Everyone is Eligible for the Supreme Destination

Krishna leaves Hastinipur

This I found this extremely interesting from my reading this morning, how even the prostitutes some 5,000 years ago in the time of Lord Krsna were accepted as necessary citizens for the proper upkeep of society. They were not condemned by the Lord, but rather He greeted them with the proper etiquette. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita… “even the low-born caṇḍālas and those who are born in a family of unbelievers, and even the prostitutes, shall attain perfection of life if they take shelter of unalloyed devotional service to Me, because in the path of devotional service there are no impediments due to degraded birth and occupation. The path is open for everyone who agrees to follow it.”

At the same time, many hundreds of well-known prostitutes began to proceed on various vehicles. They were all very eager to meet the Lord, and their beautiful faces were decorated with dazzling earrings, which enhanced the beauty of their foreheads.(SB 1.11.19)

…We may not hate even the prostitutes if they are devotees of the Lord. Even to date there are many prostitutes in great cities of India who are sincere devotees of the Lord. By tricks of chance one may be obliged to adopt a profession which is not very adorable in society, but that does not hamper one in executing devotional service to the Lord. Devotional service to the Lord is uncheckable in all circumstances.

Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, a great ācārya of the Viṣṇusvāmī Vaiṣṇava sect, in his householder life was overly attached to a prostitute who happened to be a devotee of the Lord. One night when the Ṭhākura came to Cintāmaṇi’s house in torrents of rain and thunder, Cintāmaṇi was astonished to see how the Ṭhākura could come on such a dreadful night after crossing a foaming river which was full of waves. She said to Ṭhākura Bilvamaṅgala that his attraction for the flesh and bone of an insignificant woman like her would be properly utilized if it could be diverted to the devotional service of the Lord to achieve attraction for the transcendental beauty of the Lord. It was a momentous hour for the Ṭhākura, and he took a turn towards spiritual realization by the words of a prostitute. Later on the Ṭhākura accepted the prostitute as his spiritual master, and in several places of his literary works he has glorified the name of Cintāmaṇi, who showed him the right path. (SB 1.11.19 Purport)

It is clearly declared by the Supreme Lord, that in devotional service, there is no distinction between the lower or higher classes of people. In the material conception of life, there are such divisions, but for a person engaged in transcendental devotional service to the Lord, there are not. Everyone is eligible for the supreme destination. (Bg 9.32 Purport)

In the second part of the post there is a conversation with Allen Ginsberg on the life of Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 1, Chapter 11, Text 19

vāramukhyāś ca śataśo
yānais tad-darśanotsukāḥ
lasat-kuṇḍala-nirbhāta-
kapola-vadana-śriyaḥ

vāramukhyāḥ—well-known prostitutes; ca—and; śataśaḥ—hundreds of; yānaiḥ—by vehicles; tat-darśana—for meeting Him (Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa); utsukāḥ—very much anxious; lasat—hanging; kuṇḍala—earrings; nirbhāta—dazzling; kapola—forehead; vadana—face; śriyaḥ—beauty.

At the same time, many hundreds of well-known prostitutes began to proceed on various vehicles. They were all very eager to meet the Lord, and their beautiful faces were decorated with dazzling earrings, which enhanced the beauty of their foreheads.

We may not hate even the prostitutes if they are devotees of the Lord. Even to date there are many prostitutes in great cities of India who are sincere devotees of the Lord. By tricks of chance one may be obliged to adopt a profession which is not very adorable in society, but that does not hamper one in executing devotional service to the Lord. Devotional service to the Lord is uncheckable in all circumstances. It is understood herewith that even in those days, about five thousand years ago, there were prostitutes in a city like Dvārakā, where Lord Kṛṣṇa resided. This means that prostitutes are necessary citizens for the proper upkeep of society. The government opens wine shops, but this does not mean that the government encourages the drinking of wine. The idea is that there is a class of men who will drink at any cost, and it has been experienced that prohibition in great cities encouraged illicit smuggling of wine. Similarly, men who are not satisfied at home require such concessions, and if there is no prostitute, then such low men will induce others into prostitution. It is better that prostitutes be available in the marketplace so that the sanctity of society can be maintained. It is better to maintain a class of prostitutes than to encourage prostitutes within society. The real reformation is to enlighten all people to become devotees of the Lord, and that will check all kinds of deteriorating factors of life.

Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, a great ācārya of the Viṣṇusvāmī Vaiṣṇava sect, in his householder life was overly attached to a prostitute who happened to be a devotee of the Lord. One night when the Ṭhākura came to Cintāmaṇi’s house in torrents of rain and thunder, Cintāmaṇi was astonished to see how the Ṭhākura could come on such a dreadful night after crossing a foaming river which was full of waves. She said to Ṭhākura Bilvamaṅgala that his attraction for the flesh and bone of an insignificant woman like her would be properly utilized if it could be diverted to the devotional service of the Lord to achieve attraction for the transcendental beauty of the Lord. It was a momentous hour for the Ṭhākura, and he took a turn towards spiritual realization by the words of a prostitute. Later on the Ṭhākura accepted the prostitute as his spiritual master, and in several places of his literary works he has glorified the name of Cintāmaṇi, who showed him the right path.

In the Bhagavad-gītā (9.32) [full text and purport follows] the Lord says, “O son of Pṛthā, even the low-born caṇḍālas and those who are born in a family of unbelievers, and even the prostitutes, shall attain perfection of life if they take shelter of unalloyed devotional service to Me, because in the path of devotional service there are no impediments due to degraded birth and occupation. The path is open for everyone who agrees to follow it.”

