The Tree of Knowledge
The Essence of Motherhood
— Vedika Hurdoyal-Chekhori
O enlightening Mother!
You have the potential to destroy the evil.
You have a character as pure as gold.
You have the potential to destroy the clouds of frustrations and doubt.
You are brave and you only aspire for our well-being and success!
We are indeed blessed!
— Rigveda 6.61.7
Everyone has a mother as a source of his life and body. Mothers are the epitome of unconditional love, care, compassion and sacrifice. The Vedas extoll ‘Matrah Bhoomi Putroaham prathivya’, meaning that earth is my mother and I am her son. The essence of true motherhood lies in the lessons Mother Earth lays all around us, the sewing of seeds for kinship and growth; the tolerance of hardship and hope of renewal; the combined beauty of strength, compassion, vitality, joy, wisdom and peace. Creator of all nature, she is always there to nourish and guide us, selflessly giving us her beautiful form to inhabit so that we may develop and grow.
Like the best mothers everywhere, Mother Earth supports our endless blossoming and sustains the very essence of our being. By learning from her example and aligning with her patterns, we can all learn to reconnect with our own inner motherhood and to serve others with love and compassion. Mata Amritanandamayi states that the essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who give birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is the attitude of the mind. It is love, and that love is the very substratum of life.
One of the pillars of Vedic Culture underscores that the status of motherhood is not only given to someone who gives birth to a child, but to a feminine-figure in general – be she a child, girl, youth or elderly lady. This is because a woman acts as a mother in a variety of ways beyond biological motherhood. The aspect of universal motherhood is present in every woman and this is what largely contributes in making a family or society civilized and worth living. Motherhood is the confluence of unconditional love, patience, perseverance, sacrifice, selflessness and foresightedness.
A mother is considered to be the first teacher of every child and is regarded as the highest Guru. In Sanskrit, the word guru is a compound of two syllables gu and ru. Gu refers to ignorance and ru to the spiritual knowledge which dispels ignorance. In short, the Guru is the one who dispels the darkness in the form of ignorance and bestows upon one spiritual knowledge. Thus a mother is one who clears the ignorance her child and paves his way towards perfection.
There is a famous saying that education starts in the womb of the mother. The sacred relationship between a mother and her child is a causal one. The thoughts a mother entertains, feelings that she develops, or any action she undertakes directly impact as impressions on the baby’s consciousness be it positively or negatively, and which later account for the future character and personality development of the child. Therefore, to give birth to a child with pure thoughts, the mother has to be strong in mind and body, steeped in culture and of good character, sanctified by holy thoughts full of love and dedication. This is the reason why the scriptures strongly recommend that Mothers should be repositories of detachment, discipline and devotion.
Once the child comes to this world, it becomes the utmost duty and privilege of the mother to nurture and mould the child’s character right from the beginning. Modelling a child’s behaviour is far more beneficial and easier at a tender age than at a later stage. Hence, mothers should seize this opportunity to instil values like trust, honesty, sympathy, care, love, gratitude, cooperation and to model habits by themselves setting good examples for their children. It is the mother who can inculcate the universal values of brotherhood, compassion towards fellow beings, love and care for flora and fauna, thus paving way to sustainable living. In this way, while promoting environmental awareness and sustainable values among children and youth, mothers mould their minds towards tolerance, peace and non-violence. Through the exercise of her maternal vocation, a mother only can preserve certain values in society which are invaluable. The mother’s role in value education transcends the family or home and extends to society as a whole.
We must bear in mind that a mother’s time spent with the child, guided by wisdom and properly utilized, lays the proper foundations for nation building. Motherhood as a moral foundation for social reform and peace-making is a sine qua non for every society. The Puranas and Shastras stress the role of women as mothers and extoll the mothers who instilled high ideals in the minds of the children of the land. The Vedas speak of Maitreyi and Gargi as great scholars and spiritual heroines. Gargi was well revered in the assembly of Vedic pundits for her mastery over abstruse problems of the spirituality.
In recent history, we have the mother of Chatrapathi Shivaji who raised him on the Epics and Puranas, and brought him up as a brave representative of the best of Hindu Culture. Sri Sathya Sai Baba states that women as mothers have the courage, the vision and the intelligence needed to dive into the depths of spiritual science and discipline to produce the best capable world citizens. Thus, if one envisages to form a society that stands up to the highest benchmarks of principles and nobility, the highest glory to motherhood should be bestowed so that she provides knowledge, dignity, leadership and prosperity.
Motherhood is the very essence of womanhood. It is the calling which is inscribed in the nature of every woman from the very beginning of time. It is indeed the mother who is more properly entrusted with the guardianship of life and sustenance of life. The world today needs women who are aware and faithful to their nature and hence their role as mothers. Their greatest task is the nurturing and rebuilding of human values that will avert humanity’s self-destruction. John Paul II (1988) put it this way:
“In our own time, the successes of science and technology make it possible to attain material well-being to a degree hitherto unknown. While this favours some, it pushes others to the margins of society. In this way, unilateral progress can also lead to a gradual loss of sensitivity for man, that is, for what is essentially human. In this sense, our time in particular awaits the manifestation of that ‘genius’ which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human.”
Glory to Motherhood! Matri Devo Bhava!
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