Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sinner, Or Sinned Against?


In the history of some countries, there have been occasions when certain professions for women have been looked down upon by the society as sinful. Mostly these professions pertain to dancing, theatrics, dramatics, courtesan, devadasis etc. Even though there is nothing wrong in taking up any of these professions, provided it conforms to Vrutti-Dharma or professional ethics, sometimes the society views some such professions with a needle of suspicion and labels them as immoral. With such an attitude, the society forgets and overlooks the innate divinity in every human being, irrespective of his or her profession. At such junctures, some great Mahatma has always appeared on the scene and has established the innate divinity in every human being, as would be evident from the following illustrative examples.

Lord Buddha : A great courtesan beautifully dressed in Muslin and decorated with pearls and carrying fruits in a plate, once approached Gautama Buddha at dead of night when he resting in a temple. When Buddha heard a knock at the door, he got up, opened the door and saw the lusty girl. Unperturbed, he smilingly approached her, touched her feet and with his head bent in humble reverence, he said “Mother! How can your son serve you?” When the courtesan heard these words, tears fell from her eyes. She prostrated before the Lord, apologized and returned to her abode. In course of time, she embraced Buddhism and became a disciple of the Master.

Amrapali [Also called Ambapali]: Towards the end of his life, Buddha travelled to Kushinagar from Rajagriha and took shelter there in the mango grove of the famous courtesan Amrapali. Amrapali met him in a simple dress without any ornaments but yet she was looking bewitchingly beautiful. Buddha thought to himself “This woman moves in worldly circles and is a favourite courtesan of kings and princes. Yet her heart is cool, calm and composed. Young in years, rich and surrounded by pleasures, she is thoughtful and steadfast. This indeed is rare in the mortal world”
As Buddha presented his teachings, Amrapali’s face brightened with delight. She then rose and humbly asked “Will the Blessed One do me the honour of taking his meal at my house tomorrow, along with the other brothers?” Buddha readily agreed. Later, some wealthy and influential people of the area came to invite Buddha to join them for dinner. Buddha declined saying “I have already promised to dine with Amrapali, the courtesan”. They departed saying “A woman of the world has outdone us; we have been left behind by a frivolous girl”
The next morning Buddha went to Amrapali’s house. After food, the courtesan sat at his feet and offered her mansion and mango grove to his Order which the Master accepted. Her whole life got transformed thereafter and she became an ardent follower of the Master.

Jesus Christ : One morning when Jesus Christ was teaching in a temple, a group that included some teachers of Jewish Law brought in a woman who had been caught red-handed while committing adultery. They said to Jesus “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In our Law, Moses commands that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?” They said this just to trap Jesus. Jesus kept quiet for sometime. But when they repeated the question, Jesus replied: “Whichever one of you who has committed no sin, may throw the first stone at her”, When they heard this, every one left the scene one by one. Only Jesus remained with the woman. He then asked her “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?”. “ No one, sir” she answered. “Well, then” Jesus said “I do not condemn you either, but do not sin again”

Sufi Parable: Once during the evening hours, a Sufi saint was seated on his special prayer rug in a forest, practicing meditation. Suddenly an exceedingly good looking lady,
going to meet her lover in a secret place, ran across the rug accidentally dirtying it with her feet in her excitement to meet her lover. The saint lost his temper and shouted at the young lady “Are you blind? How could you defile my sacred prayer rug?’
The young lady turned around and said “sir, please forgive me. I am blinded by the thoughts of my lover and therefore I could see only him. But please tell me, sir, how is it that your love for God has not made you more blind than I am? You are only seeing me and your prayer rug and my flight through the forest—everything except God. What kind of love is that?” Hearing those words, the saint was humbled and prostrated before the young lady.

Swami Vivekananda and the Nautch Girl : Wandering all over the length and breadth of India before he went to Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda stopped for sometime in Khetri at the court of the Maharaja who was his disciple.
One day while he was sitting in the Durbar, a lovely looking nautch girl made her appearance and was about to sing. Vivekananda at once rose up to leave the assembly. “Wait, Swamiji” said the Maharaja “You will find nothing to offend you in the singing of this girl. On the contrary, you will be immensely pleased”. The Swami sat down and the nautch girl sang:
“O Lord! Look not upon my evil qualities!
Thy name, O Lord, is Same-Sightedness [Sama-Drishti]
Make of us is the same Brahman
One piece of iron is in the Image of the Temple
And another the knife in the hand of the butcher
But when they touch the philosopher’s hand
Both alike turn into Gold!’”
The young Sanyasin was inexpressibly touched. He blessed the singer who from that day gave up her profession and became Swamiji’s devoted disciple.

Courtesan in Calcutta : Many years ago, a nautch girl died in Calcutta. Some young neighbours went to a monk of Sri Ramakrishna Mission and informed him that they needed Rs, 26,000 to cremate the woman. The Swamiji found from them the whereabouts of the girl and also came to know about a will left by her and the execution of her estate. He then talked to the Executor, a prominent political leader in that area. The Swamiji was surprised to learn that the woman had left every thing to the Hospital run by the Ramakrishna Mission. The Swami gave the money for the cremation and later went to her home with the police and the Executor of the will.. From her house, he received half a million rupees worth of jewellery and certificates of Fixed Deposits worth one million rupees. The Swami also found in her home several books on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda Literature, in addition to several pictures of Sri Ramakrishna.

She was a great lady indeed. Although her profession kept her body active and in work, her total devotion always connected her mind with Sri Ramakrishna, the man-God.

B.M.N. Murthy

Article No. 442---The Saint and The Sinner
Created: Thursday, May 1, 2008 7:57 PM


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