Oh Ma…

Motherly and filial love is surely the purest form of love that can be, of a divine nature

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

I lost my mother when I was ten years old. At 29 she had completed her earthly sojourn, leaving her four children to continue her shubhsadgati (karmic journey) towards moksha – liberation from the samsara or the infinitely repeated cycle of births and deaths. Like me, there undoubtedly are dozens of millions of children who have been orphaned of their mother, and surely as many millions who have lost both parents, and yet others who have no remembrance at all of either one or both parents for having been too young to remember when their parent(s) passed away.

To me the greatest tragedy that can befall children is the loss of their mother, and the younger they are when this happens the greater the tragedy, for they are deprived of the love and protection that only a mother can give. On the other hand, the orphaned children do not get the chance that others have to honour and show gratitude to their mother.

It is equally devastating for mothers to lose their children, and a few days ago the whole community in the small town of Uvalde in Texas came out to mourn with the families and console the mothers who had lost their children – 19 in all – during the recent shooting incident that had taken place at their elementary school, wherein two teachers also were killed.

Fortunate indeed are those whose karma has graced them with the presence of their mothers as they grew up into adulthood, and who are blessed with the further opportunity to look after and serve their mothers and shower on them their love and gratitude.

Alas, this is not always the case, as we can make out from the news in the media which all too frequently report cases of children defaulting on their mothers. There are stories about stealing of their pension money, draining their bank accounts, dumping them in old people’s homes and never visiting, being violent towards or even of killing their mothers when they are refused money to buy drugs.

Only a few days ago I heard about a middle-aged couple whose son fooled them into moving into a home for assisted living on the pretext that he would be renovating the house – using the parents’ money to boot! – and kept pushing the date to bring them back home on the excuse that the works were taking longer. Finally, he stopped visiting altogether, leaving the grandparents pining to see their grandchild, an unimaginable cruelty indeed.

At the other extreme are mothers who do not fulfil their motherly duties, abandoning their newborns or leaving their children as they set up house with new partners. Admittedly, these two ends of the spectrum represent cases that are much fewer compared to the vast majority of mothers and their children whose devotion and love for each other leave the rest with much to learn from, if not to shame them for their own lapses.

My encounters in the medical profession have given me ample opportunities to witness the profound mother-child connect. There was this 44-year-old unmarried man who had been admitted in an almost dying condition after an infection that had started in his knee had spread to his lungs. It took nearly a month for him to come through this ordeal, and yet at whatever time of the day or late evening that I went to see him, the old mother was always there. She spent many a sleepless night and that showed in the strained look on her face, and yet she would not leave his bedside.

One is reminded of the famous adage that the hand that rocks the cradle is also the hand that cracks the whip, but perhaps to this should be added that the same hand that cracks the whip is ever ready to sacrifice for the care and protection of her child at whatever age.

Another mother whose eight-year-old daughter was admitted for treatment would spend the night sitting in a chair by her side, leave in the morning to go and ready her other six-year-old daughter for school, drop her, do the house chores and sort out her husband’s meals, come back to hospital to be with her daughter till it was time to go fetch her child from school, settle her for the evening and night, and return to hospital again.

This went on for several weeks during the repeated admissions of her daughter who unfortunately did not survive her disease. And yet the mother was very stoic in the face of her daughter’s loss, accepting her death with great serenity and courage.

What to say of the sister who decided to remain single to ‘mother’ her handicapped younger brother who eventually became bedridden. She was nearly 60 when she had a hip fracture that needed surgery, and barely a week later as soon as she started walking with the help of walking stick, she begged to go home to take care of her brother.

There’s the parallel story of a man who did not marry to look after his widowed mother and was after me to discharge her within days of her undergoing hip surgery, again for a fracture, so that he could look after her at home instead of having to make the trip to hospital daily.

These examples could be multiplied many times, but they certainly show, if need be, that motherly and filial love is surely the purest form of love that can be, of a divine nature. And not only among humans – for we can see the same thing among animals as well. Indeed, in Indian culture, the motherly roles of procreation, sustaining and nurturing life are considered to flow from shakti, the feminine principle which is the cosmic manifestation of divine energy which is present in all life forms and at its highest in the human being, on which we are totally dependent for our entire existence. Without energy, there is no cosmos, no world, no life form, no human being!

This was the conclusion that our rishis reached during their meditation. Interestingly, this intuitive realization finds resonance in modern science. In fact, it has been established that the energy centre of the cell is a structure known as the mitochondrion, and the genes for the mitochondrion are transmitted only by the mother. This reinforces the idea of a Universal Mother of divine origin whence we all emanate, whom we must therefore always honour and serve. How sublime indeed.


Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 3 June 2022

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