Bilvamangala and the prostitute Cintamani

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Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

SB 1.11.19, Purport:

Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, a great ācārya of the Viṣṇu Svāmī Vaiṣṇava sect, in his householder life was overly attached to a prostitute who happened to be a devotee of the Lord. One night when the Ṭhākura came to Cintāmaṇi's house in torrents of rain and thunder, Cintāmaṇi was astonished to see how the Ṭhākura could come on such a dreadful night after crossing a foaming river which was full of waves. She said to Ṭhākura Bilvamaṅgala that his attraction for the flesh and bone of an insignificant woman like her would be properly utilized if it could be diverted to the devotional service of the Lord to achieve attraction for the transcendental beauty of the Lord. It was a momentous hour for the Ṭhākura, and he took a turn towards spiritual realization by the words of a prostitute. Later on the Ṭhākura accepted the prostitute as his spiritual master, and in several places of his literary works he has glorified the name of Cintāmaṇi, who showed him the right path.

SB Canto 5

SB 5.1.5, Purport:

By the order of the Lord, a perfect devotee sometimes comes to this material world like an ordinary human being. Because of his previous practice, such a perfect devotee naturally becomes attached to devotional service, apparently without cause. Despite all kinds of impediments due to surrounding circumstances, he automatically perseveres in devotional service and gradually advances until he once again becomes perfect. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura had been an advanced devotee in his previous life, but in his next life he became greatly fallen and was attached to a prostitute. Suddenly, however, his entire behavior was changed by the words of the very prostitute who had so much attracted him, and he became a great devotee. In the lives of exalted devotees, there are many such instances, proving that once one has taken to the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, he cannot be lost (kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati [Bg. 9.31)).

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Adi-lila

CC Adi 1.57, Purport:

Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura actually entered into the transcendental pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He has recorded his transcendental experiences and appreciation in the book known as Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. In the beginning of that book he has offered his obeisances to his different gurus, and it is to be noted that he has adored them all equally. The first spiritual master mentioned is Cintāmaṇi, who was one of his instructing spiritual masters because she first showed him the spiritual path. Cintāmaṇi was a prostitute with whom Bilvamaṅgala was intimate earlier in his life. She gave him the inspiration to begin on the path of devotional service, and because she convinced him to give up material existence to try for perfection by loving Kṛṣṇa, he has first offered his respects to her.

CC Madhya-lila

CC Madhya 2.79, Purport:

Līlāśuka is Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura Gosvāmī. He was a South Indian, a brāhmaṇa, and his former name was Śilhaṇa Miśra. When he was a householder, he became attracted to a prostitute named Cintāmaṇi, but eventually he took her advice and became renounced. Thus he wrote a book named Śānti-śataka, and later, by the mercy of Lord Kṛṣṇa and the Vaiṣṇavas, he became a great devotee. Thus he became famous as Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura Gosvāmī. On that elevated platform he wrote a book named Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, which is very famous amongst Vaiṣṇavas. Since he exhibited so many ecstatic symptoms, people used to call him Līlāśuka.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Lecture on BG 4.39-42 -- Los Angeles, January 14, 1969:

Just like Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. You have heard the story of Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. There are many stories. So he was very much fond of his girlfriend prostitute. So when one night when he approached there within torrents of rain and with great difficulties, the woman was sympathetic. She said, "Bilvamaṅgala, you are so much attracted with this flesh and bone. Oh, if you had been so much attracted to Kṛṣṇa, how you would have been." Oh, immediately he turned: "Yes." So he immediately went back and went to Vṛndāvana.

So these are the points of knowledge. You see? One... When one is struck with that knowledge, that "What I have gained? I have tried life after life, hours after hours, days after days, this sense gratification. What I have got?" this is knowledge. Then searching begins.

Lecture on BG 6.46-47 -- Los Angeles, February 21, 1969:

There is an instance of Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura was in his previous life, elevated to almost prema-bhakti, highest platform of devotional service. But there is always chance of falldown. So somehow or other he fell down. And next life he was born in a very rich family as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe (BG 6.41). So he was born in a rich brāhmaṇa family, but he became, naturally as rich boys become attached to woman-hunter. So it is said that his spiritual master instructed him through his prostitute. At the right moment, his spiritual master said through that prostitute, "Oh, you are so much attached with this flesh and bone. If you had been attached so much with Kṛṣṇa, how good you could have achieved." Immediately he took to that position. So that responsibility is for the spiritual master. But we should not take advantage of that. That is not very good. We should try: yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ **. We should not try to put our spiritual master in a position that he has to reclaim me from prostitute's house. But he has to do it. Because he accepts his disciple, he has got the responsibility like that.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Lecture on SB 1.5.18 -- New Vrindaban, June 22, 1969:

