sarva-karmāṇy api sadā
śāśvataḿ padam avyayam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.56
Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My pure devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The word mad-vyapasrayah means under the protection of the Supreme Lord. To be free from material contamination, a pure devotee acts under the direction of the Supreme Lord or His representative, the spiritual master. There is no time limitation for a pure devotee. He is always, twenty-four hours a day, one hundred percent engaged in activities under the direction of the Supreme Lord. To a devotee who is thus engaged in Krishna consciousness the Lord is very, very kind. In spite of all difficulties, he is eventually placed in the transcendental abode, or Krishnaloka. He is guaranteed entrance there; there is no doubt about it. In that supreme abode, there is no change; everything is eternal, imperishable and full of knowledge.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
It has thus been said that the jnani step by step giving up the results of work, work itself and then jnana, attains sayujya. Now hear from me how my devotee attains me.
That devotee takes shelter of me, even with evident material desires (vi apa asrayah). Vi stands for visesatah, meaning “particularly,” and apa stands for apakrsta, meaning “low.” He is not even a niskama bhakta, for he performs all actions even material ones such as protecting wife and children as well as nitya, naimittka and kamya karmas. What is the question of his giving up karma, yoga, jnana, worship of devatas, or other desires?
The word asrayate means he completely serves. The prefix “a” emphasizes the predominance of service. The use of the word api indicates inferiority of these other actions. Thus he performs these other activities, but as secondary actions. Thus, he has bhakti mixed with karma, rather than karma mixed with bhakti, which was already described in the first six chapters. There is no overlapping of actions with the previous descriptions. That bhakta attains my eternal dhamas (padam), such as Vaikuntha, Mathura, Dvaraka, and Ayodhya.
“But will those dhamas remain after the pralaya?”
“They are indestructible (avyayam). At the time of mahapralaya, my dhamas will not disappear, because of my inconceivable power.”
“The jnani, after many births, having undergone much suffering and austerities, having stopped the action of senses for sense objects, attains naiskarmya, and then sayujya. How does this devotee, performing actions and having desires, attain your eternal dhamas just by taking shelter of you?”
“He attains it by my mercy (mat prasadat). Know that my mercy is inconceivable and most powerful.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
18.56 ‘Taking refuge in Me’ means leaving agency etc., to Me. He who performs ‘all works constantly’ means works that are not only obligatory and occasional acts but even those meant to fulfil desires (Kamya Karmas) — he attains, by My grace, the eternal realm which is immutable. ‘Pada’ means that which is attained. The meaning is that he attains Me. [The idea is that the performance of even those ritualistic actions enjoined for those having the fulfilment of certain desires in view, even these actions, if done without any such desire but only as the worship of the Supreme Person — the have the same effect as the performance of the enjoined daily and occasional rituals to which no effect except the purification of the self is offered by the Sastras.] Since it is so, therefore:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The Supreme Lord Krishna is now concluding the topic of obtaining moksa by taking full refuge in the Supreme Lord even while performing prescribed Vedic activities daily and occasionally. Even if one still has the residue of desires while performing such activities but take sole refuge in the Supreme Lord not seeking mundane material gains from the demigods and not striving for entry into the heavenly planets. Such an aspirant will receive the grace of the Supreme Lord and by their exclusive devotion to Him and attain His eternal association in the transcendental spiritual worlds.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Concluding this theme Lord Krishna again reiterates the performance of sadhana or internal propitiation. One should take complete shelter in Him offering Him all actions ordained in the Vedic scriptures. It should not be misconstrued that one can offer actions that are not sanctioned by the Vedic scriptures for that would be an abomination. Only demons and the most degraded of living entities would devilishly conspire to contrive such a travesty. In the phrase sarva-karmany api meaning all types of activities, the conjunction api meaning although denotes that without surrender and devotion to the Supreme Lord no actions should be offered to Him.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Thus the results of communion with the Supreme Lord have been elaborated upon by Lord Krishna. This is established through perfecting the performance of prescribed Vedic activities as a natural duty selflessly without any egoistic conceptions or any desire for rewards. Now He reveals that the results for those who are performing prescribed Vedic activities in this way taking sole refuge in the Supreme Lord Krishna as the only goal to be attained and only reward to be sought after even while embroiled in worldly associations and mundane activities will still by His Grace attain immutable, imperishable, eternal communion with Him.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
18.56 Sada, ever; kurvanah api, engaging even in; sarva-karmani, all actions, even the prohibited ones; madvyapasrayah, one to whom I am the refuge, to whom I, Vasudeva the Lord, am the refuge, i.e. one who has totally surrendered himself to Me; even he, apnoti, attains; the sasvatam, eternal; avyayam, immutable; padam, State of Visnu; mat-prasadat, through My, i.e. God’s, grace. Since this is so, therefore,
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
18.41-60 Brahmana – etc. upto avasopitat. Surely the intrinsic nature of the Brahmanas etc., does not voilate what has been difined (above) by way of classifying their duties. Therefore, as far as you are concerned, you have the intrinsic quality of the Ksatriya (warrior), and your nature i.e., intrinsic quality, does, without fail, assume the part of the inciter of yourself, even though you don’t like it. For, a person who acts simply being incited by that (natural condition), there is the strong bondage of the merit or demerit. Therefore, perform actions following the means of correct knowledge, taught by Me. In that case, the bondage would disappear. The intention of the principal sentence (statement of the entire passage under study) is to help to get this idea. The meaning of the subordinate sentences (statements) is evident. Briefly (verse 50) : in short. Knowledge : i.e. the one which has been explained earlier. Nistha conveys, avoiding verbal jugglary, the meaning ‘what has been determined’. He who is endowed with intellect totally pure etc. : All this has been almost explained already. Hence, no more trouble is taken [to comment upon it].
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
sarva-karmany api sada
sasvatam padam avyayam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
sarva — all; karmāṇi — activities; api — although; sadā — always; kurvāṇaḥ — performing; mat-vyapāśrayaḥ — under My protection; mat-prasādāt — by My mercy; avāpnoti — one achieves; śāśvatam — the eternal; padam — abode; avyayam — imperishable.