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The Brahmana & The Prostitute

Wednesday, 30 January 2008 / Published in Quotes / 4,691 views

By Bhakta Rod

Once, near the peaceful village of Vrndavana, the transcendental place where Krsna manifested His pastimes on earth, there lived a scholarly brahmana (priest) and servant of Krsna. Opposite his home, there lived a prostitute.

As a daily observance, the brahmana would sit in his doorway and recite the Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, then cook offering for the Deities in the Temple, his cooking abilities were famous throughout the land. Meanwhile, across the street, the
prostitute would tend to her business.

As the years passed, the brahmana grew ever more disturbed by the prostitute.

‘Just see how lowly and disgusting she is how can such a low life ever leave her disgraceful body near the beautiful land of Vrndavana.’ He would proudly and arrogantly think to himself, then continued with his recitation while cooking various preparations.

It so happened that both the brahmana and the prostitute died at the same time. To the brahmana’s surprise, the Vishnuduttas (the Lord of Vaikuntha’s messengers) came to deliver the prostitute while the Yamadutas (the Lord of Death’s messengers) came for him.

‘What is this’? he protested to the Yamadutas.

‘There must be some mistake!’

The Yamadutas replied,

‘My dear brahmana, there is no mistake. While you were busy meditating on the lowly activities of the prostitute, she listened to you recite the Gita and prayed that she could one day elevate herself to your position.

In this way the prostitute achieved liberation while you only degraded yourself to take birth on a planet of prostitutes.’

5 Responses to “The Brahmana & The Prostitute”

  1. Bhakta Rod says :

    Once in the land Vrndavana two Vaishnava’s devotees, a newly initiated young devotee and an older more senior devotee of Krishna were walking back to the Temple. As they were walking they came across a woman who was in distress. She wanted to cross the Yumuna River to the other side.

    The two Vaishnava’s saw the woman and the newly initiated devotee thought to himself –

    “We are celibate monks, it is not possible to help this woman because we are practicing celibacy so we cannot approach her, let alone carry her across the stream!

    The Senior Vaishnava who was very attached to serving Krishna, saw this as an opportunity to serve one of Krishna’s beloved devotee’s, without any hesitation, he carried the woman across the stream. The young newly initiated devotee looked at the older Vaishnava sternly and yet said nothing and the two carried on with their journey back to the Temple.

    After about two hours of walking, they finally arrived at the beautiful Radha Krishna Temple on the out skirts of Vrndavana. The younger devotee could no longer keep the build up of his feelings of disgust within himself ant longer and turned around to the senior monk and said:

    “Why did you carry that woman, did you forget we are practicing celibate Monks? As Brahmacari’s, we are not suppose to speak any woman unnecessarily, let alone what you did by physically touching her and carrying her across the Yumuna River

    The senior devotee looked at the young Brahmacari and after contemplating for a few moments he said.

    “How long did it take me to carry this woman devotee across the stream? Maybe 5 minutes at most, but you have carried her for 2 hours on our journey back to our Temple and are still carrying her” (You Rascal!)

    The Brahman and the prostitute and the two devotees give us the same lesson.

    Hare Kishna

  2. Bhakta Rod says :

    Even though often very difficult, we must see how to apply these lessons in our day-to-day lives. Stalk the mind. Observe it carefully. Next Sunday many will attend a Sunday feast. Some new people will come by, maybe some who are dirty and just looking for a meal. When we see such people (as most of us once were in this life or another) we should immediately observe our mind’s reaction and check any feelings of superiority or judgment?

    Hopefully we will teach the mind to see Krishna bringing some more of His children back to Him. Seeing this truth with humility, selfless and without being condescending to others is the real qualities of a Vaishnava. If we somehow choose to give up our pride and cooperate with Krishna in that glorious endeavour by telling all others, no matter hoe rich or fallen and forsake all manner of negative judgements, then surely we become that much closer to being an authentic Vaishnava.

    I play this game while passing people walking down the street sometimes and I would be too ashamed to write down my minds initial reactions to others. Somehow we have to always think of Krishna if we are to get out of this material world, I find that difficult being so materially conditioned.

    Therefore, we have to understand that what ever we think of at the time of death, who ever we love or hate, or are attracted too or disgusted by, that materially conditioned consciousness and similar bodily form we will get without a doubt as the Gita tells us.

