kṣipraḿ bhavati dharmātmā
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 9.31
He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This should not be misunderstood. In the Seventh Chapter the Lord says that one who is engaged in mischievous activities cannot become a devotee of the Lord. One who is not a devotee of the Lord has no good qualifications whatsoever. The question remains, then, How can a person engaged in abominable activities—either by accident or by intention—be a pure devotee? This question may justly be raised. The miscreants, as stated in the Seventh Chapter, who never come to the devotional service of the Lord, have no good qualifications, as is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Generally, a devotee who is engaged in the nine kinds of devotional activities is engaged in the process of cleansing all material contamination from the heart. He puts the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, and all sinful contaminations are naturally washed away. Continuous thinking of the Supreme Lord makes him pure by nature. According to the Vedas, there is a certain regulation that if one falls down from his exalted position he has to undergo certain ritualistic processes to purify himself. But here there is no such condition, because the purifying process is already there in the heart of the devotee, due to his remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly. Therefore, the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare should be continued without stoppage. This will protect a devotee from all accidental falldowns. He will thus remain perpetually free from all material contaminations.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“How can you accept the worship of such a sinful person? How can you eat the food and drink offered by a heart contaminated with lust and anger?”
“Very quickly he becomes righteous.” The present is used and not the future to express the fact that having committed sin, by remembering me, he becomes repentant, and very quickly becomes righteous. “O how unfortunate I am! There is no one as low as I, bringing bad name to the devotees.” Repeatedly (sasvat), he feels completely (ni) disgust (santim).
Or, the use of the present tense can indicate that in the future he will develop righteousness fully, but even right now it exists in a subtle form. After taking medicine, though the destructive effects of fever or poison remains for some time, that is not considered seriously. Thus, with the entrance of bhakti in his mind, the sinful actions are not taken seriously. And the traces of sin such as lust and anger should be considered insignificant, like the biting of a toothless snake. Thus he attains (nigacchati) complete cessation of lust and anger (santim) permanently (sasvat). In nigacchati, ni stands for nitaram, completely. This means that even during the stage of having tendency to commit sin, he has a pure heart.
“If he eventually becomes righteous there would be no argument. However, if a devotee is sinful right up till his death, what is his position?”
The Lord, affectionate to his devotees, then speaks loudly with a little anger. “O son of Kunti, My devotee is not destroyed. At the time of death, he does not fall.”
“But arguers with harsh tongues will not respect this.”
Krishna then encourages the worried, lamenting Arjuna. “O Kaunteya, going to the squabbling assembly with a tumultuous sound of drums throwing your hands in the air, you should fearlessly declare this.”
“Declare that my devotee, the devotee of the Supreme Lord, though committing sin, does not perish, but rather reaches success. Arguments defeated, pride deflated, they should undoubtedly respect you as a guru.” This is Sridhara Svami’s explanation.
But why does the Lord order Arjuna to declare this, when could do it himself? As he will say later, mam evaisyasi satyam te pratijane priyo’si me: I declare to you that you will truly come me. You are very dear to me.” (BG 18.65) In the same way, why does he not now say, “I declare, Kaunteya, that my devotee does not perish.”?
This is explained here. The Lord considered as follows. Being affectionate to my devotee and not tolerating even a slight degradation of my devotee, I will under all circumstances uphold the declaration made by my devotee, whereas I can break my own promise and accept criticism of myself. Just as, in breaking my own promise in fighting with Bhisma, I fulfilled Bhisma’s promise. Thus, hearing a declaration from my mouth, the materialistic disputers will laugh, but they will accept Arjuna’s declaration as written on stone. Therefore, I will make Arjuna make the declaration.
And thus, after hearing about ananya bhakti and the descriptions of the ananya bhakta, one should not accept the statements of the unlearned who think that this declaration does not apply in cases where attachment to others wives and children, sinful acts, lamentation, illusion, lust, anger and other despicable qualities manifest.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
9.31 Quickly he becomes righteous, the Gunas of Rajas and Tamas in him being eradicated with their roots, as he has shaken off all evils through the worship of Myself without any ulterior motive but only because of My being dear to him. Quickly he becomes one whose mind is specially attuned to My worship with all the ancillaries and having all the obstacles removed. It is this kind of worship which was alluded to by the term. Dharma at the commencement of this chapter thus: ‘Asraddhadanah purusa dharmasy’asya’ etc., (9.3). Such a person obtains enduring peace, i.e., he attains to an eternal state, free from conduct contrary to the attainment of Myself, and from which there will be no return to Samsara. O Arjuna, you may affirm that one who has begun to worship Me in this way will not perish even though he is tarnished by some misconduct in the past. On account of his devotion to Me, he annihilates the entire host of obstacles. After obtaining eternal state of freedom from obstacles, he quickly obtains perfect Bhakti.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
One may further ponder how can one of abominable behaviour be considered venerable merely by making the correct resolve? Lord Krishna referring to those who have dedicated themselves to Him addresses this with the words ksipram bhavati dharmatma meaning one swiftly becomes situated in eternal righteousness. Arjuna had some internal agitation by the doubt that intelligent people having discrimination will not accept this statement of the Supreme Lord. To encourage him more Lord Krishna instructs him to go far and wide to whoever opposes this statement and boldly proclaim that Lord Krishna’s devotees are never vanquished even if they previously were extremely wicked for after subsequently taking shelter of the Supreme Lord they become blessed. Hence all those who opposed His words with their speculations and blasphemy uprooted by the ferocity of his boldness would undoubtedly surrender to him and accept him as their only spiritual preceptor.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The unrighteous and wicked who are of vile and evil nature can practically never be devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna. But if some how by chance they receive the mercy of His devotees then by that potency they sometimes can have a change of heart and begin to regard the Supreme Lord in a reverential mood propitiating Him exclusively. This causes them to accumulate much merit and as they develop and advance with this state of consciousness they can be considered to be transformed into the noble and saintly for being rightly resolved.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
By the undeviating determination and firm resolve of one’s own will power abandoning forever all sinful and unrighteous conduct one swiftly becomes virtuous, endowed with the auspicious qualities that are naturally found in the devotees of Lord Krishna such as humility and compassion and as such gradually attains everlasting peace with moksa or liberation from material existence and soon joins the Supreme Lords associates. Normally such sinful and unrighteous conduct embarked upon previously would disqualify one from peaceful existence and bring ruin to one’s life in this world and the next. But such is not the case for Lord Krishna’s devotee and to emphasise this He encourages Arjuna to be assured with the words kaunteya pratijanahi na me bhakta pranasyati meaning declare it boldly that Lord Krishna’s devotee never comes to ruin.
