Once there lived a sanyâsi who strictly followed the
restrictions and regulations of ascetic life. He spent most of
his time in worship and prayer. A well known prostitute lived
near his ashram. Even though circumstances forced her into
this sinful profession, her heart pined for a pure and pious
life. On the other hand, the ascetic’s mind was burning with
desire for a life of luxury and pleasure.
Years rolled by, and the play of destiny brought death to
both of them on the same day. The sanyâsi’s corpse was
carried in a grand procession through the main streets of
the town and buried with all the honour due. A sacred
memorial was built in the place. The body of the prostitute
was thrown on the outskirts of the town where it was feasted
upon by stray dogs.
Later, the messengers of Lord Vishnu arrived to carry the
prostitute’s soul to heaven while the messengers of Yama
came to fetch the sanyâsi’s soul to hell.
The deeply troubled sanyâsi enquired one of the messengers
of Lord Vishnu:
“ Sir, I led a life of piety and austerity, I am punished with
hell. This prostitute who lived a life of sinful pleasure is
rewarded with heaven. Is this just?”
The messenger replied: “ Oh sanyâsi, you had the body of
an ascetic and the mind of a prostitute. So, your body was
given a grand burial, but your sinful mind has to be carried to
This prostitute’s sinful body housed a pure heart. So, her
body was thrown to the dogs and her pious soul will be
carried to heaven. Where is the injustice? Is it not a fair
The ascetic had no reply.
The aim of this story is not to condemn the life of an ascetic
or to celebrate the life of a prostitute. It is to show how God
rewards a pure heart and rejects a polluted mind. Dharma
proclaims that inner cleanliness alone makes a person pure,
not soap and water. We should work towards this inner purity.
If we meet God, the only boon worth asking is to bless us
with a pure mind.