Srila Prabhupada: “Prostitutes are necessary citizens for the proper upkeep of society”


Srimad Bhagavatam, Verse 1.11.19

At the same time, many hundreds of well-known prostitutes began to proceed on various vehicles. They were all very eager to meet the Lord, and their beautiful faces were decorated with dazzling earrings, which enhanced the beauty of their foreheads.


We may not hate even the prostitutes if they are devotees of the Lord. Even to date there are many prostitutes in great cities of India who are sincere devotees of the Lord. By tricks of chance one may be obliged to adopt a profession which is not very adorable in society, but that does not hamper one in executing devotional service to the Lord. Devotional service to the Lord is uncheckable in all circumstances. It is understood herewith that even in those days, about five thousand years ago, there were prostitutes in a city like Dvaraka, where Lord Krsna resided. This means that prostitutes are necessary citizens for the proper upkeep of society. The government opens wine shops, but this does not mean that the government encourages the drinking of wine. The idea is that there is a class of men who will drink at any cost, and it has been experienced that prohibition in great cities encouraged illicit smuggling of wine. Similarly, men who are not satisfied at home require such concessions, and if there is no prostitute, then such low men will induce others into prostitution. It is better that prostitutes be available in the marketplace so that the sanctity of society can be maintained. It is better to maintain a class of prostitutes than to encourage prostitutes within society. The real reformation is to enlighten all people to become devotees of the Lord, and that will check all kinds of deteriorating factors of life.

Sri Bilvamangala Thakura, a great acarya of the Visnusvami Vaisnava sect, in his householder life was overly attached to a prostitute who happened to be a devotee of the Lord. One night when the Thakura came to Cintamani’s house in torrents of rain and thunder, Cintamani was astonished to see how the Thakura could come on such a dreadful night after crossing a foaming river which was full of waves. She said to Thakura Bilvamangala 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 Thakura, and he took a turn towards spiritual realization by the words of a prostitute. Later on the Thakura accepted the prostitute as his spiritual master, and in several places of his literary works he has glorified the name of Cintamani, who showed him the right path.

In the Bhagavad-gita (9.32) the Lord says, “O son of Prtha, even the low-born candalas and those who are born in a family of unbelievers, and even the prostitutes, shall attain perfection of life if they take shelter of unalloyed devotional service to Me, because in the path of devotional service there are no impediments due to degraded birth and occupation. The path is open for everyone who agrees to follow it.”

It appears that the prostitutes of Dvaraka, who were so eager to meet the Lord, were all His unalloyed devotees, and thus they were all on the path of salvation according to the above version of the Bhagavad-gita. Therefore, the only reformation that is necessary in society is to make an organized effort to turn the citizens into devotees of the Lord, and thus all good qualities of the denizens of heaven will overtake them in their own way. On the other hand, those who are nondevotees have no good qualifications whatsoever, however they may be materially advanced. The difference is that the devotees of the Lord are on the path of liberation, whereas the nondevotees are on the path of further entanglement in material bondage. The criterion of advancement of civilization is whether the people are educated and advanced on the path of salvation.

  • Saradiya

    You put the sleazy picture of a woman in fishnet stockings to indicate the kind of “prostitutes” meant by Srila Prabhupada. When Prabhupada says “prostitutes” he doesn’t mean drug ridden street walkers or bar girls, or even girls from an upper crust escort service. While there were lower class prostitutes like “Pingala” who were basically street walkers, the kind of “veshya” that Srila Prabhupada is referring to as “society girls” were highly educated and cultured women who trained in the 64 arts. The were trained dancers, singers , and muscians, etc etc. They were knowledgeable and excellent conversationalists. They were more like the courtesans of the French Royal court, a Greek “hetaerae” like Aspasia or Japanese Geisha girls. Though most of them engaged in sexual relations with their patrons they were not simple hookers. These “society girls” were companions and concubines to the aristocracy. What King is going to associate with a sleazy whore wearing fishnets?

    • Alexander Shenkar

      What about prostitutes for your average John Smith? Or your typical sudra? Do they really need a highly educated prostitute trained in 64 arts?

      • deepak k

        You could have put a decent pic to start the article atleast!!

        • Alexander Shenkar

          What is your definition of “decent”?

      • Hare Krishna!

        What about male prostitutes for your average Jane or even gay John Smith? 😉

        Why only the sexual needs of heterosexual men are considered?

        • Alexander Shenkar

          Good point! I can’t argue with that. (thumbsup) 😉

  • Parasurama Mills

    In the Bible, prostitutes assisted the spies of Joshua in the children of Israel’s attempt to conquer Jericho. See Josh. 2:1 & Josh. 6:25 . Only the harlots were saved.