is very appropriate. Seasonal rainfall may be taken as the agent for creation because after the rainfall the wet fields are favorable for growing different types of vegetation. Similarly, as soon as there is creation by the Lord’s glancing over the material nature, immediately the living entities spring up in their different living conditions, just as different types of vegetation grow after a rainfall. The rainfall is one, but the creation of the different plants is varied. The rain falls equally on the whole field, but the different plants sprout up in different shapes and forms according to the seeds planted. Similarly, the seeds of our desires are varied. Every living entity has a different type of desire, and that desire is the seed which causes his growth in a certain type of body. This is explained by Rūpa Gosvāmī by the word pāpa-bīja. Pāpa means 'sinful.' All our material desires are to be taken as pāpa-bīja, or the seeds of sinful desires. The Bhagavad-gītā explains that our sinful desire is that we do not surrender unto the Supreme Lord. The Lord therefore says in the Bhagavad-gītā, 'I shall give you protection from the reactions of sinful desires.' These sinful desires are manifested in different types of bodies; therefore, no one can accuse the Supreme Lord of partiality in giving one type of body to a certain type of living entity and another type of body to another living entity. All the bodies of the 8,400,000 species are created according to the mental condition of the individual living entities. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Puruṣottama, only gives them a chance to act according to their desires. Therefore, the living entities act by taking advantage of the facility given by the Lord.
At the same time, the living entities are born from the transcendental body of the Lord. This relationship between the Lord and the living entities is explained in the Vedic literature, wherein it is said that the Supreme Lord maintains all His children, giving them whatever they want. Similarly, in the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, 'I am the seed-giving father of all living entities.' It is very simple to understand that the father gives birth to the children but the children act according to their own desires. Therefore the father is never responsible for the different futures of his children. Each child can take advantage of the father’s property and instruction, but even though the inheritance and instruction may be the same for all the children, out of their different desires each child creates a different life and thereby suffers or enjoys.
Similarly, the Bhagavad-gītā’s instructions are equal for everyone: everyone should surrender unto the Supreme Lord, and He will take charge of one and protect one from sinful reactions. The facilities of living in the creation of the Lord are equally offered to all living entities. Whatever there is, either on the land, in the water or in the sky, is equally given to all living entities. Since all living beings are sons of the Supreme Lord, everyone can enjoy the material facilities given by the Lord, but unfortunate living entities create unfavorable conditions of life by fighting among themselves. The responsibility for this fighting and creating favorable and unfavorable situations lies with the living entities, not with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, if the living entities take advantage of the Lord’s instructions as given in the Bhagavad-gītā and develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then their lives become sublime, and they can go back to Godhead.
One may argue that because this material world is created by the Lord, He is therefore responsible for its condition. Certainly He is indirectly responsible for the creation and maintenance of this material world, but He is never responsible for the different conditions of the living entities. The Lord’s creation of this material world is compared to a cloud’s creation of vegetation. In the rainy season the cloud creates different varieties of vegetation. The cloud pours water on the surface of the earth, but it never touches the earth directly. Similarly, the Lord creates this material world simply by glancing over the material energy. This is confirmed in the Vedas: 'He threw His glance over the material nature, and thus there was creation.' In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also confirmed that simply by His transcendental glance over the material nature, He creates different varieties of entities, both movable and immovable, living and dead.
The creation of the material world can therefore be taken as one of the pastimes of the Lord; it is called one of the Lord’s pastimes because He creates this material world whenever He desires. This desire of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also extreme mercy on His part because it gives the conditioned souls another chance to develop their original consciousness and thus go back to Godhead. Therefore no one can blame the Supreme Lord for creating this material world."
(Kṛṣṇa Book , Chapter 87)