Courting the True Bestower of Delight
Ignoring the One, who is so close, who is the delighter, bestower of pleasure and wealth, who is eternal, I have been ignorantly courting the trivial that does not bestow what I crave for, but instead causes sorrow, fear, grief and delusion.
Points for Introspection
In the city of Videha, there was a courtesan named Pingala. Every night she used to dress up well and stand at the door of her house in order to attract men who would give her wealth in return to their enjoying her company. One day, as usual, she stood at the gate dressed up beautifully. Looking at each man passing by, she would think that he might be the one who would seek her and in return would give her a lot of money. But, alas, that day nobody turned towards her.
Her expectation grew every moment, thinking that, may be the next man would be attracted. With anxiety and disappointment, her face shrank. Restless with melancholy, she would sometimes stand at the gate and at times go inside the house. She kept awake till midnight with no client visiting her that night.
When nobody came, she became despondent. Her dejection brought about a feeling of dispassion towards worldly indulgence, a sense of renunciation. Although prostitution was her livelihood, a new enlightenment dawned in her that day. She introspected and sung many songs of dispassion. In the above śloka, the first one of the garland, she pours out her heart:
“Oh! What an ignorant woman am I! In order to become happy gaining wealth, I have greedily run after petty worldly men all this while. I have given away even my body for their enjoyment, expecting money and wealth in return. I thought that money would make me happy and peaceful. But fool as I am, now I understand that even though I took to this livelihood and earned money, I was never happy and contented.
“Greed and expectation for more and more riches kept on deluding me and I looked forward to men with more riches, visiting me. Ignorant and deluded as I have been, I never understood that these men, even though they had wealth to pay me handsomely, have only brought me sorrow, fear, worry and delusion. Their association and the money have not been able to give me true delight or contentment.
“How deluded I had been all along! And what a blessing I have got today that discrimination (vichāra) has dawned in me. I feel free of all the attachments I had. I experience dispassion towards all worldly gains. I have understood that these can never make anybody permanently happy and contented.”
Pingala continued: “What a pity! What an ignorant person I am! Here is the Indweller residing within my own heart. He is the closest, nearest and dearest. Being the supreme Lord, the Inner Being, the Ātmā, He is always there. The paramours that I run after, come and go. But, my Indweller, my God, never abandons me. Being eternal and changeless, He is the only One who is able to bestow upon me permanent happiness and contentment.
“This closest resident of my heart is my Lord. All pleasures, though they appear to be from the sense organs, actually arise from within, because of the presence of this Inner Lord. He alone is the bestower of unbroken joy and happiness (sukha-pradaḥ). Not a single man I courted could give me permanent joy and fulfillment. Otherwise, why do I continue to seek men after men?
“He, the Indweller is vitta-pradaḥ, the giver of wealth. He, as the Inner power, enlivens the body and employs it to earn divine wealth, not only material riches. Remaining unfailingly within, He bestows contentment. Nobody, whom I have been shamelessly running after in order to get some joy, has been able to give me this kind of inner treasure.”
So, Pingala sang: “What a foolish woman I am! I have always neglected this bounteous Inner Lord of my heart, residing closest to me, who can give me all that I want – joy, fulfillment, and affluence. Instead, I have been running after petty worldly men who not only cannot fulfill my desires, but also cause sorrow, fear, worry and delusion, making my life miserable.”
Fervent chanting of this śloka again and again should bring about deep introspection in us. We too are constantly running behind short-lived worldly pleasures, material gains, or fame. We think happiness lies in acquiring more and more wealth, forgetting the fact that no amount of material wealth can make a man happy. This śloka reminds us that we should not neglect but sincerely seek the lap of the bounteous Inner Lord who alone is the bestower of all wealth, joy and contentment.
समीपे सन्तं (samīpe santaṃ) = remaining close ; रमणं (ramaṇaṃ) = delighting; रतिप्रदं (ratipradaṃ) = bestowing pleasure; वित्तप्रदं (vitta-pradaṃ) = bestowing wealth; नित्यं (nityaṃ) = eternal; इमं (imaṃ) = this; विहाय (vihāya) = disregarding; अकामदं (a-kāma-daṃ) = one who cannot fulfill the desires; दुःख-भयादि-शोक-मोह-प्रदं (du:kha-bhayādi-śoka-moha-pradaṃ) = one who gives sorrow, fear, grief, delusion; तुच्छं (tucchaṃ) = trifling; अहं (ahaṃ) = I; भजॆ (bhaje) = serve; अज्ञा (ajñā) = an ignorant one.
समीपे सन्तं रमणं रतिप्रदं वित्तप्रदं नित्यं इमं विहाय, अकामदं दुःख-भयादि-शोक-मोह-प्रदं तुच्छं अज्ञा अहं भजॆ ।
samīpe santaṃ ramaṇaṃ rati-pradaṃ vitta-pradaṃ nityaṃ imaṃ vihāya a-kāma-daṃ du:kha-bhayādi-śoka-moha-pradaṃ tucchaṃ ajñā ahaṃ bhaje.
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