Whedon explains that:
'Companions trained in all the arts, extremely well-schooled. They lived not unlike nuns, worked not unlike geishas, and often rose to political or social prominence when they retired,’Whedon, J, Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, (London: Titan Books, 2005) pp.12-13.
After describing temple/sacred prostitution in ancient Middle Eastern society, Andrew Aberdein writes:
‘Inara also exhibits a strong spiritual side. She is frequently associated with religious iconography, primarily Buddhist, and both she and Nandi invoke the Buddha in Chinese imprecations. Moreover, Inara explicitly links the sacred to her practice as a Companion, referring to her shuttle as ‘a consecrated Place of Union’ (Jaynestown).’Aberdein, A, ‘The Companions and Socrates’ in Wilcox, R & Cochran, TR (editors), Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction on the Frontier, (London: I.B. Tauris,2008) p.67.