Devotion to Mothers

Devotion to Mothers

There is no debt greater than to one's mother.

In life we are preoccupied with our own needs, desires, ambitions, achievements, enjoyment, keerti etc. Could we have achieved any success entirely on our own? Are we not indebted to many? Do we adequately realise and acknowledge these debts? 

In Sanatana Dharma, we are reminded of our Pancha Runam, Five Debts. One of these is Pitru Runam, debt to our ancestors. Our immediate ancestors are our parents–Mata and Pita; mother and father. 

A subhashita sloka says 'Mata samam nasti runam', there is no debt equal to our debt to mother. Adi Sankara brings it out poignantly in one of his spontaneous, short compositions, the Matru Panchakam, five slokas, verses, on the mother. 

He composed it perhaps while grieving and performing the final rites for his mother. 

First, he acknowledges her vyatha, pain, during pregnancy and delivery. You may have heard of the term, prasava vedana, the pain of childbirth. Survival of the mother after delivery is also called punar janma, rebirth. Despite such pain and risk, she does not complain. 

Second, Sankara recalls the day when his mother had a dream. He appeared as a sannyasi, ascetic, in her dream. She was deeply disturbed.She immediately went to his gurukulam. Seeing her cry, others were also moved to tears. One may accept one's grandfather as a sannyasi, even one's aged parents as sanyasi and sannyasini. But, one's own son!

A mother would like to see her son enter, and live long in grihastha ashrama. In extraordinary avataras like Sankara, moving from brahmacharya to sannyasa is effortless, and immensely beneficial to the world. Sankara re-established sanatana dharma. He also revived the national organisational unity of Bharat by setting up mutts in the four corners of the country. 

Third, Sankara recalls how his mother would shower her love on him. He remembers her endearments, such as pearl, prince, chiranjeevi, etc. In return, all that he offers on the mouth of her preta, corpse, is rice as sacrificial offering. Fourth, he recalls how his mother coped with the pain during delivery. She chanted the names of Devi, Bhagavan, Siva. She also sang, Krishna, Govinda, Hare Mukunda! You may have come across a touching subhashita sloka on the mother.,/p>

Mata samam nasti priya Mata samam nasti saranam Mata samam nasti chhaya Mata samam nasti runam There is no one dearer than one's mother; There is no refuge safer than the mother;There is no shade cooler than the mother;There is no debt greater than to one's mother. There are several actions you can take, learning from Sankara.One, if your mother is alive, shower her with respect, love and care. Express your regrets and apologies for any past neglect and errors towards her.

If she is no more, extend them to your older female relatives in the extended family. Two, instill in your own children deep appreciation of the boundless love and sacrifices of their mother. Third, share this value with all children and grandchildren, among your nieces and nephews. 

Fourth, help raise the awareness in your community or neighbourhood, of our debt to mothers and grandmothers. 

Fifth, create opportunities for the older women to interact with the younger generation, for the latter to draw upon their values and sacrifices, and continue the parampara.

Dr. M. B. Athreya

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