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Pingala - The Seventeenth Guru of Dattatreya

The seventeenth guru was a courtesan called Pingala. On one occasion Pingala waited for her lover in great anguish and restlessness. Long did she wait, but he did not come. At one point she became utterly disgusted with herself and thought, 'It is because of my desire and expectation that I suffer.' At the height of suffering; she turned her awareness within and a great transformation took place in her. 'Had I but sought the divine beloved with the same ardor, I would not be in this plight now/ she thought to herself.

Thus a great vairagya (dispassion) arose in her. Leaving her desires aside, cutting asunder all expectations in one flash with the sword of viveka, she took to the spiritual path.

Dattatreya was inspired by Pingala's life, the lessons she learned from her suffering, the ease with which she dropped her ignorance, like the dropping of a garment and the heights to which her consciousness soared, free of desires, with the twin wings of viveka and vairagya.

Another Interpretation
A prostitute who knows that she doesn't love her customers, nor do they love her. Yet she waits for them and, when they come, enacts the drama of love. She isn't satisfied with the artificial love she gives and receives, nor with the payment she is given. I realized that all humans are like prostitutes and the world, like the customers, is enjoying us. The payment is always inadequate and we feel dissatisfied. Thus, I became determined not to live like a prostitute. Instead, I will live with dignity and self-respect, not expecting this world to give me either material or internal satisfaction, but to find it myself by going within. (Source: The Himalayan Masters: A Living Tradition by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD.)