Just like Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. I think I have several times spoken about Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. So Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, he raised himself in his previous life to the bhāva-bhakti. Bhāva-bhakti means always feeling for Kṛṣṇa. That is the prior stage of loving Kṛṣṇa, bhāva-bhakti. So he, in his previous life he was raised, but somehow or other, he fell down. But it is assured, śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo 'bhijāyate: (BG 6.41) "Even such Kṛṣṇa consciousness person falls down, he is given chance to take birth in nice brāhmaṇa family or śuci, pure family, and rich family." So Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura was very rich man. He was born in a very rich brāhmaṇa family. And he was addicted to prostitute. By some way or other, he had some inclination like that. So he could not finish Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He fallen down. But at a opportune moment he got again the Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

How is that? The incidence is that he was performing the śrāddha ceremony of his father, but he had a girlfriend, prostitute. So he wanted to go there very quickly. So somehow or other he finished. And he wanted to go there. But on the road he found that it was very heavily raining and he had to cross the river. So he did everything. And he... The prostitute was... She thought that "Bilvamaṅgala is not coming today. It is very..., so much raining." So when she saw that Bilvamaṅgala is at the door, she was astonished. She said, "Bilvamaṅgala, how did you come here in this rainy, torrents of rainy...?" So he disclosed everything that how he catched one dead body in the river, then he crossed the river, then he jumped over the wall. So she was astonished, and she simply said, "Oh, this much affection if you would have with Kṛṣṇa, how you would have been... Your life would have been nice." Immediately it was... "Oh, Kṛṣṇa...?" Immediately, he left everything. Immediately he left everything and went to Vṛndāvana. He is... So Kṛṣṇa is so nice. Just at the right point He will remind. Yatate ca tataḥ. Here, in the Bhagavad-gītā, yatate ca tato bhūyaḥ saṁsiddhau kuru-nandana, pūrvābhyāsena. He was accustomed, so immediately reminded, immediately.

Lecture on SB 3.25.32 -- Bombay, December 2, 1974:

Mukti is not very much important thing for a bhakta. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura says,

bhaktis tvayi sthiratarā bhagavan yadi syād
daivena naḥ phalati divya-kiśora-mūrtiḥ
muktiḥ svayaṁ mukulitāñjali sevate 'smān
dharmārtha-kāma-gatayaḥ samaya-pratīkṣāḥ
(Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, verse 107)

This is the experience of Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. He was a South Indian brāhmaṇa, very rich brāhmaṇa. But by bad association or something like that, he became a very staunch prostitute hunter. So he engaged all his income, money, everything, after one prostitute. Her name was Cintāmaṇi. So it is a very nice story. I am briefly describing. So one night... Every night he was to go to that prostitute, and one night it was very terribly raining. So the prostitute thought, "Now this night Bilvamaṅgala is not coming. It is terribly raining." But Bilvamaṅgala went there, crossing the river, and the door was closed. He jumped over the door catching a snake. In this way, very dangerously, he reached the prostitute's house. And the prostitute was astonished, that "How is this condition you could come here? Oh, you are so much attracted by this skin. If this much attraction you would have to Kṛṣṇa, how it would have been nice for you." So immediately he left the prostitute's house and went to Vṛndāvana.

The fact is in his previous life he executed devotional service up to bhāva-bhakti. So his Cintāmaṇi, that prostitute, became his guru, remind that "You are so much fond of prostitute. If this attraction would have been to Kṛṣṇa, how much successful you would have..." So it acted, and he left to Vṛndāvana and lived for seven hundred years. So he has a book, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. That is recommended by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu for reading, Kṛṣṇa-karnāmṛta.

Lecture on SB 6.3.18 -- Gorakhpur, February 11, 1971:

In this life we want to finish this material existence for good. That should be the responsibility, that "We are going to finish this material existence for good. No more coming." Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti (BG 4.9). If you take responsibility in that way, then everything will be adjusted. Serious. My Guru Mahārāja used to say like that, that "Finish this business in this life. Don't delay for the next life." He was telling also that "Don't give me trouble again to come here to deliver you." That is the responsibility of spiritual master. Spiritual master responsibility is to take the disciple to Kṛṣṇa, until he is able to do, to help him, to help him, to help him. That is the verdict of the śāstras. Just like Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. His spiritual master delivered him, taking the shape of a prostitute. So these stories are there.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.142 -- New York, November 30, 1966:

There is a nice verse of Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. He lived for seven hundred years in Vṛndāvana, and he was, became a great devotee of Kṛṣṇa. In the beginning he was an impersonalist. His life is very nice. It is better to cite his life. He was a South Indian brāhmaṇa, a very rich man and very much sensuous. He kept one prostitute, prostitute. So he was so much, I mean to say, devoted to the prostitute that he was performing his father's death ceremony and he was asking the priest, "Please, haste. Please make haste. I have to go. I have to go." Means prostitute's house. So he was very rich man. Priestly, anyway, he finished that business. Then there was ceremony. He took very nice foodstuff in a bag, and he was going to that prostitute's house. But when he came out of his home, oh, it was raining torrently. You see? So he never cared for that raining. He went to the riverside. Oh, there was no boat, and it was, river was waving. The waves were very furious. And he thought that "How can I go to the other side?" He was daily going to the other side of the river. Then, anyway, he swimmed over, crossed over by swimming. Then the prostitute thought, "Oh, it is today raining, and he may not come." So he (she) blocked the door and went to sleep. And when he came to the house he saw, "Oh, the door is blocked," and it was raining still. "So how can I go?" So he crossed over the wall by catching one snake. Just see how much intensely he was attached. And he went to the prostitute, and she was astonished: "Well, Bilvamaṅgala"—his name was Bilvamaṅgala—"how do you dare to come here like this?" Oh, he described, "Yes. I did this, I did this, I did this, I did this." Oh, the prostitute was astonished. Her name was Cintāmaṇi. So the prostitute said, "My dear Bilvamaṅgala, if you have got so intense love for me, oh, had it been for God, for Kṛṣṇa, how would have been, your life, sublime." Oh, that struck him: "Yes." He at once left and went away: "Yes, you are right."

