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Identification And Karma – Story – Swami To Hell And Prostitute To Heaven

Once there was a swami who had an ashram where kirtan and bhajan used to continue day in and day out. Opposite the ashram there was the house of a prostitute. The swami used to watch the continuous stream of clients going to visit her. In between kirtan, he used to come and watch from the ashram balcony. And the prostitute, when she was free used to listen to the kirtan... 'Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna and become ecstatic. In the mornings she used sit quietly and sing kirtan.

There came a time when both of them died. They were both brought before Yama, the divine judge of good and bad karma. He told his secretaries: 'Send this lady to heaven and consign this swami to hell'.

The swami got furious. He said, 'What? In my ashram kirtans go on twenty four hours daily. I have never touched a woman. I have been a celibate in an ashram for eighty years. I have never seen anyone beyond a cloister. I haven't even seen a woman's shadow. How can you send me to hell?'

Yama smiled and said, 'You are right, Swamiji. I know you conducted kirtan continuously, held spiritual discourses and ate pure vegetarian food. You did not talk to a woman, about a woman, or with a woman. But what were you thinking all the time? Were you not always thinking about the lady that lived opposite your ashram?'

The swami said, 'She was a prostitute. What have I got to do with her? I only knew that people were visiting her.'

Yama said, 'Yes, what you say is true, but if you were so elevated, what business do you have with a prostitute, or anyone for that matter? It is not karma that is important, it is obsession and identification. You identified yourself with the life she was living; and, this lady, even though she was a prostitute, was always identifying herself with your ashram life and absorbed in the bhajan and kirtan.

She always dreamed of how she could live your way of life some day. Her passions and monetary requirements did not allow her to live an ashram life. She was the daughter of a prostitute and had to continue that tradition. But year after year she ardently identified herself with the spiritual symphony of life. Her actions may have been un-virtuous, but that does not matter. Actions cannot touch the soul. Her soul was spiritually inclined and therefore I assigned her to heaven. Yours was the opposite and I have consigned you to hell'.