Sometimes people think that once a person has performed sinful acts, especially acts that are grievously sinful, he must be regarded as a sinner forever. This notion runs contrary to Vaishnava philosophy.
Several important quotations pertaining to this point appear in Chapter One of The Nectar of Devotion, “Characteristics of Pure Devotional Service,” in the section “Relief from Material Distress.” One such verse is Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.14.19, which Srila Prabhupada renders as follows:
“My dear Uddhava, devotional service unto Me is just like a blazing fire which can burn into ashes unlimited fuel supplied to it.”
Here are the Sanskrit and the translation and purport given for this verse by the disciples who completed his edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
karoty edhamsi bhasmasat
tatha mad-visaya bhaktir
My dear Uddhava, just as a blazing fire turns firewood into ashes, similarly, devotion unto Me completely burns to ashes sins committed by My devotees.
One should carefully note that the Lord refers to devotion that is like a blazing fire. To commit sinful activity on the strength of chanting the holy name is the greatest offense, and the devotion of one who commits this offense cannot be compared to a blazing fire of love for Krsna.
As stated in the previous verse, a sincere loving devotee, because of immaturity or previous bad habits, may be disturbed by his senses even though he has accepted Lord Krsna as the only goal in his life. But if even by chance the devotee accidentally falls down without premeditation or indifference, the Lord immediately burns to ashes his sinful reactions, just as a blazing fire immediately consumes an insignificant piece of wood.
Lord Krsna is glorious, and one who takes exclusive shelter of the Lord receives the unique benefits of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.