    Just like the Brahmana ended up on the planet of the prostitutes

    Somehow we have to learn to love Krishna, always think OF HIM and serve His desires, which are the desires of His pure devotees, and
    help every living entity serve Krishna.

    Hare Krishna, your aspiring servant Bhakta Rod

  3. These are good stories. What makes us sometimes act like the brahmana who meditates on the sins of others, even while reciting Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita?

    The story of the monk who “carries” the woman in his mind, while not originally a Vaisnava story, is also appropriate. It illustrates nicely how over-attachment to the rules and regulations without knowing the purpose behind them can be unfavorable.

    Sometimes our minds will do anything to avoid being attentive while chanting. The mode of material goodness conditions by a sense of happiness and knowledge. We like to feel superior to others rather than keeping our mind on our service of attentitively glorifying Krishna.

    Sankirtan is such nice service. We are being engaged in kindly giving the highest thing to everyone. The book distributors get regular lessons in “trnad api sunicena taror iva sahisnuna amanina manadena kitraniya sada hari”. By trying to show mercy to the innocent and avoiding the envious (and making friendship with the devotees), the preachers learn how to engage in the welfare of all.

    Each new person that walks by is another spirit soul in a human body, and the book distributor’s goal is to find a way somehow to give that soul a favorable contact with Krishna consciousness. Any spark of condescension, exploitation or self-importance on the distributor’s part will immediately produce a negative reaction in the customer.

    Let’s face it. Pretty much everyone today is as sinful as that prostitute was. We sell books to people who are literally drinking alcohol and eating beef right in front of us (not to mention the rampant sexual immorality of our age, and the casual untruthfulness).

    But if we present Prabhupada’s books nicely we give all people an opportunity to be relieved from their sins and to meet the Vishnudutas, just like the prostitute did. And if we even momentarily dwell on their sinfulness, it will instantly interfere with our service of preaching.

  4. I have never made a serious study of the Christian Bible, but I recently happened to be browsing through a modern English verion (“Good News for Modern Man”, American Bible Society, New York, 1966), and came upon this parable in Luke (17:10-14), which had a familiar ring:

    [Jesus said]:

    “Two men went up to the Temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.

    “The Pharisee stood up and said this prayer to himself: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or immoral, like everybody else; I thank you that I am not like that tax collector. I fast two days every week, and I give you one tenth of all my income.’

    “But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast, and said, ‘O God, have pity on me, a sinner!’

    “I tell you”, said Jesus, “this man, and not the other, was in the right with God when he went home. For everyone who makes himself great will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be made great.”

    I remember one famous recorded lecture where Srila Prabhupada was explaining Deity worship, and he said, “Be careful. You are dealing with Krishna.” Anyway, in that tape Srila Prabhupada says something about the humble mood with which we should make an offering, saying to the Lord that we are very insignificant, fallen (I think he even used the word “rotten”), but we have brought this nice thing Lord, please accept it. At this point in the lecture Srila Prabhupada’s voice cracks and he begins to cry in ecstasy.

    I do not know much about the history of Judaism, but reading through the Gospel of Luke it seems it was an important part of Jewish life then was to go to the big Temple in Jerusalem and make sacrifices. [I guess that was why there were money changers and people selling birds there. You had to have the right kind of money to offer in the Temple, and people would offer doves and things. (I do not know how the birds were offered, whether they were killed and roasted--I like to think they were just purchased and then set free).] It seems that one tenth of one’s income or crops were supposed to be sacrificed. [Rules for sacrifice are found in the Torah, like in Leviticus]

    Reading the Iliad it is also clear how animals were sacrificed to Greek demigods according to specific rules.

    Of course, the recommended sacrifice for this age is chanting Hare Krishna, according to the “trnad api” rule, and avoiding offenses.

  5. omdas says :

    Hare krishna,

    Regarding the dove thing…. comment #4

    In India till today (previously this was more common) it happens that poor people (traditionally hunters and such people who dont have land or job to do) will keep birds caged outside temples and devotees visiting temple will pay some money to this seller and release a bird. Devotees think it to be a good deed for the day and releases one bird.

    I also hope that Jewish people offered bird in this way.

    Hare krishna,

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