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Among all the kirtan singers out there, it would be hard to find one with a voice more pure or beautiful than Karnamrita. She’s been singing kirtan since her early childhood and was trained in Indian classical vocals in Vrindavan. This track, “The Story of Pingala”, is from the CD Dasi–Prayers by Women, a compilation of songs and prayers by or about great women in the Krishna Bhakti Traditions. This brilliant and exciting recording is composed of verses taken directly from a section of the Srimad-bhagavatam’s 11th Canto known as the Uddhava-gita.
The Uddhava-gita is a rich resource of teachings on bhakti. Responding to Uddhava’s request for instructions on renunciation, Krishna relates an avadhuta‘s account of his twenty-four gurus. These twenty-four gurus are an eclectic group of people, animals and other natural phenomena – for instance, the earth, the wind, the sky, the moon, the python, the moth, etc. The avadhuta’s account shows how one can develop wisdom and conviction in bhakti through observing one’s surroundings.
One of the guru’s, the prostitute Pingala, is the subject of this song. These verses are an expression of her frustration with sensual pursuits and her joyous awakening of detachment and devotion.
I’ve included the Srimad-bhagavatam verses below, both in the original Sanskrit and the English translation. I highly recommend the CD which has a variety of beautiful songs.
To Purchase the CD Dasi - Prayers by Women Click Here
The Story of Pingala From the CD Dasi - Prayers by Women
Melody composed by: Yuddhistira and Karnamrita
Kartals: Chaitanya Nitai
Hand Claps: Ron Marinelli
Produced by Karnamrita and Ron Marinelli
Mixed and mastered by Ron Marinelli
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 11th Canto, Chapter 8
aho me moha-vitatim
ya kantad asatah kamam
kamaye yena balisa
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.
santam samipe ramanam rati-pradam
vitta-pradam nityam imam vihaya
moha-pradam tuccham aham bhaje ‘jna
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 one 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.
nunam me bhagavan prito
vishnuh kenapi karmana
nirvedo ‘yam durasaya
yan me jatah sukhavahah
Although I most stubbornly hoped to enjoy the material world, somehow or other detachment has arisen in my heart, and it is making me very happy. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, must be pleased with me. Without even knowing it, I must have performed some activity satisfying to Him.
maivam syur manda-bhagyayah
purushah samam ricchati
A person who has developed detachment can give up the bondage of material society, friendship and love, and a person who undergoes great suffering gradually becomes, out of hopelessness, detached and indifferent to the material world. Thus, due to my great suffering, such detachment awoke in my heart; yet how could I have undergone such merciful suffering if I were actually unfortunate? Therefore, I am in fact fortunate and have received the mercy of the Lord. He must somehow or other be pleased with me.
tyaktva durasah saranam
vrajami tam adhisvaram
With devotion I accept the great benefit that the Lord has bestowed upon me. Having given up my sinful desires for ordinary sense gratification, I now take shelter of Him, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
santushta sraddadhaty etad
atmana ramanena vai
I am now completely satisfied, and I have full faith in the Lord’s mercy. Therefore I will maintain myself with whatever comes of its own accord. I shall enjoy life with only the Lord, because He is the real source of love and happiness.
[Translation from Srimad-bhagavatam, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. Used with permission.]