Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus - Part 33

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna. Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

We are continuing with the topic, "Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus" and in this offering we will see the first song of the prostitute Pingala, one of the gurus from whom the avadhuta brahmana learnt the important lesson of detachment. Pingala sings in SB 11.8.30

aho me moha-vitatiṁ paśyatāvijitātmanaḥ
yā kāntād asataḥ kāmaṁ kāmaye yena bāliśā

The prostitute Pingala said: Just see how greatly illusioned I am! Because I cannot control my mind, just like a fool I desire lusty pleasure from an insignificant man.

After standing at the door way for a long time to attract the passing men to her body, and failing in her attempt, the prostitute Pingala is completely frustrated and by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, detachment arose in her heart. When we become detached to a situation and observe as a 3rd person, we can see things more clearly. Pingala is able to realize that all that money and sex pleasure she was attracted to, all these days, was due to her being immersed in the illusion. The word vitatim means 'expansion' and hence moha-vitatim means, 'expanding illusion'. Everyday as her earnings was growing, the paraphernalias in her house (to fulfill her own enjoying propensity as well as to attract the visiting customers) was also increasing. We too encounter this situation many times. With increasing wealth, we try to invest them in different ways like gold, land, house, shares and so many other means. And to make sure that our standard of living is accepted by everyone else, we increase so many paraphernalias in our house. While the new items are being bought, our attachment to old items don't go away easily and we retain them as well. In due course of time our house becomes filled with so many unwanted items that we hardly have any space to move about.

Unfortunately with all these investments and unwanted paraphernalias, we only increase our illusion and attachment. Like for eg., when I have 10 Rs, I am attached to only 1 ten rupees. When I have 100 Rs, then I am attached to 10 ten rupees. So my illusion has increased 10 fold. This is the simple understanding of the phrase moha-vitatim. If we extend this to everything else that is material, then the illusion increases unlimitedly! Mind-boggling! If my illusion has expanded to such an extent, where is the time to think of Krishna?!

Then Pingala rightly says that the ultimate reason for this constantly expanding illusion is avijita ātmanah - uncontrolled mind! The uncontrolled mind submerges us fully in illusion. The kaama - lust is like fire and as we try to satisfy them more and more it is like adding ghee to the fire. The fire will only keep growing as we add more and more ghee. Similarly, by trying to satisfy all our lusty desires, our illusion and attachment will grow more and more only to completely burn us out into ashes. So in order to conquer this expanding illusion, we have to change from avijitaatmanah (being conquered by the mind) to jitaatmanah (conquerer of the mind/senses). Conquering the mind means not falling prey to its tricks. It does not mean that we should not invest our savings in anything or buy nothing for household utility. It means that we try to keep up to the Vedic standard of living. Vedic living means simple living with minimum necessity. When a TV bought by the neighbor does not pressurize me to buy a TV for myself, then I become jitaatmanah. When the mind listens to us and becomes satisfied with whatever we provide it, it can be utilized for the right purpose ie., to serve the Supreme Lord. And when we conquer the mind this way, then we can conquer the unconquerable Lord Himself! As King Citraketu rightly prays in 6.16.34:

citraketur uvāca
ajita jitaḥ sama-matibhiḥ
sādhubhir bhavān jitātmabhir bhavatā
vijitās te ’pi ca bhajatām
akāmātmanāṁ ya ātmado ’ti-karuṇaḥ

Citraketu said: O unconquerable Lord, although You cannot be conquered by anyone, You are certainly conquered by devotees who have control of the mind and senses. They can keep You under their control because You are causelessly merciful to devotees who desire no material profit from You. Indeed, You give Yourself to them, and because of this You also have full control over Your devotees.

So when we become, sama-mati, jitātma and akāmātmanā then we can conquer the unconquerable Lord. Pingala teaches us that to get closer to the Lord, we have to first of all recognize this uncontrolled mind and how foolish we are to run behind this continuously expanding illusion. When we realize the reality, then we will understand that the only way we can conquer this mind is to engage it in the service of the Supreme Lord (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayor) as Maharaja Ambarisha has shown us in practice.

Krishna willing, we will continue with the beautiful teachings of the prostitute Pingala in the subsequent offerings.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das and Sudarshana devi dasi.