Today is Mothers Day.
My pranams to all mothers of all ages – mothers who have born just today and to mothers who are more than a hundred years old.
The Indian tradition is to consider all women as mothers. The dignity of a woman increases as she grows older and older. In India, traditionally the event of a girl attaining puberty is celebrated with pomp. This is because she has moved closer to her role as a mother. When she marries, it is another festival. When her marriage gets consummated, it is another festival. Both marriage and consummation are done by selecting an auspicious date. Then when she conceives a child it is another festival. When the child is about to be born it is another festival. When she gives birth it is another festival. When I look at a mother, the very thought that she has gone through the ordeal of bearing a child brings down my head in salutation to her feet. Her dignity continues to grow as her children themselves start becoming older. An old mother with white hair with flowers, big kumkum, nose ring, a disarming smile and loving words, like how the great singer Smt.M.S.Subbalaksmi used to move around in the nineties is the glory of womanhood. When her husband passes away, she continues to live the same life of dignity and purity. I have seen many old widow mothers – white hair, no flowers, no kumkum, simple plain clothes, a motherly look – that has another dignity. The entire life of a woman is that of a mother – from the day of her birth to the day of her death. It does not matter whether she is young or old, married or unmarried, has children or not, her husband is alive or not. A woman is a mother. Even to her husband, her relationship is most of the times that of a mother. That is the reason there is so much competition between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law.
The traditional way of addressing women is also as mother only, like “Kanakammal”. When men are addressed by their family name or profession, women are always addressed as “mother” only. That shows the dignity given to the role of motherhood and also to women as mothers.
Devi Mahaatmyam addresses the Goddess as “yaa devi sarva bhutesu maatru rupena samstitaa” – “that Goddess who is established in all creatures as the concept of Motherhood”. This attitude of motherhood is not limited to the female of the species. It is there in the male of the species also. It is the same motherhood that creates a spontaneous motherly love in men towards even a young donkey. This motherhood is the Lord’s way of taking care of young ones. It is the Lord’s motherhood that expresses through the different species. The Goddess is also addressed as “brahmaadi pipiilikaanta janani” – “mother of all creatures from Brahma to an ant”. That motherhood is best expressed in a girl and increases more and more as she grows up. As she grows older and older, she brings the entire world, including Brahma, the Creator himself, into her fold of motherly love. Every woman stands high above all creation as a mother.
Tulasidas says: “Tulasidas is a liar, if God be not realized by truthfulness, obedience, and motherly attitude towards women.” Sri Ramakrishna himself is praised as “pashyate maataram streeshu” – “one who saw all women as mothers”. This attitude can be seen in all sincere monks, spiritual aspirants and cultured men.
I bow down to all women, invoking the motherhood in them. As long as a woman stands by her attitude of motherhood, her dignity remains unsullied. As long as a man considers all women as mothers, his dignity remains unsullied. Let us all celebrate motherhood, which is the foundation of the entire creation.
Let us wish Happy Mothers Day not only to our own mother, but to all ladies of all ages.
Happy Mothers Day!!