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 21.49-61 -- New York, January 5, 1967:

One book is named Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. That book was written by one of the devotees, very great devotee, Bilvamaṅgala. His life is very interesting. He was too much prostitute-hunter. In one incidence his kept prostitute gave him instruction, "Oh, you have got so much attraction for this skinny body. If you would have such attraction for Kṛṣṇa, I do not know what you have done." Oh, at once he became, "Yes." This is called reference to the context. Because he, that gentleman, in his previous life he cultivated Kṛṣṇa consciousness to the highest degree, but somehow or other, it was stopped. And as soon as the same thing was pointed out, he began again from that point. That is the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Even if we do not perform the whole process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, whatever we do, that remains in asset. That is never lost. So this Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, from that prostitute's house he became a saintly man. So he wrote a very nice book, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta means "pleasing to the ear." Anything about Kṛṣṇa is pleasing to the ear. So he wrote a voluminous book, Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. That book was collected by Lord Caitanya. And along with that book, this Brahma-saṁhitā was collected.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1969 Conversations and Morning Walks

Room Conversation with Allen Ginsberg -- May 13, 1969, Columbus, Ohio:

Prabhupāda: Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, in his previous life, he elevated himself to the loving stage of Kṛṣṇa. Not exactly, just previous, bhāva. It is called bhāva, ecstasy. But some way or other, he could not finish, so according to the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā, he was given birth to a nice brāhmaṇa family. (aside:) You can call that Bengali lady. She can hear. So very rich. Śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe (BG 6.41), in that way. Rich family, at the same time, brāhmaṇa family. But richness, generally, sometimes glide down to wine, women, and intoxication. So by bad company he became woman-hunter, prostitute-hunter. So he was too much addicted to one woman, Cintāmaṇi. So his father died, and he was... He did not marry. In your country it is called girlfriend, and in our country it is called prostitute. So he was that about that prostitute, Cintāmaṇi. So he was performing the rituals, but he was thinking of his girlfriend, that Cintāmaṇi, "When I shall go there?" Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura? Yes. So he asked his servants, "Give me some food. I shall go to Cintāmaṇi." So anyway, he performed... Did not perform. His mind was there. He took some nice foodstuff, and when he went, there was a big river, and it was raining heavily, and the river was flooded. So he thought, "How shall I go the other side?" So one dead body was floating. So he thought, "It is a log," and he took the help of the log and went the other side. And it was heavy raining. And then, when he reached that Cintāmaṇi's home, he saw the door is locked already. Blocked. So he jumped over the wall, taking the tail of a serpent, and when he reached inside, he knocked the door, and Cintāmaṇi was astonished. "How did you come? So heavy rain. You had to cross the river." He said everything, that "Oh, I cannot stay without you." So she was much inquisitive: "How did you come? How did you jump over this wall?" And so he showed everything, that there was a big snake, and so he thought it as rope and jumped it. And then, when he went to the riverside, he saw that was a dead body. So at that time Cintāmaṇi thought, "Oh, this man is so much addicted to me." So she told, "Oh, this much attraction if you would have with Kṛṣṇa, oh, how nice your life would have been." So immediately he came to his senses because he was lifted to that position in his previous life.

1970 Conversations and Morning Walks

Room Conversation -- December 13, 1970, Indore:

Revatīnandana: But if a spiritual seed sprouts, then whatever sprout is made is never lost. Right?

Prabhupāda: Yes. It is not lost, but it is checked. Sometimes he is checked.

Revatīnandana: Because the tendency to revive again.

Prabhupāda: In that way again one has to... That brings the question of previous life. One was advanced so much; it was checked by some reason; he again begins from that point. Just like Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura was advanced in his previous life up to bhava-bhakti. Somehow or other, it was checked. But as soon as he heard the words from the prostitute, "Oh, you are so much after the flesh and similar, and bones and skin. If you had been so much eager for Kṛṣṇa, how you would have been disposed," immediately he came to that point and immediately left.

Compiled byLabangalatika + and MadhuGopaldas +
Completed sectionsALL +
Date of first entryJuly 6, 0009 JL +
Date of last entryFebruary 28, 0013 JL +
Total quotes13 +
Total quotes by sectionBG: 0 +, SB: 2 +, CC: 2 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 7 +, Conv: 2 + and Let: 0 +