Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 9.31, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 31 from the chapter 9 called “Raja-guhya-yoga (Yoga through the most Confidential Knowledge)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 9.31:

क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा शश्वच् छान्तिं निगच्छति ।
कौन्तेय प्रतिजानीहि न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति ॥ ३१ ॥

kṣipraṃ bhavati dharmātmā śaśvac chāntiṃ nigacchati |
kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
|| 31 ||

kṣipram–quickly; bhavati–he becomes; dharma-ātmā–a virtuous soul; śaśvat–lasting; śāntim–peace; nigacchati–attains; kaunteya–O son of Kuntī;pratijānīhi–you should proclaim; na–never; me–My; bhaktaḥ–devotee; praṇaśyati–perishes.

He quickly becomes virtuous and attains eternal peace. O Kaunteya, boldly proclaim that My devotee never perishes.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

The following questions may be raised: “How can You accept the service of such an irreligious and unrighteous person? How can You eat the foodstuffs offered by a person whose heart is polluted by defects such as lust and anger?” Śrī Bhagavān answers by speaking this verse beginning with the word kṣipram. “He very quickly becomes righteous.” Here the word kṣipram means that he quickly becomes righteous and achieves eternal peace. The words bhavati and nigacchati are used in the present tense instead of the future. This proves that immediately after engaging in irreligious, or abominable, activity, he laments and remembers Kṛṣṇa again and again. In this way, he quickly becomes righteous. “Alas, alas! There is nobody fallen like me who has brought such infamy to bhakti. Fie on me!” Repeatedly lamenting in this way, he attains eternal peace. Even if he eventually becomes righteous, irreligiosity and contamination may remain in him in a subtle form. The deadly heat of fever or poison may remain for some time, even after taking the best medicine. Similarly, as soon as bhakti enters the mind of such a person, his evil conduct ceases, though it may remain in a subtle form for some time. Later, in a higher state, indications of poor behaviour such as lust and anger may exist, but they will have no influence, just like a snake whose poisonous fangs have been removed and whose poison is thus ineffective. This should be understood. Thus, his lust and anger are eternally quelled (śāntim) in a way that is unparalleled. He should be considered to possess a pure heart even while in a condition in which he still behaves inappropriately.

Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī says that if such a person become religious, or righteous, then there is no argument, but what can be said of a devotee who is unable to give up such bad behaviour, right up to the time of death? In response to this, Bhagavān strongly and angrily says, “kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati–even when he dies, he does not fall, but those who speak harshly against him due to poor logic will not accept this.” Thinking like this, Kṛṣṇa spoke words of encouragement to Arjuna, who was overwhelmed with grief and doubt. “O Kaunteya, while making a tumultuous sound with kettle drums, go to the assembly of those who dispute this. Raising both your arms in the air and being free from any doubt, declare that a devotee of Mine is never destroyed, even if he is poorly behaved. Rather, he becomes successful. In this way all their illogical words will be destroyed by your eloquence and they will definitely take shelter of you, accepting you as their guru.”

Here, the following objection may be raised: Why is Bhagavān asking Arjuna to make this declaration instead of making it Himself? As Bhagavān says in Bhagavad-gītā (18.65), “You will surely attain Me. In truth, I am taking this vow because you are very dear to Me.” So why does Bhagavān not say, “O Kaunteya, I declare that My devotee is never lost”? In response it is said that Bhagavān had pondered, “I cannot tolerate even the slightest insult to My devotees, and therefore, in many instances, I Myself break My own vow, even though consequently I have to receive insults. In this way, I protect the words of My devotee, just as I will protect the words of Bhīṣma in this battle by breaking My own vow. Those who are non-devotees and cynics will laugh at My vow [to desist from fighting], but the words of Arjuna will be like marks etched in stone.” For this reason, Kṛṣṇa made Arjuna take this vow.

