The Pingala Dilemma

This blog is based on a story from  Bhagvat Puran.  This is a story of a prostitute named Pingala.

Shri Dattatreya accepted her as on of his 24 Gurus.


Looking in her mesmerizing eyes he said “Pingala, for me the whole world limits within your one glance. I am ready to accept you as you are. Forget your past and come to me.”

Releasing him from her arms, she looked at him and laughingly said “Shreshthi, this is a place where you will get pleasure, pay for it and enjoy. I have many people who come and show their affection towards me.”

Pingala must have had such conversation many a times. At late night rather early morning after work, whore and lady of every evening Pingala once again sighted this incidence to her friends and the mistress. Her mistress was also very clear. She said “Be aware of such people, just give them how much they pay you, nothing more nothing less. It’s important that you be away from such emotional fools. Important thing for you is nothing but money, that you gain post the pleasure your man gets.”

One evening when Pingala once again decked her up for some unknown wealthy man she applied sandal paste. She illuminated the lanterns, smoked the exquisite smelling joss sticks. She wore string of jasmine flowers in her hair bun. She was adorned with best of the jewelry and beautiful silk robe. Suddenly a monk came at her doorsteps; she looked at him and hurriedly went ahead hiding her head with her pallu, with folded hand she welcomed him saying “Oh Sage! You could have sent a message for me I would have come at your service. What can I do for you?”

Pingala indicated a sitting place to him, he stepped in with duel mind, sat on the special seat made for sages and monks. She said “Swami, how much donation you want, I will be happy to pay donation to you and your students”

With a dry throat he said “Pingala I have not come here for donation. Since the time I have seen you I am madly in love with you. I have come to ask you, if you can marry me?”

Laughingly Pingla replied “Swami the eagerness of this kaam (desires) is like burning body in cremation yard till the time it is burning the importance of body is kept in mind. Once that fire is over it is just ashes and all of them throw it in river. You have come here with such desire and not because of love. Swami you are always welcome here for alms, but to get me physically you have to pay me my worth and my worth is not in your abilities. So please go and come only with money if you need me.”

Monk replied “Kaam is also like sacred fire. Add the butter and ghee of devotion it will give you that much light. So Pingala I respect your words and I will come at your doorsteps only with the worth I get to buy you”

The monk disappeared in the darkness and his words melted in the mean laugh of Pingala.

Days passed and Pingala found another Shresthi with lodes of wealth. He would visit her frequently and pay her worth. Slowly Pingala found herself in deep love with the new Shreshthi. One night she decked herself as usual and stood at the door step looking towards the road expecting the palanquin of Shresthi. Time passed but he did not come that night. She was standing at the door step impatiently. With great expectation she would rush to the doorsteps whenever she saw someone passing by, thinking it was her Shreshthi, and would then return disappointed. Pingala was broken and was in grief as she could not meet her beloved. Her longing with Shresthi was unbearable. Gradually as the night became darker, her self-talk brightened. She realised her own words spoken to other customers, today she was in the same situation. One Monk left his duties of Sanyasi and started running behind earning money for getting Pingala. Pingala in turn was running behind her desires of wealth and belongingness of new customer.

Pingala asked herself “What do I need ultimately?” “What is my goal of life?” “Where am I leading to?”

This dilemma of Pingala at the door step led her to seek answers of question unasked. Many a times in our life during such phases, we do not ask the right questions to ourselves and keep on going in the vicious circle. We tend to choose the popular and satisfying paths, which ultimately lead to one more vicious circle and we do not come out of it.

Pingala in her dilemma chose to be separable from her desires and looked for the path of getting away from the desires and ultimately finding her goal of life.

Do we ask this question to ourselves? Even if we ask these questions are we bold enough to take it as it is? Or do we keep these questions under carpet and run behind what is unachievable. Are we in a rat race where one is running behind other and ultimately no one knows what the finish line is?

Pingala in her dilemma chose to be indifferent and gave up all her materialistic desires; for her wealth, body pleasures were her materialistic desires and ultimately renunciation was her actual desire. Do we ask what our materialistic desires are and what are our actual desires?

Not always frustration is bad. Frustration many a times leads you to the ultimate path and takes you to the desired goal.

Every man that went to Pingla, she was thinking, what can I get from him? One day in this very own desire of her she landed in frustration, it was beyond her power. Hour after hour after hour went by, until at last midnight and beyond in her frustration she began to internalize her perceptions of life. Until that time she was simply looking outside through her senses by her mind for some pleasure, in this world for some position but now Pingala was starting to think, what is this all about? She started questioning herself in shear frustration. She became sober.

As long as the person is too much intoxicated thinking I am enjoying they cannot understand the absolute truth until one becomes little sober by realizing the true nature of this material existence. One’s ears and heart cannot open to hear the truth. If a person is too much intoxicated, Can you preach to him? He thinks he is enjoying even though he is in the most lamentable condition. You have to wait till he humbles up till the intoxication wears off and he realizes that he has a hangover, he is suffering, he is degraded, and then he is anxious to hear. Pingala became enlightened, through the frustrations of her material endeavors. What is my frustration? Can I find my own path overcoming this frustration? Can I face this frustration? Can our frustration lead us to the ultimate goal of our life?

Facing the emotions and not shunting it or avoid it will ultimately make us stronger and realistic.

In words of Pingala

aho me mohavitatim, pasyatavijitatmanah,

ya kantad asatah kamam, kamaye yena balisa

I am such a fool that I have given up the service of that person who, being eternally situated within my heart is actually most dear to me. That ‘most dear is the Lord of the universe, who is the bestower of real love and happiness and the source of all prosperity. Although He is in my own heart, I have completely neglected Him. Instead I have ignorantly served insignificant men who can never satisfy my real desires and who have simply brought me unhappiness, fear, anxiety, lamentation and illusion.

With a prayer to nature “Let all of us find that ultimate goal hidden in our own mind”



3 thoughts on “The Pingala Dilemma

  1. Sandeep very good job. Read alll article many are historical and mythological refrence . Good job ineducating us of richness


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