Krishna’s love is unconditional yet conditional
The Bhagavad-gita (09.30) urges us to recognize as saintly a devotee who, though guilty of grievous misconduct, is still determined to serve Krishna. The next verse (09.31) first assures that such a devotee will soon get reformed and then proclaims that Krishna due to his unfailing love will forever protect such a devotee.
The first verse offers a glimpse of the unconditional nature of Krishna’s love: there is nothing that we can ever do, no matter how vicious, that can stop Krishna from loving us. He forever acts as our well-wisher and benefactor, just as the sun forever gives illumination.
At the same time, though love can be unilateral, a loving relationship cannot be unilateral; it always has to be bilateral. If we neglect or reject Krishna’s love by filling our heart with non-devotional or anti-devotional desires, then we paralyze our capacity to experience his love, just as closing our eyes disables our capacity to see sunlight. So, Krishna’s love is conditional in the limited sense that we need to cultivate a certain condition of the heart to experience his love.
Knowing this, sincere devotees never misuse Krishna’s proclamation in 09.30 to rationalize their own moral lapses. They use 09.30 primarily to continue respecting other devotees who have succumbed to immoral temptations: “If Krishna considers them saintly, so should I.” Earnest devotees fervently regret their misdeeds. And, in the spirit of the next verse (09.31), they return to morality so as to make their heart receptive for experiencing Krishna’s love.
09.31 assures us that return to moral and spiritual integrity is definitely possible, even inevitable and imminent (kshipram bhavati dharmatma). Then, knowing that an inner battle is necessary for attaining that state, 09.31 inspires us to fight by declaring that Krishna with all his omnipotence will protect us (na me bhaktah pranashyati).
“Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination.”