It appears that the prostitutes of Dvārakā, who were so eager to meet the Lord, were all His unalloyed devotees, and thus they were all on the path of salvation according to the above version of the Bhagavad-gītā. Therefore, the only reformation that is necessary in society is to make an organized effort to turn the citizens into devotees of the Lord, and thus all good qualities of the denizens of heaven will overtake them in their own way. On the other hand, those who are nondevotees have no good qualifications whatsoever, however they may be materially advanced. The difference is that the devotees of the Lord are on the path of liberation, whereas the nondevotees are on the path of further entanglement in material bondage. The criterion of advancement of civilization is whether the people are educated and advanced on the path of salvation.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter Nine, Text 32

māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya
ye ‘pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te ‘pi yānti parāṁ gatim

mām-unto Me; hi-certainly; pārtha-O son of Pṛthā; vyapāśrītya-particularly taking shelter; ye-anyone; api-also; syuḥ-becomes; pāpa-yonayaḥ—born of a lower family; striyaḥ—women; vaiśyāḥ—mercantile people; tathā—also; śūdrāḥ—lower class men; te api—even they; yānti—go; parām—supreme; gatim—destination.

O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaiśyas [merchants], as well as śūdras [workers]-can approach the supreme destination.

PURPORT

It is clearly declared here by the Supreme Lord that in devotional service there is no distinction between the lower or higher classes of people. In the material conception of life, there are such divisions, but for a person engaged in transcendental devotional service to the Lord, there are not. Everyone is eligible for the supreme destination. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that even the lowest, who are called caṇḍālas (dog-eaters), can be elevated by association with a pure devotee. Therefore devotional service and guidance of a pure devotee are so strong that there is no discrimination between the lower and higher classes of men; anyone can take to it. The most simple man taking center of the pure devotee can be purified by proper guidance. According to the different modes of material nature, men are classified in the mode of goodness (brāhmaṇas), the mode of passion (kṣatriyas, or administrators), the mixed modes of passion and ignorance (vaiśyas, or merchants), and the mode of ignorance (śūdras, or workers). Those lower than them are called caṇḍālas, and they are born in sinful families. Generally, those who are born in sinful families are not accepted by the higher classes. But the process of devotional service and the pure devotee of the Supreme God are so strong that all the lower classes can attain the highest perfection of life. This is possible only when one takes center of Kṛṣṇa. One has to take center completely of Kṛṣṇa. Then one can become much greater than great jñānīs and yogīs.

Bilvamangala-Thakura

Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura
Room Conversation with Allen Ginsberg
May 13, 1969, Columbus, Ohio:

Prabhupāda: Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, in his previous life, he elevated himself to the loving stage of Kṛṣṇa. Not exactly, just previous, bhāva. It is called bhāva, ecstasy. But some way or other, he could not finish, so according to the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā, he was given birth to a nice brāhmaṇa family. (aside:) You can call that Bengali lady. She can hear. So very rich. Śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe (BG 6.41), in that way. Rich family, at the same time, brāhmaṇa family. But richness, generally, sometimes glide down to wine, women, and intoxication. So by bad company he became woman-hunter, prostitute-hunter. So he was too much addicted to one woman, Cintāmaṇi. So his father died, and he was… He did not marry. In your country it is called girlfriend, and in our country it is called prostitute. So he was that about that prostitute, Cintāmaṇi. So he was performing the rituals, but he was thinking of his girlfriend, that Cintāmaṇi, “When I shall go there?” Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura? Yes. So he asked his servants, “Give me some food. I shall go to Cintāmaṇi.” So anyway, he performed… Did not perform. His mind was there. He took some nice foodstuff, and when he went, there was a big river, and it was raining heavily, and the river was flooded. So he thought, “How shall I go the other side?” So one dead body was floating. So he thought, “It is a log,” and he took the help of the log and went the other side. And it was heavy raining. And then, when he reached that Cintāmaṇi’s home, he saw the door is locked already. Blocked. So he jumped over the wall, taking the tail of a serpent, and when he reached inside, he knocked the door, and Cintāmaṇi was astonished. “How did you come? So heavy rain. You had to cross the river.” He said everything, that “Oh, I cannot stay without you.” So she was much inquisitive: “How did you come? How did you jump over this wall?” And so he showed everything, that there was a big snake, and so he thought it as rope and jumped it. And then, when he went to the riverside, he saw that was a dead body. So at that time Cintāmaṇi thought, “Oh, this man is so much addicted to me.” So she told, “Oh, this much attraction if you would have with Kṛṣṇa, oh, how nice your life would have been.” So immediately he came to his senses because he was lifted to that position in his previous life. So immediately he left and was going alone to Vṛndāvana. And on the way he saw another beautiful woman. So his business was to be attracted by woman. So he again became attracted. So he was following. So this woman, after entering, she told her husband, “Just see, this man is following from a distant place.” So he asked him, “Oh, come on.” He saw he is nice gentleman. He was a rich man, brāhmaṇa. “What is this?” He said plainly, “Oh, I have been attracted by your wife, by the beauty of your wife.” “All right, come on. What is that?” You enjoy my wife. You are brāhmaṇa. You are…” So he was received well. And at night, when he was given place, then he asked that woman, “Mother, will you give me your hair pin?” He took the hair pin and pushed in the eyes: “Oh, these eyes are my enemy.” Since then he became blind. And in that blindness he was worshiping Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa was coming to him. And he would not touch. He’ll sing, dance, and He’ll supply milk and go away. So this Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura wrote one book, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. It is very valuable book. That is very highly estimated, Lord Caitanya.

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  1. Trackback: Everyone is Eligible for the Supreme Destination Part II | The Hare Krishna Movement

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