The understanding is that the absolute devotee who has unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord Krishna never comes to ruin even if previously engaged in unrighteous conduct and bereft of all good qualities. Lord Krishna the Supreme Personality, the Supreme Controller, the Supreme Absolute Truth, who possesses an ocean of infinite auspicious attributes such as compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, affection and who is by nature extremely kind towards simple devotees whose only refuge is Him. Others who are not His devotee never attain Him but fall into the clutches of the servants of Yamaraj the demigod in charge of the realm of death to revolve endlessly in samsara the perpetual cycle of bith and death. But the devotees of Lord Krishna never fall into the clutches of the servants of Yamaraj and consequently are not subjected to the bondage of samsara. There are so many examples of the later in the Vedic scriptures such as the sinful Ajamila who at the moment of death called out his sons name Narayana and being the name of an expansion of Lord Krishna was instantly saved from the servants of Yamaraj sent to collect him. The elephant Gagendra who was being devoured alive by a ferocious crocodile when remembering Vishnu another expansion of Lord Krishna was saved from death. The hunter Valmiki whose mountain of sins was so high that he was unable to chant any of Lord Krishna’s names so his guru Narada Muni had him chant Mara the name for water which is the name of Rama pronounced in reverse which purified his existence saving him from the servants of Yamaraj and enabling him to write the original Ramayana. The coutesan Cintamani who renounced her profession and chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna was saved as well. It is revealed in the Vedic scriptures that Yamaraj the fearsome lord of the realm of death carefully instructs his servants to never apprehend the Vaisnava devotees of Lord Krishna at their moment of death as they have a different destination then hell so his servants should stay far away from them. Yamaraj has jurisdiction over all mortals accept the Vaisnava devotees of Lord Krishna who chant His name incessantly and are surrendered totally to Him.
The Sattvata scriptures states that one whose conduct was previously unrighteous, who never offered anything to the Supreme Lord, who had abominable habits, who was ungrateful and cruel; but who eventually takes complete shelter of the Supreme Lord worshipping Him exclusively- Such a person is to be considered venerable due to the blessings of the Supreme Lord power. The Vaisnava Dharmottara states: Even though the devotees of Lord Krishna may have been previously inclined to committing great sins, as soon as they became His devotee they were relieved of all reactions to all previous actions like a lotus taken from water. As a chronic disease dissolves away as soon as one receives proper medical treatment from a physician. In the same way the enormous mountain of reactions to sinful activities are all dissolved as soon as one surrenders to the spiritual preceptor in one of the four authorised channels of disciplic succession taking complete shelter of Lord Krishna or any of His authorised expansions or incarnations. Thus it has been clearly elucidated that Lord Krishna’s devotee are never subjected to inauspicious situations and circumstances-
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
9.31 Having given up his external evil behaviour due to the strength of his internal proper resolves, ksipram bhavati, he soon becomes; verily dharma-atma, possessed of a virtuous mind; and nigaccahti, he attains; sasvat, everlasting; santim, peace, quietude [Cessation of evil acts.]. O son of Kunti, listen to the supreme Truth: Pratijanihi, do you proclaim boldly, make a firm declaration; that me, My; bhaktah, devotee, who has dedicated his inner being to Me; na, does not; pranasyati, get ruined. Moreover,
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
9.29-31 Ksipram etc. I swear etc. This result (or subject), has logic [as its strong basis] and now being promised by the Bhagavat, it becomes established most firmly.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
ksipram bhavati dharmatma
na me bhaktah pranasyati
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
kṣipram — very soon; bhavati — becomes; dharma-ātmā — righteous; śaśvat-śāntim — lasting peace; nigacchati — attains; kaunteya — O son of Kuntī; pratijānīhi — declare; na — never; me — My; bhaktaḥ — devotee; praṇaśyati — perishes.