api ced asi pāpebhyaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 4.36
Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Proper understanding of one’s constitutional position in relationship to Krishna is so nice that it can at once lift one from the struggle for existence which goes on in the ocean of nescience. This material world is sometimes regarded as an ocean of nescience and sometimes as a blazing forest. In the ocean, however expert a swimmer one may be, the struggle for existence is very severe. If someone comes forward and lifts the struggling swimmer from the ocean, he is the greatest savior. Perfect knowledge, received from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the path of liberation. The boat of Krishna consciousness is very simple, but at the same time the most sublime.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This verse is a glorification of knowledge.
If you are more sinful than all sinners, how can you achieve purity of heart, and without purity of heart, how can you get realization of knowledge? Actually, it is not possible for one who has attained knowledge to commit sinful acts. Madhusudana Sarasvati explains: the words api and cet are used to show the assumption of the impossible; though the commission of sin would be impossible, the assumption is made to show the results of attaining knowledge.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
4.36 Even though you be the most sinful of all sinners, you will completely cross over the sea of sins previoulsy accumulated, with the boat of knowledge concerning the self.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna now exclaims that even if one was an incorrigible sinner previously if they approach a self-realised being and receive this knowledge from him they will easily cross over the ocean of all their sins solely by the potency of this spiritual knowledge.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Understand the greatness of this spiritual knowledge Lord Krishna is exclaiming. The words api ced meaning even if, indicates the powerful potency of this spiritual knowledge which can save the most incorrigible sinner if one receives it from a spiritual master and becomes fixed in this consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
4.36 Api cet asi, even if you be; papa-krt-tamah, the worst sinner, extremely sinful; sarvebhyah, among all; papebhyah, the sinners (papa, lit. sin, means here sinner) ; still santarisyasi, you will cross over; sarvam, all; the vrjinam, wickedness, the ocean of wickedness, sin; [Ast. reads papa-samudram, (ocean of sin) in place of papam.-Tr.] jnana-plavena eva, with the raft of Knowledge alone, by using Knowledge alone as a float. Here [Here, in the scriptures imparting spiritual instructions.], righteousness (formal religious observance), too, is said to be an evil in the case of one aspiring for Liberation. How Knowledge destroys sin is being told with the help of an illustration:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
4.36-37 Api cet etc. Yatha etc. The idea is this : One should exert is such a way so that the fire of knowledge remains well fuelled with the knot of firmness of conviction born of practice.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
api ced asi papebhyah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
api — even; cet — if; asi — you are; pāpebhyaḥ — of sinners; sarvebhyaḥ — of all; pāpa-kṛt-tamaḥ — the greatest sinner; sarvam — all such sinful reactions; jñāna-plavena — by the boat of transcendental knowledge; eva — certainly; vṛjinam — the ocean of miseries; santariṣyasi — you will cross completely.