Having heard about the ananyā-bhakti of such an ill-behaved person, some will understand this to mean that an ananya-bhakta is merely one who has no irreligious qualities, such as lamentation, delusion and anger, all of which arise from attachment to wife, children and so forth. But such an explanation by so-called scholars should be rejected.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

Practitioners of ananyā-bhakti have a natural distaste for improper or evil behaviour and always will have. Yet if, due to the will of providence, the ananya-bhakta is poorly behaved, that tendency is only temporary. The inconceivable influence of ananyā-bhakti is not lost because of it. Rather, the ananyā-bhakti situated in the heart quickly removes the tendency to misbehave, and such a person becomes free from piety and sin and attains the supreme peace born of bhakti. “Exclusive devotees are never lost.” In the present verse, Kṛṣṇa, who is very affectionate to His devotees, is making His dear-most friend Arjuna take this oath.

This statement is also in the Nṛsiṃha Purāṇa:

bhagavati ca harāv ananya-cetā bhṛśa-malino’pi virājate manuṣyaḥ
na hi śaśa-kala-cchaviḥ kadācit timira-parābhavatām upaiti candraḥ

Those devotees whose thoughts are exclusively absorbed in Śrī Hari are always situated in their own glory, even if externally they are seen to engage in abominable behaviour. This is because of the influence of bhakti situated within their hearts. It is likened to the full moon that has dark spots on it, even though it is never covered by darkness.

Śrī Bhagavān has also said:

bādhyamāno’pi mad-bhakto viṣayair ajitendriyaḥ
prāyaḥ pragalbhayā bhaktyā viṣayair nābhibhūyate

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.14.18)

My dear Uddhava, if My devotee has not fully conquered his senses, he may be harassed by material desires, but because of his unflinching devotion for Me, he will not be defeated by sense gratification.*

While commenting on this verse, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura writes, “What to speak of pure devotees in whose hearts bhāva has already manifested, even those who are in the preliminary stage of sādhana-bhakti become successful and blessed, not to mention those who are gradually attaining the stages of niṣṭhā and bhāva.”

In literature dealing with the path of jñāna, both a jñānī who behaves improperly and his jñāna are criticized. But in the bhakti-śāstras, even if a bhakta behaves improperly, he and his bhakti are not criticized.

In this regard, one of the Nava-yogendras, Karabhājana Ṛṣi, says:

sva-pāda-mūlaṃ bhajataḥ priyasya tyaktānya-bhāvasya hariḥ pareśaḥ
vikarma yac cotpatitaṃ kathañcid dhunoti sarvaṃ hṛdi sanniviṣṭaḥ

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.5.42)

It is not possible for those premī-bhaktas, who engage in exclusive bhajana to the lotus feet of their most dear Śrī Kṛṣṇa, having given up all other thoughts, faiths and activities, to engage in sinful activities. However, if somehow or other they do, then by sitting in their heart, Śrī Hari cleans everything and makes their hearts pure.

Someone may say that a devotee who engages in sinful activity must atone for it, but Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.25) states:

yadi kuryāt pramādena yogī karma vigarhitam
yogenaiva dahed aṃho nānyat tatra kadācana

A bhakti-yogī never engages in an abominable act, but if at some time he commits an offence inadvertently, then he should destroy this sin solely by the process of bhakti-yoga; he should not take to other difficult atonements such as cāndrāyaṇa.

This same conclusion is also given in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu:

niṣiddhācārato daivāt prāyaścittān tu nocitam
iti vaiṣṇava-śāstrāṇāṃ rahasyaṃ tad-vidāṃ matam

If by fate a sādhaka engages in a forbidden act, then it is not proper for him to atone for it separately, because the influence of bhakti performs the function of atonement. Separate atonement is not necessary. This is the secret of the Vaiṣṇava literature.

Somebody may raise the following objection: “Why did Bhagavān Himself not make the statement, ‘My bhaktas are not lost.’ Why did He ask Arjuna to do it?” The answer is that Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is affectionate to His devotees, protects their words even at the expense of breaking His own. An example of this took place in the battle of Kurukṣetra, when He protected the vow of Bhīṣma by breaking His own.

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